“Passionate self-starter and charismatic trailblazer dedicated to driving social impact and changing the world.”
Hometown: Clifton, Virginia
Fun fact about yourself: I have been “learning” to play the banjo for over a decade. Eventually, I will pick it up.
Undergraduate School and Degree: Saint Joseph’s University, Bachelor in Business Administration, Finance, Philadelphia, PA
Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?
Sammamish Rowing Association, Director of Programs, Redmond, WA
Where did you intern during the summer of 2020?
Summer 2020: Starbucks Corporate, Global Social Impact Fellow, Seattle, WA
Winter 2020-present: King Arthur Baking Company, CSR & Sustainability Intern, Norwich, VT
Where will you be working after graduation? I accepted a position with King Arthur Baking Company as the Corporate Social Responsibility Manager.
Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:
President, Women in Business
Co-Chair, MBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force
The Notre Dame Strong Leader Award
VP of Events, Net Impact
MBA Admissions Ambassador for Female Prospective Students
Community Service MBA Volunteer Coordinator
Office of Sustainability Procurement, Food Sourcing, Licensing Working Group
Forte Foundation Fellow
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As President of the Mendoza Women in Business club (WiB), I am most proud of the robust and inclusive environment the leadership team worked hard to create. The Mendoza Women in Business club’s mission is to foster a strong and supportive community. We strive to engage the entire Mendoza community to promote women’s continued success as leaders in business and beyond. This year, we have had many initiatives, including rebranding our name and logo, introducing new nonprofit partnerships, collaborating with the university’s digital marketing and admission teams on their recruiting efforts, and working hard to create an inclusive community despite the virtual challenges. Though above all, our most impactful accomplishment was opening the Mendoza Women in Business membership to all graduate students within the Mendoza College of Business. Not only has WiB tripled the number of members, but the club can better facilitate the personal and career development of females in business by building a network of exceptional leaders across all programs. Our community of women is stronger than ever, and I am proud that I could help elevate the Mendoza Women in Business club to become more inclusive and dynamic.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My work at Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA) exceeded my expectations, mainly due to unexpected challenges, including a decreased budget and the delegation of additional responsibilities to staff. However, I found those challenges inspiring as I applied creative and innovative solutions to the evolving program. I built a cohesive, dedicated team and had confidence and pride in my staff’s ability to work with our members professionally and effectively. I also focused on building the program’s enrollment and retention, using my mentoring skills to develop a cohesive culture for the club that engendered each member’s connection and commitment to the program. In my first year, the number of rowers increased by 26%, and the fundraising goal exceeded by 14%. Furthermore, under my direction, the SRA’s Masters Program, which consists of men and women of all ages and skill levels, won a total of 18 National Championships in the summer of 2018.
Why did you choose this business school? I selected to attend the Mendoza College of Business for its thriving community, commitment to its values, and focus on growing the good in business. Changing the world for the better is deeply ingrained in the Mendoza community, and I wanted to attend a program that prioritizes business as a force for good. Mendoza focuses on developing ethical leaders who have a broad vision of the world and understand how to use business to solve complex problems. I saw this as true when I spoke to the MBA program alumni and learned about their passion for driving impact throughout their various careers; they transformed as a leader and accredited value-based learning. Mendoza is a special place that allows you to grow as an individual and develop as a leader, even if that means making mistakes along the way.
What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite experience at the MBA program has been my involvement with the Cellar Society, which was started last year by a classmate, Sarah Hohenberger. Sarah had a passion for all things wine and saw the need for a different kind of social gathering, given the pandemic parameters. She worked hard to partner with many local and Notre Dame affiliated wineries to create a unique virtual wine tasting experience in the comfort of your own home. She shared her knowledge and love of wine with the MBA community, and it has become my favorite (virtual) event to attend every week. It was a relaxing way to connect with fellow MBA students and learn about various blends from around the globe.
Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently, and why? From the start of my MBA journey, I wish I utilized the university’s Office of Sustainability and worked closely with the Mendoza administration on enhancing their established resources for students who want to pursue a social impact career. I have been on my own in pursuing a career in sustainability, and it was a lonely journey, risky at times, and not one I would encourage others to take solo. To change that outcome for the future generation of students interested in social impact, I proposed adding a few additional resources to package the social impact experience, creating a pathway to success. These resources included a social impact major, a paid MBA Sustainability Summer Fellowship program (partnering with the Office of Sustainability), and the Net Impact club officially becoming a career club, receiving more support and guidance from our Career Development Office.
Mendoza attracts students who want to positively impact society, as changing the world for the better is deeply ingrained in our community. I saw an opportunity to bring together established resources such as clubs and program offerings, add a few components, and create an experience that would have benefitted me from the start of my MBA experience and help those who want to pursue an impact career.
What surprised you the most about business school? I was most surprised by the impact of student leadership and how progress within a program depends on the leaders’ strength. An example of this at Mendoza was the student-led effort during the summer of 2020 to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of the Mendoza administration’s broader strategic initiative to expand and elevate the MBA demographic program. A fellow student, Eric Sweeney, and I assembled a group of MBA students, staff, and alumni to create a DEI task force to address diversity, equity & inclusion in the MBA program. Over many months, we researched effective DEI practices within programs, interviewed university administration, leveraged corporate contacts, and consulted external resources to develop over 40 recommendations across all functions, levels, and departments within the MBA program. We have worked closely with the administration in implementing the recommendations and continue to strive toward creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable culture at Mendoza.
