2016 MBAs To Watch: Lauren Amery, Columbia Business School

Lauren Amery-Columbia-PoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

Lauren Amery

 
Columbia Business School

Age: 28

Hometown: Morristown, NJ

Undergraduate School and Degree: Dartmouth College, BA Economics

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Associate, Global Loan Portfolio Management

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Flaherty Brand, New York, NY

Where will you be working after graduation? Danny Scout, Founder and CEO

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President, Columbia Business School Startup Founders Club; President, Columbia Business School Surf Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Several other students and I established a Startup Founders Club in an effort to support student entrepreneurs, grow entrepreneurship at CBS, and draw attention to student ventures.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I created my dream job. I grew up loving sports and fashion and have fused my two passions into a sportswear brand that will serve women’s sartorial sensibilities and competitive ambitions. Named for the bold, smart, independent heroines of Atlas Shrugged and To Kill a Mockingbird, Dagny Scout is about empowering women to push the limits and test the status quo.

Who is your favorite professor? Medini Singh, Supply Chain Management. He is basically a stand-up comedian. He drives three hours to teach a 9 a.m. class every Thursday and manages to have the energy to crack jokes the entire time. I’ve never had a professor so consistently make his students laugh. On top of that, he’s a really good teacher. Supply Chain Management is not the most enthralling topic, but it’s really important for me to learn so I appreciate Professor Singh’s ability to convey the material effectively and make it at least a little fun/funny.

Favorite MBA Courses? Launching New Ventures, Advertising and Branding, Digital Marketing Strategy and Tactics, Managerial Negotiations

Why did you choose this business school? At the end of the day, the people at business school are what matters most in your experience, so I chose the school where I liked the people the most. I also knew that I wanted to start an apparel company and New York City seemed like the best place to do that. Columbia also has a very strong Retail and Luxury Goods program. I attended the RLG conference in 2013 and was really impressed with the quality of the programming and the speakers.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The people I’ve met and the trips I’ve had the opportunity to go on. The highlight was definitely my pre-MBA trip to Southeast Asia with 20-plus students who I met for the first time while abroad. It was an amazing way to get to know people and to enter business school with a built-in network.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? I can’t do everything and shouldn’t. In undergrad and as the lowest person on the totem pole at Bank of America, most of my work was independent. I worked on a small team, but for the most part I would get an assignment or a task and just do it. In business school everything is done in teams. Because people come from such different backgrounds, you have the opportunity to delegate tasks based on people’s expertise and interest. Sometimes, people wanted to take on tasks to learn, and other times, people would rather be efficient and delegate things based on expertise. It taught me a lot about finding a balance between letting people grow by trying new things and working efficiently by letting people do what they’re best at. As I get my company off the ground, I think having worked with so many different team dynamics will benefit me greatly as I manage people going forward.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? School doesn’t matter. I say that despite having taken academics pretty seriously. It’s really about the people and the network. I’ve met amazing people and been connected to so many resources inside and outside of the Columbia community via students, professors, and alums.   

What was the hardest part of business school? Balancing working on a company and going to school has been really tough because I’m always getting pulled in 10 different directions. As a club leader and a member of teams in classes, I have a responsibility to a lot of fellow students but in my mind the business should be the priority so finding adequate time to devote to both is a constant struggle.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Go on a pre-MBA trip and travel as much as you can during school. Take part in Supper Club, Wine Club, and Gourmet Club. They’re amazing ways to meet people outside of the academic setting.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I took my job in finance as a senior in college. I knew I was going to need a career switch.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… working on Dagny Scout with a lot less practical business knowledge and fewer resources.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Yvon Chouinard. He never set out to be a businessman. He just made a product that he needed and grew an entire company out of it. It’s not a dissimilar story from that of Phil Knight or Kevin Plank, but I admire Mr. Chouinard’s ability to build his sporting goods empire while maintaining a strong commitment to environmental and social values and an amazing corporate culture. I also respect his decision to remain private at the expense of rapid growth and cashing out. I think his company and culture have benefited greatly from the strong commitment to quality and integrity and measured growth strategy.

What are your long-term professional goals? To build a company as successful and admired as Patagonia but with a much better style profile

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Definitely my parents. Both of my parents were entrepreneurs, so I grew up not knowing what a five-day work week looked like. Their work ethic has been extremely inspiring and motivating. I also developed an entrepreneurial spirit at a very early age and they were extremely supportive of that. They seeded everything from my hand-painted shell business (despite art not being my strong suit), to my vintage jewelry company to my college T-shirt venture. I can’t thank them enough for instilling in me a never-ending will to succeed and the risk appetite to do so.

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve surfed in 10 different countries (U.S., Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Tanzania, South Africa, France, Spain, Philippines, Indonesia, Morocco)

Favorite book: Don’t hate me for this one, but Atlas Shrugged is up there. I have to put To Kill a Mockingbird on the list too. Kind of cliché but I did name my company after the protagonists.

Favorite movie: Dirty Dancing. Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

Favorite musical performer: Tom Petty (I’ve only been to two concerts in my life so my choices are limited)

Favorite television show: Chicago series on NBC (“Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD,” “Chicago Med”)

Favorite vacation spot: Tamarindo, Costa Rica, or Biarritz, France — they’re both amazing surf towns

Hobbies? Skiing, surfing, golf, tennis, generally spending time outside, drinking wine, window shopping

What made Lauren such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Lauren is an inspiration to her classmates and to everyone at the school who has had the pleasure of interacting with her. She is a rare combination of drive, accomplishment, curiosity, and altruism.

“Lauren’s diverse background and success at every level is testament to the unique type of person she is. Her contribution to the school manifests in many ways: in the classroom and in her position on the Dean’s List, as the founder and president of the Startup Founder’s Club, or as an inaugural volunteer member of the Lang Center Student Advisory Board. Lauren is also incredibly modest, grounded and fun, as evidenced by her organizing and leading student trips to places such as Nicaragua or Kenya, her leading the Surf Club, and her background as a freestyle skiing coach.

“However, what truly makes Lauren an invaluable member of the Class of 2016 is that all of the above contributions to both the school and her classmates were done while Lauren was building and launching her own women’s sports apparel line, Dagny Scout. Business school is difficult and demanding, and having Lauren as an inspiration to everyone around her is what makes her invaluable.”

Vince Ponzo
Senior Director of the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center
Columbia Business School

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