Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Kilandra Bass, Georgetown University (McDonough)

Kilandra Bass

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

“Passionate about building community and lifting as I climb.”

Hometown: Springfield, Massachusetts (the home of basketball and Dr. Suess).

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am a die-hard Kobe Bryant fan, and in 2015 I had the opportunity to meet him, so of course I challenged him to a game of 1-on-1! It was after practice so he had ice packs on his knees and shoulder and I said, “I think I can take you if you keep all of that on.” In true Kobe-fashion, he laughed and said, “No chance you’ll beat me.” I expected nothing less than the #MambaMentality.

Undergraduate School and Major: Northeastern University, D’Amore McKim School of Business with a major in business administration with concentrations in accounting and finance.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Ralph Lauren Corporation in New York City – Project Manager, Creative Digital Operations

What excites you most about studying in Washington, DC? So many things, but the rich culture and history of the city stand out! I’ve lived in a few major cities, but this is the first one that is located in the south so I am looking forward to the southern hospitality. In 1957, D.C. became the first large city in the United States to be majority Black, earning it the moniker “Chocolate City”, so I am also excited to be living in a neighborhood that was bustling during that time as well as learning more about the history.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Georgetown McDonough’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? When applying for schools, it was important to me that institutions provided opportunities to study abroad so that I could immerse myself in other cultures. I plan to be a global leader one day, and Georgetown puts a strong emphasis on cultivating a “Global Mindset”. This, combined with their ethos of cura personalis (care of the whole person) let me know that this would be a great place for me to develop into the leader I desire to be.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Georgetown McDonough? It’s tough to choose just one! I can’t wait to get involved in the Black MBA Association (BMBAA), Georgetown Retail and Luxury Association, Graduate Marketing Association, and so many other clubs. But the course I am most excited about is Georgetown’s Applied Product Management course, which will challenge me to enhance my ethnographic research skills and aid in my goal of creating compelling products and experiences.

Georgetown McDonough programming focuses heavily on instilling a global mindset. Why is exposure to global diversity so critical to business success? The world’s most successful companies operate on a global scale. Thus, in order to succeed on this level, it’s imperative to understand other cultures, laws, and communication styles. Having exposure to global diversity will allow you to become more nimble and will help business leaders to quickly adapt to situations. To build market share in any company, you have to understand the consumer needs and this will vary depending on several factors. Authentic connections with consumers will bring consumer loyalty.

When I studied abroad in India, I saw this firsthand. I was tasked with introducing a product to the Indian market. Since Indians eat “Dahi”, an Indian yogurt, my team and I suggested introducing Gogurt. We quickly learned that we couldn’t use an American marketing lens and just think about the bottom line. We had to use a more empathetic lens and learn about how important Dahi specifically is to the culture.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Shortly after starting at Ralph Lauren, I was assigned as a digital operations coordinator of the CYO (Create Your Own) brand. Essentially, CYO represents any Ralph Lauren products that you can customize by adding a monogram, patch, etc. The CYO team was tasked with launching what is known as “the configurator”. If you’re familiar with Nike ID, it’s a similar concept where the consumer can design their product online starting from a base garment such as a polo. I was able to see this project through from inception to launch on Ralph Lauren’s US/EU/APAC sites to help improve the customer experience. This resulted in a 7% global increase for digital in Q1 ’18. This project solidified that I want to participate in creating products and experiences with the consumer at the core.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I always knew I wanted to get an MBA. After making a pivot from a corporate and investment bank to the retail sector, I became excited about a whole different side of the business – marketing. I wanted the opportunity to study the fundamentals. During the pandemic lockdowns, I had a lot more time to study for the GMAT, so I did, and I applied to Management Leadership For Tomorrow (MLT). That program helped me dial in on my “why” and aided in the application process. After graduation, I hope to work as a marketer or in product management for a retail tech company. Long-term I plan to open a retail design concept store that highlights designers of the African diaspora.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I recently finished Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight and I loved it! In addition to Nike being one of my favorite brands, the storyline discusses the difficulties of starting a business and exhibits the benefit of having “grit”. I would recommend this to prospective MBAs because I believe “grit” is a trait that all MBA students need to be successful.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Georgetown McDonough’s MBA program? I would tell potential applicants to hone in on their “why”. Everyone has unique experiences that make them stand out from everyone else. Utilize that to tie into Georgetown’s values. You will hear this often, but it really is a holistic process so don’t stress about test scores and your GPA. There is so much more to who you are than a number.


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