What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I told compelling stories, both in my essays and during my interviews, that were consistent with my personal brand and aligned with Mendoza’s mission of growing the good in business. Each story included a problem that I faced, how I tackled the problem, the action I took to resolve the problem, and the end result. Within the framework, every story’s overarching theme consisted of my three foundational values, including courage, perseverance, and service to a greater good. Having a clear structure helped me feel confident in my application process and gave me an edge at Mendoza.
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The student I most admire is Eric Sweeney. Eric has been an inspiration in diversity and has courageously led several initiatives, such as the DEI task force, that others would view as too risky or “untouchable” topics. He is an exceptional advocate in the LGBT+ community and has a vested interest in creating a culture of belonging at Mendoza. It has been an honor to work alongside him in many areas as he is a relentless leader and pillar in our community. His hard work has substantially impacted the MBA program and university, which has inspired me to persevere through the program challenges and critically think outside the box of what could be.
How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? Due to the pandemic restrictions, the program’s social component, such as networking events and “Mendoza Mixers,” was disrupted, which is a significant aspect of the program as the MBA experience is entirely interactive. Most of these events moved to a virtual setting, but it did not provide the same level of connection or engagement as an in person event.
On the academic side, the MBA program shifted to virtual learning during the spring of 2020, and it was not easy as classes became very impersonal. Students never turned their cameras on, professors struggled to share screens and organize breakout rooms, multitasking was a given, and the connection was always shaky. The lack of in-person discussions affected the class’s dynamic, and learning the actual material became nearly impossible. However, over the last year, the University of Notre Dame has worked endlessly to bring students back on campus and continue in person. There are strict safety parameters in place, such as reduced classroom sizes, weekly surveillance tests, and daily health checks, but almost all of our MBA courses are in person, so it is worth the hassle. I am grateful for the effort made by the university to prioritize the learning environment and appreciate the agility and flexibility shown by faculty and staff to continue.
Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Vanessa Harder, whom I consider to be my mentor and a great friend, saw the light in me that I could not see myself. There is no reason for her to invest her time and energy in building people up and cheering them on, but she does so tirelessly and with extreme generosity and kindness. When I was at a pivoting point in my career, Vanessa encouraged me to reach higher, leading me to pursue my MBA at a mission-driven program. I was scared and had doubts, but she was there to help build my confidence and help me see my potential. Her endless support changed the way I envisioned my future, prepared for the next challenge, and realize my impact as a leader. I would not be on this boundless path of personal and professional growth without her.
What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?
- Chief Impact Officer
- Chairwoman of Nonprofit Board
What made Molly such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?
“Molly is a 2nd–year MBA at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. In the MBA student community, she has been instrumental in elevating the student experience in a variety of important ways:
1) She is currently the President of Women in Business (WiB): In this role, Molly has worked incredibly hard to bring WiB into the forefront as a Mendoza organization. Molly has achieved this by uniting the MBA women, engaging with other graduate women in Mendoza and building a community empowerment in the women and their allies. The impact has elevated the entire community.
- Co-lead on a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force (DE&I): Molly has been an inspiration in the area of diversity and inclusion and has led a number of initiatives in a courageous manner that others would view as too risky or “untouchable” topics. Specifically, she joined forces with a fellow student to lead a student DE&I task force that resulted in 44 recommendations, most of which are being implemented. These efforts will play an important role in our ability to advance issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in our community.
- Committed to nonprofit and social impact: While many students return to business school to explore careers that largely create shareholder value and accelerate personal wealth, Molly came back to business school to truly live the Notre Dame mission, to “Grow the Good in Business.” Molly’s summer internship was with the Global Social Impact team at Starbucks where she was able to have an incredibly positive impact even while working remotely during a global pandemic. While balancing academic demands and leadership obligations of her second year of the MBA program, Molly continues to add breadth and depth to her experience as an intern with King Arthur Banking on their Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability team.
In our community, Molly is viewed as a leader who is genuine and authentic – what you see is what you get. She stands strong in her values and ideals, she looks out for friends, and she is relentless about approaching individuals with the dignity, respect and inclusiveness they deserve. There is no reason for her to invest her time and energy in building and cheering people on, but she does so tirelessly and with fierce generosity and kindness. The MBA can be harder for some than others – a reality that is not often recognized by most. However, Molly is constantly focused on important work that gives others the strength and the resolve to fight every day. Molly is an example for all who strive to achieve excellence in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Each year, the Notre Dame MBA student community honors three students who embody each of the three ideals of a Notre Dame Leader: Tender, Strong and True. This year, Molly Lawrence was identified by her peers as a Strong Notre Dame Leader. What follows is our description of the Strong Notre Dame Leader that Molly represents:
Strong leaders have deeply-rooted moral and spiritual values and convictions that are the fruit of deep reflection. They stand up for others to uphold those values and convictions with courage and tactical savvy even when there is considerable personal risk in doing so. Strong leaders see and believe in the potential of their followers and maintain the right balance between being challenging and being supportive in order to help followers realize their potential. They are reassuringly competent and constantly strive for excellence and encourage others to do so as well. Strong leaders also empower others, support diversity and inclusion, and are moved by a servant’s heart to exercise power for the benefit of followers rather than over them for their own benefit.
It is my honor and my privilege to recommend Notre Dame MBA student, Molly Lawrence, for Poets & Quants “Best and Brightest” MBAs. There is no one more deserving.”
Director, Full-Time MBA
Mendoza College of Business
University of Notre Dame
DON’T MISS: BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS IN THE CLASS OF 2021