2015 Best MBAs: Naomi Johnson

Naomi Johnson - Emory-PoetsAndQuants

Naomi Johnson


Emory University Goizueta Business School

Brian Mitchell, Goizueta’s associate dean, describes Naomi Johnson as “the total package.” And it’s hard to disagree. A former teacher for Teach for America and a verifiable poet, Johnson has embraced the business school ethos, transitioning to human resources (and a job with General Mills). Known for her advocacy and service, Johnson has served as the president of Goizueta Gives, co-president of the Human Capital Club, co-chair of the Core Values Council, and admissions chair for the Goizueta Consortium.

Age: 25

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Undergraduate School: Duke University

Undergraduate Degree: History and Cultural Anthropology

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Teach For America Corps Member as a high school math teacher (all grades) at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology (Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? General Mills in Minneapolis, MN

Where will you be working after graduation? General Mills as an Associate Human Resources Manager

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I felt stuck within a dysfunctional system and didn’t have the leverage or credibility to drive change from the top down.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…teaching, taking classes on Coursera, and working to create a nonprofit.”

What are your long-term professional goals? Revitalize communities by using my degree in business and passion for change to empower small business owners and drive education reform.

Favorite Courses: Economics, Leading Organization Strategy, Competitive Advantage, Business & Society, and Applied Entrepreneurship

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? During my 12-week internship with the Global Inclusion and Staffing department at General Mills, I designed and articulated the first company-wide strategy around disability inclusion. Disability inclusion was a complex initiative to champion because openly discussing and embracing disability remains uncharted territory within many corporate environments. Without a precedent to work off of, I worked carefully to craft a business case for change and to ensure that my recommendations were both holistic and realistic. I secured buy-in from key stakeholders…I also organized and executed a focus group of 13 HR managers to determine the major barriers to implementation. At the end of my internship, General Mills began implementing my recommendations. I am proud of my ability to influence company leaders to embrace ideas that were [unprecedented] before I arrived for the summer. I was tasked with solving an extremely ambiguous and unprecedented problem and I succeeded.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? I would like to thank my roommate and classmate, Noelia Bare. Noelia is a shining example of what makes the Goizueta community so great. Because I didn’t have a background in business, my learning curve felt a lot steeper than my peers. Noelia was there for my great days and worst days—always there to encourage me to conquer my fears and push me towards my goals and dreams.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Goizueta because I wanted a learning environment where I would be challenged and nurtured at the same time. I wanted to be pushed to my limits, but by people who knew me and cared about me. I wanted to be empowered to capitalize on my unique background and perspective.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Given my background as a history major and classroom teacher, I’ve really enjoyed learning the science and numbers behind decision making. Having a more complete understanding of how decisions are made positions me to be a more effective communicator and influencer both professionally and within my community. Business school has allowed me to access people and conversations that I was completely oblivious to before coming back to school. I’ve really enjoyed being a bridge between business and the social sector, both for my classmates and for prospective business school students.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? Spending three weeks in India with 34 of my classmates. Being immersed in an entirely new culture was incredible. The sudden realization that you are far from home and far from your comfort zone is terrifying and liberating at the exact same time. I loved the challenge of wrapping my mind around the similarities and differences between Indian culture and American culture. And I loved the opportunity to share such a transformation experience with so many of my classmates.

Fun fact about yourself: I grew up speaking German.

Favorite book: Beloved by Toni Morrison

Favorite movie: Forrest Gump

Favorite musical performer: J. Cole

Favorite television show: New Girl

Favorite vacation spot: Miami, FL

What are your hobbies? Mentoring youth, education reform, volleyball and team sports, independent consulting for small businesses, traveling the world, karaoke, trying new restaurants

Twitter Handle: @crazieeight

What made Naomi such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?

“I have 3 young daughters. I want them all to be like Naomi when they grow up!  What more can I say?  Naomi Johnson is the total package. She is an academic all-star, she actively engages the entire student community socially, her energy is limitless, and I have never seen her without a smile on her face. In the past two years, every time I have shown up to play a role with the local youth that we are privileged to serve, Naomi has been there as an organizer and a leader. I ask all of our students to consider how they will leave Goizueta a better place than they found it. Naomi has done that with her example for our first-year students, and for a host of younger kids who will impact our lives in future years.”

– Brian Mitchell, Associate Dean for Full-Time MBA Programs

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