2021 MBAs To Watch: Mwemba Mwemba, Jr., Georgetown University (McDonough)

Mwemba Mwemba, Jr.

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

A passionate, idealistic individual driven to have a meaningful impact on the world around me.”

Hometown: Midland, MI

Fun fact about yourself: I’m home when I’m listening to live music. I’ve attended 13 music festivals and counting. Live music has been the single biggest thing I’ve missed during COVID and it is, without a doubt, the thing I’m most looking forward to once it’s safe to sing and dance with friends and strangers alike again.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Michigan State University, BA in Marketing

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Territory Manager in Houston, TX

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? I interned in AbbVie’s Immunology Marketing Organization in Chicago, IL

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be joining AbbVie’s Commercial Leadership Program (CLP) in Chicago, IL

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow
  • National Black MBA Association Fellow
  • Georgetown Global Health Initiative Student Fellow
  • Georgetown Healthcare Business Alliance President
  • Georgetown MBA Student Ambassador
  • Guest Writer for On the Record: A student-run publication through the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service
  • Spearheaded Georgetown McDonough’s “GetUsPPE” fundraiser to procure PPE for frontline healthcare workers battling COVID-19 in the spring of 2020.
  • Member of: Black MBA Association, Georgetown Christians in Business, MBA Volunteers, McDonough Sports Club, Middle East Business Association, Out @ MSB (ally)
  • Pyxis Partners (Healthcare Advocacy Firm) MBA Intern: Spring 2021

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I felt immensely fortunate to serve as a Georgetown MBA Student Ambassador. The role was unique in that it afforded me the chance to interact with prospective students across a myriad of different venues, all the while working alongside seven of some of my most talented MBA peers.

When I was initially waitlisted and then denied by Georgetown McDonough, I vividly remember my mother telling me that I would one day be able to encourage other applicants by sharing how I navigated the admissions process and disclosing my admission story. As she often is (although sometimes I find it difficult to admit), my mother was right, and it was an honor being able to cheer on applicants while serving in a Student Ambassador capacity.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Being the face of the Marathon Petroleum brand in two entirely new markets (Upstate NY and Houston, TX) were experiences I’ll never forget. I was humbled by the fact that management tasked me with such large responsibilities in subsequent roles. It was exhausting, yet exhilarating, all at the same time.

In a span of roughly 18 months, nearly 40 Marathon branded fuel stations were established in Upstate NY, the culmination of a multitude of strategy sessions, prospective client meetings, and contract negotiations. Interacting with individuals and families across disparate communities and helping to positively impact neighborhoods in a memorable way was an extraordinary experience.

Why did you choose this business school? The most important thing to me when it came to selecting a business school was cultural fit. I visited Georgetown McDonough with no real expectations and left feeling like I had found my home. The connections I was able to form, with students and faculty alike, so quickly and so meaningfully were unforgettable. I felt during that weekend that Georgetown McDonough was going to be a place that would support me and enable me to flourish.

I’ve asked my dad, on numerous occasions, how he knew my mom was “the one.” The question elicits the same response each time, “I just knew,” he tells me. In a similar manner, during the weekend I visited, I felt a remarkable pull towards McDonough and towards Georgetown University as a whole that I hadn’t felt anywhere else.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This question is tough because I feel like I have so many amazing professors to choose from. Professor Lee Pinkowitz (FINC 550: Financial Markets and Corporate Decision Making) was exceptional though.

I enjoyed finance while in undergrad, but still felt somewhat nervous about taking finance courses at McDonough, knowing I would likely be surrounded by individuals who knew how to navigate a spreadsheet in a much more superior fashion than me. It’s paradoxical when I think about it, but Professor Pinkowitz made me feel more comfortable about finance yet challenged me at the same time. Professor Pinkowitz inspired me to gain a deeper understanding of financial markets and sincerely did everything he could to help me succeed. Not to mention, when you’re walking into an 8 AM class and the music is blaring, how can you not be fired up to dig into some portfolio analysis?

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The Global Business Experience (GBE). It was the chance to apply all that we’ve learned during business school while consulting for a multinational firm. In addition, we were afforded the opportunity to travel abroad to present our findings, an experience that draws many applicants to Georgetown McDonough.

GBE reflects a broader commitment and focus not only just from McDonough, but from the entire Georgetown community, on impacting the world around us for the better. GBE is the culmination of two years of significant exposure to different cultures, different ways of doing business, and different ways of life.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I wish I‘d created openings to interact with undergraduate students. It was not that long ago that I was in undergrad, and I remember feeling an acute amount of pressure to somehow know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life by the time I graduated. I wish I could have served in some sort of mentor capacity for undergrads to assure them that they didn’t need to have their entire lives planned out by the time they turned 22. I would have enjoyed sharing my experiences and perspective while simultaneously learning all of the new TikTok dances… and no, I’m not kidding.

