From Apple to Anthropology

PROVO, Utah – Aug 11, 2021 – The journey to becoming the first-ever chief operating officer and chief safety officer for the Natural History Museum of Utah was not one that Abby Curran expected. Curran says she owes her success to the MBA program at the BYU Marriott School of Business and her life experiences that taught her to never stop improving.

After Curran graduated from BYU in 2007 with a degree in Russian and sociocultural anthropology, she moved to New York in search of her dream job at a museum. Little did she know that her immediate need to pay rent on her New York apartment would change the trajectory of her life and career, eventually bringing her back to BYU for her MBA.

Curran started working in Apple retail when she couldn’t find a museum job. “My time at Apple started as the job to pay the rent, and it turned into a rewarding career,” she explains. But after a few years of working with Apple, Curran wanted to advance in her career. After looking at possible options, she concluded that in order to progress in her current position, she would need to spend a lot more time climbing the corporate ladder—or change course and go to business school to earn an MBA.

Curran never thought she would go back and earn a graduate degree, noting that she finished her undergrad by the skin of her teeth. “But I got to a point where I said, ‘No, I want to do more, I can do more, and I’m going to do more,’” she says.

After finishing her MBA at BYU Marriott, she took a job with Dell EMC. Working there was an enlightening and stretching experience, but once again, she realized that it was not a work environment where she was going to thrive long term. “A lot of my peers from BYU Marriott love Excel spreadsheets and could sit in front of them all day long. I’m not one of them,” Curran says.

When a position at the Natural History Museum of Utah became available, Curran says she had almost forgotten she wanted to work in museums, because she was focused on her path in the field of technology and business. “And certainly the Natural History Museum of Utah doesn’t fall on the list of Fortune 500,” she jokes. Even so, she applied for the job and believes the Natural History Museum of Utah is the perfect fit for her.

All these experiences in the unanticipated course of her life helped Curran recognize that what she considers her proudest accomplishment is her continual progress. “I by no means would consider myself an overwhelming success story. But I’m someone who’s going to continue to work and keep trying,” Curran says. She is grateful that she has developed these qualities, because they have helped her to persevere in times of trial.

While her journey may have been different from what she had planned, Curran wouldn’t change a thing. “My BYU Marriott MBA was an unexpected critical milestone for me as a humanities and anthropology major beforehand, but it has been an invaluable one,” she says, “and I’m grateful my MBA experience is a part of my story.”

Abby Curran
Abby Curran is the first-ever chief operating officer and chief safety officer for the Natural History Museum of Utah. Photo courtesy of NHMU/Mark Johnston.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Veronica Davis