2018 Best MBAs: Erika Studt, Georgetown University (McDonough)

Erika Studt

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

Cubs fan. Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Feminist. Lover of tacos.”

Age: 32

Hometown: Glenview, IL

Fun fact about yourself: As a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, I translated for English-speaking groups of medical volunteers. One group of dentists put me to work pulling teeth, it was the strangest way I’ve spent an afternoon.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Colorado at Boulder, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? In the five years preceding business school, I worked at the United Nations Foundation as a Data and Performance Management Officer for the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) Initiative. FP2020 is a global partnership sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) that aims to expand access to contraception to 120 million additional women and girls in the world’s poorest countries between 2012 and 2020.

Before joining the United Nations Foundation in 2012, I was a Business Advising Volunteer in Peace Corps Honduras where my work focused on business and health education.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? FoodTech Angels, Washington, DC, an angel investor network funding food tech companies at the seed stage.

Where will you be working after graduation? Amazon, as a Pathways Operations manager in Baltimore, Maryland

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-President, Graduate Women in Business (GWiB)
  • Board Fellow, Net Impact

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my leadership of the Graduate Women in Business (GWiB) club. Throughout the year, my board put together quality programming for our members, improved the visibility of the club, and attracted dozens of inspirational women business leaders to campus. However, I don’t think I knew the impact that we had made on our members until we heard the speeches of the candidates running to replace us as the next year’s board. One after the next, the candidates said that they considered GWiB their most important community outside of the classroom and that it had been one of the highlights of their Georgetown experience. I was proud to have created a space where women felt empowered and supported, all while balancing my regular classwork.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Honduras, I led a group of 37 students to develop the first municipal recycling program in the country. We started by developing a business plan and launching a communications campaign to introduce the brand-new concept of recycling to the community. Soon, we had the full support of our neighbors behind us. The students’ first collection and sale of recyclables allowed them to buy electricity, air conditioners, and furniture for their computer lab. The recycling program is my proudest professional achievement because it outlived my time in Honduras by providing the school with a sustainable source of income and an operational model that could be replicated each year with a new set of students.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor was Allison Koester. Coming into business school, I was dreading accounting. I had taken one accounting course in college and struggled every step of the way. Professor Koester is passionate about her subject and her style is so engaging that you can’t help but fall in love with balance sheets. After taking her course, not only was my fear of financial statements gone, but I had also gained an example of a woman who excels in her career while balancing a family.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite class at Georgetown has been Meditation and Leadership. Unlike most business school courses, this one allowed time for self-reflection and introspection. Management is a hard subject to teach, but this class did it better than any other I’ve had. I know that the lessons and skills I learned in the class will help me become a better manager post-graduation.

Why did you choose this business school? Coming from a non-profit background, I was one of those business school candidates who was deemed non-traditional. While visiting other programs, student ambassadors I spoke with didn’t understand why I’d be interested in making the transition to the private sector. They seemed to imply that you could either do good or work in business. Georgetown’s students and administrators, though, embraced me. My vision of service leadership was exactly aligned with their Jesuit values. In my very first conversations, I knew it was the right fit.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I would advise a prospective student hoping to get into McDonough to bring plenty of enthusiasm for extracurricular activities, it is a big part of the Georgetown experience and opportunities abound. As an applicant, I knew that I wanted to be involved with Georgetown’s Graduate Women in Business (GWiB) club. As a student, I became co-President. Holding a rather visible leadership position shaped my experience by introducing me to people I may have never otherwise known. I created great relationships with a community of like-minded people, and my leadership skills are much better for having had the experience.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Some prospective students ask me if DC politics play a big part in the McDonough experience. The truth is, they do not. Of course, if you want to talk about the day’s headlines, there are many students with political backgrounds who can share their perspective. But amidst the rigor of the MBA program and the other priorities students have, Georgetown feels worlds away from Capitol Hill.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret in business school is that I did not go on a [career] trek.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Of all my MBA classmates, I most admire Madeleine (Maddy) Stokes. We bonded right out the gate because Maddy is, like me, a non-traditional business student with a non-profit background. The thing I admire most about her is her activism. Maddy was a part of my Graduate Women in Business (GWiB) leadership team. In our first meeting, Maddy shared her desire to organize an implicit bias workshop for our classmates. Implicit bias is new to the business world, so finding the right trainer took months. But Maddy didn’t give up and she succeeded in organizing an enlightening day-long workshop that received rave reviews from students. She’s still working to convince administrators that the training should be incorporated into the full-time curriculum- another example that she is a change-maker who doesn’t give up.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad most influenced my decision to pursue business school. All my life he has set the example of a good leader. He is the hardest working person I know and his even temperament, sincerity, and friendly demeanor make him well-liked by everyone he meets. I try to emulate these traits every day.

What inspired me to go to business school was the love he has for his job. He is one of the few people I know who considers work his hobby. He doesn’t plan to retire because he simply has no interest in leaving his work. Someday, I want to find a job that I love as much as he loves his, and I believe that having my MBA will help me get there.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would…have probably quit my job to work on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Seeing as how that turned out, I likely still would have ended up in business school.”

What are the top two items on your bucket list? The top two items on my bucket list are:

  • Become a CEO
  • Run for political office

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope that my business school peers remember me as being a hard worker, a good teammate, and, in some way, a person who positively impacted their Georgetown experience.

What is your favorite movie about business? My favorite movie about business is Chef. Chef is a low-budget movie about, as the title suggests, a chef who was unsatisfied in his job and takes a big risk to open his own food truck. From one day to the next, he became his own boss. Success and fulfillment ensued, the lesson being that following your passion is key to career satisfaction.

What would your theme song be?If I had a theme song, it would be: “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé.

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere in Mexico. My mom’s family is Mexican and I grew up eating great Mexican food which is hard to come by in DC. In Mexico, I love being on the beach, speaking Spanish, and connecting with my family’s culture, but I mostly go for the tacos.

Hobbies? Cycling, skiing, and ballroom dancing.

What made Erika such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Erika brings drive, passion, and purpose to her endeavors. Erika brought to Georgetown McDonough a business undergraduate degree and global world view from study abroad in Spain, service through the Peace Corps in Honduras, and four years of mission-driven contributions at the United Nations Foundation. As a Georgetown MBA student, Erika was a Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow, a Forte Fellow, and a Coverdell Fellow, rolling up her sleeves to serve as Co-President of the Georgetown Graduate Women in Business and a Board Fellow of the Arts Council of Fairfax County, Virginia.

Erika demonstrated her commitment in support of woman through her efforts in helping to organize the annual Georgetown Graduate Women in Business Conference with their 2017 theme, “Education. Application. Implementation. Turning Words into Actions,” that sought to talk and provide tangible takeaways for male and female participants, alike. For her MBA summer internship, Erika was part of FoodTech Angels, a project incubated at Think Food Group, working with a network of accredited investors who share a desire to find early stage opportunities at the intersection of food and technology. Erika will take her drive, passion, and purpose to Amazon’s Pathways Operations Leadership Development Program in Baltimore where she’ll continue to be an inspiring leader and role model to many, exemplifying one of Georgetown’s Jesuit ideals, a “woman for others.”

Eric Young
Assistant Dean, MBA Career Center
Georgetown McDonough School of Business

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF THE BEST & BRIGHTEST: CLASS OF 2018