What is the biggest myth about your school? This isn’t necessarily a myth, but in general, I feel like McDonough students arrive on campus under the assumption that they’ll likely have limited interaction with students outside of the business school. In reality, I’ve made a substantial number of connections with students and professors alike outside of McDonough. I thoroughly enjoyed two healthcare-related courses I took across campus at the McCourt School of Public Policy. Getting more involved with the Georgetown Institute for Politics & Public Service empowered me to further explore the inner workings of the public sector. At the same time, guest writing for Georgetown’s On the Record allowed me to tap into my journalistic passion. Plugging into the broader university community has been relatively easy and uniquely memorable.

What surprised you the most about business school? I often tell prospective students of how I severely underestimated how incredibly busy the business school experience is. Prior to arriving at McDonough, I remember being excited about our 4-day academic schedule and looking forward to ample opportunities to get to know my classmates personally via social events. Of course, the social aspect of business school still has been very enjoyable, but there is an abundance of other responsibilities and commitments I quickly realized we have to navigate as MBA students. While balancing academic responsibilities, recruiting, and club involvement, I became acutely aware of how any semblance of free time can quickly slip away.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I don’t think it necessarily gave me an edge, but I think the single biggest thing an applicant can do during his or her application process is to take a visit to the schools under consideration. Reading about a program online is one thing and talking to current students on the phone is another. However, physically strolling around the business school, feeling and sensing the culture, and sitting in on a class are unparalleled experiences in terms of their ability to provide you with a preview of your own experience. We are all looking forward to life post-COVID, but I’m especially excited for future applicants and the prospect of them being able to physically visit business schools again.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I would be remiss if I didn’t use this platform to recognize and acknowledge the efforts of dozens of my international McDonough peers. These students have dealt with F1 Student Visa hurdles, a chaotic summer MBA internship season, and a less than ideal post-MBA job market with grace and humility.

Imagine, for a moment, waking up at 2 AM for class. This has been the reality for so many of my international peers, for roughly a year now. I’m wowed by their dedication and they deserve a great deal of applause for it.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? I’ll readily admit, not having to wake-up early to catch the bus for my 8 AM class was a welcome respite. When we first shifted to online, I think most of us at McDonough assumed we’d only be online for the rest of the semester and really could not have imagined the online/hybrid experience would prevail for the rest of our time in business school.

Overall, I thought McDonough’s leadership did a phenomenal job in shifting all of our courses to an online format. From a club perspective, it was challenging, but also rewarding, to identify creative ways to keep members engaged and excited despite operating in a virtual environment. My personal opinion is that we can all read a plethora of HBR cases — and we do — about leading during a crisis. But the past 12 months has been the most applicable case study of all.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mother, as a former nurse and now nursing professor, is one of the most caring individuals you will ever meet. She once told me that if she hadn’t gone into nursing that she would’ve gone into ministry. I sometimes joke that she came out of her mother’s womb already ready to nurture those in the room.

My mother’s selflessness deeply inspired me to find a way to marry my business acumen with an environment where I could have a tangible impact on human life. I came to business school specifically to pivot to the healthcare space, and truthfully, my mother and I didn’t have a ton of conversations about my decision. She understood how badly I wanted to pivot, and it was a direct result of years of watching her care for and improve the lives of others.

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

  • Obtain a role abroad (Africa or Asia)
  • Write a book

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

“At first, it was unclear if Mwemba was going to be eligible for admittance to Georgetown. When he originally applied to McDonough’s MBA program, he was denied. However, the efforts he made through self-reflection and awareness, merit-based changes, and engagement with our community led to not only his admittance the following year but an offer of a full tuition scholarship and Consortium Fellowship. He achieved this feat through strong determination, focus, and optimism.

Now, in the program, Mwemba has exceeded all expectations in regard to program support and community involvement. He was hired through a very selective process to become a student ambassador with the MBA Admissions Office. This entails working weekly to help prospective candidates navigate the admissions process and better understand the program. He is also very involved as a leader in Georgetown’s Healthcare Business Alliance, as well as a member with the Black MBA Association, McDonough Sports Club, Middle East Business Association, Georgetown Christians in Business, an ally member of Out @ MSB, and is a member of Georgetown MBA Volunteers. He has demonstrated a breadth of involvement on campus and has strengthened our community.

On a personal note, Mwemba embodies McDonough’s spirit to care for one another. He will often pop into my office just to check in on me personally. During the pandemic, he’s requested to set up catch up calls over Zoom. He truly appreciates the individuals he has met at McDonough, values those relationships, and has dedicated time to invest in them. He is a model individual and Georgetown student.”

Anne Kilby
Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions, Director of Operations




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