2023 MBA To Watch: Asmaa Alkanderi, Washington University (Olin)

Asmaa Alkanderi            

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

“I am proactive, enjoy solving problems and turn challenges into opportunities.”

Hometown: Kuwait

Fun fact about yourself: I don’t like cooking, but I enjoy eating.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Civil Engineering from Kuwait University

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked in the oil and gas industry.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I didn’t do any type of internship. Instead, I enrolled in a Western Career Center class where I worked on my startup.

Where will you be working after graduation? I intend to pursue my Ph.D. and work on my startup.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I am vice president of strategy for the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Association.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Not sure.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Building my startup is my greatest achievement. I perceive this as a way to make the world a better place.

Why did you choose this business school? WashU Olin has a collaborative culture that enabled me to thrive professionally. Without collaboration, it is hard to move forward and thrive.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Doug Villhard has impacted my learning journey and given me a more realistic view of the business world.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Introduction To Entrepreneurship has been my favorite course. This class has given me a more realistic overview of entrepreneurship. Before taking the class, I thought the product was the most important aspect of the entrepreneur’s journey. However, I learned that focusing on the problem is the most important thing in it.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The Global Immersion was one of the best experiences at WashU because it reflects its emphasis on globalization.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would utilize the Skandalaris Center’s resources more. I believe that the center has incredible resources for startups. While I was exploring WashU Olin’s many opportunities, I overlooked the center’s resources.

What is the biggest myth about your school? No idea.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? The town is diverse.

What surprised you the most about business school? I assumed that Olin would be less intense and that business is an art, not a science. However, when I entered WashU’s Full-Time MBA program, I was surprised by the intensity and the scientific frameworks we learned.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I emphasize my uniqueness as a female from the Middle East.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is a tough question to answer. I admire many people in our cohort, but one of my favorite people is Darinee Suttajit because she is open and supportive.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

First, I want my edutainment business for kids to thrive.

Second, I would like to pursue my Ph.D. in organizational behavior.

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

“She’s curious. When Asmaa finds a concept interesting to her, she goes above and beyond lectures, readings, and discussions to dive deeply into the topic using significant means of research and networking. This trait will help her immensely in her career.

She’s analytical. She doesn’t just snap to gut judgment. She’s value-based but also data-driven. Too often, students go with their initial instinct, but she backs up decisions with data.

She seeks advice. Asmaa visited my office hours regularly to demonstrate what she’d accomplished since our last session and to seek new advice going forward. Few students take the time to both seek advice and put it into practice. She’s exceptional in this way.

On top of all this, Asmaa is brilliant, but she has all those other intangible qualities we adore as professors. She’s not afraid of hard work. She’s not afraid to network. She gets stuff done. She’s a strong member of any team. She listens to feedback and puts it into practice. She’s about as entrepreneurial as they come. I’m proud to have had her as a student.”

Professor Doug Villhard
Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship and Academic Director for Entrepreneurship


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