2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Nina Vann, Georgetown University (McDonough)

Nina Vann

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

“A highly principled and motivated people learner empowering others to create their own business success.”

Hometown: Tricky question, but I will say Lagos, Nigeria

Fun fact about yourself: I graduated from college at 19-years-old.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Covenant University, B.S., International Relations

Columbia University, M.S., Journalism

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Policy Adviser, The Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Senior Consultant, EY-Parthenon, Mergers & Acquisitions Strategy & Operations – Tysons Office

Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Consultant, EY-Parthenon, Mergers & Acquisitions Strategy & Operations – Tysons Office

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Georgetown Women in Business (GWIB): I was Co-President of Georgetown University’s largest Women in Business organization (GWIB). As part of our mission to empower women of all backgrounds, we hosted a range of events that provided a safe space for discussion, learning, and addressing the challenges of women on their path to success.

Impact Consultants, Net Impact Organization: A core aspect of attending a Jesuit institution like Georgetown is that it is very socially minded. In fact, we’re encouraged to live up to that creed by becoming “men and women for others.” So, as a busy first-year student, I consulted as part of a team to a leading DC non-profit for Net Impact Organization. Our objective was to help them understand their core competencies compared to peer organizations and to develop a replicating framework/product that they could sell.

Graduate Assistant Peer Advisor, MBA Career Center: I helped my student colleagues (full-time and part-time) develop recruiting strategies at different points in time in their MBA journey. At the beginning of any recruitment year, I prepared students to ace interviews for roles in management consulting and leadership development programs through case practice and behavioral assessment conversations.

Forte Fellow: I was selected to receive the Forte Fellowship for the class of 2020. It is an award given to women who exhibit exemplary leadership and demonstrate a commitment to women and girls through personal mentorship or community involvement.

Voted “Most Likely to Give Life-Changing Pep Talk” by my classmates

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As Co-President of Georgetown Women in Business, a 250-member strong organization, I had the chance to meet and speak with many women from all backgrounds and life stages. In many conversations, questions about how I balanced my personal and academic life were plentiful. I have two children (a three-year-old and a three-month-old that was born at the start of my second year) and I am attending a competitively rigorous full-time MBA program. Not one to withhold the physical, logistical, and psychological struggles I’ve endured these past two years, I always shared my perspectives with these women. Most of all though, I didn’t want them to focus on real-life challenges. I wanted them to see my experience as character-building, and a test of resilience.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I have yet to professionally accomplish anything that tops my involvement to get UN peacekeepers globally adequate pay for the risks they take to defend the world’s most vulnerable. As a Policy Adviser to the United Nations budgetary committee, which comprised nations as small as Togo and as large as Russia, it was my duty – as part of the minority delegation representing developing nations – to help the major powers in the majority see the value of giving peacekeepers a much-needed raise. It was an idea challenged from the get-go. For the developing countries, we knew there was a direct correlation between peacekeepers’ standard of living and the quality of the work they did. I organized an effort to unify all affected parties to persuade the committee’s majority. Then, I used data to show that member nations’ dues were enough to justify a salary increase, and that, if necessary, we would commit to additional non-financial support. It was just a matter of getting them to see the facts.

In the end, the committee agreed to a 17% increase effective immediately. I imagined that the global peacekeepers who had sacrificed time with their loved ones in order to ensure that others had that opportunity were a little happier that day.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor George Comer

First, Professor Comer brings a very cheerful personality to something as dry and challenging as Financial Modeling. Second, he was creative by bridging the gap between the academic requirements of financial modeling with everyday concerns. It’s one thing to believe that getting an MBA outweighs the costs. But when the actual costs begin to hit you, it is comforting to have reasonable data (i.e. NPV/IRR) that show that it will be worth it long-term. I had a 30% Internal Rate of Return on my MBA.

Simply put, Professor Comer is whip-smart. He is astute at connecting abstract models like Black-Scholes to tangible real-life situations. Lastly, he empowers his students with genuine words of encouragement, which allows them to see the big picture instead of focusing on grades.

