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Business School as a Vehicle for Doing Good

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Ashley Ver Burg

If you want to change the world in the 21st century, go to business school.

Ashley Ver Burg Soukup is a full-time MBA student at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.

Hello! My name is Ashley Ver Burg Soukup, and I’m a full-time MBA student at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. With a liberal arts background, I never considered a career in business until I moved home from a year of teaching English in France and landed a job consulting in the architecture and engineering industry. Lo and behold, I loved the business aspects of my work: leading teams, directing strategy, managing budgets, and developing people. Once I learned how an MBA could help me leave a positive impact on my community, I was convinced. Now I’m pursuing my passion for food on a brand management career track… made possible by my MBA education!

Dream Career: CMO, Liberal Arts College President, Elected Official, or Entrepreneur.

Why Business School? A mentor advised me: “If you wanted to change the world in the 20th century, you went to law school; if you want to change the world in the 21st century, go to business school.”

Best GMAT exam study tip? Study strategically. Use practice test results to identify problem areas and focus studying where it counts.

Before business school, I was: An urban planner—I was consulting on transportation projects in the upper Midwest and across the country.

When I’m not in class, you’ll find me: Somewhere in Minneapolis-St. Paul’s awesome food & drink scene in deep conversation with my classmates and friends debating how to solve the world’s problems.

Advice for anyone thinking about b-school? Take the GMAT exam as soon as you can (preferably while you’re still an undergrad—I wish I would have done this). Know your career goals (and know that they very well may change) and how an MBA will help you achieve them. My remedy for pre-test nerves: Exercise and healthy snacks.

I didn't consider an MBA until I saw the numbers on how few women go back for their business degrees.

On the day before your exam, you should: Plan and visualize your exam day: when you’ll wake-up, what you’ll eat for breakfast, what snacks/drinks you’ll bring, how you’ll get to the testing center. Take all extraneous decisions out of the day, so you can mitigate nerves and bring all your brainpower to conquering the exam.

How did you fit studying for the GMAT exam into your busy schedule? Make a mental commitment to studying and be selfish about protecting your planned GMAT prep time. As a consultant, I was often tempted to let work hours creep into my study schedule. Blocking off time on my calendar and fighting to keep that commitment to myself was what allowed me to stay true to achieving my GMAT goals.

How well-prepared for business school do you feel, after studying for the GMAT exam? I admittedly enjoyed studying for the GMAT. It prepared me to approach problems strategically and make the best decision with limited information. This frame of mind entering business school prepared me well for coursework.

Consider Business School as a Vehicle for Doing Good

"An MBA is an incredible way to leave a long-lasting impact on your community."

Full transcript

"Growing up my parents always told me to pursue my passion and make the world a better place. Business was not on my radar. And when I went to college, I pursued my passion in Environmental Studies and became an urban planner, a job I absolutely loved. But as I got into it, I realized what I was really good at was the business was the business aspects of my job. I didn’t consider an MBA until I saw the numbers on how few women go back for their business degrees, and it made me mad. So, I remember emailing all my friends who are some of the most articulate, passionate, strongest women leaders I know and said, “we have to get our business degrees.” Ultimately, as I started to look into more resources from GMAC and other sources, I found that an MBA is an incredible way to leave a long-lasting impact on your community. You can serve on the board of a non-profit, you can be philanthropic, you can start a business that helps others, you can even bring a under-represented voice to a really important table, which is why I sit before you today – an urban planner turned business woman who still pursuing my passion and on a mission to make the world a little bit better."