2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Susi Eckelmann, Georgetown University (McDonough)

Susi Eckelmann

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

Inspired by nature. Driven by justice. Fueled by coffee.”

Hometown: Wellsville, Ohio

Fun fact about yourself: I started my career as a research chemist (and was even published!) before pivoting into the world of social impact.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Washington and Lee University, B.S. in Chemistry

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Founder & Principal at Eckelmann Consulting (my own independent consulting practice)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Goldman Sachs, Los Angeles, California

Where will you be working after graduation? Goldman Sachs, Associate, Investment Management Division

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Co-President, Net Impact; Leadership Fellow; Student Leader, Global Social Enterprise Initiative; Board Fellow at National Trust for Historic Preservation; Consultant for Peace Corps Macedonia; Fellow, Consortium for Graduate Study in Management; Fellow, Forté Foundation; Diversity & Impact Investing Fellow, Net Impact

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As co-president of Net Impact, I had the privilege to lead one of McDonough’s largest student organizations. Our 200+ members have a deep commitment to igniting social and environmental impact across industries and functions. One of Net Impact’s flagship programs is the Social Impact Internship Fund (SIIF). The Fund supports McDonough students who take on impact internships that are unpaid or severely underpaid. Under my leadership, SIIF received 170 donations from students, faculty, administrators, and alumni and raised more than $25,000. This record-breaking effort funded impact internships for ten incredible students from Mongolia to DC.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2013, I joined a grassroots nonprofit serving homeless children and families. In my first month, I championed measuring the impact of our programs. However, with a small staff executing myriad educational and housing initiatives, the organization had no additional resources to buoy such a project. Armed with my background in quantitative analysis, I created our “Program Evaluation Initiative” in a spreadsheet on my computer.                                                                                                                                    Bringing research-level analytics to a grassroots nonprofit came with its share of challenges. However, fueled by a commitment to the children we served, we overcame these obstacles. Nearly six years later, Project Hope Alliance has used this data to build, fund, and refine programs ending homelessness for more than 500 children and parents. To have designed the tools that continue to empower children to dream beyond homelessness has been an extraordinary privilege. For these families, data-driven services paved the way for a future free of homelessness.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? At Georgetown, I had the privilege of taking a national security seminar with Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Not only does she have a wealth of incredible stories and brilliant insights, but Secretary Albright also emanates strength, thoughtfulness, and poise. Her character and mentorship have permanently shaped my own understanding of what a leader should aspire to become.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Environmentally Sustainable Operations & Business Models with Professor Vishal Agrawal. The course focuses on how companies across industries can move beyond compliance in order to compete by embedding sustainability into their business models.

Why did you choose this business school? Applying to graduate school, I knew I wanted to advance my career at the intersection of public policy, social impact, and the private sector. Georgetown’s location right here in D.C. (and its historic roots in public service) made it the perfect place to take the next step. In addition to the incredible global business opportunities available to students, the program allowed me to take classes across the university, including at the prestigious School of Foreign Service. All of these features combined to make Georgetown the perfect place for a globally-minded, mission-driven MBA experience.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Take time to get to know both the program and yourself. Talk to students. Read the admissions materials. Sit in on a class. Ask lots of questions. The best applicants get to know the program inside and out, are excited to learn about the school, and have a firm grasp of what they want out of an MBA.

What is the biggest myth about your school? In all honesty, I didn’t encounter any myths.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? Coming into the program, I didn’t realize how much of its value would come outside of the classroom. The professors are incredible, and I have learned so much during my courses. Yet, volunteering, leading clubs, doing short-term consulting projects, and connecting with peers taught me even more!

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Coming from a nontraditional background, business school has given me the confidence to own my narrative. We all come from different work (and life) experiences. To arrive at a place like Georgetown, surrounded by inspiring classmates who have accomplished so much, it was intimidating at first. As I walked through classes, engaged in the community, and developed friendships, I came to see the value in my own story. Business school, for me, has been a crash course in self-discovery; Your story can make the people, organizations, and community around you stronger.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? When I was in elementary school, my mom took the brave step of going back to finish her graduate studies. She had put her education on hold after giving birth to her first child, my brother. After more than a decade out of school, she went back to complete her degree. It was a huge undertaking, and all hands were on deck. My brother and I picked up extra responsibilities around the house. My father shuffled his work commitments to make schedules work out. And my mom drove almost four hours to commute to class. It felt like a team effort with flashcards around the house, academic conversations at the dinner table, and report cards on the refrigerator door. Watching my mother’s determination left a lasting mark on our entire family. Education was a gift, and it took sacrifice. Going back to graduate school may have felt disruptive and difficult, but I have an inspiring role model who made it seem possible.

What is your favorite movie about business? Apollo 13. Businesses need to be able to respond to crises, build cohesive teams, and incorporate resourcefulness into their business model. Add to those qualities an inspiring mission, and you have a recipe for success.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? “We’re a B2B2C SaaS company.” I know they operate a business to business to consumer software as a service company, but there has to be a better way to say that!

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… back in Kenya consulting for nonprofits and social enterprises.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? It’s cliché, but the experience has been virtually priceless. There is the degree itself, of course. But the relationships, experiences outside the classroom, and self-discovery? It’s hard to put a price tag on the value of my time here.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Go backpacking in New Zealand and see Hamilton on Broadway (I have plans to do both before the year is out!)

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “Susi is a woman of integrity with a genuine drive to make the world a more just, loving place.”

Hobbies? Backpacking, yoga, cooking, travel, and fostering rescue dogs

What made Susi such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Susi is an MBA Candidate at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business with a focus on impact finance. As a research chemist, she is passionate about using data and evaluation to strengthen social impact organizations and the communities they serve. Susi left the lab in 2012 to scale up Project Hope Alliance—a grassroots nonprofit serving homeless children and families. In her four years with the organization, she grew revenues by 338% while establishing marketing, community engagement, program evaluation, and fund development teams. In 2016, Susi launched an independent consulting practice providing strategy and finance consulting to global organizations.

As a Student Leader for the Global Social Enterprise Initiative and Co-President of the Net Impact Club, Susi embraces a commitment to long-lasting, large-scale change through cross-sector partnerships. Throughout her time at McDonough, she never turned down a request for advice from prospective or current students on navigating the social impact space.  For example, she organized an event around impact finance to educate students. One of our current students noted: “It’s no coincidence that students often seek her out when they need help in a class. She has an uncanny knack for simplifying complex concepts and teaching it to you in a way that draws upon what you already know. Susi’s incredibly gifted at building people up and I can honestly say I’ve never had a tutor or teacher that made me believe in myself the way Susi did.” Susi has a passion for bringing diversity and inclusion issues to the forefront of conversations and has an innate ability to bring out people’s best version of themselves.

Following graduation, Susi will be joining a prestigious investment bank to build out their impact-driven investment management business.”

Karen Kouagou

Career Coach – Energy, Government, International Development, Social Impact 

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business




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