2018 Best MBAs: Lucie Coates, Cornell University (Johnson)

Lucie Coates

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“Education-turned-business leader for social progress and empowering others.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Binghamton, NY

Fun fact about yourself: I am certified to teach Zumba (and I received my certification during my MBA)

Undergraduate School and Degree: SUNY Geneseo, BA in International Relations and French

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? KIPP New Jersey Charter Schools (Newark, NJ), College Persistence Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Colgate-Palmolive, New York, NY

Where will you be working after graduation? The Hershey Company, Associate Brand Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: (Include school awards and honors)

  • Johnson Leadership Fellow
  • McAllister Speech Award Recipient (S.C. Johnson Case Competition)
  • Marketing Association, VP of Education
  • Women’s Management Council, VP of Community Relations
  • Teaching Assistant, Management Cases
  • Leadership Evaluation and Assessment Days (LEAD) Weekend Student Observer
  • Admissions Ambassador
  • Consortium Member
  • Black Graduate Business Association
  • Robert and Laura Andolina Graduate Scholarship Recipient
  • Sarah L. Merten Scholarship Recipient

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My proudest moment at Johnson came when I received the McAllister Speech Award at the SC Johnson Case Competition. When I started my MBA, I was nervous that I would struggle because I didn’t have a business background. Receiving this award was my first big win at Johnson and boosted my confidence in the valuable skills I was bringing because of my background in education.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I joined the college team at KIPP New Jersey Charter Schools, none of our students had graduated from college yet, but it was clear that they were off pace from our college graduation goal. I dedicated my first year to organizing student data and teaching my colleagues how to use it to better support students at an individual level. In addition to more students staying in college, I was able to aggregate the data to share how our graduates were doing in college with our high school teachers so they could improve their curricula. The team continues to use this system to support our students to this day.

What was your favorite MBA Course The Strategic Brand Management Practicum, which is part of the Strategic Marketing Immersion at Johnson. Professor Manoj Thomas does a great job of balancing theory, cases, and consulting projects for real companies. My team was consulting for DanoneWave, and Manoj really encouraged us to look at our data using different lenses to get to a solid consumer insight to drive our recommendation.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Johnson because it met my three requirements in a business school: a rigorous curriculum, practice with real business problems, and a strong community. The curriculum and quality of professors speaks for itself. Johnson’s Immersion program provides hands-on practice by incorporating consulting projects, not to mention the other classes and clubs that allow you to consult on real business problems. Finally, the Johnson network has surpassed my expectations. Not only are my Johnson peers and our alumni engaged and willing to help, but we have access to the larger Cornell alumni base that also goes out of its way to support Johnson MBAs.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Talk to as many current students and alumni as possible to get a sense of the Johnson culture. Given its location and small size, Johnson is truly about taking initiative, giving back, and collaborating with those in the community. Talking to people will give you the best sense of what that culture actually feels like and where you might fit into it.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret is not taking a course in the larger Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, specifically at the School of Hotel Administration. With the classes I wanted to take within Johnson, I wasn’t able to fit in classes at the other schools, but I highly recommend it to any MBAs who attend Johnson because I’ve heard the offerings are amazing.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Amanda Archila, the former president of our Women’s Management Council. She spearheaded our board in creating more meaningful dialogue about gender and diversity within Johnson and is always willing to have the courageous conversations to continue progress. She has the ability to look at the most complex challenges and very quickly come up with a smart structure to begin finding the right solutions. She has done a lot to keep Johnson moving forward and has helped me find my voice to advocate for myself and my peers throughout the past two years.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My friend, Chanel. She spent her entire professional career helping underrepresented minorities succeed in college and started her own nonprofit, M.A.C.S., to do so. She and I had several conversations about how I wanted to sharpen my analytical and strategic skills, and we talked through several options, including an MBA. With her knowledge of admissions and graduate programs, I did my research and am now happy that I made the decision to pursue an MBA at Johnson.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be working with schools to better use data to improve their service to students.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would extend our synched lunch break to a full hour and offer a range of stress-relief sessions. I see a lot of people exhaust themselves with the pressures of academics, recruitment, and all of the other leadership roles they take on during the MBA. I’d love to see this become a visible part of the MBA culture to push good practices to maintain health and balance.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? To go to the World Cup and to learn Spanish.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope my peers will remember me as someone who acts and consistently pushes for what is right, but does so with purpose and positive energy.

What is your favorite movie about business? Over winter break, I watched The Post, which hits on a lot of hot business topics as the leaders of the Washington Post weigh what is safest for their business against what they feel is morally right. The greatest business lesson that I gained from it is to always act in line with your morals and values.

What would your theme song be? “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce

Favorite vacation spot: Cartagena, Colombia

Hobbies? Dancing, retro aerobics videos, karaoke, and trying new restaurants

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

“Lucie Coates embodies Johnson’s values. As a Johnson Leadership Fellow, vice president of both the Marketing Association and the Women’s Management Council, Consortium Fellow, and Diversity Council Member, Lucie has been a role model for how to take a stand while also making room for countervailing points of view. I have watched her find her voice at Johnson and seen how she uses integrity and courage to both lead and inspire her peers to be better. We are lucky to have had her among our students, and I cannot wait to see the impact she is going to have post-MBA.”

Ingrid Jensen,
Executive Director, Student Services
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

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