2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Olivia Ramos, Indiana University (Kelley)

Olivia Ramos

Kelley School of Business at Indiana University

“A curious creative with a passion for instilling confidence in others and leading with empathy.”

Hometown: East Lansing, Michigan

Fun fact about yourself: I love all art forms, but the only one I’m actually good at is pumpkin-carving!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Michigan State University, Bachelor of Arts, History, Minors in Arts & Cultural Management and Digital Humanities

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Dry Goods USA, Store Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? Allergan Aesthetics, Irvine, California

Where will you be working after graduation? Allergan Aesthetics, Aesthetics Leadership Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Consortium Fellow
  • Forté Fellow
  • External Liaison, Consortium for Graduate Study in Management
  • VP of Allyship, Out@Kelley
  • VP of External Affairs, Latino MBAA
  • Member, Leadership Academy
  • Second Year Mentor, Consumer Marketing Academy Project
  • Kelley Diversity Champion
  • Participant, Student Interview Committee for Director of Graduate Office of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Graduate Assistant, Management and Entrepreneurship Department
  • Graduate Assistant, Accounting Department
  • Recipient, Kelley School of Business Consortium MBA Fellowship

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the work I did as the external liaison for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM). Early in the school year, my co-liaison Uchenna Ogbejesi and I reached out to our MBA Program Office. We wanted to initiate deeper conversations about how to improve and enhance the DEIB efforts in our program to continue to make Kelley a supportive place for minority students. Kelley was one of the three founding Consortium schools and we wanted to ensure that all students and faculty were aware of and aligned with the diversity-focused values that Kelley supports. Uchenna and I talked with our program office about a range of lighter topics, such as suggesting more lunches with minority student groups to identify how the school can better support them. We also wanted to address more serious issues, such as how we can prevent microaggressions through early education and how to address them if and when they do happen.

On top of these discussions, we had our personal goal to increase the yield of Consortium admits that come to Kelley. Uchenna and I worked with the admissions office to increase the inclusion of Consortium students at Preview Weekend dinners and give a presentation on the Kelley Consortium to all visiting prospective students. This was instrumental in showing these students the values Kelley aligns with early on in their relationship with the school. The Kelley community is one of the main reasons students come here, and we especially wanted to show our prospective POC students that this community includes, supports, and celebrates them too. We’ve been successful so far; the number of students who accepted Round 1 CGSM offers from Kelley doubled from the year prior.

It was a lot of emotional labor for Uchenna and me. Knowing that we have done our part to ensure our current and future CGSM and other minority students at Kelley are valued and supported is one of the things I am most proud of having done during business school and in my life overall.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Professionally, I am very proud of myself for successfully making the pivot to a career in the aesthetics industry. I’ve been passionate about the cosmetics and aesthetics industry since I was in high school, but a number of self-limiting beliefs kept me from pursuing a career in that space. I didn’t think I was talented enough and I didn’t have any prior experience. Even more I didn’t think people would believe in me since my post-college career mostly consisted of being on the sales floor at clothing stores. When I decided that business school was going to be my next step, I promised myself that I would make a concerted effort to find an internship in the aesthetics industry. Not many people go to B-school looking to pivot into cosmetics or aesthetics, so I knew I was going to have to put in a lot of time and effort to network, find opportunities, and make myself stand out as a candidate.

At one point in the fall, I had a teary-eyed conversation with my career coach, Kimberly Good, because I was struggling to make the choice between saying “yes” to a non-aesthetics internship. It felt like I was closing the door on my dream, and saying “no” and risking the chance that I would not get an industry-specific internship at all. Kimberly said to me, “Olivia, this is too much of an investment for you to not get what you want,” and she was absolutely right. I had spent too many years of my life running from risks out of fear that I would fail or hurt someone else, and it was finally time to run fearlessly towards something that I really wanted. A few weeks after I declined the offer, a recruiter at Allergan Aesthetics reached out to me and asked if I wanted to schedule an interview for a summer internship. She had reached out because she remembered the conversations we had where I expressed interest in working in the aesthetics space. I felt so fulfilled that they had thought of and believed in me enough to even consider me for an internship. I was fortunate to have an amazing summer at Allergan and to have received a return offer that I accepted. Being able to successfully make this pivot has given me more confidence in myself and my abilities than I ever thought was possible, and I’m so proud of that growth.

