2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Julia Frederick, Yale School of Management

Julia Frederick

Yale School of Management

A public sector enthusiast with a desire to make everyone around her happier and healthier.”

Hometown: Brookline, Massachusetts

Fun fact about yourself: I originally got involved in Yale SOM Student Government because my classmates were really impressed by my Field Day chants and abundant excitement over tug-of-war. Thank you to Jewish sleepaway camp for preparing me for this important work!

Undergraduate School and Degree:  

Harvard University, Bachelor of Arts, 2012

Yale School of Public Health, Master of Public Health, 2021

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? U.S. Senate, Office of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Legislative Assistant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Secretary

Where will you be working after graduation? To be determined

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Student Government President, 2020-2021 – Manage 42 student government members and act as primary liaison between the student body of about 900 students and the school administration.
  • Student Government Cohort Representative, 2019-2020 – Represented cohort of more than 70 students on the student government, advocated for academic improvements, and built community within and across cohorts through events and other bonding activities.
  • 2020 Yale Healthcare Conference Organizer – Developed content and found speakers for Yale’s largest student-run conference, and quickly pivoted to move the event to a virtual format last April.
  • Social Impact Consultant with the Connecticut Mental Health Center Foundation – Provided guidance on tools that would allow the health center to communication more regularly with their patients.
  • Student Ambassador for the dual MBA-MPH program – Acted as a resource for students interested in a dual MBA-MPH at Yale.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As SOM’s Student Government President, I am incredibly proud of the collaboration between student government and school administration that I have been able to deepen this past year. One of the first things I did after being elected SG President in April 2020 was to create two Covid response committees that tasked students, faculty, and staff with helping SOM respond to the pandemic and enable a hybrid academic year. Facilitated by our two Vice Presidents, Snigdha Rao and Shruthi Gopal, these committees met every week throughout the summer, responding to the pandemic’s impact last spring by providing financial support to some students, preparing throughout the summer for a return to school, and advocating for more accessible COVID testing. Through the work of the School Format Committee, we developed an operational model that would allow students to safely return to the building for some classes and career needs; we were able to ensure that the student voice was engaged in SOM’s Covid response every step of the way; and we have continued to iterate on the school format throughout the year.

In addition to the collaboration specific to COVID, I’ve also been able to build relationships across SOM that bolster other SG priorities like communications, racial equity, and SOM’s “…and society” mission. I’ve provided recommendations to our Communications Department that have led to more frequent and clearer internal communications and helped build relationships between other SG members and Communications staff that will continue once I am gone. I’ve worked closely with our Community & Inclusion staff and Dean Charles as they work on anti-racism efforts, and have helped them build out a new Council on Anti-Racism and Equity. I’ve also been meeting with students and staff across the school to help SOM better embody its mission of training “leaders for business and society,” with the intent of continuing this work as an alum.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Before coming to Yale to pursue my MBA and MPH, I worked for Senator Elizabeth Warren in her D.C. office on policy issues critical to the health and well-being of Massachusetts constituents, including the opioid crisis, mental health needs, and continued access to Medicaid funding. Every day, I had the honor of fighting for the needs of our constituents. So many people were instrumental in big achievements like resisting repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and securing continued funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and community health centers in 2018 after long delays in program reauthorizations. I’m proud of the role I was able to play in these efforts. I helped tell our constituents’ stories and build relationships that enabled us to better understand how people and health systems were really being impacted by these issues. And I helped prepare Senator Warren to be able to fight for these issues on the Senate floor, ask hard-hitting questions in committee hearings, and communicate through social media and news outlets to educate and empower our constituents.

Why did you choose this business school? SOM’s mission is “to educate leaders for business and society.” As someone who came from the public sector and intends to return to the public sector, I was drawn to SOM by this statement. But ultimately, it was the students I met who were all so passionate about SOM’s mission that closed the deal. When I visited campus for my interview and admitted students’ weekend, I met so many students with non-traditional paths to business school who were all interested in using an MBA to go back out into the world and do something good for society. The people at SOM and their desire to be leaders in society as well as business only continues to validate this choice. As I pursue my interests in improving public sector institutions and health care systems, I’m surrounded by friends and classmates eager to engage with me on these topics.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Lesley Meng, Professor of Operations Management, is relatively new to teaching, but is already exceptional. I took a core operations class with her in my first year, and a business analytics class with her in my second. While I still can’t claim to be an operations expert, I am so grateful for the clear way in which Lesley taught, her openness to our feedback and questions, and her efforts to make the classes as fun and engaging as possible. She also found other ways to connect with students, sharing her personal story during an SOM tradition called Voices and through virtual events to engage with her outside of class. In addition to her teaching and research, she was an asset to Yale as they developed their Covid testing protocols. She’s the kind of professor who I expect will continue to be a very engaged member of the community, and someone whose elective-class seats students will be fighting over

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Thursday nights before the pandemic, SOM hosted “Closing Bell” at its academic building, Evans Hall. This was an opportunity for the student community to come together at the end of the academic week and relax with some beer and wine. But it was much more than just a chance to gather. It was a great way to meet students in other programs or classes, interact with our Deans and other staff, and catch up with friends after a busy week. And every week, Closing Bell was sponsored by a different club, which used the event to showcase their work, celebrate a culture, or raise money for an important cause. I believe students at SOM have a collective desire to build a strong and supportive community, and Closing Bell was one way for us to keep competition between students low and support one another in various ways after a busy week.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Pre-pandemic, I wish I had never left Gryphon’s (the graduate school pub) before closing, and never said no to plans! In all seriousness, business school is a totally unique time in our lives, and I wished I’d taken every single chance I had to meet and bond with as many of my classmates as possible. SOM, YSPH and Yale at large are full of extraordinary students who are going to make their mark on the world in so many diverse ways, and I’m inspired every time I get to learn about people’s passions and experiences.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I have found the myth of business school as an incredibly competitive place to be false here at SOM. Students are one another’s champions, constantly cheering each other on at events, making career connections, and helping each other prepare for interviews.

