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Real Humans of Emory Goizueta’s MBA Class of 2023

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emory goizuetas mba classLee Silver, Emory Goizueta’s MBA Class of 2023

Age: 27
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Virginia, Commerce Major with Concentrations in Finance and Marketing
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5 total (3 consulting, 2 FinTech)

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Attending business school has been something I’ve wanted to do for years, to position myself better as a well-rounded leader and general manager for teams and organizations. I’m proud of my work experience and impact to date, but I recognize that I’ve been largely in more individual contributor-type roles vs. leadership or management roles. To get to where I want to in my career – leading and managing broad, multi-functional organizations – I’ll need to build new skills. Having worked with many MBAs in my career to date, I’ve seen and heard from them how an MBA helped them begin to build these skills. That’s where I want to get to next in my career, and so now was the right time for me to pursue an MBA myself.  

Why did you choose Emory Goizueta? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Three major reasons: 

  1. I determined that Emory was one of the best places for me to gain the leadership and management skills I was looking for. I learned quickly through the MBA exploration and application process how much Emory prioritizes developing its students into principled, well-rounded leaders. I was particularly interested in pursuing Goizueta’s Certificate of Advanced Leadership, as I felt the academic and experiential requirements for this certificate would do well to help me build these skills.
  2. I loved that Goizueta’s had smaller class sizes than most of the other programs I was exploring. I wanted the opportunity to truly get to know and learn from most all of my classmates, and Emory’s size was ideal for that. Almost two months into the program now, I’ve deeply valued the opportunity to get to know so much of my class.
  3. I love Atlanta. It’s one of the best cities in the country, in my view. My goal is to become a leader in Atlanta’s business community and to help the city’s business – specifically, technology business – scene thrive. I don’t think there’s any better place I could be to achieve that goal than Emory Goizueta. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
I think I bring to the class an unusually broad set of business experiences from my career, given the variety roles I’ve worked in to date. As a consultant at Bain, I worked with clients across a highly varied set of industries, and on projects across all sorts of business functions. In my next two jobs, I worked in a single industry (FinTech), but I gained exposure to practically every functional area of the businesses in “special projects” oriented roles. Though I’ve not necessarily gone too deep into any single industry or function, as many of my classmates have, I’ve gained a fairly broad set of skills and knowledge for so early in my career. I enjoy bringing those perspectives to the classroom each day.   

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I’m a BBQ nut. It’s my favorite food by far. I can’t cook or make it well myself at all (I’m not much of a cook), but I love checking out the BBQ scene anywhere I go.  

Post-MBA career interests:
I’m looking to explore Product Management roles in the tech industry, preferably FinTech specifically. My goal long term is to be in a more general management-type position. I believe that a Product Management role – whereby you act somewhat as a general manager for a product or set of products – is an effective short-term objective to help me achieve this long-term goal.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:

– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Talk to current students at whatever programs you’re interested in to help determine what is the best fit for you. Each school does things differently and has their unique areas where they excel. The best way to get a sense for how programs differ is just by talking to current students. Ask them the best things about each program and the worst things. And focus your efforts on those programs where their strengths fit your goals.

– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I wish I could have visited each school I was looking at in person. Unfortunately, this wasn’t really an option due to COVID, but if I could have, I would have. Again, each program is truly unique in some way. But oftentimes that’s difficult to gauge from websites, information sessions, etc. In addition to talking with current students, visiting a campus is one of the best ways to get a feel for what each program has to offer that is unique. If you can figure that out, and figure out which programs fit your objectives best, it’s incredibly valuable.

– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
All of the painstaking writing and editing and re-writing and re-editing involved in the applications – from my resume to the essays. While I really did enjoy the self-reflection part of thinking through building my resume and crafting my essays, the actual writing-things-down and editing process was painful for me. But, of course, it’s extremely important! What helped me get through this was giving myself plenty of time – much more than I thought even necessary – to get everything done. I started the writing process far earlier than I thought I “needed” to, but I wanted to be careful and guard against having to do things last minute. Given that the writing process wound up being unexpectedly tough (and long) for me, I’m glad I started as early as I did.

What is your initial impression of the Emory Goizueta students/culture/community?
It is a wonderful, fun community. A big reason I chose Goizueta was because of the opportunity to truly get to know so much of my class, given our relatively small class size. After my first couple months, I’ve enjoyed how tight-knit and active the community is. We’re all eager to get to know each other and spend time together, both in the classroom and outside of it. On top of that, it’s a community full of super smart, interesting, and diverse people, from all sorts of backgrounds. Just on my immediate core team, we have a former engineer with the MTA in New York, a member of the US Navy, a member of South Korea’s financial regulatory authority, and an oil and gas engineer from Nigeria. It’s been so much fun to interact with and learn from everyone, and I think that has been one of the most valuable elements of my MBA experience so far.

What is one thing you have learned about Emory Goizueta that has surprised you?
​I knew the class size was small, and I liked that, but I’ve still been pleasantly surprised by just how tight knit the community is. I really do feel like I already know most everyone, less than two months in. It’s fun going to class every day and seeing all my peers. And then even more fun enjoying time with all of them after class and on weekends.  

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
I unfortunately wasn’t able to visit in person any of the schools I applied to. I really wanted to, because I felt that’d be one of the best ways to get a sense for what each school excels at and how I’d fit in at each. If I could do the process today (or any other time when visiting in person would be feasible), I absolutely would prioritize visiting the programs I had interest in.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
The volume of team-based work is very high — which is extremely valuable for me, since my goal is to build my team-oriented skills. But it’s made me anxious at times. My comfort zone is in a more individual contributor-type role. So, I’m not always in my comfort zone with big team projects. But I know very well that I’ll need to develop these team-oriented skills to get to where I want to be in my career. I knew that the amount of team-based work would be high, and it’s in fact one of the reasons why I chose Emory — so I could be anxious, get out of my comfort zone, and develop these skills.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m most excited just to learn so much from everyone around me. Of course, from my professors, but even more so from my classmates. I’m viewing these two years as an opportunity to join a community of peers with amazing, diverse past experiences and future goals. I’ve already learned much from my classmates, and I’m excited to continue do so. 

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.