Anja Anliker
Home Region

Brooklyn Park, MN

Undergrad Education

University of St. Thomas, History, 2006

Previous Experience

U.S. Navy

“I knew the case study method would force me to wrestle with decisions that are so hard to make in the moment.”

On September 11, 2001, Anja Anliker was a senior in high school. “Even though I had no direct relationship to any of the victims, the events of that day shook me to my core,” she says. “It made me think of the state of the world and our purpose within it.”

In college, she considered military service, but it took three years before she made the commitment. “Ultimately, I thought I had the mental and physical capacity to serve,” says Anja. “I realized there were no longer any excuses for me not to serve. I decided that service was the best use of my skills—and I’ve never looked back at my decision.”

Her grandfather, who had been similarly inspired by Pearl Harbor, had served as a “storekeeper” in the Navy. Anja followed in his footsteps, not just by enlisting in the Navy, but by taking on the contemporary equivalent of his role by becoming a logistics officer.

After ten years in active duty, Anja rose to the rank of Lieutenant. Through a special program that subsidizes MBA training for logistics officers, Anja received funding to attend business school.

Examining the impact of decisions

“HBS had always been my dream school,” says Anja. “I wanted to be among the best of the best. As I progressed through my career, I realized I needed to take a step back and analyze my successes and failures in a different way. I knew the case study method would force me to wrestle with decisions that are so hard to make in the moment.”

Anja lives off campus with her husband and her three-year-old daughter, Dagny. Although her extra-curricular opportunities are “limited,” Anja “makes it a priority to socialize and build relationships with section mates; they’re very understanding and accommodating so that they can get to know me.”

When comparing her military and business school experiences, Anja reflects, “What ties the decisions I make in the military and the choices we face in case studies? It’s that our decisions don’t just impact the bottom line. There are a whole network of effects and trade-offs that impact a wide number of people.”

“We engage in genuine conversations,” Anja adds. “Not only in class, but outside of class we’re still dealing with the real issues leaders have to address. There’s nothing dramatic or showy about these conversations—they’re real and central to who we are. There is no one right answer, but we can gain insights through each other’s experiences.”