But one other myth that is true – SOM is in the home (New Haven) of the best pizza in the U.S. I will confirm that the pizza is delicious! That said, I will always have a soft spot for D.C.’s jumbo slice pizza.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I was really excited about Yale’s two-year accelerated MBA/MPH program in Health Care Management, so I applied to Yale SOM and Yale School of Public Health at the same time, articulating in each application why it was critical that I come to Yale for this joint degree. While each school had to accept me separately, I imagine that being able to make the case for my fit to Yale’s unique dual degree program helped the admissions offices understand how much I really wanted to come to Yale and what I would bring to each program.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It’s a true tie between our two Student Government Vice Presidents, Shruthi Gopal and Snigdha Rao. These ladies are both brilliant and humble doers.

Shruthi Gopal is also a joint MBA-MPH student, passionate about improving the healthcare system. She is one of the most loyal people I know, is someone who gets fired up quickly over injustices, and is always ready to jump into action. You want her on your side in any fight. She has experience in federal health policy and will be going into healthcare delivery consulting after school.

Snigdha Rao has been a guiding force, seen and unseen, behind any student ever interested in attending Yale SOM in the past two years—all while running regular Covid response committee meetings, helping lead Women in Management at SOM, and somehow finding time to go rock climbing. With experience in consulting, she is also interested in the public sector.

I can’t wait for the three of us to be able to continue to support each other and share tips and tricks in the years to come as we each work in our own way to address public sector and public health challenges.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? The immediate shift online last spring was very disruptive, as many people left New Haven and settled in for a confined spring. The transition to a hybrid environment in the fall of 2020 helped bring the community back together since most of our class returned to New Haven, but many of our classes remain virtual and the in-person social interactions have been minimal. People have found ways to adjust and refocus their energy, but it has been a dramatically different business school experience than anyone ever imagined.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My original supervisor when I started working for Senator Warren, Roger Lau, has been incredibly influential in my journey to business school. Roger was our State Director when I began in our Boston office, and from the start, he always saw more in me, recognizing my passion for public health and helping me pursue my interests. He mentorship involved pushing me to consider new opportunities before I thought I was ready for them or before I even realized they were possible. While he never explicitly suggested business school, he helped me build up my confidence, figure out what I was most excited about, and dream bigger. And when I eventually decided to apply to MBA and MPH programs, he was my champion. Roger continues to be a role model and mentor as he seeks to strengthen our democratic institutions through his new role at the Democratic National Convention. Meanwhile, I’m charting my own course to strengthen our democratic institutions and improve the health and wellbeing of our communities by developing my management skills and public health strategies at Yale.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Be in a role where I can contribute to capacity building within the public sector—I think there needs to be greater focus on building and retaining talent in government offices, and I hope to use my MBA skills to address this issue.
  2. Work (again) on behalf of the people in my home state of Massachusetts, but at the local and state level. Most of my experience prior to grad school was on federal policy, but my time working in state government in North Carolina last summer showed me how exciting state-level work would be for me.

What made Julia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Julia is a student I came to know extremely well during her time at Yale. She is distinguished by her leadership and selfless dedication to the school and larger community. She has been the exact right student leader during this very challenging time. Julia stepped up for a leadership role as the president of our student government during the very early part of the pandemic, knowing this role would be incredibly fraught as we all experienced the challenges brought on by the health crisis.

As a joint-degree student graduating this year with a masters in both management and public health, Julia had a particularly nuanced understanding of all of the leadership skills necessary to assist community efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus. She served as a role model for all students in her commitment to public health, academic excellence and community building. Despite a demanding course load, Julia contributed significantly to the excellence of the student experience and volunteered her time to assist her peers with every aspect of student life so they could succeed in coursework, career goals, safe health practices and community building.

Many decisions made during the pandemic were time-sensitive and necessary to keep the student experience as robust and enriching as possible within the constraints of the health crisis. Julia never wavered in her commitment, and kept up a rigorous cadence of meetings with the school leadership throughout the summer and the entire academic year. Her first and last question in these meetings was typically, “How can I help?” Our program was able to continue in hybrid format in large part due to Julia’s efforts in communicating to her peers the necessary public health protocols to keep the community safe and healthy.

Julia’s entire professional career has been in the public sector. This past summer, her internship was spent at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and her plans are to return to the public sector in a health-focused role. Her interest in equitable access to healthcare motivates and distinguishes her. She has had a profound impact on the holistic student experience of her classmates and also the public health goals of communities she has served in her professional career. Her selfless dedication to assisting others defines Julia as a leader. I could not recommend her more highly, and hope we have many more students in the future who exemplify her remarkable qualities.”

Sherilyn Scully
Assistant Dean, Academic Affairs and Student Life
Dean of Students
Yale School of Management

This is an early preview of our 100 Best & Brightest MBAs, which will be released on May 10th. 


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