2021 MBAs To Watch: Eric Sweeney, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Eric Sweeney

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza School of Business

“Creative problem solver with a drive for success, penchant for communication, and desire for inclusivity.”

Hometown: Portland, OR / New York, NY

Fun fact about yourself: I host a radio show every Saturday called “Opera Basics” on the local classical music station, WSND 88.9 FM.

Undergraduate School and Degree:
University of Oregon, Bachelor of Music: Vocal Performance
Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, Master of Music: Vocal Performance

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? A3 Artists Agency (fka Abrams Artists Agency) Manager of Theatrical Literary Licensing

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? PwC in NYC (but we were virtual!)

Where will you be working after graduation? PwC, Senior Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Co-Chair, MBA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force
Co-President, Mendoza LGBTQ+ and Allies Club
Vice President, Mendoza Professional Services
Radio Host, “Opera Basics”, WSND
Cantor, Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Conference Organizer, ROMBA Conference 2020
Session Director, ROMBA Conference 2019

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m very proud to have been a co-chair for the MBA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. When I first came to Mendoza, I was surprised by the lack of diversity within the MBA program and saw it as an opportunity to make an impact on the program. This led to the creation of the MBA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. The task force was entirely a student-initiated and student-led effort. Together, we delivered over 40 recommendations to the Mendoza MBA administration in areas including admissions, career development, communications, and alumni relations. Our goal was to increase the diversity of students within the MBA program and to create an inclusive culture in which diverse students can flourish. I have also participated in follow up meetings with various departments at the school to help them find a way to implement the task force’s recommendation. I acted as a DEI consultant for the school! It has been gratifying to be part of such an important effort and I hope to see the fruits of our labor in the coming years.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As the Manager for Theatrical Literary Licensing, I licensed plays and musicals for live performance around the world. When I was approached by a Chinese theater company interested in performing one of our plays, I was told China was a very difficult territory to contract with and a deal would never happen. I took this as a challenge and, together with the theater company, developed an innovative licensing model which would allow the play to be performed as well as ensure the protection of the intellectual property. It was a major achievement and the first six figure deal for the agency in China. The author was thrilled their play would be performed in China.

Why did you choose this business school? My career originally began in nonprofit performing arts. I was trained as an opera singer and later worked at an opera company. I think, like many artists, the idea of being in the for-profit world was synonymous with being greedy and a crook. It just felt “icky.” Notre Dame’s mission and values, however, speak to the power of business to change the world for the better. The tagline of the program is “grow the good in business.” I wanted to be one of the people who would grow the honor/righteousness/charitability in business and create value and benefit for all people.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor is Dr. Katherine Spiess. She is a finance professor at Mendoza and teaches the core finance class to all MBA students. I’ve also taken a few other courses with her simply because I enjoy the way she teaches and always leave her class feeling a little bit smarter. Professor Spiess possesses a really clear teaching style. Prior to school, I had never taken a corporate finance course before and owe much of my foundational knowledge to her. Her assignments and exams were always challenging, but her grading was always fair, if not generous! Moreover, she always took the time to help with questions outside of the classroom, whether they were questions about her course, another course, or just something you had been thinking about recently. Her shoe game is also always on point.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Attending an MBA program during a pandemic is surreal. Since the second half of the Spring Semester last year, the university has not allowed large gatherings or events. Even club meetings are virtual. If I would have known that last year, I would have taken advantage of in-person events.

What is the biggest myth about your school? You may have heard the myth that Notre Dame students are obsessed with Notre Dame football. It turns out the myth is almost universally true. For better or worse, much of the culture of Notre Dame, including at the business school, revolves around Notre Dame football, the tailgates that precede Notre Dame football, and the victory parties that follow. Many of my networking calls with Alumni begin with, “Did you see the game last weekend?”

