The social media star of the Masters Programs Office and one of the gate-keepers for admission into the program, this week we sit down with Ashton Paulitsch. Read on to find out about Ashton’s experience in the program and what advice she would offer applicants.
Chris Lynch (CL): Tell us a little bit about your background?
Ashton Paulitsch (AP): I’m an Irish-dancer turned marketer. I’m also a two-time alum of the Alberta School of Business (B. Com and MBA). I come from a non-profit communications background and was working with the Alberta Cancer Foundation before pursuing my MBA and joining the Masters Programs Office.
CL: As someone with a Bachelors degree in Business, why did you decide to do the MBA?
AP: I completed my undergraduate degree in Marketing. The MBA offered very different specializations than the B. Com and I saw the MBA as an opportunity to round out my skill set and pursue a specialization in sustainability. I was able to round out my skill set with more technical and quantitative courses than I took in the B. Com and still able to specialize in an area that is important to me.
CL: A non-profit background is somewhat of a less traditional background for MBA students. How did you find the MBA program?
AP: There were more students coming from a non-profit background in the program than I expected. Beyond that, virtually everyone in the MBA program has some experience with non-profit organizations as either a donor or a volunteer. Non-profits are sometimes given an unfair reputation, but they can be multi-million dollar organizations where business practices can make a large impact.
CL: What do you see as an emerging trend or opportunity with Graduate Management Education?
AP: Social media is the biggest opportunity that comes to mind. From an admissions point of view, social media can give you a truer picture of an applicant including their passions and interests outside of work. Social media also gives applicants the ability to see what student life in the MBA program is really like before they apply. In addition, I think there are a lot of new markets for Canadian MBA programs to explore. Latin America is one area that comes to mind, especially with traditional education destinations possibly becoming less friendly to international students due to changes in government or policy. Canada’s upcoming 150th birthday is a special opportunity for Canadian schools to get together and market Canada as an international study destination.
CL: Looking back on the MBA, what would you say was your favourite course, or the one course that every MBA student should consider?
AP: Corporate Sustainability (SMO 638) with Joel Gehman. The course looked at topical and emerging issues but encouraged students to think outside the box. An honourable mention would go to Environmental Management (BUEC 564) which was another timely course. The Alberta government recently announced new climate change regulations and this course helped me understand everything that was going on.
CL: And what would be your highlight of the MBA program?
AP: There are a couple that come to mind. A definite highlight was the international study tour to South Korea and Japan at the end of the program. It was a perfect way to end the program, see new parts of the world, and through the tour, we had access to businesses that we would never have been able to visit otherwise. Another highlight was leading the MBA Melons team for Bust a Move. This was a six hour fitness extravaganza I was involved in during my time with the Alberta Cancer Foundation and being able to participate from the other side, share some of my past experiences with my peers, and raise over $5,000 for breast cancer research at the Cross Cancer Institute was a rewarding experience.
CL: What’s the toughest interview question you’ve asked?
AP: What would you do if you aren’t accepted? This question gives students a chance to speak to their resiliency, but also helps us gauge if the MBA is something they actually need to reach their goals.
CL: What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer to applicants?
AP: Do your research! The MBA is a big investment in terms of both time and money. You want to make sure that the degree going to help you meet your career goals and that our program, or any other program you’re considering, is a good fit for you not just in terms of academics, but student life too. One way to get a feel for the culture at the University of Alberta is to follow us on social media.
CL: And finally, a couple of fun questions. What’s one of your favourite things to eat?
AP: Pepperoni Pizza from Royal Pizza.
CL: When you aren’t working, what are we likely to find you doing?
AP: Working out, dancing, or playing soccer.
Interview conducted by Chris Lynch.