Kim Ayers was working in Chile as an account manager for Endeavor, a nonprofit business advisory firm, when she realized that instead of linking entrepreneurs to experts, she wanted to be an entrepreneur.
"I'd been helping entrepreneurs strategize how to grow their businesses by connecting them with executive talent, mentorship, and capital for three years before I decided I wanted to widen the scope of what I was doing -- and be the expert advisor myself," she says. "As Dean Lyons has said, I wanted to move from an attitude of 'they do that' to one of 'I do that.'"
She'd landed at Endeavor after a two-year gig as a business development advisor with the Peace Corps in Chiclayo, Perú. Before that, she'd served as a project coordinator with the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Washington, D.C. and as an intern at the Center for International Private Enterprise, a nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. All these work experiences had been supported by her undergraduate degree in foreign affairs and philosophy from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and a postgraduate certificate in business administration at the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez in Santiago, Chile.
But her time at Endeavor made her want to take her career to the next level – starting with an MBA. A Peace Corps colleague suggested Kim check out Haas and the more she learned about the school, the more it appealed to her.
"I wanted a program where I'd meet people who shared my sense of the importance of the social impact of business," she says. "I also wanted to have a personal, transformative experience as I learned business skills, and I could see that would be possible at Haas – especially after I encountered the Defining Leadership Principles."
Once at Berkeley, Kim immediately focused on consulting as her career goal, joining the Consulting Club and taking advantage of its many student-led resources, like its speaker series – which includes coaching and support from second-year students for pursuing a consulting career – and case workshops, which prepare students for internship interviews by practicing with theoretical consulting situations. Both of these resources proved invaluable to Kim who did more than 30 prep cases before landing an internship with McKinsey and Company in the summer of 2017.
"You have to decide whether to pursue consulting in early October right after you've started your program, and it can be scary to have to make the choice so quickly," she says. "But the speaker series and support from second-year students gave me a kind of road map for success. And without the case workshops, it would have been very difficult to get through the internship interviews."
Her internship led to a job offer, and now Kim is an associate at McKinsey. She is involved in multiple consulting projects in the retail and tech arenas. She credits Haas as a key element of her success.
"Without an MBA, I had no viable path into consulting," she says. "And the truly collaborative nature of the program at Haas– my classmates and I were able to support each other in a way that 'lifted all the boats' – was a crucial aspect of my MBA experience that has helped me work more effectively with my clients."