2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Emily Clark, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Emily Clark

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

“Daughter, sister, driven problem-solver; passionate about servant leadership and making an impact.”

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Fun fact about yourself: I like to think of myself as a retired Division I field hockey player – nothing makes you feel more “retired” than playing against a team of former Olympians as an adult in a tournament – and now share that status with two younger sisters. My parents thrilled to conclude a full decade of collegiate hockey this fall.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bryant University, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Senior Consultant at Ernst & Young (Performance Improvement practice – Federal Advisory.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? PwC, Delivering Deal Value (DDV), Chicago, IL

Where will you be working after graduation? PwC, Delivering Deal Value (DDV), Senior Associate, Chicago, IL

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, MBA Consulting Club
  • Women in Business (WIB), Vice President of Events
  • 2018-2019 Dean Woo Leadership Award Recipient (Voted by peers as outstanding leader in MBA program)
  • Forte Foundation Fellow
  • MBA Admissions Ambassador to prospective students (Following a year of service as Vice President of Recruitment for our WIB organization)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  In the fall of my first year, I wanted to open dialogue among students and between faculty and students around the female classroom experience and recruiting women into our MBA program. I created a series of roundtables, attended by more than 50 students and representatives of admissions and student services. We generated actionable insights as to how to improve the classroom experience and tailor our recruitment and admissions strategy. I’m hopeful some of this feedback led to a substantial increase (52% and counting!) in female MBA applications this year.

While the effort did earn recognition in the form of Notre Dame’s Dean Woo Leadership Award, I am most proud of the roundtables’ outcome: collaboration between faculty and students to create a seminar course, Rising Together: Gender Equity in Business. The course is taught by one of our biggest gender equity champions, Professor Joe Holt, and engages students in a discussion on ways we can advance and support women in business. As a key contributor to course design and content, I was excited to be one of over 20 students enrolled in the inaugural class in Spring 2019. We hope to grow this course into a required class for our MBA program and there are currently plans to include it in the undergrad program next year.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As an Ernst & Young staff consultant, I faced a challenging and complex project in addition to a team dynamic of recurring personnel issues. As team members continued to turn over, I found myself taking on roles with increasing amounts of responsibility, with both the support and high expectation to deliver from my manager. Because I had developed the approach we used to validate a large volume of transactional data, I played a major role in creating the proposal for a recompete contract. We secured a $3M contract and doubled the size of our team. I also played a major role in getting the new team organized and productive. When I transitioned to another project, my client gave me a hug – which was pretty awesome.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Do I have to choose one? One of the best qualities about Notre Dame is the people – any chance to spend time with classmates was a no-brainer; toss in football — obviously huge at Notre Dame — and our MBA tailgates were some of the most fun events in my two years.

Why did you choose this business school? It’s all about the people. After talking to students, I felt confident Notre Dame would be the right fit for me. We have a smaller program, which allows students to be entrepreneurial and collaborate across clubs and extracurricular activities. It’s a great feeling to be able to have conversations with every person in my class in the hall or outside of school – I don’t know many other places where MBA candidates would be able to cite the names of their classmates’ dogs. It’s a testament to this program that I will walk out of this school with not only an MBA but some of my best friends.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Understand your story – What is your purpose and what type of mark do you want to leave? Identify your strengths and target areas in which you can improve. This process will help you be authentic in the application process and help you find the best fit. Though it sounds like a cliché, try to enjoy the process. This is a unique opportunity to think critically about where you have been, what you have done, and what you ultimately want to do.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? As I approach graduation in May, I have thought about this a few times and I would not change anything. I am a firm believer in the mantra that “Everything happens for a reason.” Well, things happen – that can’t be denied – and it’s up to us to find the meaning, the value behind the occurrences. I cannot speak highly enough of what my classmates accomplished and will accomplish so I am fortunate to have gotten to know them in classes and extracurricular activities. Although, I will say I probably would have chosen a bigger apartment than a 330-square foot studio if I could go back in time.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I like to refer to Peter Zanca as the coolest person I know. He is a great person, leader, and classmate. Outside of his work as president of the Business Analytics Club, he won the 2019 NBA Hackathon and is friends with everyone in our MBA program. He is the epitome of a servant leader, works incredibly hard, and is a great sounding board/savant for anyone who asks, as I often do.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I was fortunate to grow up with a working mom and a freelance-writer father. Not only were my papers very well edited – thanks Dad! –

but early on, I saw what women can accomplish in the workplace. My mom is a 5’3” spitfire and grew up in finance in the late 1980s and ‘90s. One of my favorite quotes comes from my grandfather when he asked if her head hurt from shattering all those glass ceilings. She received her MBA from the University of Maryland, so I knew early on that it was something I wanted to do, too. It wasn’t until later in my life when I realized that I appreciated my mother’s career more than the classroom parties she missed or Girl Scout meetings she couldn’t attend (seriously, who has a Girl Scout meeting at 3 pm?).

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? CEO. Mentor. Although, I can’t seem to sit still for long so maybe it will be a partner and mentor.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A servant leader who made an impact and strived to be a good friend, fearless to a fault, hopefully, a little less direct than I actually am, and that my jokes were sometimes funny.

Hobbies? Field Hockey (both playing and coaching), vinyl records, running, Starbucks enthusiast

What made Emily such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“What made Emily invaluable to the Class of 2020 is that she was a capable, likable, beloved, widely-respected, and impactful leader among her peers. They voted her recipient of the Dean Woo Leadership Award, as outstanding leader in the MBA program. She was also voted President of the Consulting Club and VP of Events for the MBA Women in Business Club. Sense a trend?

Emily was also invaluable to her class because through her exercise of leadership in those various capacities she strategically, quietly, and graciously benefitted as many of her peers as any MBA student I can remember in my 15 years at Mendoza doing for his or her class.

Emily did that in a special way by playing a critical leadership role in launching and developing the burgeoning gender equity initiative at Mendoza. She launched a series of discussions in the Fall of 2018 on the topic that improved communications and understanding among female and male students and between students and faculty.

Because of the inclusive approach to those discussions taken by Emily and other MBA Women in Business leaders, the MBA gentlemen established a Men As Allies Club in the Fall of 2018 to support gender equity in the MBA program and beyond, and a new MBA elective on gender equity in business was developed collaboratively by the MBA Women in Business and Men As Allies club leaders and offered in the Spring of 2019. That has now expanded in the Winter of 2020 to an undergraduate version of the same course. Also, three MBA women were invited to address the entire Mendoza faculty in the Spring of 2019 on creating an inclusive program and classroom.

The Notre Dame MBA program will forever be different and better because Emily Clark quietly, capably, affably, generously, and inclusively exercised her tremendous leadership skills here.”

Joe Holt
Teaching Professor
Department of Management & Organization
Mendoza College of Business


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