Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Julia Hamilton, London Business School

Julia Hamilton

London Business School

“l love kids, super passionate about LGBTQ+ issues & I think I’m hilarious (but you decide).”

Hometown: New York City, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I failed my road test five times before finally passing — I think my family was more proud when I actually got my license than at my college graduation (and rightly so)!

Undergraduate School and Major: American University, Law & Society

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Goldman Sachs, Vice President

What makes London such a great place to earn an MBA degree? The easy answer would be to simply say that London is a global, diverse city and in many ways the financial center of the world. And, while all of this is true, there’s so much more to why London is a great place to earn an MBA degree.

Growing up in NYC, I learned young the value of being a student in such a big, non-stop, bustling city. You have access to everything outside of your academics: international travel, internships and job opportunities, new cuisines, and people from different places you’ve never even heard of – which I think is key for growth, personally and professionally. MBA students are nothing if not incredibly driven and motivated individuals, but studying in London forces you to really capitalize on all these amazing opportunities on your own. It’s not a small campus where everything is easily accessible — if you want it, the world is at your fingertips. But you have to go out, seek it and want it enough for yourself to put in the work. I think that makes London an exceptional place to get an MBA degree.

London Business School is one of the most culturally and professionally diverse MBA programs in the world. How do you see these global perspectives enhancing the value of your business education over the next two years? Coming from the U.S. where many companies and institutions have a very U.S.-centric view of the world — coupled with my personal goal of wanting to be a leader for an international company — it was important for me to be at a school that truly walks-the-walk in valuing global leadership and education.

The LBS curriculum is enriched in this global mindset, with core courses and electives always offering a multitude of perspectives. The school actively seeks out a diverse MBA class each year across a multitude of identities such as gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality / ethnicity, religion, and more. LBS also offers a language program — a powerful element of the LBS MBA. It’s all of these components combined together that I believe will enhance my business education over the next two years so I can better understand new perspectives and push myself out of my comfort zone to really develop a global mindset. When there are more unique voices at the table, the opportunities and paths to solve a problem increase by ten-fold and having this global view at LBS is fantastic. The world is such a big place, and any great leader needs to be able to navigate a host of cultures, identities and personalities to be successful in their field. LBS’s ability to fully embed a global experience in the MBA program will help me become a global thought leader.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of London Business Schools MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? While most programs offer some leadership courses, I found that LBS placed a tremendous amount of value in fostering truly global leaders, and this stood out to me. I want to work as a DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) practitioner post-MBA. LBS’s curriculum and structure was the best opportunity for me to gain the skills I need to achieve my career aspirations.

Additionally, LBS offers an entire Organizational Behavior elective stream, which is fairly unique to our programme. I’d spoken with several DEI leaders during my application process, and they all emphasized how important it is to develop these organisational behavior skills — not just for the DEI field but more broadly to be an impactful and successful leader in today’s global, increasingly inter-connected society. The LBS MBA anchors on the development of world leaders and centers around helping students find their leadership style and traits. That way, we can ultimately go out and build a more just and inclusive society for all people, and I knew this was the type of program I wanted to join as I share in those values.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at London Business School? As a Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) Fellow for my class, it’s perhaps not too surprising that I’m excited to get involved in the Out in Business Club (OiB), London Business School’s LGBTQ+ Club. When you look at LGBTQ representation, the numbers are fairly low. As an out gay woman, finding this welcoming and supportive space through OiB has been a cornerstone for me throughout the entire application process, and I’m so jazzed to get more involved now that I’m officially on campus! The club does extraordinary work putting together and hosting EUROUT each fall — Europe’s leading LGBTQ+ student-led conference — in addition to sponsoring many career-focused events and opportunities. Plus you have all the social events! I feel lucky to be part of such a thriving and welcoming community that I’ve found in OiB.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While at Goldman Sachs, I co-founded and led our Pronouns Initiative — a global, firm-wide campaign that increased awareness and education around gender identity and pronouns. This initiative introduced new avenues for employees to share their pronouns via email signatures, name-tags, and “Pride Flags” to display on desktop monitors. We also created an internal website to educate employees and an external website to increase awareness amongst clients and external counterparts.