Why did you choose this business school? There were many reasons why I knew Kelley was the best fit for me, but the genuine investment in each student’s success was what finalized my decision. One of the key conversations I had during the business school application process was with Jonlee Andrews, the director of the Consumer Marketing Academy at the time. I told her I was nervous about my ability to do well in an MBA program since I would be coming to business school from a non-traditional, non-corporate background. However, Jonlee assured me that my work experience and perspective was valid, appreciated, and needed at Kelley. Every single person I interacted with at Kelley was eager to connect me with students and faculty who could answer my questions, help me understand whether Kelley was truly right for me, and show me how I could succeed there. The conversations I had during the application process assured me that the program truly wants to aid me and my classmates in being the best business professionals and global citizens we can be. The talks I’ve had and work I’ve seen happen at Kelley since I began my MBA have only further confirmed this.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite class was Consumer Insights with Keith Niedermeier. As marketers, we’re constantly told that we cannot be “mean marketers”. This class provided an incredible foundation to understanding the major theories of consumer behavior and how to utilize these theories and frameworks in the projects and problems we will face in our careers. Each class session was chock-full of compelling studies and information; my classmates and I would typically look at each other in dumbfounded enlightenment at the conclusion of class at least once a week and then walk to our next class rehashing what we had just learned. The notes and projects from that course are ones that I regularly refer to for other classes and I’m sure will be useful throughout my career.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? For me, it’s absolutely Follies. Follies is held each spring and is an informal comedy show hosted by Kelley students that allows us to reminisce and joke about the happenings of the past year. It’s a great event that lets us take a break from the chaos that business school can be and get our whole program together to poke fun at ourselves and share some laughs.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would make sure I spend more time with my classmates. While academics and recruiting are incredibly important, looking back, there were some weeks where I know I did not need to make an assignment as “perfect” as I thought I needed to do. Instead, my time would have been better spent getting together and having fun with my classmates. It’s not easy to balance academics, recruiting, social life, and personal health during business school. Still, your business school network is something that is incredibly difficult to replicate; they are your friends, professional contacts, and support system all-in-one. I’ve been much better about blocking off time to be social and prioritizing get-togethers in my second year than in my first, but I wish I had realized how much I enjoy and value that time earlier than I did!

What did you love most about your business school’s town? I love the number and variety of small businesses that Bloomington has. People might think that because Bloomington is not a major city that there are not many small businesses in the area. However, the small business community in Bloomington is vast and spread out across town; it’s very difficult to not interact with local businesses on a daily basis. I got a bridesmaid dress altered by a local drag king, get my bagel order taken by a shop owner who imports water from New York City for his bagels, and complete my schoolwork at a nearby co-working and entrepreneurship support space. The amount of passion these business owners all show for their products and services is truly inspiring, and the population and small business community is very supportive of minority-owned businesses too. It’s easy to support these small businesses in Bloomington, and it makes it all the more fun to explore the town.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? During my time at Kelley, I have most admired my friend, classmate, and fellow Consortium member Jennifer Norgbey. She earned the nickname “treasure” from Consortium fellows after a silly spelling mistake, but it has proven to be so appropriate for her. Jennifer radiates positivity and brings so much joy into every room. Anytime I enter a room and see Jennifer in there, I know I’m going to enjoy the conversation and laugh a lot. She’s also always eager to learn and unashamed about doing so; I have always struggled with feeling comfortable asking questions in front of a larger group, but seeing the fearlessness and confidence with which she asks questions has inspired me to take on that same attitude. Beyond her dedication to learning, Jennifer truly cares about those around her. She regularly checks in on people to ensure they’re doing well and feeling supported and is the first to offer up a meal, a call, or whatever it is they may need.

I truly admire how much of a positive presence Jennifer has been to the Kelley community. Her ability to bring joy to each person, boldness in her pursuit of greater understanding, and selfless support of others is moving and aspirational to me, and I am so fortunate to call her my friend and classmate.

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

1. Take on an international assignment. My family moved abroad twice for international work assignments when I was growing up. I did not realize it at the time, but the experiences I had and people I met helped me develop the values that make me who I am today. I hope to have another international experience that will instill even more positive growth in me.

2. Be part of a new product launch from beginning to end. I have always been fascinated by the process that goes into product development, including the challenges and nitty gritty details that make a world of a difference. The conversations I’ve had with my coworkers at Allergan and Kelley alumni about their product launch adventures have only made me more excited to experience it for myself!

What made Olivia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Olivia Ramos has made an impact on the entire Kelley community throughout her time in Bloomington. Having grown up in Michigan, but also having lived in Monterrey, Mexico, she has a wealth of knowledge in navigating different cultures and making others feel an immediate connection. Her diverse background enables her to connect with every student in our program, but more importantly, her empathy for others is always on full display.

Olivia has served as a graduate assistant for both the Management and Accounting departments during her time at Kelley. In these roles, she has excelled at leading review sessions and interacting with students. She has gone above and beyond to help her fellow classmates gain a better understanding of difficult subjects. Several students have expressed how important she was in navigating coursework during the first year of the MBA Core.

Olivia has not only been a constant support for students in the classroom, but she is also involved in multiple organizations that support her fellow classmates in other important aspects of their lives. For example, she has served as an external liaison for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management. In addition, she served as the Vice President of Allyship, Out@Kelley. She also was the Vice President of External Relations of Latin@ MBAA. She is actively involved in the missions of each of these organizations and making the lives of her classmates better.

Olivia put her broad range of skills to use in her internship last summer at Allergan, a subsidiary of AbbVie. Olivia has always wanted to work in the cosmetics industry, so an internship with the maker of Botox, Juvéderm, and other skincare lines was a perfect fit. Her success in her internship led to a full-time offer at Allergan, which she accepted and plans to pursue after graduation.

Olivia’s many contributions to the Kelley MBA program make her a clear choice for Poets & Quants’ Best and Brightest MBAs of the Class of 2024.”

Brian P. Miller
Associate Faculty Chair, MBA Program and Professor of Accounting


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