2018 Best EMBAs: Karen Marshall, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Karen Marshall

Arizona State University, W. P. Carey School of Business

“A curious citizen of the world.”

Age:  Nice try.

Hometown: Tempe, Arizona

Family Members: Superhero husband

Fun fact about yourself: Past performances include flying trapeze and waterski pyramid shows.

Undergraduate School and Degree: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), BS Business Administration (Marketing)

Where are you currently working? Depends on when you’re reading this… stay tuned 😉

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles: Love competitive swimming. Also travelling near and far, especially when it includes getting muddy with Habitat for Humanity Global Village projects in developing countries.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The Executive MBA program was rigorous and rewarding. I will be most proud to walk with my colleagues at the graduation ceremony with whom I shared this incredible experience.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Learning how to speak “Aussie” while living and working in Sydney and Melbourne.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Oh gosh, it’s impossible to choose one…they were the crème de la crème. They brought the materials to life through animated storytelling, real world examples, and practical applications. My favorites will be the ones that I can still turn to as my career progresses.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? I was pleasantly surprised by my fascination with the Business and Public Policy course. To see how government and business are closely intertwined and to experience examples during the Washington, D.C. trip were eye-openers.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? The curriculum included an International Practicum (in our case, China) and a perfect mix of quantitative and qualitive courses. In addition, all classes were in-person, which I knew would help build relationships and networks while supporting shared learning from diverse experiences and backgrounds. It also helped that Arizona State University is ranked among the Top 30 MBA programs, and is the nation’s No. 1 most innovative university according to U.S. News & World Report.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The camaraderie, the fun, the people.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? Every EMBA student benefits from a good support crew. Having that salad made for me each day and late night pizzas delivered to school were pick-me-ups from my husband that were beyond measure.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Go for it, and don’t wait.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? It’s easy to feel as if it will be hard to get back into “school mode” and be a student again. In reality, getting the MBA was like an elevated and thoughtful extension of work.

What was your biggest regret in business school? No regrets. Any decisions I made were either “learning experiences” or successes.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Impossible. Every one of them added value in their own unique way. The caliber was astounding, and I was fortunate to be in their company.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was hungry for a new challenge.  I felt my on-the-job learning combined with a formal business education would enable me to become an exponentially better business leader.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…without the secret decoder ring. I would be less knowledgeable of the people, processes, and opportunities around me.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My professional goals extend beyond my career. I’d like to use my experiences, education, resources, and relationships to effectively provide opportunities to those that were not given the same.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I want to work with her!

Favorite book: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, because the storyteller and perspective continued to change throughout the novel. It reminded me how the same events can have divergent interpretations and outcomes depending on each individual’s unique experience.

Favorite movie or television show: The Amazing Race…I love the challenges while soaking in the endless languages, sites, and traditions unique to each corner of the world.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Swimming competitively until I’m 100. Oh yeah, and bungee jumping in New Zealand.

What made Karen such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“It didn’t take long to realize that Karen was a standout. From the first day of class, to her final submission (best in class), she exhibited all of the traits you would expect of someone nominated for this honor, and then some: Integrity, leadership, confidence, inspirational and a person for others with a world view.

In today’s world, we need people of Karen’s caliber to lead us to a higher level of discourse. In class or just in casual conversation, she takes every opportunity to build up versus tear down. You find this in her interactions with classmates. And you find this in her self-description… ”a curious citizen of the world,” as evidenced by her dedication to Habitat for Humanity.

My real excitement for Karen is what she will be doing down the road in her own “Amazing Race”. That chapter is yet to be written, but I can say with confidence that she will have one terrific story to tell, and it will inspire many others to say, “I want to work with her.”

Gary Naumann

Hahnco Companies Professor of Entrepreneurship / Professor of Practice

W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University



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