The response we received was nothing short of incredible. it’s the single greatest thing I’ve ever worked on in my life, hands down. I know that we helped people to feel more comfortable showing up at work each day as their authentic self. We elevated the conversation on allyship to extend beyond just gays and lesbians but to be actively inclusive of our whole beautifully diverse LGBTQ+ community. At the same time, more Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming folks at the firm felt they could come out and be not just accepted but valued and celebrated. I’m incredibly proud of everything we accomplished, and even more proud to know the amazing humans I worked with on this initiative.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? In some ways, the pandemic was a gift. It forced me to re-evaluate what I wanted from my career and gave me time back I wouldn’t have had otherwise (since I was no longer commuting) to explore what those options could be. This led me to my new career path of DEI.

On a more personal note, I think COVID-19 changed my perspective on life in two primary ways. The first was an overwhelming feeling of being incredibly thankful. My family and friends were safe and healthy during the pandemic; most people I know didn’t have underlying conditions and that’s something I absolutely took for granted. It’s such a cliché, but these most basic things we need in our lives — safety, access to healthcare, shelter — are often not as simple to obtain for all people as we want to believe. I think COVID-19 really left me with a feeling of gratitude for everything I have in my life. The other piece was being much more aware of mental health: there’s such a stigma with talking about mental health issues. The increased awareness these past 18+ months has been excellent, but we have such a long way to go. The pandemic really brought these issues to the forefront of some important conversations. Now, I try to not only be more educated on mental health topics, but also an advocate for those who may need support and assistance and finding good resources for them.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I decided to pursue my MBA when I knew finance was not my passion long-term and I wanted to be in a new field. I had worked on several DEI initiatives while at Goldman and found the work to be interesting and challenging with a tangible feeling of impact. I loved these aspects of the projects I led, and knew that this was where I would want to spend the rest of my career. The skills required to be successful in DEI include the ability to create large-scale culture change across organizations in a measurable and action-oriented way. At the same time, you’re still challenging the status quo and (where possible) moving the needle in a new direction to advance equity and inclusivity for all people — particularly those from underrepresented and marginalized communities.

While I had exposure to working on projects that required these skills, I hadn’t fully developed them, and this was part of my decision to pursue an MBA. The other piece was I believe a global mindset is key for success in DEI. Because you’re navigating across so many cultures and identities, it’s important to include all opinions and perspectives in this work because people and the human experience are at its core. LBS has such a global program. This, combined with the skills I need to be successful in DEI, drove my decision to come here. After graduation, I hope to become a DEI practitioner in-house, with the long-term goal of becoming a Chief Diversity Officer at a Fortune 500 company someday.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Fuqua School of Business, Duke University and Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into London Business School’s MBA program? Talk to as many people as possible! Admissions & recruitment team, current students, alumni, faculty & professors – everybody!

Selecting an MBA program isn’t just picking a school to attend for the next 2 years: it’s deciding on a new home base, an opportunity to grow and make lifelong friends Ultimately it’s a decision to choose yourself for this moment in time, putting your goals first. It is a huge part of the MBA experience who you spend those next few years with during the program (and hopefully for many decades after), where those folks are planning to go career-wise in their own lives, and what experiences you’ll share together.

What you’ll have here at LBS is unique and wonderful. To be successful in your application, you’ll want to truly embed yourself within the LBS community so that your application is a reflection of the school and student’s values, beliefs, and goals — which should in some ways align with your own. Half the battle is demonstrating that you can demonstrate that you believe in the school’s mission, you’re a good fit with the student body, and you can articulate why you want to be here and what your goals are.

The other core piece of advice I would offer is plan ahead: I’m a big planner (perhaps a bit too much), but this is not something you want to leave to the last minute. This is a time to over-plan, to do more than what you think might be “required” of you vs just the bare minimum. That’s because it’s quite likely this is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life — and if it increases your overall chances of success.  Why not go the extra mile? That’s why we have that expression, for moments like this!



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