Your first day is always the same. High school, college, a job – you’re asking the same questions. Am I ready? Is this right for me? If I get over my head, will I be left behind? Will I get lost and forgotten with so many people around?
It’s not easy starting over. You don’t really know where to go or who to trust. The same is true of business school. Despite the Slack chats and calls, you can still feel overwhelmed and alone on day one. The Anderson School of Management knows this all too well. That’s why they operate off a philosophy that can be summed up in four words:
“We got your back.”
Or, more formally, Share Success.
THE THREE PILLARS
Share Success is one of Anderson’s Three Pillars, which express the school’s values and expectations. At Anderson, success is a team effort, which derives from nurturing each other’s talents and supporting peers when they take risks or fall short. Philip Mawamba, a first-year MBA, says Share Success “resonates” with him deeply because it aligns with the cultural values he lived in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“As Marines, we have sometimes seemingly impossible tasks to accomplish, but the strength of the wolf is in the pack,” he writes. “As a veteran, it was important to find a similar culture of collaboration. You can hardly spend any amount of time at Anderson without this pillar being brought up…The fact that I know my classmates have my back allows me to be more daring in my dreams and actions.”
That sense of ‘daring’ – the impulse to challenge and create – is embodied in Think Fearlessly. Anderson’s second pillar, Think Fearlessly channels curiosity towards forming solutions that serve the greater good. That’s the path being taken by Nkemdilim Chukwuma, who left a promising career at Goldman Sachs to become an award-winning teacher in South Korea.
“I have always valued collaboration and am passionate about driving positive change in the spaces I choose to operate in, not for me but for those that will come after me. At its core, Anderson tends to be exceptionally entrepreneurial and student-led. I wanted to be in a space that would push me beyond my comfort zone and what better place to do it than somewhere that values it in thought and action.”
A STUDENT-RUN PROGRAM
Along with their commitment to Share Success and Think Fearlessly, Anderson MBAs embrace a third pillar: Drive Change. By this, MBAs are pushed to take action and make an impact. This pillar is something that is already practiced by Alma Luz Zepeda, a Yale grad who launched her own prep school in South Central Los Angeles before starting her MBA at UCLA.
“As we grow as leaders and go off to work in the country’s top firms, it is critical that we drive positive change in our communities,” writes Zepeda, who hopes to enter strategic consulting after graduation. “I want to be engaged in the work of improving systems and I want to be surrounded by individuals who are similarly driven to improve the world around them.”
One reason why Anderson MBAs buy into the Three Pillars? As Chukwuma notes, students are involved in running all aspects of the program. In true Share Success fashion, they understand the success of the program rests on their shoulders. This “student leadership culture” requires them to commit to enriching the experience for everyone,” says Jesse Meza, a ’22 grad and P&Q Best & Brightest MBA.
“As I was considering which MBA program I wanted to be a part of, I realized, in addition to professional growth, I wanted to be part of a program that would drive my personal growth as a leader. Anderson’s student-led culture, business creation capstone, and advising programs such as Anderson Leadership and the annual Neurobiology of Embodied Leadership workshop, were the experiences I was seeking for my personal growth. I did not want an ultra-competitive program, I wanted a collaborative program where I could learn from my peers. Our “Share Success” model resonated with me deeply.”
HIDDEN ADVANTAGE: CAREER SERVICES
Still, Anderson MBAs aren’t the only ones who are deeply invested in the Three Pillars. The Parker Career Management Center epitomizes this commitment. Consistently ranked among the Top 3 career centers in student surveys conducted by The Financial Times and The Economist, the Parker Center differentiates itself through personalized and ongoing student development and close ties to employers worldwide.
“Even before our MBA program started, the director of Parker Career Management Center, along with all advisors, hosted info sessions to answer questions from prospective MBA students,” explains Mary Wang, a Beijing native who already holds a Master’s in Accounting from Notre Dame. “For international students, we had a Parker small group meeting with Ms. Chrissy Ercole, who has tremendous expertise in International Student Advising and Corporate Outreach. After the MBA program starts, there are other programs including Anderson Career Teams, advising, and recruiting activities held by Parker. We also have Parker Career Series as a core course in summer quarter so that we can define our career objectives and prepare for the internship search. I am very impressed and thankful to have Parker as part of our MBA program because it shows that the school really cares about students’ professional growth and makes more efforts compared with other schools.”
Wang herself comes to Anderson from Shell, where she served as a commercial advisor. In this role, she operated in Asia’s renewable market, working to build up its use of energy resources like solar and wind power. “I conducted market research on the renewable energy industry and performed financial analysis for executives on the Shell Global Renewables Leadership Team. Under the global fuel shortage, it is truly meaningful to serve the goal of net zero emissions in my career and work for a sustainable future for our society.”
