So this week, I get to introduce you to a real servant leader, Allyson Tom ’15, Development Officer, Academic Institutes and Programs, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I’ve worked with Allyson in student government her entire time here, and we’re thrilled having her as Co-Chair of the FEMBAssadors this year.
Dylan: So Allyson, the first thing of course, so near and dear to both of us, that I want people to know about you is “FEMBAssadors”. What can you say about FEMBAssadors?
Allyson: When I was applying to FEMBA back in 2012, I was fortunate enough to have some friends in the program who were willing to talk about their experiences, invite me to class visits, and share some of their coveted application advice with me. Those opportunities to experience the FEMBA community first-hand were invaluable and made it clear that Anderson was where I wanted to be.
As a first-year I heard about FEMBAssadors and immediately thought it would be a great way for me to get involved and give back. I have loved talking to prospective students during FEMBA Chats and other admissions events. So many of the people I’ve talked to are still nervous or curious about this thing that they want to be a part of, but aren’t even totally sure about yet, and I can put myself right back in their shoes. It’s so rewarding to see them build their confidence right before my eyes as I encourage them to embrace all of the things that will make them unique and interesting FEMBAs.
Now, in my third year as a FEMBAssador, and serving as the Co-Chair of the Core Team, I’m so excited to see the impact that all of this outreach is having on new classes of FEMBAs. Last year, FEMBAssadors made contact with nearly 2,000 unique prospects… and we’re just getting started. We’re hosting more events, leveraging our network and new technology to reach prospects in places that we never dreamed of recruiting from before. This is really what FEMBA is all about – great people with great ideas coming together. I remember Dylan saying “diamonds polish diamonds” during one of the Open Houses I attended as a prospect, and it really is true both within the community, and beyond. FEMBAssadors are helping prospects and new admits find their sparkle to ensure that they become our classmates.
If you want to join the student-driven effort with FEMBAssadors and pay it forward to someone who could eventually end up being the next FEMBA President, or FEMBA alum who is CEO of Google, it’s not too late!
Dylan: Thanks Allyson. I love how the FEMBA Chats have taken off the last years with all the leadership from FEMBAssadors. How about your career? How is your professional growth during UCLA Anderson?
Allyson: At the start of FEMBA I considered myself a career enhancer – I was at an organization that was thriving and offered me great upward mobility in an industry that I felt fulfilled in. I was lucky to have a director who supported me and almost immediately recognized the value of my MBA coursework and promoted me within six months of me starting the program (she admitted that this was also part of her strategy to incentivize me to stay despite the doors that she knew would be opening for me through Anderson’s network).
But, I wouldn’t say that is the best, and certainly not the only, thing that FEMBA has done for my career. The best thing FEMBA has done for me as a young professional is reinvigorating my passion for learning, self-improvement, and self-exploration. Meeting people from all walks of life, and with so many diverse interests and experiences has opened my eyes to a whole new realm of possibilities. It can be so easy to find a comfort zone or to feel like it’s too late to make a big change, but working alongside and talking with people who aren’t afraid to pursue new ideas and take some risks has given me the confidence and the curiosity to see what else I’m capable of. It has sparked an interest in entrepreneurship that I never knew I had. Not all of the things I’ve learned about myself are completely new – I’m still passionate about people and using my strengths in communications and project management to help others achieve their own success – but there’s no doubt that my perspective on how I can apply those things has been cracked wide open.
After a long day of GAP dry-runs and making it to my last UCLA-usc football game as a student, we actually ran into some FEMBA Alums. They told us that we’ll really see how strong the network is in ten years. I can’t wait to see how FEMBA will continue to help me evolve and play a role in my next steps.
Dylan: OK, last question, and my favorite. I know you can’t believe it’s almost over (FEMBA), so tell us some of the personal highlights you’ve experienced.
Allyson: My favorite part of FEMBA has been the people. I am constantly amazed and so grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by so many smart, driven, and interesting people. If I’m being completely honest I wasn’t sure whether I’d become close friends with any of my classmates when I first started the program. I figured we’d all be so busy with work, families, and trying to maintain our pre-FEMBA relationships in the little spare time we had, that we might not really become “friends.”
Well, that skepticism was quickly shattered and now I feel like such a fool for having ever thought that way. I have met so many amazing people, and made so many friendships that I know will last well beyond graduation in June. Without these awesome friends, the long days of work followed by class, countless hours studying in “pods,” and of course the highs and lows of GAP would have been unbearable… but now as we’re nearing the end of our time at Anderson I’m actually (I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t think I’m the only one) sad and going to miss all of the fun that we have on campus. On the bright side, I guess that just means we’ll have plenty more time for happy hours, tailgates, and dinners without feeling guilty about case write-ups and GAP drafts!
Dylan: Thanks for allowing me to brag about you to our FEMBA community. You really have modeled servant leadership Allyson. FEMBA is better, for having had you here. Oh? What’s that? You have a P.S.?
Allyson: That’s right. One more thing. This last photo is of my husband, Steven, with my Joe Bruin and fellow FEMBA 15 Ross Kremers. Steven and I had been dating for a several years when I started the program. Then we got engaged during winter break of my first year and got married in April 2014 (strategically timed before the start of GAP). Steven is working towards his PhD across campus in the Materials Science Department, but has thoroughly enjoyed the FEMBA Program. As you can see, he has made just as many (if not more) FEMBA friends as I have. He’s always asking me questions about what I learned in class and enjoys applying some of the notes on leadership and communications that I share with him to his own work. Steven is proof that FEMBA can be a “win” for everyone involved (directly or through proxy) with the program.
Dylan: Well thanks Allyson. These pictures are worth a thousand words! We are happy you are here.