Willamette MBA Alumni Spotlight: Anna Sevostyanova

by Emily Anderson MBA'20,

“I wouldn’t be at the Boys and Girls Club if it weren’t for Willamette MBA. They give you a lot of preparation to help you succeed.”

MBA Concentration in HR vs. Master's in Human Resources

After studying and working in marketing in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Anna Sevostyanova MBA’17 wanted to move into human resources. Searching for an MBA program in the United States, Sevostyanova discovered that the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University is one of the few schools in the country with an MBA concentration in human resources. Even though there are several masters in human resource programs in the country, Sevostyanova sought out an MBA program because “in HR, you work with people in all different departments. You need to understand their language to be able to serve them.” With an MBA, Sevostyanova felt she could see how an MBA fits in the larger scope of an organization. Additionally, Sevostyanova found that an MBA gave her a strategic perspective of a firm. “Employees are a big part of the strategy of a company.” Through her Global HR class with Professor Lisbeth Claus in particular, Sevostyanova learned how to analyze human resources problems and ensure the right people are in the right positions at organizations.

Willamette MBA's Commitment to Building Leaders for Not-for-Profits

When Sevostyanova began searching for internships in HR, however, she struggled finding graduate school level positions. “A challenge I came across was searching for a summer internship because there are not a lot of HR internships out there.” Searching for internships in the not-for-profit world and in HR, Sevostyanova attended a networking event for not-for-profits and Willamette MBA students.

Not only does Willamette MBA have one of the few HR concentrations in the country, it also holds the distinction of being accredited for business, government and not-for-profit. As part of the business school’s commitment to helping students work at not-for-profits, every year grant funding is provided for students to accept not-for-profit internships in the Willamette valley area as not-for-profits often don’t have the budget to hire MBA interns. The Boys and Girls Club of Salem was one of the not-for-profits to receive grant funding for an intern and Sevostyanova discovered the internship had an HR component.

“Falling in love with the Boys and Girls Club happened at the interview. They were so open to ideas and curious. They are always going forward with the best new practices and staying on the cutting edge. This is the spirit of the Boys and Girls Club.”

Transition from Summer Internship to Full-Time Position

Though the internship had an HR component, the Boys and Girls Club of Salem had no dedicated HR professional. After Sevostyanova completed her internship, the not-for-profit was impressed with the knowledge and skills and decided to expand the department and add a role solely focused on HR.

Now in her current role as their Human Resource Generalist, Sevostyanova says she incorporates more than just the tools she learned in her HR classes.

“HR is a combination of a lot of other functions. For example, on the recruiting side I incorporate a lot of marketing. I market ‘us’ to the prospective employees out there. When I go to career fairs, I need to think about what [the attendees] will think about when they see our booths. Do our booths translate the fun atmosphere we have at the Boys and Girls club? When they pick up flyers, will they keep them and think about us in the future when they are applying for jobs?”

Sevostyanova also incorporates her data analysis classes into her job, particularly the elective course she took in her second year, Management Analytics, with Henry Bi.

“These days you can’t make a decision that’s not based on the data. From my classes, I learned how to ask the right questions. If you want to make the right decisions, you need to know how to ask the right questions.” Sevostyanova analyzes staff surveys to see what trends are occurring at the Boys and Girls Club to quantify the initially seemingly unquantifiable. Through analyzing the data, Sevostyanova is able to see if the initiatives she and the Boys and Girls Club are promoting are having the intended effect on employees.

Working at a local not-for-profit that employs an “all-hands-on-deck” mentality, Sevostyanova can use the vast array of skills she learned at Willamette MBA directly in her current role.

“I wouldn’t be at the Boys and Girls Club if it weren’t for Willamette MBA. They give you a lot of preparation to help you succeed.”

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