Real Humans of MBA Students: UCLA Anderson MBA Class of 2023
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Florida. Accounting Major (and Masters/CPA), Actuarial Science Minor
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3 years in Deals Consulting at PwC; 1 Year in Internal Human Capital Strategy at PwC
Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I originally took the GMAT in the summer of 2019, knowing I wanted to eventually pivot my career and that business school was the best way to do it. I wanted to feel more inspired by my job and the impact I was making. I’ve never been the type of person who is motivated by work that did not give me purpose. Still, I was on the hamster wheel of life, being in my 20’s in New York City, and didn’t know when that pause to make a pivot would come, if ever.
Covid gave me the opportunity to pause and reflect on who I am, what’s important to me, and what kind of impact I want to make in the world. Feeling more clarity than ever, I realized it was time to get out of the rat race and put myself in an environment where I could take chances, collaborate with brilliant individuals, and stretch my mind. It was time to go to business school.
Why did you choose UCLA Anderson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I came to business school to become an entrepreneur and immerse myself in the startup community, specifically in the health and wellbeing space. The first thing that drew me to UCLA was the opportunity to move to Los Angeles, the health and wellness capital of the US and the home of Silicon Beach. There is no better ecosystem than LA to build a company in this space from the ground up. (Plus 72 degrees and sunny year-round isn’t the worst!)
The next piece was all that Anderson had to offer. This includes BCO (Business Creation Option), the capstone project that allows entrepreneurs to form teams with other students to build companies while in school and formulate strategies in sales, marketing, finance, operations and more. Anderson also has the venture accelerator, an immersive program that leverages UCLA’s resources to help startups gain traction. UCLA is an elite program for building a business.
Finally, the students I connected with during the application process and after getting accepted were the most authentic, down to earth individuals I met. It quickly became obvious that unlike other schools, Anderson was a super collaborative school with a student-body that believes in shared-success.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the UCLA MBA Class of 2023?
I’m a certified happiness trainer. After spending a year taking a deep dive into the science of happiness and learning what actually makes us happy (ie. exercise, authentic relationships, higher purpose, etc.) vs. what we think makes us happy (ie. money, power, success, etc.), I now look at life through the lens of optimizing my happiness and that of those around me. The average business is laser-focused on their bottom line, so I often find myself making the business case for happiness, which in turn helps the bottom line. I also try to help my classmates worry less about the destination after business school and focus more on enjoying the journey. We only get two years here; we have to make them count!
Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I’m an Ironman! I decided to use my spare time during Covid to get into Triathlon training and I completed the Lake Placid Ironman in July 2021, one week before my MBA program started.
Post-MBA career interests:
At the beginning of Covid, I started Hit of Happiness, a blog dedicated to helping people reframe their reality and embrace the mindset that happiness is a choice. Since then, it has grown into a podcast, happiness coaching and enterprise consulting business. Over the next two years, I plan to continue to grow Hit of Happiness into a lifestyle brand. (Check out the website and give the pod a listen!)
Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would have as many conversations as possible with current students and alumni. This is a quick way to get a sense for the culture of the schools, a feel for a day in the life of an MBA student, and the strengths of the alumni network (ie. location, industry, etc.).
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about Anderson!
–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
When I was deciding what schools to apply for at the beginning of the process, I would have tailored my list by cultural fit and the strength of the school’s program for which I was interested (entrepreneurship), and focused less on overall school rankings. Also, depending on what you want to do, think about what city you want to end up in and which schools have the best networks in that location.
–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The essays! If you’re reading this, you are probably in the thick of your application process and sick of writing countless essays for each school.
What helped me get through it was seeing the value in the process. I knew that I needed to be authentic and vulnerable in my essays, and I saw this as an opportunity to dig deep and get to know myself better. I found that writing these essays helped me better understand what I wanted out of life, why I wanted to go to business school, and how I hoped to impact the world. As with anything, the more you put into it, the more you get out.
What is your initial impression of the UCLA Anderson students/culture/community?
I would say the school holds true to their three pillars on which they stand:
Share success, think fearlessly, and drive change.
In particular, shared success definitely sticks out to me. Everyone is doing their part to help each other succeed in everything from classes to recruiting and overall life. I’ve found all my classmates to be extremely collaborative and inclusive, as opposed to competitive. It feels great to be a part of such a driven community that is motivated by helping each other be and become our best selves.
What is one thing you have learned about UCLA Anderson that has surprised you?
I was pleasantly surprised by how much exposure we have to the alumni network. Between them coming to campus to speak about their companies in informational sessions, to attending board dinners which we as students are invited to, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with Anderson Alumni who are eager to help us out!
I also appreciate all the personal development opportunities offered, such as Leadership at Anderson, where students are assigned executive coaches that they meet with regularly to help develop and refine their leadership skills.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
I actually never visited Anderson prior to attending the school. Had it not been a pandemic year, I likely would have taken a tour of campus and flown in for my interview as well.
Also, Covid-19 made attending school in Los Angeles even more appealing given all the outdoor activities at our disposal (beach, hiking, mountains, etc.).
What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
The thing that gives me the most anxiety is the pressure to make the most of my time at Anderson, knowing that my time is limited to two years.
There are activities every single day on campus. There are tons of different clubs to get involved in. There are networking or social opportunities every night. There are brilliant professors and faculty who are eager to help however they can. If I did it all, I would undoubtedly burnout. Knowing that these opportunities will not be at my disposal once I graduate, I do my best to lean into the things that interest and energize me the most.
What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
As someone who loves meeting new people and understanding what makes them tick, I’ve loved meeting all my classmates and I am very excited to continue to get to know them better. Coming from very diverse backgrounds and nationalities, it has been a humbling and eye-opening experience to be a part of such an amazing group of individuals!