Three friends, alumni work to create opportunities for others

Founders of the Lindner Black Alumni & Friends Scholarship Fund share what inspired them to align

Good friends have your back. Great friends challenge you to strive for more.

Ashlee Carlisle, BBA ’09, Anndréa Moore, BBA ’10, Andrew Oyedeji, BBA ’12, are three of the best friends anyone could ask for in life. During their overlapping time at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, they pushed each other to pursue leadership roles in student organizations, finding themselves embodying the words of empowerment they heard from professors and mentors. They connected each other to helpful resources across the university and formed overlapping, intersecting networks that expanded with each new connection.

two Black women in black and grey suits and white blouses high five and smile with a Black man wearing a black sweater and red vest in front of a red backdrop

Left to right: Anndréa Moore, Andrew Oyedeji and Ashlee Carlisle pushed each other to succeed as students. Now they push each other as alumni to create opportunities for future Black business students.

Since their respective graduations, they’ve launched their careers and made their marks — Carlisle at 84.51 (formerly dunnhumby), the Hershey Company and now Google; Moore at the Nielsen Company, Google, Apple and now Facebook; Oyedeji at GE, GE Aviatio, GE Renewable Energy and now Virtual Kitchen Co.

Now, the three friends have focused on helping future Black business students through the Lindner Black Alumni & Friends Scholarship Fund, which seeks to fund scholarships for Black and historically underrepresented students.

Talking to Carlisle, Moore and Oyedeji, strong themes materialize: a steadfast gratitude for their experiences at Lindner and UC, an imperative to create equitable learning experiences for Black and historically underrepresented students, and a passion for igniting a curiosity about commerce, technology and financial literacy in future business problem solvers.

“It got me to believe in myself"

When they reminisce together about their experiences and extra-curriculars at UC, Moore, Oyedeji and Carlisle help jog each other’s memories, as great friends do.

A group of about a dozen young women wearing purple and white clothing and sweaters and jeans huddle together for a group photo

Moore and Carlisle spent overlapping years in several student organizations at UC, including Lambda Society.

When one starts to list what they were involved with — ADVANCE, STARS, CWEST, Sigma Phi, The Lambda Society, Darwin T. Turner Scholars, Kolodzik Business Scholars (KBS), Lindner Honors PLUS (LHP) Lindner Ambassadors, African American Cultural & Resource Center (AACRC) — the others chime in.

“I think I got extra involved by accident,” says Oyedeji, who was part of Collegiate 100 in addition to his many activities. “Part of that was the social acclimation, developing relationships throughout Lindner and UC. These leaders saw something in us to say, ‘You should be on this panel, or this board or in this program.’”

The trio of alumni recalled the names of the professors and UC staff-turned-mentors who sought them out early in the college experience and didn’t let go: Lindner Undergraduate Programs Academic Director Jenn Wiswell, OBAIS Professor Ruth Seiple, Management Professor Ratee Apana, Arthur Walton from UC Student Affairs, former AACRC Director Ewaniki “Niki” Moore-Hawkins, and current Lindner College of Business Dean Marianne Lewis.

“They really believed that I could be a leader and pushed me to sign up for leadership roles, to the point that it got me to believe in myself,” recalls Moore, who is the 2021 recipient of the Jeffrey Hurwitz Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award.

Young black woman sits atop a car in a parade with Bearcat mascot on the right and a Black man wearing a suit on the left

Carlisle, center, in a UC Homecoming parade as a student.

Carlisle was a first-generation college student, and keenly remembers a conversation she had with her mother that informed her approach to involvement at UC.

“My mom said, ‘I’ve taken you as far as my knowledge can take you,’ and she let go of the reins,” says Carlisle. “For me, being involved on campus meant exposure, insight into new interests, and ultimately provided me with great mentors and coaches, like ‘Doc' P. Eric Abercrumbie who started me on my way.” 

“Now that’s our day-to-day"

Carlisle, Moore and Oyedeji confidently point to the experiential learning inside and outside the classroom as the ideal preparation for their careers — and the driving force for them to fund and create those opportunities for future students.

Oyedeji’s role at Virtual Kitchen Co is the first he’s held with a domestic focus. The study-abroad opportunities he experienced in Mexico, China, Belgium, France, Canada and inside a Lindner classroom have not only helped him cultivate his global network, but continue to inform his approach to doing business as an inclusive leader.

“At Lindner, I took an online class about understanding cultural differences, and we worked with students based out of Austria,” recalls Oyedeji. “It was definitely not as commonplace as it is for students today, so it was out of this world at the time. But now, those remote or in-person intercultural exchanges are our day-to-day.”

A Black woman in a grey suit and white button-up blouse stands in front of a group of students for a presentation in a room with a light wooden podium and light green walls

Carlisle speaking in a marketing class in fall 2019.

For Carlisle, college brought about opportunities for self-discovery and fed her entrepreneurial spirit, both of which are surprisingly relevant in corporate America.

“There are business concepts that are timeless — how to build a product proposition, fundamentals of brand advertising,” she says. “However, our learning never stops given the impact technology continues to have on the marketplace — from the democratization of information to the way in which we as consumers access content and brands. 

“What’s old is new again,” Carlisle continues. “Consumers are still engaging with brands via marketing, but the way in which we engage is nuanced compared to about 10 years ago. Business schools must prepare students to be agile problem solvers and lifelong learners.”

In her role at Facebook, Moore leans into the interdisciplinary forums and cross-training opportunities from quarter-long sprints at UC.

Four Black women sit at a table with a black table cloth as if serving on a panel in a crowded room with a multi-color SXSW 2018 banner behind them

Moore, second from the right, speaking on a panel at the 2018 SXSW conference. Moore credits the opportunities at UC to cross-train across disciplines in part for her professional success.

“All three of us work in tech or in a tech-enabled company,” says Moore. “We’re leveraging technology as an actual form of business, scaling operations, marketing and sales. There is much about engineering that I don’t know, but I need to be able to communicate customer needs to them so that they build the right products. I’m not a designer, but I need to ensure they understand the feedback we’re hearing from the market.”

“We can make an impact on an entire generation"

When they kicked off the Lindner Black Alumni & Friends Scholarship Fund a few years ago, Moore, Carlisle and Oyedeji focused on the opportunity to support Black and underrepresented students at Lindner.

A group of young women wearing UC apparel at a tailgate on a cold fall morning

Moore, center, found an opportunity to support Black business students. Together with Carlisle and Oyedeji, she is hoping other Lindner alumni will contribute to provide scholarships.

“I had a really great experience [at UC], and a lot of that was due to the kindness and generosity of other people’s financial support,” said Oyedeji. “When the opportunity of the fund came around, with the three of us already being friends, being able to align our resources and our networks, we knew we could drive an impact.”

Moore points to the numbers.

“When we look at market data, Black students tend to have higher amounts of student loans. Black business professionals are underrepresented in corporate America,” says Moore.

After a year fraught with a global pandemic that laid economic disparities bare and brought combating racial injustice to the forefront of their intentions, the three friends have a renewed commitment to their cause.

 “I was compelled to evolve my thinking,” says Carlisle. “What I realized is that we can make an impact on an entire generation.” 

Featured image: Moore, Oyedeji and Carlisle together in Lindner Hall during Homecoming 2019 festivities.

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Additionally, congratulate the 2020-21 honorees, including Anndréa Moore, recipient of this year’s Jeffrey Hurwitz Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award, which is given to a UC graduate on the basis of significant professional achievement, continued service and involvement.