What surprised you the most about business school? Networking is a key skill for success, but anyone can learn it. I was nervous about having to network as it always felt transactional and gross. As soon as I was able to pivot my frame of mind to make it more about developing relationships and getting to know people with no expectations, I began to enjoy networking and turned out to be halfway decent at it. Major shoutout to Angela Guido and Poets and Quants for this webinar which was a game changer for me. And also shout out to the ROMBA Conference which is a phenomenal conference for LGBTQ+ MBA students.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? During my admissions interview, I made clear that I wanted to participate in the wider university community and not solely within the business school. In particular, I wanted to sing at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus and join a choir. I think this made a positive impression on my interviewer!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Molly Lawrence is a fellow classmate, and I am in awe of her. Her desire to make an impact and change the world is a force to be reckoned with. I was her counterpart on the MBA D&I Task Force and witnessed her tirelessly spend countless hours bringing the task force and its recommendation to fruition. She is a tenacious advocate for justice and equality and lifts everyone around her. When Molly sees something that is unfair, there is no other option for her but to right the wrong. As the Women in Business President, she has led a team of peers to shape the next generation of female business leaders and to ensure the safety of all women in the program. Molly has a single-minded drive in her career search. Her efforts have paid off as she has secured some of the most competitive internships in the social impact space. I know the journey has not be an easy one, but her perseverance, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, has been an inspiration.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? When COVID hit in March 2020, the ND MBA program was just finishing our “Interterm,” which is a week of hands-on, experiential learning in the form of consulting projects. Most of us were spread around the country and about 50 students were traveling internationally as part of the Business on the Front Lines program. The following week was Spring Break, which was extended to give faculty a bit of extra time to pivot to all virtual classes. Because of the module system in the MBA program, we began all new classes after Spring Break. There was a very steep learning curve for students and faculty, but my hat’s off to everyone for their dedication, grace, and good humor. It also prepared us for virtual internships that summer!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Prior to business school, I didn’t really know anyone with an MBA. It is an uncommon degree in the arts. I decided to pursue my MBA almost as a dare to myself to prove I could do it. Though, I think my parents were relieved I was pivoting out of arts and they were very supportive of the move.

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

  1. I would love to work in Europe for a time. It would be fun to explore a completely new place and immerse myself in the culture and daily life of a European city. I also love languages and would enjoy being thrown in the deep end and learning how to speak.
  2. I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with many partners at PwC both during the recruitment process and my internship. They have all been interesting people who care a lot about what they do and honor the responsibility of their position. I would love to achieve partner someday.

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

“Eric is a 2nd year MBA at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. In the MBA student community, he has been one of the most valuable voices in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Following is just an example of the ways in which Eric has taken steps to make an impact on our community and leave a legacy that will not soon be forgotten:

He is currently the President of Mendoza LGBTQ and Allies Club: In this role, Eric has worked tirelessly to create a culture of inclusion for our LGBTQ MBA students and Allies. As President, Eric’s tireless commitment to advocate for the community that he serves has been the catalyst for change. Whether with the MBA program, the Mendoza College of Business or Notre Dame University, Eric has been a constant presence and strong voice of support for equity and inclusion for all who are underrepresented in our community.

He served the LGBT+ and Allies community nationally: In 2020, Eric was instrumental in organizing the annual conference for Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) organization, the world’s largest gathering of LGBT+ students and alumni. Even during a global pandemic, Eric was relentless in his commitment to providing leadership to efforts that focused on elevating the professional development, support and advocacy of the MBA LGBT+ community nationwide.

Co-lead on a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force (DE&I): Eric 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

Suffice it to say that Eric is an incredibly creative, passionate and outspoken MBA candidate and it could be argued that we need more like him in our programs. While serving as a “connector” for artists around the globe, Eric decided to pursue an MBA to compliment his very creative and eclectic theatrical background. His experience includes managing, negotiating, and licensing a portfolio of award-winning Broadway shows and talent throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, as well as creative planning and execution of theatrical events in New York City. Post-MBA, Eric will be pursuing a career in strategy/consulting where his commitment to advocacy and a “connection” is sure to result in tremendous success for many years to come.”

Kelli Kilpatrick
Director, Full-Time MBA
Mendoza College of Business
University of Notre Dame



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