Meet The MBA Class Of 2023: Emily Simmons, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Emily Simmons

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

A relentless optimist, committed to results-oriented servant leadership and brilliance in the basics.” 

Hometown: Bowie, Maryland

Fun Fact About Yourself: My husband and I got married while hiking to the summit of Mount Ben Lomond in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Maryland (College Park), Anthropology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Epiroc Drilling Solutions, Regional Sourcing Manager (2019-2021) and Logistics Officer, U.S. Marine Corps (2012-2018)

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Kenan-Flagler’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you?  The STEM designation of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s curriculum is an element of the programming that was very important to my decision. During my post-military professional experience, I realized how integral data-management and other quantitative analytical skills would be to my future success in business, so I knew I had to choose a program where I could develop my strategic and analytical decision making skills with a strong focus in these areas.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Kenan-Flagler? I am most excited to participate in the STAR (Student Teams Achieving Results) program. I am looking forward to participating in the STAR program not only for the opportunity to practically apply the frameworks and skills I’ll be learning in class, but also for the chance to make a positive impact and add value to global companies right away, even before graduation.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest career accomplishment was as a Transportation Services Platoon Commander in the Marine Corps, when I saw my Marines become the unit’s go-to Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) upon our return from a seven-month rotation to Australia. I felt an immense sense of pride watching these young men and women apply the lessons they learned driving thousands of miles on the other side of the world (and on the other side of the road!) to become the leaders of missions back home. I will always take great pride in knowing that I played a small part in my Marine’s growth and success as NCOs.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID-19 catalyzed a change in my perspective which affected both my career and my life in general. In 2020, the pandemic and consequential lock-downs cast a long shadow over not only the growth of the global economy but also the very structure of “The American Life” which I had unwittingly taken for granted. This sudden break from the status quo, though unpleasantly jarring, sparked in me not only a renewed determination to pursue my personal and professional goals but also a realization of the possibility of taking steps toward them sooner than later. This shift in mindset has affected my life in ways both small and large, most impactfully bringing me to UNC Kenan-Flagler and ultimately the career and life I envision for myself years sooner than I would have otherwise pursued it.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I knew that in order to maximize the impact I could make with my professional career, I needed to reinforce my business acumen with a rock-solid academic foundation as well build a robust network of peers and mentors with whom I shared values, ambitions and passions. After graduation, I hope to contribute to the success of a values-based organization as a marketing manager and lead a team in driving company operations to best fit the customer’s needs.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? UNC Kenan-Flagler is the only MBA program to which I applied. To me, The Carolina Way culture, challenging academic rigor, and Chapel Hill location together create the ideal challenging yet supportive environment in which to grow and prepare for the rigors of business leadership.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Kenan-Flagler’s MBA program? I would advise potential applicants to be authentic. In trying to conform to the image of what you think is the perfect business school candidate, you would not only deprive admissions officials and classmates the benefit of getting to know you but would also deprive yourself of a vital opportunity for personal growth. As marketing magnate Bozoma Saint John has said, “We only get better by telling our real story. That’s the only way to be”.


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