Why did you choose this business school? Business schools often have a reputation for churning out leaders who are so success-oriented to a fault that they forget about how the decisions they make affect our world and impact lives, for better or worse. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to enroll at a premiere institution that acknowledged that and committed to forming globally-minded business leaders taught to care for the whole person—cura personalis in Latin. I wanted to attend a school that reinforced this lesson that business integrity and high impact success is not only possible but showed me how to get there. That was McDonough’s great appeal to me and why I’m grateful for every experience I’ve had there since enrollment.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Applying for an MBA requires deep introspection. Give yourself enough time to do so. Apart from the standardized tests, there are a few other ways to represent your unique self in ways that will be memorable to the admissions committees. Don’t underestimate presence.

Lastly, take advantage of the myriad of programs that help you prepare an application, or even begin recruiting. Organizations like the Consortium, Forte, and MLT do this very well.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would be more confident about my strengths and what I bring to the table. Most MBAs come from traditional finance, business administration, or engineering backgrounds. And because I came from a non-traditional one, I sometimes felt as if I did not have much to offer. It took a GWIB workshop on Imposter Syndrome and lots of pep talks from my husband to break out of it. I did have a lot to offer. I was an outstanding performer in my previous field and that’s why I was given a seat to attend Georgetown University. That said, I had a lot to contribute, either through my compelling ideas, insight, or competitive communication skills.

Secondly, I would set boundaries early. I began the program with a one-year-old child who naturally required lots of attention. As such, my life was quite unpredictable, even though I planned to the best of my ability. Most of my teammates weren’t married nor did they have children, and naturally couldn’t imagine the responsibility that comes with parenthood. So they would often call for meeting times that were inconvenient or with short notice. This caused me and my family a lot of stress. In retrospect, I should have been firm and direct about my schedule and obligations from the get-go, while also assuring them that I will duly contribute to the final deliverables.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Loretta Okoye. She is a bold and brilliant young black woman who has shown her mettle by thriving in very competitive and the not so diverse world of investment banking by staying true to herself.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My husband who happens to be a journalist actually. We took a trip to visit my mom in Abuja, Nigeria and we went to an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp for people who escaped the terror of Boko Haram further north in the country. They were medical personnel, lawyers, teachers, and traders with the needed skills to get jobs. But they just found it a little harder to translate those skills into income because of their situation. We were talking one day about ways to help them figure out a plan to monetize their skills. And then it was like the heavens opened when he said, “You know what Nina? I think you should look into business school.” One GMAT, a GRE, countless study hours, and two exams later, here I am.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would like to write a book, start a YouTube channel and open a women-only skill-training center.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As that energetic, engaging student who was always there to give a much-needed pep talk, and always prepared to address a difficult situation head-on.

Hobbies? Dancing, journaling, travel, swimming, and cooking

What made Nina such an invaluable member of the Class of 2020?

“Impact” is the word that best describes Nina Vann’s time as an MBA student at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. She joined the MBA Class of 2020 from a career in journalism and international policy. Prior to joining the MBA program, Nina served as Policy Adviser, The Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations.

At Georgetown McDonough, Nina was elected Co-President of Georgetown University’s 250+ member Graduate Women in Business (GWIB) organization. GWiB’s mission is to empower women of all backgrounds, address challenges, and help women on their path to success. In this capacity, Nina had the chance to meet and speak with many women from all backgrounds and life stages at the various GWiB events. Her perspectives and insights were always candid, motivating, and inspirational. As a testament to the high esteem Nina’s classmates placed in her, she was voted “Most Likely to Give a Life-Changing Pep Talk” by her classmates.

In the final year of her MBA program, Nina served as a Peer Advisor in the MBA Career Center. She was instrumental in helping many of her classmates and first-year MBA students achieve career success.  She completed numerous advising appointments that encompassed a wide array of career topics ranging from resume and cover letter reviews, to case interview preparation and job offer negotiation. Nina also volunteered to assist me at several small-group career sessions for first-year MBA students after she completed her internship and before the fall semester started. Her empathetic personality, professional competence, and sage advice was always evident during her interactions with the students. I was an eyewitness on many occasions to the impact Nina has had on her classmates.

Nina has also been a devoted wife and mother throughout her time as an MBA student. She started her MBA career as the mother of a small child and finishes it as the mother of two children aged three and 3 months. Her amazing time management skills, combined with the support of her loving husband and family members, have enabled Nina to be highly successful at every endeavor.

Following graduation, Nina will join EY’s Parthenon M&A Strategy practice at the firm’s office in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, where she will help large organizations achieve their strategic and operational goals.”

Lawrence J. Verbiest
Director, MBA Career Center
Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business


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