Willamette MBA Alumni Spotlight: Anna Sevostyanova

by Jennifer Bush,

“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 vs. Masters 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, she 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 master’s programs in the country, she sought out an MBA program.

“In HR, you work with people in all different departments,” said Sevostyanova. “You need to understand their language to be able to serve them.”

She could see how an MBA fits in the larger scope of an organization. Additionally, she found that an MBA gave her a strategic perspective of a firm.

“Employees are a big part of the strategy of a company,” she added.

Through her Global HR class with Professor Lisbeth Claus in particular, Sevostyanova learned how to analyze human resource problems and ensure the right people are in the right positions at organizations.

Willamette MBA’s Commitment to Building Leaders for Non-Profit organizations

When Sevostyanova began searching for summer internships, she struggled finding graduate school level positions in HR. 

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 and public administration. As part of the business school’s commitment to helping students work at non-profit organizations, grant funding is available for non-profit internships in the Willamette Valley area, as such organizations often don’t have the budget to hire MBA interns. Sevostyanova discovered an opportunity with an HR component at the Boys and Girls Club of Salem, one of the organizations to receive such a grant.

“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 a Full-Time Position

The Boys and Girls Club of Salem had no dedicated HR professional at the time. The organization was so impressed with the knowledge and skills Seovstyanova brought to the table as an intern, they decided to expand the department and add a role dedicated to HR.

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

“Human resources is a combination of a lot of other functions," she said. “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 data analysis skills she learned in the program into her daily work, particularly the Management Analytics elective course 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 and quantify what initially seemed unquantifiable. Through analyzing data, she is able to see if the initiatives she implemented are having the intended effect on employees.

Working at a local non-profit requires an “all-hands-on-deck” mentality and the vast array of skills she learned at Willamette MBA.

“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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