MBA 2022 to watch: Alicia Davis, Columbia Business School

“Tough and authentic, while striving to build a better world and connect with others.”

Hometown: Queens, New York

Fun fact about yourself: My hairstyles are my favorite way to express myself. I love experimenting with colors and styles so much that it can sometimes be difficult for people to recognize me from month to month.

Undergraduate school and degree: Georgetown University, School of Nursing and Health Sciences – BS International Health

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Diversity Innovation Hub Program Manager, Mount Sinai Health System

Where did you do your internship during the summer of 2021? Kearney – DC Office

Where will you work after you graduate? McKinsey & Company – General Consultant, DC

Community work and leadership roles in a business school:

  • Co-Chair of the Association of Black Business Students
  • Chairman of the Council of Peers
  • Follies VP-Marketing
  • Q Cluster VP-Allies
  • Above and beyond
  • Second year scholarship holder
  • Leadership Fellow

What academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of while in business school? I am very proud of my time as co-chair of the Black Business Student Association (BBSA). After a hybrid school year and navigating the height of COVID conditions, many traditions had been lost, along with the opportunity to reinvent BBSA in a way that hadn’t existed before. With our freshman class made up of the largest number of black students in CBS history, I knew we had a unique opportunity to do something special. Being Co-Chair of BBSA has allowed me to push exciting new initiatives, become a leader, and truly bring BBSA to the forefront of the CBS experience for the entire student body. Our board has been able to accomplish so much in one year and has pushed me to grow as a leader.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am very proud of my last role as Program Manager of the Diversity Innovation Hub at Mount Sinai. For me, this role was the culmination of all my past work experiences in health technology, public health and diversity to make a meaningful impact. As such, I was able to create an incubator program for women, black and Latinx founders who are creating digital health solutions for underserved communities in New York. It felt good to accept the challenge of creating something from scratch and navigating the possibilities, especially during the early stages of the pandemic.

Why did you choose this business school? When I applied to trade school, Columbia ticked all my boxes except that I thought I wanted to move away from my hometown of New York. However, I realized that there is no better place to get your MBA than New York and CBS. As a person with a myriad of passions, CBS was a place where I could explore all of my professional and personal interests uninhibited through programs at school or opportunities in the city. CBS’s access to the highest levels of any industry and to its extensive network is unmatched.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is Stephen Meier with whom I have taken strategy formulation, the future of work and currently a global immersion course exploring the African consumer in Ghana. Since my first course with him during the common core, Professor Meier has been one of the most accessible teachers and I appreciate the extent of his expertise in the various courses I have taken with him. He always made the learning experience relaxed and meaningful at the same time.

Looking back on your MBA experience, what is one thing you would do differently and why? I really dove headfirst into all that CBS had to offer in terms of leadership, networking, and resources. I have a lot of passions and I really enjoyed exploring them to the fullest. However, if I could go back I would have loved to see what I could have accomplished if I had focused on going deeper into 1 or 2 of my passion areas rather than exploring the breadth of everything I wanted to have an impact.

What is the biggest myth about your school? My school’s biggest myth is that it’s a “suburban school” and it’s hard to get to know people. Even with people living in different neighborhoods and with social distancing rules, you can’t stop CBS students from coming together and socializing with each other. From clusters to clubs, the community thrives and you are never short of opportunities to be a part of it. There’s always so much going on and so many new people to meet and I think most people have taken advantage of it.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was surprised by the diversity of people’s backgrounds here. I used to think business school alumni went straight to Wall Street, but at CBS people are using their degrees to break into tech, art, education, sustainability and more . Business really touches every facet of our society and the students at my school prove it.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an advantage at your chosen school? I think I have proven myself as a community builder through my past involvement, my trials and my presence during interviews. I wanted to establish that wherever I went to school, I was going to invest myself in leaving her better than I found her. I think CBS really appreciated that quality in me and has continued to cultivate it since I was accepted.

Which MBA classmate do you admire the most? I admire Mo Kamaly, with whom it seems I was destined to be friends for life. He is my learning partner and has served in leadership roles with me at Follies, our cluster board, and in the Peer Advisor program. I think Mo is exceptionally bright, humble and kind. He constantly shows up for the CBS community and puts the needs of others before his own. He is truly loyal and always keeps his commitments, and as such he has had such a positive impact on so many people at our school.

Who most influenced your decision to do business in college? One of my best friends, Sonovia Wint, influenced my decision to go to business school. We had the same major in college and I could see how an MBA could open doors for my career and allow me many options to make a significant impact on society. She set an example that business school was accessible to me even though I had no quantitative background and could chart my own course with it.

What are the top two items on your professional to-do list?

  • Launch my startup and become a household name in hair care technology
  • Being invited as a keynote speaker for my alma maters.

How has the pandemic changed your outlook on a career? The most obvious thing is that the pandemic has highlighted the ability of many of us to do our jobs from anywhere in the world. I think it really pushed the case for globalism forward because people found they could do their jobs in the cities that suited them best rather than being tied down by location. However, it also led me to examine what factors create fulfillment and what workplace culture really entails. I think I’ve learned that I prefer work that offers flexibility and works to reimagine what culture and connectedness looks like across multiple formats. I have also come to value the ways in which we can adjust our workplaces to balance professional and personal needs.

What made Alicia such a valuable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Alicia has led with impact, intention and purpose in the CBS community. She served as co-chair of the Black Business Students Association and was a key leader in helping the wider community navigate difficult but important conversations about race. As Co-Chair of our Peer Advisors, she helped lead the team of MBA students dedicated to making the transition of over 600 incoming freshman students a fun, informative and amazing experience. A positive through and through, Alicia was an active participant in the Follies as a dancer and comedian, an invaluable leader in the Columbia community, a firm believer in her agency, she conducts herself with grace and dignity.

Michael Robinson, MBA ’01
Senior Director, Admissions
Colombia Business School

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