Prior to her MBA at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Alison worked in the tourism and wine industry for a communications agency in New York. She helped international companies navigate the US market, increase their visibility and their sales.
Alison sought an MBA steeped in internationality. Ranked by the Financial Times as one of the top 100 business schools in the world, 32% of students and over a third of the faculty at Fox are international. The school organizes two global immersion trips per program intake, whereby students have the opportunity to investigate how businesses operate in emerging markets and network with foreign executives.
For over two decades, Fox has emphasized experiential learning. The school requires its MBA students to complete an aptly titled 'capstone course', training them to work with concrete projects and real-time data. Alison notes that the course consolidates students' understanding of theory, while encouraging them to practice it effectively in actual business settings with all their complexity and uncertainty.
Five years after graduating, Alison established The James Collective—a public relations (PR) and integrated marketing company specializing in the food, beverage, and hospitality space with offices in New York and San Francisco.
BusinessBecause spoke to Alison about her experience at Fox School of Business, and her career success since.
How did the idea for The James Collective come about?
In addition to my MBA, I spent my career in PR and marketing working with dozens of companies, brands, individuals and government agencies. I realized that I kept hearing the same thing—that my clients wanted to work with a creative and relationship-centric team who could leverage connections and nimbly execute while truly understanding their strategy and business goals.
I knew I wanted to work with people who cared about building culture and community, but that I also wanted to build a company that could give back. Thus, The James Collective was born.
How did the Fox MBA help you in starting up your own business?
The understanding of what were, frankly, my least favorite areas of business—accounting and legal—were vital in both founding and managing my business. Those skills, the development of strategic thinking that I built during my MBA and the years following, as well as the relationships I built throughout those years have been vital to The James Collective’s growth.
Running my business is definitely one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I believe that my MBA helped me along the path to get here.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
While I had a depth of tactical knowledge in marketing and communications prior to my MBA, I wanted to learn more about the ins and outs of running a business—not only for my own future business, but also for the clients with whom I worked on a day-to-day basis. I felt that the knowledge gained through an MBA would help me make more holistic and educated decisions to impact my clients.
I chose Fox because I wanted to do an international MBA program. The program at Fox gave me the ability to study around the world, work with students from many nationalities, and consult with an international company for my capstone project. I felt it was an MBA that not only gave me the hard skills expected of the program, but also build upon the soft skills necessary to work with all types of cultures and personalities.
What stands out from your MBA experience?
The deep international experience and the people I met along the way.
This program wasn’t one where you go to a country with a bunch of other Americans for a short period of time and take classes as you would stateside. Rather, I got to work with people from all around the world, integrate into local communities, and meet with business leaders in places like Tokyo and Shanghai. Those experiences really set the program apart.