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Behind the Scenes with the Board of Trustees: Get to Know Colleen McMullen, Alex Lawrence & Élida M. Bautista

The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management prides itself on being made up of a diverse range of professionals from across the graduate business education and corporate landscapes. Our Board of Trustees is no exception, with representatives from each of our 20 member schools as well as alumni and leaders from some of our corporate partner companies.

Through this monthly series, we encourage you to go behind the scenes with us to get to know members of our Board of Trustees, beyond just their professional titles, as they respond to a series of fun, thought-provoking questions. This month, get to know Tepper School of Business’ Colleen McMullen, UCLA Anderson School of Management’s Alex Lawrence and UC Berkeley Haas School of Business’ Élida M. Bautista.

Colleen McMullen
Executive Director, Community and Inclusion, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

What is your favorite quote, and why?

I have two — one professional and one personal. My favorite professional quote is: “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” —Peter Drucker

Why? I believe the culture of an organization is the foundation for which the successful outcomes and strategy of the organization rests. A strong culture activates successful strategies. Culture and strategy nurture one another.

My favorite personal quote is: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” —Muhammad Ali

Why? We grow, heal and learn from serving others. 

When it comes to food, what is your guilty pleasure?

I have an unhealthy obsession with Swedish Fish. I may need an intervention.

What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

It was more of an adventurous experience than something I’ve done. I, along with two colleagues, were temporarily “kidnapped” by a rouge taxi driver during a seemingly normal commute while attending a conference in West Africa. We were safely picked up and returned to the U.S. Embassy by a good samaritan after the taxi dumped us on the side of the road 20 miles outside of the city center.

What is your favorite thing about the work that you do?

Hands down, connecting with and supporting prospective and current students and alumni.

If you found a magic lamp with a genie inside and could be granted three wishes, what would they be?

  1. The cure for cancer (cancer sucks)
  2. The end of systemic racism and white supremacy
  3. Three more wishes
Alex Lawrence
Dean and Director, MBA Admissions and Financial Aid, UCLA Anderson School of Management

How do you start your day every morning?

I start the day early in the morning (5 a.m.) with a 3-mile hike around my surrounding neighborhood, followed by a 60 meter Peloton spin class (6 a.m.) and finally a healthy breakfast (7:30 a.m.) that always includes fruit and a good cup of coffee. It’s a great way to prepare for a full day of activity in MBA admissions.

What is your favorite quote, and why?

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I first learned of this quote many years ago at a younger age, I didn’t fully understand what it meant to me, or could mean to me in the future. I did understand, to some degree, what the history books told us about race relations in the U.S. Even then, I had personal experiences with relatives, close friends and other people that shaped my outlook on how people should be treated. As I have grown older — especially most recently — this quote has resonated even more. 

Today, when we talk about the importance of effective leadership, the true leaders are those who voice an opinion no matter the personal risk. Those people show integrity, inspire others and are willing to help build an identity and a sense of aspiration. I learned that using your voice in the face of adversity is not easy but that we should all try to do so. Given the different “hats” that I wear on a daily basis at work, at home and in the community, I know many people look to me for some form of leadership. While perfection is not attainable, I try to be the best person I can possibly be every single day.

What is your favorite thing about the work that you do?

The best part of my work is the “magic” I witness, starting in high school. I have a chance to provide guidance to young people who may not know about different careers in the business world — management consulting, finance or perhaps owning your own business. I help individuals think about college opportunities that sometimes go beyond the borders of California. I watch as they graduate from top colleges and eventually explore opportunities to figure out what they want to do in life. Sometimes that “magic” leads people to exploring a graduate management education degree, like an MBA. 

Again, I can lend some advice, but individuals [ultimately] make their own decisions [when it comes] to applying to the right program, getting admitted and graduating from top institutions that lead to a whole new set of adventures. Given my time in higher education, I have witnessed the “magic” time and time again. It may seem like a long journey — but that is my “favorite thing about the work that I do.”

Élida M. Bautista
Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Interim, University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business 

What is your favorite thing about the work that you do?

My favorite thing is working with our amazing students. But [I also love] witnessing the transformation of students, alumni and colleagues as they internalize the learnings of racial equity and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) work, as well as getting to witness their integration of DEI considerations into how they approach their role and work.

If you didn’t have to work, how would you spend your time?

If I didn’t have to work, and had the means, I would spend some of my leisure time visiting art museums in other cities, hosting a free-form radio show and working with large cat rescue/conservation organizations (cheetahs, lions, jaguars, servals, etc.).

What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

I was volunteering in a lion conservation program in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. On our weekend off, my roommate suggested we go to the Zambia side for a day tour. I happened to have Zambian cash that a friend gifted me prior to my trip, so I agreed to join her. I had no idea what we were signing up for. We initially were just taking photos as the tour guide pointed out facts. But we soon found ourselves swimming across the top of the Zambezi river and cannon-balling into “Devil’s Pool,” a naturally formed rock swimming pool on a ledge at the top of Victoria Falls. From one side of the pool, the rocks didn’t go high enough, so you could feel the pull of the massive waterfall, which felt like you were going to get dragged down. Once you sat on the very edge, it somehow felt stable. I still look at those pictures and shake my head [in disbelief] that I did that. 

My other favorite adventurous thing that I’ve done was fishing for piranhas to feed the cayman in Brazil’s Pantanal region.

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