Welcome, optimist. Where can an MBA take you?

The most powerful force in business is not electricity, or data, or money.

It's optimism.

Because optimism empowers us. Optimism is why we take risks.

It's why our past doesn't determine our future.

Patti Balbas

I am living proof that low income does not have to equal low academic outcomes.

I am the first in my family to graduate from an undergraduate or graduate program.

BS in Psychology Yale University Class of 2005

  • Goal: To feel more fulfilled in my day-to-day work helping kids that are in similar situations as I was growing up.

  • Business School Details: MBA in Organizational Management & Marketing Strategy—University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, 2011

  • Outcome: I am using the skills I acquired in business school to show kids in underserved communities that they too can earn a college degree.

    I've come home to the Southside of Chicago to help others rise up by doing marketing and communications for LEARN Charter School.

Malika Oyo

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to travel and call it work!

I used the knowledge and skills acquired in business school to move from education to Wall Street and then ultimately to entrepreneurship.

SUNY Buffalo State College w/ a BS in Sociology & Elementary Education

  • Goal: My life motto was always “Go. See. Do.”

  • Business School Details: MBA in Finance—University of Maryland at College Park, Robert H. Smith School of Business, 2005

  • Outcome: Once I entered the workforce, I realized I didn’t need a business background to go to business school! Coming from a background of teaching, I could explain concepts from an educator’s perspective and not just a sales perspective.

    Now I run a business and a foundation that combine my passion for travel with the idea that exposure to the world can be a catalyst for change.

Ateeth Datt Rayapeddi

I wanted to broaden my business perspective, acumen and insight.

Working in operations at an Indian automotive major was initially satisfying. But I developed a keen interest to learn and understand the multiple facets of the business. I believed that a Business Masters would equip me with the right environment and tools to do so, and enable me to become a great value contributor to a global business at a level and scale much higher than what I was doing before.

Bachelors in Industrial Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, India

  • Goal: A strategy-based role — the thought of starting something from scratch by analyzing and devising the strategy was extremely exciting and motivating.

  • Business School Details: MBA in International Business—HEC Paris, School of Management, 2013

  • Outcome: An MBA has been a great experience and a good stepping board to propel me further. I’m a Global Segment Manager at Sensata Technologies. I’m responsible to drive growth in new market verticals and segments.

Sahil T George

I wanted to understand all aspects of running a business.

I was a Civil Engineer who worked in the construction space for 5 years with a Maharatna Public Sector Undertaking.

My father holds a Master’s in Personnel Management degree. I admire the way he handles people and situations. He is always well prepared & planned and this helps him execute tasks effortlessly.

  • Goal: I wanted to switch my career to Operations.

  • Business School Details: MBA in Operations & Marketing—ISB, Postgraduate Programme in Management, Operations & Marketing, 2016

  • Outcome: The Postgraduate Programme from ISB helped me realize my true potential at work and outside of work as well. I am now a Pathways Operations Manager at Amazon.in.

    Post MBA, I was able to change both my domain and industry to Operations in the ecommerce industry.

Crystal L. Ivey

I saw getting an MBA as a relaunch opportunity into my marketing career.

I started in a job outside of my area of interest, a case manager for the Department of Family & Children Services, and turned it around to help me grow into a person with a career experience I never could have dreamed of.

  • Goal: As a first generation college student, and an undergrad graduate during the recession, I wanted to make my family proud.

  • Business School Details: MBA in Marketing, University of Georgia, Terry College of Business, 2014

  • Outcome: I am the Associate Brand Manager at The Coca-Cola Company. I provide marketing direction for new global markets that are launching Coca-Cola Freestyle, as well as lead sustained marketing programs for our USA partners.

Maxeme Tuchman

I was told that education was the only thing our family members were able to take with them each time they fled their respective homelands.

My paternal grandparents survived the Holocaust and my maternal grandparents fled the Bolshevik revolution and ended up in US. They did all of this because they wanted their children and grandchildren to grow up in a fair, free, democratic country. I feel an incredible burden to pay it forward.

