Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Emma Lawler, University of Chicago (Booth)

Emma Lawler

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“Emma has a background in product and entrepreneurship. She’s worked at Fitbit, theSkimm, and was the co-founder of Moonlight, a remote work marketplace that sold to a competitor in 2020.”

Hometown: Denver, Colorado

Fun Fact About Yourself:

  • Pre-pandemic I lived in 9 major cities around the world while working remotely, including Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and London.
  • I’m a certified yoga teacher. I did the virtual 200-hour training from Yoga Maya in NYC during the pandemic.

Undergraduate School and Major:

  • Undergraduate: University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Certificate in Creative technology (1-year program, user experience design, University of Colorado at Boulder)
  • Certificate in Readiness, CORe (3 courses, Harvard Business School online)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Lead Product Manager at theSkimm in New York City

What word best describes the Chicago Booth MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Motivating – I’m consistently amazed by how much each student or alumnus has accomplished and the passion they bring to their work. In the beginning, I was greatly influenced by each conversation, discovering new opportunities with each person I talked to — internships, recruiting, networking, clubs, travel, and more. Each person has a truly inspiring path and they want to bring you along with them.  I’m excited to surround myself with such an ambitious group of people, and I’m taking every opportunity to learn from each of their unique backgrounds. I came to Booth to further pursue entrepreneurship, and I can already tell I’ll have a vast network of professionals to collaborate with along that journey.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Chicago Booth’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I was drawn to Booth’s entrepreneurship electives and concentration, along with the flexibility of the program. I was looking to learn quantitative finance skills, grow a network of ambitious peers, and incubate my next startup idea. Classes like Entrepreneurial Discovery and the New Venture Challenge, the Entrepreneurship and VC Club, and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation all made Booth the right fit for my goals. As I’ve gotten more involved, I’m continually excited about the learning and resources available to entrepreneurs.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Chicago Booth? I plan to compete in the New Venture Challenge and aspire to get funding for my next startup. Booth’s flexible curriculum will allow me to incubate and validate business ideas with other students and faculty before raising money. I’m also excited about the experiential lab classes like the PE/VC lab — where students learn investment skills in the classroom and apply them in an internship working directly with local firms.

When you think of the Booth philosophy, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Rigorous. Before applying to Booth, I knew the school had a reputation for quantitative curriculum. I’m looking forward to learning the hard skills I’ll need to be a business leader throughout my entire career. Yes, maybe I could learn some of these skills over years of hands-on experience, but I believe this two-year program will give me a stronger foundation to achieve my ambitious goals and make a bigger impact.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was the co-founder of Moonlight, a remote work platform for finding and hiring experienced software engineers. We validated the idea as a remote team, raised a seed round from institutional Venture Capitalists, hired a team, built a complex two-sided marketplace, and sold the platform to PullRequest in 2020. Moonlight still exists today in case you’re looking to find a software job or hire developers!

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? In 2020, I sold Moonlight – the company I had co-founded and worked on for three years prior. I learned a lot of lessons from being a first-time founder, and knew I wanted to do it again with more formal business training under my belt. Then the first peak of the pandemic hit in NYC where I was living, and I had a lot of time for reflection. I decided on three things: I wanted to join a startup focused on women, attend a top business school, and eventually launch another startup. I was hired at theSkimm as Lead Product Manager, applied to several schools, and decided on Booth. Now, I’m working towards my goal of starting another company. While COVID-19 was devastating, it did give me the space to think through my goals and spend a lot of time working towards that new path.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Chicago Booth’s MBA program? Timing is everything. Apply when you’ve discovered your authentic path and understand how this MBA will help you achieve those goals. Spend meaningful time on every part of the application, and focus on your story — what have you done, what do you want to do in the future, and how the Booth community and curriculum will help you get there, Throughout every part of your application, interviews, and decision, stay true to your personal journey. This reflection and clarity will help you stand out from the crowd and also lead you to a meaningful career where you’re happy.


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