Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Diane P. Martin, MIT (Sloan)

Diane P. Martin

MIT, Sloan School of Management

“Creative strategist and team leader whose best ideas come on long runs.”

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Fun Fact About Yourself: In 2018, I backpacked the entire 2,652-mile Pacific Crest Trail, stretching from Mexico to Canada on the west coast.

Undergraduate School and Major: Middlebury College, BA Religion

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Anne Lewis Strategies, Director of Content Strategy

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? I was drawn to MIT because of its culture of innovation, creativity, and diversity. Throughout my career at a small but rapidly growing marketing firm, I’ve had to wear many hats; I’ve learned the value of tackling problems from different angles to drive creative solutions. I sought a school community that similarly valued and leveraged different perspectives to drive innovation in business. MIT Sloan is known for just that. It fosters opportunities for learning and growth in unique ways, allowing students to design their own paths through the program and presenting a multitude of opportunities for action learning with real companies.

When you think of MIT, what are the first things that come to mind? How have your experiences with the Sloan program thus far reinforced or upended these early impressions? When I think of MIT, I think of innovative problem-solvers. The Sloan program has only reinforced this idea throughout the summer. When I logged on to virtual admit weekend, I was blown away by how quickly MIT had adapted their programming to a virtual world compared to other schools I had seen. From the virtual programming to the community-wide effort to prepare for the fall semester, every experience thus far has solidified in my mind that if any school is prepared to solve the monumental challenges we’re facing right now, it’s Sloan and the broader MIT community.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Collaborative. My classmates are already forming groups around shared interests and launching pilot projects. Second years are reaching out to offer extra help and have gone out of their way to make sure admits have the resources we need coming in.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I joined Anne Lewis Strategies in the summer of 2014, I was just the 12th employee and one of only two copywriters. Over time, I grew the editorial team from two to 12 writers, aligned it with other business functions and established a culture of data-driven innovation that allowed us to increase one client’s quarterly revenue by 118% year-over-year.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? For the past six years, I’ve led teams in elevating political leaders’ and non-profit organizations’ stories online and raising hundreds of millions of dollars to support their missions. I’ve helped to elect the first Latina to the U.S. Senate, to build movements against gun violence, and to increase equity in K-12 schools across America. I’ve done it by internalizing the nuances of various communities and distilling complex ideas into compelling, emotional, audience-specific messaging that mobilizes people to take action for a cause.

At the same time, I’ve confronted the limitations of my impact in today’s climate, where lawmakers are deadlocked on nearly every urgent issue we face. I’ve felt those limitations as I’ve watched corporations increasingly take on the role of change-makers in our society. Retailers, like Patagonia and Nike, are leveraging their vast resources and marketing platforms to raise public consciousness on issues like climate change and diversity in sport. They are pushing progress far more effectively than our elected officials. I am determined to be on the leading edge of that change, and with an MBA from Sloan, I will have the tools and experience to access business channels that have potential for broader impact, by orders of magnitude.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?  Harvard, Kellogg, Stern, Haas and UCLA

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? One school asked me to put myself in the shoes of a consultant for their MBA program and provide recommendations for improving the program, potential low-cost and high-cost plans for action, and the desired outcomes. It was the most challenging, but also one of the most fun to discuss with my interviewer!

What was the most impact factor in choosing a business school? How did you evaluate fit according to that factor? One of the most important factors for me, coming from a non-traditional pre-MBA background, was finding a school that valued diversity in education, work, and life experiences. Contrary to what I originally thought of when I heard “MIT,” Sloan actually has a high percentage of students with undergrad degrees in the humanities.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school?  My defining moment came on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I was on day 133 and mile 2,200 of my journey to thru-hike the 2,650-mile PCT from the Mexico/California border to Canada. It had rained for four days straight in Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness, and my gear was soaked through. However, I kept moving forward, inching my way toward Canada. Hiking the PCT meant constantly problem-solving in challenging and unpredictable circumstances and collaborating with diverse groups of people. We were brought together only by our love for the outdoors to accomplish lifelong goals. It shaped me as a leader and defined how I strive to impact the future: setting big goals, challenging expectations, and adapting to change while staying true to my values. To me, pursuing an MBA is a natural extension of that drive and I’m eager to leverage my experience and hone my skills to make a positive impact on business and on the world.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from studying it? My favorite company to follow and learn from is Patagonia. They’ve managed to make corporate responsibility, specifically sustainability and climate change advocacy, the center of their brand – not as a business trade-off, but as a competitive advantage. In doing so, they’ve raised public consciousness on critical issues and driven impactful advocacy, and they’ve done it all while continuing to grow their market and raise their bottom line.

DON’T MISS: Meet MIT Sloan’s MBA Class Of 2022

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