MBA to Watch 2022: Jess Perez, Brigham Young University (Marriott)


“Passionate about mentorship and continuous improvement.”

Hometown: Farmington, UT

Fun fact about yourself: Lovers of roller coasters and thrills

Undergraduate school and degree: Brigham Young University, BA in Finance

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Goldman Sachs, credit partner

Where did you do your internship during the summer of 2021? Cicero Group, Salt Lake City, UT

Where will you work after you graduate? Boston Consulting Group, Consultant, Los Angeles Office

Community work and leadership roles in a business school:

* Managing Director of Kaizen, an internal consulting group focused on continuous improvement within the MBA program

* Lead Consulting Mentor – prepared students for careers in consulting. Supervision of 12 student mentors

* Hawes Scholar – $10,000 scholarship and prize awarded annually to 10 MBA students based on academic performance and impact on the program

* Savage Scholar – $5,000 scholarship program that enables 20 students to complete an international operations consulting project. Worked with a marble company in Greece to improve distribution

* Vice-president of the Strategy and Consulting Club

What academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of while in business school? I know it sounds a bit silly compared to all the other prestigious business school awards, but I am so proud of my superlative award I received in the first semester. My class voted me “The person we go to when the finance teacher’s aides have us even more puzzled,” and I laughed so hard at the time, but it ended up meaning a lot.

My undergraduate degree was in finance, so I coached many of my classmates in their very first finance course. Watching them succeed was so rewarding. I’m proud to know that they trusted me as a mentor and were comfortable with me. I want to carry this willingness to help and this enthusiasm for the achievements of others throughout my life.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I had the opportunity to lead a council representing the junior population in my former office. We noticed some weak points regarding communication between regions, so we held focus groups with dozens of colleagues in the United States and abroad. We then developed initiatives to help junior employees make meaningful connections with colleagues they haven’t interacted with face-to-face. I led trainings on communication best practices (like when a phone call is better than an email) and ensured that all global teams had consistent video conferences.

I noticed an immediate difference in my team as my junior colleagues in London started calling me more often. At the time, I was excited about the impact of the project, but had no idea of ​​its relevance months later during the COVID-19 pandemic. As our entire department has transitioned to working from home, it has become even more critical for teams to use technology to maintain connectivity and build relationships. I’m so glad I was able to make a change that helped us prepare for this transition.

Why did you choose this business school? My program has a huge emphasis on experiential learning – the model is called Learn-Do-Become. You learn a principle (usually in a prerequisite course) and then apply to various groups that allow you to gain transformative hands-on experience. I loved this concept of becoming – it was a big part of why I chose to study at BYU.

One of my favorite experiences was being part of the Savage Consulting program, which is a funded group that provides free operations and supply chain consulting to companies around the world. As part of my experience, I traveled to Greece and worked with a marble company developing a new, more sustainable product. I learned so much more than I could have learned in class, and it helped me become a better leader.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My quality management teacher, John Gardner, changed my life. We learned a lot of very technical frameworks, but then he helped us apply them to our personal lives to make the concepts stick. At one point, I applied statistical process control and fishbone diagrams to my sleep schedule. I have never been so well rested in my life!

One thing I will never forget is the differences between Kaizen (continuous improvement) and Kaikaku (radical change). Understanding the theory helped me see how to make an impact in a different way. I used to underestimate the power of incremental improvements over time, but I realized that small acts can change the world.

What has been your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I love the program’s emphasis on mentorship. During the summer, each incoming freshman is paired with a sophomore student mentor to help answer questions and prepare you for the program. My mentor, Dallin Pope, really helped me succeed early in the program. He got me thinking about my personal brand, introduced me to alumni, and helped me prepare for interviews. Now that I’m in second grade, I loved the opportunity to support the new class.

Looking back on your MBA experience, what is one thing you would do differently and why? I like my involvement in my program. But if I could go back, I would be more selective and intentional in managing my extracurricular commitments. Over the past two years, I’ve learned a lot about essentialism and the importance of having no set criteria. Understanding these principles has allowed me to have an impact while managing my energy, and I know it would have been beneficial to learn earlier.

For example, my first few weeks in the program, I signed up with a ton of clubs. While I was enjoying the interaction, I realized that I couldn’t give everything I wanted to everything on my plate. Now I’ve reduced the amount of stuff I do and focus on quality instead. It was a big shift in mentality.

What is the biggest myth about your school? While going to a religious school, I had heard that most students would be members of the sponsoring religion. I was thrilled to discover how diverse my classmates were – we come from all over the world, have varied religious backgrounds, and our work experience varies widely. The best part was seeing how, through these differences, we were able to challenge our way of thinking in ways that made us all better business leaders.

What surprised you the most about business school? I knew business school would involve a lot of teamwork, but I was surprised at how much learning happens outside of the classroom. My first semester felt like a master class in team dynamics. I spent almost every waking moment with my assigned study team and it transformed us all. Learning how to create meaningful change with a group is a lesson I know I will return to constantly throughout my career.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an advantage at your chosen school? Before applying to trade school, I spoke with many current students and alumni. I knew a lot about the program and its mission, which really gave me an edge in my application because I could tell my story in a way that resonated with the admissions department. More importantly, their stories helped me recognize that this was the place for me. This certainty allowed me to be more enthusiastic and authentic throughout the process.

Which MBA classmate do you admire the most? I am surrounded by incredibly talented classmates. Someone who really impresses me is our class president, Ethan Felix. He’s amazing at building relationships – I’m pretty sure we all think we’re his favorite person in the class. He’s taken over 20 credits each semester, has 4 kids, is super involved in leadership, and yet he never seems rushed when he talks to you. I learned a lot from him – I want to emulate that skill in my relationships and really be in the moment with people.

Who most influenced your decision to do business in college? I had a mentor, Tina Ashby, who really influenced my decision to study business. I was taking classes in a completely different field when she reached out to me and helped me understand that understanding business would help me have more impact in any role in any company in my life. any sector. I decided to take a few classes and realized that I loved how an understanding of business changed the way I see the world. It helped me see why people do what they do based on where the incentives are, which allowed me to be more effective at creating impact. I’m so glad she took the time to reach out and introduce me to something I hadn’t thought of. I hope I can be that kind of mentor for students in the future.

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

  • Become an expert in business strategy and be invited to return to my alma mater to teach as an adjunct professor.
  • Mentor someone through a career change. Be the type of manager who cares more about people and their growth than the workforce.

How has the pandemic changed your outlook on a career? The pandemic has triggered a massive paradigm shift in the way we work. As a result, I feel empowered to think outside the box. I’ve always been more focused on impact and results than face-to-face time or office politics, and this cultural shift will allow me to do my job in the most efficient way.

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

“Jessica has been a leader in every way possible in the BYU Marriott MBA program. Whether it’s quietly assisting other students in their courses, playing a leadership role in the MBA program’s fee-based consulting firm, or leading the program’s continuous improvement efforts. Her dedication to helping others is legendary – she even led a mid-term financial review on her wedding day.

Daniel Snow
BYU Marriott MBA Program Director



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