Meet The MBA Class Of 2025: Ashley Travis, UNC Kenan-Flagler

Ashley Travis

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“An avid tech-enthusiast fueling innovation and efficiency through transformative solutions.” 

School: UNC Kenan-Flagler

Hometown: Mesa, Colorado

Fun Fact About Yourself: I piloted an airplane before I drove a car.

Undergraduate School and Major: Colorado State University, Criminology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Air Force – Intelligence Operations Commander

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Kenan-Flagler’s MBA curriculum or programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you?

I was drawn to UNC Kenan-Flagler’s proactive approach towards integrating emerging technologies into their curriculum. During my search I was surprised to find that instead of shying away or restricting, the school embraces innovative technology, recognizing its potential to fundamentally reshape the business landscape. The program’s emphasis on the role of technology, particularly Artificial Intelligence, in the world of business demonstrates a forward-thinking attitude that aligns with my own interests and aspirations. I strongly believe that the next generation of business leaders need to be well-versed in these tech advancements to succeed, and UNC Kenan-Flagler’s commitment to this aspect of education is extremely important to me.

What has been your first impression of the Kenan-Flagler MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far?

My initial interaction with my fellow UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA students during a summer summit left an indelible mark on me. This was my first opportunity to engage with this diverse group of classmates. Over several hours of discussions, I felt a profound sense of humility being amidst such a wide array of accomplished individuals hailing from all corners of the world. This impressive group included patent owners, a descendant of a Declaration of Independence signer, and my personal favorite–someone directly related to Einstein! I felt incredibly humbled yet proud to be included in such a group and look forward to learning more about them in the years to come.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Kenan-Flagler?

I am incredibly grateful and excited to join the Vetter Dean’s Fellows program, a dedicated student group that lives and breathes UNC Kenan-Flagler’s key values of integrity, inclusion, innovation and impact. Our main goal is to build strong leadership skills through partnerships and projects focused on sustainability. I feel honored to be part of such a talented team, and I am eager to build on these relationships and see what we can achieve together as we strive to reach our fullest potential while making a genuine and lasting impact.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:

While reflecting on my career as an intelligence officer, quantifying my greatest accomplishment poses a challenge, and there are certain details that I cannot divulge. However, I can say that the most transformative experience – the one that left a permanent impression on me – didn’t start with triumph but rather with a substantial failure.

My team was charged with providing support for high-intensity operations, and we experienced a fundamental breakdown in one crucial aspect of our mission. The impacts of this setback were not just felt by my team alone, but also affected those dependent on our support. Suffice to say, this failure dealt a heavy blow to our morale and confidence.

While other teams had grappled with similar setbacks, this was our first encounter with a significant failure. It is difficult to come back from a situation like that and pick up the pieces and as the leader of this team I was ultimately responsible. To this day, I remain deeply humbled and grateful for the guidance of a mentor who supported me through this situation with the words “You can either get bitter or get better.” We certainly did the latter. We dissected our missteps repeatedly, identifying lessons within those failures and detecting the root cause, work-shopping solutions and then refining those solutions to make them even better. We trained hard, revamped our policies, and ensured that such a situation would never befall us or any other team in the future.

In the end, I take immense pride in how my team emerged from this crisis, not only regaining our footing but earning a reputation for their precision and outstanding performance. This reputation grew to the point that other units seeking to implement similar tactics actively sought their analysis and feedback, growing that collaborative environment even further. The team consistently proved their capability to complete the task at hand regardless of what the adversary threw at us. The credit lies with the team, their unwavering resolve and the relentless pursuit of true mastery that enabled this transformation. I am honored to have been part of this journey, not so much as a leader but as a member of this exceptional group. It is their determination that I admire and will always remember, and I’m profoundly privileged to count these remarkable individuals as my teammates.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

I’m excited to embrace opportunities that allow me to explore and learn more about the complexities and dynamics of the business world. While I am keeping an open mind to all possibilities, my main aspiration is to effect substantial changes and enhance process efficiencies. This vision is closely linked with my interest in advanced technology like artificial intelligence, which I see as a crucial aspect of every industry going forward. More specifically, I am gravitating towards a career in consulting, drawn by the diverse problems that the field presents. I look forward to the challenges the rigorous curriculum will bring and the collaboration opportunities I will have along the way.

My career objectives aren’t solely dictated by the exact nature of the work, however. They’re also influenced by my drive to contribute meaningfully to a mission that I deeply resonate with. I am eager to find a role that does more than provide a paycheck, one that fuels my passion and aligns with my values. Therefore, I see my adventures post-graduation as a chance to meld my enthusiasm for technology, my passion for problem-solving and my desire to make a positive impact. Ideally, this would take place in a teamwork-driven collaborative environment that not only enables me to inspire and elevate those around me, but also fosters a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and inspiration.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Kenan-Flagler’s MBA program?

My key advice for those aspiring to join UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA program is to have the courage to chase your passion. I wasn’t the strongest undergraduate applicant academically, but I compensated for that with my leadership skills and professional experiences. Now, I am grateful to have the chance to hone my weaknesses, leverage my strengths to guide others, and ultimately empower both myself and my peers by pursuing my passion. Don’t be discouraged if you have academic deficiencies; instead, highlight your strengths and articulate your potential contributions to the program. Equally important, acknowledge areas that need improvement. Humility is an essential leadership quality, one that fosters continuous learning and growth throughout life. So, dare to try, showcase your strengths, polish your weak points, and never stop learning.

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