2023 MBA To Watch: Georgea Leslie, University of Maryland (Smith)

Georgea Leslie

University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith Business School

“Creative and empathetic problem-solver, aiming to encourage and collaborate with those around me.”

Hometown: Hampden, MA

Fun fact about yourself: I worked at the Philadelphia Eagles’ stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, for one season, in 2018, and it was a year they won the Super Bowl. It was incredible to get to improve the gametime experience for some of the biggest sports fans in the world!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Drexel University, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design: Bachelor of Science in Music Industry, with a double minor in Business Administration & Marketing.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was a Guest Services Representative at Philadelphia-based company CID Entertainment, providing VIP packages and experiences for events and festivals around the globe.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I worked at PepsiCo’s headquarters in Purchase, NY as a National Commercial and Sales Strategy Intern, reporting to the Allied Brands team and focusing on improving national distribution of Crush Orange and Grape soda post-pandemic.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to PepsiCo as a National Sales Associate Manager in their Purchase, NY headquarters.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Upon entering business school in 2021, I was named a Dean’s Fellow based on my academic and professional accomplishments. In addition, I was named a Forté Fellow, joining a network of incredible women excelling in the business field. In my first year of business school, I was elected as a board member for the Marketing & Communications Association, assisting the club in elevating the marketing-focused MBA student experience through networking opportunities and social events. I have had the honor of getting elected to lead this club in my second year of business school. As the President of the Marketing & Communications Association, I have been able to launch initiatives to connect our cohort to various Smith alumni. I also received the Terps Helping Terps Award, based on my community building efforts in the Smith community. Lastly, I have been a teaching assistant both of my academic years for the undergraduate Principles of Marketing course with Dr. Roxanne Lefkoff, an incredible marketing professor within Smith who has been a wonderful connection outside of the MBA program.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of participating in a digital marketing case competition with three of my classmates, hosted by Rutgers University. We were asked to creatively address the challenges around third-party cookies and privacy concerns that many companies are currently dealing with. It was an excellent experience collaborating with my cohort while also digging deeper into a modern marketing issue I was unfamiliar with. We received great feedback from their panelists after pitching a solution for Bombas apparel brand.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my professional career, I am most proud of helping to lead CID Entertainment’s guest services team during on-location concert events we held in Riviera Maya, Mexico. We held several consecutive events at an all-inclusive resort, giving guests a fully immersive VIP experience featuring performers such as Dave Matthews Band, Phish, and Dead & Company. Each day, I was managing guest requests and concerns, and making sure everyone had a top-tier experience. It was such an honor getting to help create magical experiences for dedicated music fans who traveled so far!

Why did you choose this business school? When evaluating business schools, I was at a turning point in my career, where I was ready to develop my analytical skills. The University of Maryland’s focus on analytical approaches to modern day business problems instantly drew me in. After speaking to the current students and professors in the program, it seemed like an amazing fit for my career objectives. I also immediately sensed the strong and supportive community within Smith, which was not a given for business school. This made me even more confident in my choice.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor has been Professor Judy Frels, who taught our introductory marketing course. Coming into Smith, I knew that marketing was a strong interest of mine from my previous career. Frels’ passion for the subject and speaking on relevant examples in class really set in stone my decision to follow the marketing track for my MBA. She went above-and-beyond to connect with me outside of class, helping shape my decisions throughout school. She has also been a strong supporter of the Marketing & Communications Association.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course as an MBA has been Product Innovation, taught by Yogesh Joshi. Professor Joshi launched a unique project within this course, giving us the opportunity to develop a US product launch plan for the French grocery chain Picard. Our team was able to utilize the product innovation concepts we were exploring in class to meet directly with company management and develop a strategic approach to entering the competitive frozen grocery market. This experience taught me how to adapt project plans and work directly with a client, and I am truly grateful for the experience.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event has been the Diwali celebration Smith holds each year, bringing together music, dancing, and delicious food. This reflects the incredible way Smith honors the culture of our cohort, and also incorporates the many talents of our students outside of the classroom. This was one of the first events that I attended in business school where I truly felt like part of the beautiful community at Smith.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back, I would incorporate a broader approach to exploring my interests outside of marketing. While marketing is the lane I have focused on – and one that I have continued to explore and develop – there are so many other areas as a second year I have realized I enjoy. For example, consulting was not an area I considered pursuing. After learning more from the consulting club and information sessions, it really sparked my interest. Completing your MBA should truly be experimental from the beginning, even when it feels overwhelming to secure an internship or meet the goals you set for yourself.

What is the biggest myth about your school? In my opinion, the biggest myth about my school is that the smaller cohort size means that opportunities may mostly extend to the regional market, which has not been my experience at all. While the program has a very strong network within the DC area, which of course offers its own exciting employment opportunities, many of my classmates and I were able to explore options across the country. During my time at PepsiCo in Purchase, NY, I quickly connected with Smith alumni who had their career paths blossom across the country.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? After getting my undergraduate degree in a large city like Philadelphia, I really appreciate the college town experience being somewhere like College Park, MD. You can feel the pride for the University of Maryland in every restaurant or shop you frequent. There are so many lovely areas to explore right here in Prince George’s County, while also having quick access to DC, Baltimore, Annapolis, and more.

What surprised you the most about business school? I have been most surprised about how much I have learned directly from my classmates. The range of talents and backgrounds among our small cohort is inspiring, and getting to be on so many diverse project teams has really allowed me to think creatively about business challenges. Coming from the music industry, I was typically around people who had similar professional experiences to mine and worked in the same environments. Getting to collaborate with students from around the world with completely different careers has offered so much enrichment to my learning.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Coming from my unique background, I took the time before applying to focus on telling my story in a compelling way. Being an unconventional candidate, I tied my strengths to the rigor of an MBA program. Once I took the extra time to deep dive into my career steps, I identified how to connect this to the outcome I wanted from business school. Also, my genuine excitement to be speaking with schools and taking on this new experience after a challenging career halt during COVID helped my enthusiasm shine through.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are so many of my classmates that I admire and who have made many sacrifices to join the Smith cohort, one of which is Sally Hanako Budiarti. She is currently across the world from her daughter and husband who are living in Indonesia, yet she continuously has a positive spirit and brightens the day of our cohort. She goes above-and-beyond to be involved at school, including the Smith Association of Women MBAs and the Mayer Fund, and I cannot wait to see her thrive after business school.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? As someone with a strong interest in marketing and beginning my career at the iconic brand PepsiCo, one of my eventual professional goals is to get to lead a marketing campaign. Additionally, inspired by my experience as a woman MBA student, I would love to organize an initiative in a future role to help young women break into the business world.

What made Georgea such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Georgea came into the MBA program with a background in creating great experiences, and I think that through-line shows in what she’s brought to the program since she’s been here – she’s been a part of creating great learning experiences. All instructors know that the right student vibe is essential to a great classroom experience, and Georgea was part of creating that in the core marketing course her cohort had their first semester.  She had the background knowledge, she came to class prepared, and her natural inclusiveness helped bring others into the conversation. As the president of Smith’s Marketing and Communications Association, she’s been great to partner with to make sure our first-year MBAs were ready for their first interviews. I was thrilled when she took the internship and then full-time position with Pepsi. She’ll contribute a great deal to Pepsi as it shapes its brand for the 21st century!”

Judy Frels
Academic Director, MS in Marketing Analytics 
Senior Fellow for Executive Development Programs
Clinical Professor of Marketing


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