  • Goal: To work with underserved communities for all of the sacrifices my family made and the risks they took to give me a better life.

  • Business School Details: MBA and MPP from Harvard Business School & Harvard Kennedy School of Government, 2012

  • Outcome: I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Caribu, an EdTech startup. We are an education platform that helps parents, extended family, and mentors read and draw with children when they’re not in the same location.

Cristina Brown

I was about a semester away from graduating and I knew it was time to do some serious soul searching.

Initially, I wanted to become a psychologist but opening up my own practice would require a great deal of business savvy I did not possess. Then, I considered becoming a political psychologist, but realized I had no passion for it. I finally decided to get my graduate degree after meeting with the Executive Director of the MBA Program at Kansas University.

  • Goal: While I wasn’t sure where I’d exactly like to be, I knew three key things: I liked helping people, I was missing a skillset but felt eager to learn what it was and, I wanted a job working on problems and solutions.

  • Business School Details: MBA in Supply Chain Management and Marketing, University of Kansas, 2016

  • Outcome: I’m the Director of HR for Free State Brewing Co. I’m working on introducing and reshaping aspects of HR here at the Brewery. We have a very busy restaurant along with a separate production facility to produce beer for off-site sales, and so I split my time between the two sites.

Jessica Weaver

You learn much more from your failures than you do from your successes.

I started my career working for nonprofits in Washington, DC. One day I realized the boards of the nonprofits I worked for were primarily comprised of business leaders, and making the strategic decisions for these organizations. That motivated me to go to business school – and re-think how I could make an impact in my community.

  • Goal: Before earning a graduate degree, my career goals were to earn a leadership position at a leading nonprofit organization. Once I started my graduate degree, I realized my dream was to be a strategy consultant – and to play a leadership role on nonprofit boards.

  • Business School Details: MBA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2014

  • Outcome: I am a Manager at Ernst & Young. I do strategy consulting, primarily for consumer products companies. I am part of building their zero-based budgeting practice, which helps companies reduce their costs and improve their finance and budgeting processes.

Carlo Rivieccio

There was a club, and I wasn’t in it.

I had a lifelong love of theatre, and spent the first part of my career as an actor, writer, and producer. I ran my own independent production company in New York and a colleague asked if I could put together a budget — which was a task well above anything I had ever worked on. I had a general manager look it over and the response I received was “Where did you get these numbers…because they’re right.” To me, that was the impetus.

  • Goal: After starting my own production company, I found a passion for theatre/live event marketing. My dream career was to work for Disney Theatricals, but it wasn’t until I was exposed to the financial side of the theater world, that I wanted to change my narrative. My graduate degree, and UCONN, have opened doors that would not have been opened to me otherwise.

  • Business School Details: MBA in Marketing, University of Connecticut, 2015

  • Outcome: I am a Senior Analyst within the Insights department at PMK•BNC. I provide reporting, analysis, and strategic recommendations to our client, a major international tech company.

Christina Noel


I had open heart surgery when I was 10, and from there I felt called to make a difference in the world.

After volunteering with a non-profit I became very interested in taking my career in a more creative, entrepreneurial direction.

BA in Economics and Flute Performance, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 2008

  • Goal: To work in the non-profit/social enterprise world solving challenging problems in the most strategic way possible.

  • Business School Details: Marketing & Entrepreneurship, University of Georgia, Terry College of Business, 2014

  • Outcome: I am the Director of Community Engagement at The Redwoods Group — a Certified B Corp that provides insurance to youth serving organizations, including YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, non-profit summer camps, and Jewish Community Centers.

Optimism is the most precious resource we have.

Harness it with the right education, and it can take you anywhere.

Optimism is essential. But optimism alone can only take you so far.

But take that spark and build a structure of knowledge, context and vision around it, and suddenly that optimism can power a locomotive.

And that's what a business education does. It gives you the tools to turn your optimism into, frankly, almost anything you dare to imagine.

Calling all optimists.

Calling All Optimists.

What will your future look like?

Why wait to find out?

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