Future Leader Spotlight: Erin Grady, 2021 MBA Candidate at W.P. Carey

The first time I knew I was interested in technology was thanks to MySpace. Back in the early 2000s, it was popular for MySpace users to add little quizzes to their pages so that their friends could learn more about them. The quizzes would ask generic questions like, “How many pets do you have?” and “Who was your best friend growing up?” Trendy millennial teenagers would find a quiz, copy/paste it to their page, and add their own answers. It was by doing this that I accidentally learned how to code. I discovered that you could edit the HTML code of these quizzes to change things like the formatting (bold, underlined, or italics) and, perhaps more importantly, you could change the questions themselves. In a purely hypothetical situation, I could find out who my crush’s favorite band was, change the code of my quiz to ask, “Who is your favorite band?” and add “The White Stripes” as the answer.

My interest in coding soon spilled over to other arenas, where I avidly sought out cheat codes for The Sims and found hidden clues in the code for my Neopets’ scavenger hunt. (If you’re not familiar with The Sims or Neopets, ask a millennial and prepare yourself for an onslaught of nostalgia.) However, when I entered high school I set my sights on becoming a teacher and, for a while, technology took the back seat.

I knew that I liked helping others and I thrived in learning environments, so becoming a teacher seemed like a logical career path for me. I spent my first year of college at Stonehill College, just south of Boston, MA. To this day, I still think it is one of the most beautiful college campuses I have set foot on. However, it turned out that this small liberal arts college didn’t offer enough of the opportunities that I was looking for. After my freshman year, I transferred to the University of Missouri where I immersed myself in student activities. One of the most rewarding programs I volunteered for was A Way With Words & Numbers. As a volunteer, I would visit schools in the local district and tutor children who needed extra help with reading and math. I was able to see the benefit that a personalized education could offer students who needed some help in catching up to their peers. (Years later, I would discover that technology allows us to do this for multiple students in a class, all at the same time!) After graduating with my bachelor’s degree in education, I continued on for an extra year of an intensive master’s degree in which I was a full-time student at the University of Missouri and also a full-time teacher at Rock Bridge High School. Not only did I develop some excellent time-management skills, but I also learned the importance of empathy and patience with others, even when facing high-stress situations or short deadlines.

The University of Missouri

For the next four years, I taught middle school and high school students. (It is now my firm belief that if you can teach middle school, you can do anything.) Over the course of the time I spent teaching, my interest in technology grew again. I constantly sought out new online learning platforms and found ways to incorporate digital learning into my students’ classroom experience. In five years, I went from using outdated textbooks and paper copies to using an entirely digital curriculum (thanks, Pearson!) and Chromebooks every day (thanks, Google!). The more I immersed my classes in technology, the more transformative the learning experiences were for my students.

I found that a great deal of my job satisfaction came from making my students’ lives easier, faster, and more efficient through the use of technology and I decided to turn that into a career. I chose to pursue an MBA for the same reasons I initially entered the field of education: an MBA would provide me with the ability to help others – this time through technology - and the opportunity to continue to learn and grow. This led me to the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, ranked #3 in the United States for their MBA in Supply Chain Management (US News and World Report, 2019). As someone who thrives on organization and structure, an MBA in Supply Chain Management will give me the skills needed to build relationships with suppliers and buyers, optimize processes, and drive the most desirable results for the customer and the business.

As recruiting season is ramping up this fall, I’m seeking a supply chain internship position in a collaborative, fast-paced environment where I can drive a positive impact to others through technology. My ideal internship would be at a company that supports my desire to learn and enables me to work on projects where I can have a meaningful impact. I would like to be able to explore different roles or projects within supply chain and meet with people outside of my functional area or team to learn more about what the company is like and how its departments are interconnected. It’s important to me to work for a company whose purpose is rooted in helping others and whose culture supports sustainability and education initiatives. My hope is to find an internship experience that will challenge me and help me grow into a stronger business leader.

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