FROM HALIBURTON TO GOOGLE
Wang will find plenty of common ground with Ali Almoulah, a triathlete who competes in the IRONMAN 70.3 distance. At Haliburton, he ran the launch of the company’s first Electric Submersible Pump (ESP) . The contract covered six countries and $320 million dollars over seven years. In contrast, Quinn Bader, a graduate of cross-town UCLA, led 60 canvassers who were responsible for a voter registration campaign in 2020. As a structural engineer, Yoshita Manne partnered with her CEO to fix the “faulty” design of a large park garage – cutting costs and making the structure more sustainable in the process. At the same time, Sarah Gerlach served as a customer success manager at one of the world’s top firms.
“At Google, I worked in the digital advertising space, and that industry has changed drastically over the last 5 years,” she writes. “Some weeks, it felt like we had to pivot our strategy every day! Being part of the team that navigated these constant changes and provided thought leadership to Google’s users was extremely rewarding.”
Looking for a class member who can do it all? Introducing Sedric Nesbitt, who describes himself as an “Ex-consultant, hip-hop dancer, swimmer, concert enthusiast, world traveler, professional kickballer, reality tv stan.” He joins Yano Windmiller, a U.S. Army Armor Officer with three passions: live music, baseball, and skiing. While Windmiller earned a degree in International Studies as an undergrad, you could also say he is a data whiz too.
“I helped research and write a paper that showed in clear, intuitive metrics that there was an outdated program that was costing the Army significantly more than was anticipated. That paper was the catalyst for senior Army leaders choosing to retire the program four years ahead of schedule and save $150M over those four years.”
By the same token, Cynthia Panez Velazco’s team finished first in a case competition run by her employer, BNC – the largest bank in Peru, an institution with 400 branches and whose roots stretch back to 1889.
“Working collaboratively, my team and I discovered that one of the main reasons for customer dissatisfaction was that the bank’s branches were always full. With this insight, we explored the idea of forecasting and informing customers about traffic in the branches. Having this information beforehand would help them make better use of their time, therefore, increasing satisfaction. Among the 150 teams that participated, only 5 were selected as finalists, including us. For the final presentation, each team had to pitch their ideas to C-suite executives in an event that was broadcast to the whole bank. So, I led the team to define our MVP, implementation plan, and success metrics. As a result, my team won the competition. We implemented our idea and increased customer satisfaction by 20 pp.”
Before that, Panez Velazco worked as a panda-keeper in China. By the same token, Hannah Untereiner – a senior associate at a real estate investment company by day – also spent five years as the “singer-songwriter, guitarist, and manager of [a] folk band.” And let’s just say class members should accept a dinner invite from Yano Windmiller.
“I enjoy challenging myself by trying to make recipes from chefs at Michelin star-awarded restaurants,” he tells P&Q. The results aren’t always bad, but they’re certainly never perfect.”
A CLASS PROFILE
The Class of 2024 features 330 full-time MBAs, who bring a 711 GMAT to campus. As a whole, GMATs and undergraduate GPAs run from 660-760 and 3.1-3.8 at the 80% range respectively. 47% of the class hails from overseas, with Brazil, Germany, Iran, New Zealand, and Vietnam among the 43 countries represented. Another 35% of the class is comprised of women, along with 28% being U.S. minorities.
Academically, the class hold undergraduate degrees from 194 institutions. The largest segments of the class – 26% each – majored in Business and Engineering. 14% hold degrees in Economics, followed by Humanities (14%) and Math Science (10%)…with another 10% falling under a variety of fields. Professionally, the class averages 6 years of experience, including 29% who have worked more than 6 years. High Tech professionals account for the most class seats at 26% of the class. Finance trails close behind at 24%, followed by Consulting (14%), Marketing (11%), Public Sector and Nonprofits (9%), Healthcare (6%), Media (6%), and Real Estate (4%).
Indeed, the Class of 2024 is diverse, accomplished, and ambitious – a far cry from the “super chill beach bums” who surf Zuma or play volleyball all afternoon. And there is far more to do near UCLA than simply hang out in the sun for two years. “It is beautiful, but it turns out there are also hiking trails, large museums, an up-and-coming downtown, a very fun K-Town (Korea Town), a million taco trucks, and more,” explains ’22 grad Jesse Meza. “Throughout my two years at Anderson, I visited the beach about 2 times per year. Yeah, it is beautiful.”
Page 2: Interview with Gary Fraser, Associate Dean of Full-Time MBA Program
Page 3: 12 in-depth profiles of Anderson MBAs