Our Stories

Ending Her Executive Search

Talent recruiter finds what she was looking for at Vanderbilt.

Ashley MacPhaille
Summer Associate, Global Human Resources Development Program, Bank of America

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School B.A.
Vanderbilt MBA 2023

After she completed her undergraduate degree in Business, Ashley MacPhaille worked as an executive recruiter in the global technology industry group of a large search firm. Originally, she had not planned to pursue an MBA. But as she thought more about her desire to remain in the human resources field—which she says “has become even more central to companies’ success during the COVID-19 pandemic and ‘Great Resignation’”—she realized she needed to broaden her experience beyond talent acquisition.

Vanderbilt stood out for two reasons. First, Ashley says, “Owen is one of the only MBA programs that has a specific concentration, curriculum, and Career Management Center resources dedicated to the human resources profession.”

Second, Ashley was drawn to Owen’s culture and smaller program size. “In my undergrad,” says the New Orleans native, “I was in classes of 60-plus people, and professors had no clue who I was. I wanted to go to an MBA program where I would have the opportunity to get to know each of my classmates and where professors actually knew my name.”

After one year in the program, Ashley was well on her way toward her career goals, landing a summer internship in the Global Human Resources Development Program at Bank of America. One advantage, of Vanderbilt, she discovered, was its flexibility, which enabled her to take elective and independent study courses alongside classes on compensation, decision making, diversity, and strategic human resource management. “I learned things,” she says, “that I could actually apply to my internship and carry forward into my career.”

Beyond the knowledge and skills she gained in the classroom, Ashley appreciated other ways in which Owen was enriching her experience. She particularly valued the Board Fellows program, which enables students to learn from serving as non-voting members of nonprofit boards. Throughout 2022, Ashley served on the board of Women in Technology Tennessee, a role that she describes as highly rewarding. And in the student-led Women’s Business Association, she was part of a committee that landed the group’s first corporate sponsors: EJ Gallo and West Monroe Partners.

One tradition she will hate to leave behind at graduation: the “Closing Bells,” when students and faculty gather on Thursday evenings for drinks and fellowship. Ashley’s two cavapoos, Deja and Vu, are regular attendees. “People bring their partners, their kids, their dogs,” she says. “It’s really an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate at the end of another week.”

Fun Fact: Before enrolling at Vanderbilt, Ashley oversaw a 12-person team of architects, engineers, and subcontractors in renovating and flipping a house in New Orleans—a project she brought in ahead of time, under budget, and with a cash-on-cash return of 68%.

Owen is one of the only MBA programs that has a specific concentration, curriculum, and Career Management Center resources dedicated to the human resources profession.