Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Joann Praise Emmanson, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Joann Praise Emmanson

Arizona State University, W.P Carey School of Business

I excel at driving new ideas to market-ready solutions.”

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Fun Fact About Yourself: I can remember people’s names and surnames by their voices, even if it has been a decade. Most times faster than their faces.

Undergraduate School and Major: Covenant University, Industrial Physics major in Renewable Energy

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Venture Garden Group. Head, Business Analysis

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? #1 in innovation.

My career path has always led me to unusual places with unusual challenges, from Physics with Renewable Energy to Business analysis, aviation consulting, and working extensively with startups. One thing that stands out for me across my career is the ability to adapt and make suitable changes that will be beneficial to me and the world. So I knew that when it was time to choose an MBA, it had to be one that is innovative with proven evidence of being nimble and adaptive to change – and my path led me to Arizona State University. Some of the proven track record with respect to ASUs MBA is the flexibility to take any class across several specializations, so you can literally customize your experience and be well prepared for the real world.

Arizona State is renowned for its innovation. How have you seen innovation in the philosophy, curriculum, or researches at W. P. Carey? Due to my background in renewable energy, I will touch on sustainability a bit. Among many sustainability initiatives by ASU, one of the most recent is the university’s partnership to commercialize the carbon capture technology that removes carbon from the atmosphere.

ASUs willingness to try new ideas is also reflected in the Entrepreneurship Venture – Devils initiative that mentors and funds founders who are actively working towards problem-solution and product-market fit.

More recently, with COVID 19 keeping everyone indoors, the MBA program made swift provisions to deliver lectures via three channels: ASU immersion, ASU sync and iCourses. The more interesting thing is that all these modes of delivery were already in place before the pandemic. Talk about a forward-thinking school!

What club or activity excites you most at this school? Entrepreneurship Club! I am a start-up lady, I have literally worked with dozens of start-ups in the past six years, and nothing excites me more than being in the midst of forward thinkers. I can’t wait to experience all the brilliant minds and ideas that will shape the new world.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Creating a domestic distribution system for African airlines to facilitate interlining/interoperability. This solution began as a cool idea during a casual conversation many years ago and gradually morphed into a full-fledged solution that has so far provided access to a market of 40million+ customers…with an eventual goal of increasing ticket sales and facilitating asset financing. It is currently being deployed in two African countries.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Working in Africa’s aviation sector in the 5th largest market for nearly four years has enabled me to have extended interactions with major players within the industry (i.e. airlines, regulators and service providers), which in turn has exposed me to the core challenges that has crippled the industry for decades. Challenges ranging from lack of accurate airline data per country to lack of corporate governance to manual operational challenges and more which has led to the demise of more than 300 airlines in the past 40 years. Although I have been privileged to be in a position to create some change, I know there’s still greater change to be made.

This scenario is typical in the startup scene. I believe that partaking in an innovative MBA program will help me see clearly the best practices in creating sustainable businesses, as well as equip me with the leadership and business skills that will be beneficial in my quest to do just that.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Washington University – Olin School of Business

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? What do you want to do post-MBA? As simple as it is, I still find it sort of amusing. I wasn’t sure if I should give the interviewers my scripted answer or the real answer, which is, “I know that I like the excitement of taking a new idea to market especially in the aviation sector but I am coming to business school to learn and  explore the possibilities.”

I know that I paused a little longer than normal before answering this question.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Early in my career, when the business team decided to expand into new markets, I suggested that we expand into three African countries. I initially felt unqualified to drive the conversation [as the only woman on the business team], but I was sure that following through with this idea was right for the business at the time. Though met with initial resistance due to unfavorable historical information, upon running the analysis and viability, it was approved! With the support of Senior Management, we were able to explore this novel idea and soon enough, it became a profitable venture. It made me further believe that anything is possible and that possibility mindset even in the midst of perceived failure has equipped me with the resilience and confidence needed to emerge as an innovative leader post-MBA.

What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer? Ability to adapt quickly to change.

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