2022 MBA To Watch: Selom Adzamli

This profile was included among the 2022 MBAsTo Watch published by Poets & Quants on September 11, 2022.

Selom Adzamli, Rutgers Business School, MBA '22

Marketing

“A lifelong creative who is passionate about food, brands, and inclusive marketing.”

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Fun fact about yourself: I used to work in reality television and had the opportunity to see behind the scenes of some notable TV food competitions. All I’ll say is that I have a lot of respect for the judges!

Undergraduate School and Degree:  

BFA, Film & Television Production

New York University; New York, NY

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Food Business Co-Founder

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? PepsiCo, New York

Where will you be working after graduation? PepsiCo, Associate Marketing Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Ralph Bunche Fellow

Black & Hispanic MBA Association, President

Rutgers Association of Marketing and Strategy, Active Member;

Rutgers Women in Business, Active Member;

MBA Program Peer Mentor

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, taught by Professor Lyneir Richardson, my classmates and I had the opportunity to work with local entrepreneurs on real-world business problems. It was rewarding to be able to take a project that a business owner didn’t have the time or the resources for and put together a comprehensive, data-driven strategy for them to implement. After living and studying in Newark for two years, it felt right to give back to the city that did so much for me while also applying what I learned in business school.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of receiving a write-up in The New York Times for our gelato business. I had spent months working on the promotional strategy for our launch, so I was ecstatic when it all paid off. I’ll never forget riding the subway over the Manhattan Bridge and confirming the details over the phone with the fact-checker. It is one of my favorite New York moments.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Rutgers Business School because I immediately felt like I was part of a community. From the admissions office to the students and alumni, everyone was eager to answer my questions and ensure I was making a well-informed decision for myself. I had done extensive research into MBA programs and had attended many prospective student events over the years, but it was the level of personalization at RBS that I found refreshing. At the end of the day, I truly felt like my presence would be valued on the campus.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Yla Eason was my favorite MBA professor because I could consistently rely on her for support and guidance. She is the assistant professor of professional practice and also serves as one of the faculty advisors to the Black and Hispanic MBA Association. I met Professor Eason during my first year of business school and ever since then she has become an invaluable mentor to me.

Her open and inviting presence created a safe environment for students to learn while still keeping us challenged. During our Business Communication class, through the use of role-playing, public speaking and writing, Professor Eason pushed us to think about the impact of our words and to empathetically view situations through the lens of different stakeholders. During her multicultural marketing class, she regularly forwarded us news that related to our course work and left her door open to students for discussion. I often took advantage of her office hours to talk through my thoughts, listen to her insightful takes, or just catch up.

Outside of her being a professor, it’s been inspiring to see her balance her life as an entrepreneur. Her deep passion for creating products for historically excluded communities has motivated me to also find a way to make a meaningful impact through my work.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Fostering a sense of community during a pandemic is not for the faint-hearted, but I applaud the RBS community for being creative and proactive with its resources. My favorite event has to be the multi-club Women’s History Month panel. Last year was the first time in RBS history that all of the student clubs were led by woman presidents, so we were very excited to do something big for Women’s History Month. Each of us leveraged our networks and brought in inspiring women entrepreneurs and CEOs to speak to our student body. It was exciting to coordinate this event with my fellow club leaders. At some points, it felt like we were coordinating a Broadway production! It is one of the highest attended virtual club events to this day.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? As I grow older, I am more confident that I wouldn’t want to change anything in the past. I truly believe I am where I’m supposed to be. However, if I had more time, I would have loved to have taken a corporate social innovation class. I very much enjoyed my multicultural marketing class and see both topics as being connected.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I have to echo what one of my former classmates, Jamie Liptack, said last year: Rutgers is no underdog. While Rutgers is not an M7 school, people should not discount the strength of the Rutgers brand, its vast alumni network, or the caliber of its students and faculty. We have a high internship and post-MBA employment rate, and many of my classmates this year will be heading off to work at Fortune 500 companies. This is to say that Rutgers students are just as capable of securing coveted positions as those coming from top-ranked schools. 

