2017 Best MBAs: Lauren Montagne, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Lauren Montagne

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“Former marketer, future consultant, wife and Yorkie mom: Bridging the gap between creativity and quant.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Fun fact about yourself: Prior to business school I co-founded an organization called Acorn Kitchen. We hosted pop-up dinners that benefited a variety of charities, and once closed down a busy street to throw a giant dinner for 100 people.

Undergraduate School and Degree: UNC-Chapel Hill, School of Journalism and Media

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? QuintilesIMS, Digital Strategy Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? A.T. Kearney, Atlanta

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Company, Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Forte Foundation Fellowship & Schrum Fellowship – Full tuition
  • Dean’s Fellows Program – Honor reserved for select fellowship recipients
  • Dean’s Fellows Program Student Leadership Committee
  • Class of 1990 Graduate Fellowship – Awarded to the second-year student who embodies the Core Values of UNC Kenan-Flagler
  • Excellence Award (2016, 2017) – Awarded to the top academic performer in the MBA Class of 2017
  • MBA Student Association Executive Council – Vice President of Learning & Development (works closely with the faculty and administration of the School to bring about change for the MBA Program curriculum; serve as the head of the Curriculum Advisory Board)
  • Career Mentor Program
  • STAR Program Ambassador – Assists in running the experiential consulting program
  • Teaching Assistant: Marketing, Macroeconomics, Managerial Accounting, Consulting Skills & Frameworks
  • Communication Liaison – Carolina Women in Business
  • Learning and Development Liaison – Healthcare Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  I’m most proud of winning the Class of 1990 Graduate Fellowship. This award is given to a second-year student who embodies the Core Values of the School, as well as strength as a leader and academic achievement. Prior to starting the program, I was nervous. I hadn’t taken a math class since high school and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to cut it. However, this award was a reminder of how far I’ve come in two years and how much I’ve grown. This experience has made me realize that if you show up, work hard and keep an open mind you really can do anything.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While I was at QuintilesIMS I had the opportunity develop a new customer offering that sat at the intersection of digital technology and patient engagement. I leveraged social media to collect patient insights to inform pharmaceutical marketing strategies. It was incredibly rewarding to conceptualize the idea, deliver the work, and then see the model replicated in future client engagements.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is a hard one! However, it’s a toss-up between marketing professors Dave Roberts and Tarun Kushwaha. They’re both incredibly engaging. Their excitement for the content and for teaching is infectious.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? I really enjoyed Corporate Governance as it challenged me to think about business from a different perspective. It forced me to think through the trade-offs that businesses make and how board governance can influence the cultures of companies.

Why did you choose this business school? I attended a Women’s Weekend at the School during the application season, and this played a huge role in my decision to come to become a double Tar Heel. I got a sense for the collaborative, community-oriented culture at UNC Kenan-Flagler, and I knew it would be a good fit for me. Furthermore, I was drawn to the School’s focus on leadership. While I obviously wanted to gain technical skills from my business school experience, I also wanted to sharpen and practice my leadership skills.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general?I’ve loved getting involved in clubs and extracurriculars. It has shaped my experience in the program, and it has enabled me to meet and befriend people I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to interact with on a day-to-day basis. It is also really rewarding to give back to the program that’s given me so much. As a first year, there were a handful of second-year students who went out of their way to help me. They made me feel like they were personally invested in my success, and they also provided much needed sanity checks as the days got harder and busier. Coming into second year, my goal was to be that person for at least someone, if not several first years.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I was surprised by how much I learned outside of the classroom. By getting involved in activities and getting to know my amazing classmates, even a simple club meeting or coffee chat can be an opportunity to learn and grow.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be yourself! There’s no one mold of a UNC Kenan-Flagler student, but we do live and breathe our Core Values. I’d say we’re defined by our tight-knit community. So as you apply to the program, let what makes you “you” shine.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I am constantly in awe of my classmate Melanee Swanson. She is driven, insanely smart and incredibly generous. I feel like I learn something every time I interact with her, and she has pushed me to be a better leader and a better person.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I worked at a startup led by team of recent MBA grads. I admired their problem-solving skills and polish. Working with them made me realize that I wanted to go to business school.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…skiing in Colorado. I lived in Aspen for a few years after undergrad. I’m sure my parents were worried that I’d turn into a permanent ski bum.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Part of the reason that I chose consulting for my post-MBA path is because I really want to explore a variety of industries and functions. Right now I’m pretty comfortable not knowing “exactly” what I want to do in the long-term. That said, no matter where I end up I want to be a leader within my organization and have the opportunity to mentor the next generation of women coming out of business school.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My husband, Sebastian, has been my ultimate teammate and cheerleader throughout this entire process. He’s in the midst of completing his MBA and working full-time, yet he still finds the time to offer me a hand and ask me about my day. I’m lucky to have a partner who supports me and my dreams.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope that my peers will remember me as a contributor – someone who consistently showed up, helped out and made a positive impact.

Favorite book: The Stranger

Favorite movie or television show: The West Wing

Favorite musical performer: Nathaniel Rateliff

Favorite vacation spot: Aspen, Colorado

Hobbies? Cycling, Hiking, Skiing, and Cooking

What made Lauren such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Lauren Montagne is one of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s all-around exceptional students. She exhibits excellence in the classroom, shares her time and talents with classmates, faculty and the administration, and, as a career switcher, worked hard to prepare to enter a new field yet found to time to help first-year students as a Career Mentor.”

Over the past 10 years I have been fortunate enough to have interacted with several hundred bright minds in our MBA program. The alumni of our MBA program have distinguished themselves in numerous domains in the corporate world. Amongst this group of highly accomplished individuals, Lauren Montagne is the cream of the crop.

She exemplifies each of the five Core Values that we instill in our graduates: Leadership, teamwork, integrity, community and excellence. She has excelled academically in each of the last six mods in the program, but her pursuit of excellence is not limited to academic domain. She leads the student representation on the Curriculum Advisory Board. She has taken on mentoring roles which highlight her willingness to go beyond the call of duty to help her colleagues. She is highly sought after Teaching Assistant, a Career Mentor for Consulting Track and a STAR Program Ambassador. I do not recall of a single student who has collected so many accolades and made such long lasting impact on her peers and faculty. It is not surprising that she won the Class of 1990 Fellowship for student who best represents Core Values of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA program.

However, Lauren is so much more than these remarkable accomplishments. She is ever cheerful in the hallways, always smiling in meetings, mentoring her colleagues in Café McColl and working in the community. If I could mold every MBA student, I would use Lauren Montagne as my standard: academically gifted, right attitude, willing to go beyond call of duty, and a genuinely golden heart.”

Tarun Kushwaha
Professor of Marketing, UNC Kenan-Flagler

DON’T MISS: THE COMPLETE HONOR ROLL: BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS OF 2017