What surprised you the most about business school? The time commitment surprised me the most. As a prospective student, I had always heard that business school would be busy. Until you experience it first-hand, you won’t understand exactly how busy. After two years, I believe the key to succeeding in business school is learning how to work smart. From schoolwork and club events to recruiting and socializing, there is simply not enough time in the day to do everything. You have to figure out what you value and then prioritize it. 

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my classmate, Santwana Mandalika. Santwana attended law school before pursuing her MBA at Rutgers, did a dual specialization in Supply Chain and Finance, and always provided perceptive insights while in class. It is evident in these achievements alone that Santwana is brilliant and a hard worker. What these don’t reveal, however, is that she is also one of the most engaged students in our class.

As president of the Supply Chain Student Initiative, she spearheaded multiple panels, coffee chats, professional development workshops, and recruiting events — continuing SCSI’s legacy of being one of the most active student clubs on campus. Additionally, as if she wasn’t busy enough, she often was the first to respond or crack a well-timed joke in the class group chat. We were very lucky to have such a positive and engaged leader in our class.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My good friend, Ruth Cenat, was very influential in my decision to pursue an MBA. Ruth is one of the smartest, most positive people I have ever met. I can distinctly remember us sitting in her dorm room during her senior year of college discussing her five-year plan to attend business school. Five years after graduating, that’s exactly what she did. I proudly watched her dominate the business school application process and then attend her first choice.

When I reached a point in my career where I saw how an MBA would be beneficial, Ruth became my ultimate coach and cheerleader. Her mentorship ensured that I was prepared for the process and that I was putting my best foot forward. I’m thankful to have such a wonderful friend and role model in my life.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

1) In addition to making a meaningful impact at PepsiCo, I would like to serve as a mentor to others. Whether it be a student, young professional or business entrepreneur, I hope that I can be looked to as a resource and a support system. Mentorship has been instrumental to my success in school and life, so it is important to me that I pay it forward.

2) I would like to be an advisor to the Museum of Food and Drink. Eating is something we must all do but food can also be a powerful portal into a culture, community, or point in time. I believe it’s important to support spaces where people can experience and learn about the food from their own or other cultures and understand how it fits into the context of history. MOFAD has been doing great work in this area, and I hope to one day leverage both my food and business experience in support of this important institution.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? In terms of career path, I’ve been lucky that the pandemic hasn’t caused me to shift from what I saw for myself post-business school. It did, however, make me more aware of what knowledge areas have become more valued. A few of these include digital marketing, project management, leadership, and supply chain. While it was no easy feat to attend business school during a pandemic, we did have the unique ability to shape our curriculum to the trends we were seeing in the world and ensure we remained competitive candidates for recruitment.

What made Selom Adzamli such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Because of her high level of emotional intelligence, it is fitting that when Selom Adzamli was a student in my Business Communication class in Spring 2021, she led the discussion with her team about the topic. During class, she talked about the qualities of self-awareness, relationship management, social awareness, and empathy that define emotional intelligence and her.

What I have observed about Selom during the last two years, I have had the pleasure of teaching and working with her as a faculty advisor is she is the student you wish you had more of in every class. She is curious, well-prepared, insightful, generous with helping others, and shares her experiences in a way that benefits a discussion.

As the president of the Black and Hispanic MBA Association, she helped develop a detailed strategy with specific tactics to increase the enrollment of Black and Hispanic students and creatively sponsored a beer and wine ‘tasting’ event to create awareness of the organization, which was innovatively hosted via Zoom. In addition, she sponsored a diversity, equity, and inclusion seminar that highlighted employment opportunities and outlined the social navigation skills needed to be successful in the corporate environment.

Further, she was instrumental in initiating the first seminar where all the different student organizations on campus partnered to host a Women’s History month event and helped solicit an impressive selection of speakers.

One act of kindness that makes her such an outstanding human is when she approached me with genuine concern to ask if I would speak with another student struggling with an issue. Because Selom wanted the person to overcome her challenge, she took the initiative to find her counsel to help resolve it.

In my current Multicultural Marketing class, she is consistently the first person to post in the discussion area often shaping the tone and analysis that others find thoughtful, sensitive, sensible, and foresighted.

I strongly believe Selom will continue to have an impact on society and become a sought-after opinion leader in our national community.”

Yla Eason
Assistant Professor of Professional Practice
Rutgers Business School

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