2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Richard Williamson, Georgetown University (McDonough)

Richard Williamson

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

“Ambitious leader determined to make an impact on both the community and global level.”

Hometown: Waldorf, Maryland

Fun fact about yourself: No one ever believes me when I tell them, but I am an avid bowler. My highest score to date is 278 and I am striving to one day bowl a perfect game of 300.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Temple University, Bachelor of Business Administration with a minor in International Business (GO OWLS)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Prior to business school, I served as an officer in the United States Army for eight years. I held numerous leadership roles, both in wartime and peacetime, in over 17 countries including countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. These experiences have helped mold me into a global professional who is no stranger to adversity and diversity in the workplace. My final assignment on active duty was the role of Company Commander. There, I managed a 180-person organization that conducted consulting and advisory functions with U.S. NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Apple – Austin TX, Logistics Analyst

Where will you be working after graduation? Apple – Austin TX, Logistics Analyst 

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Student Government Board, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Vice President of Career & Alumni, Black MBA Association (BMBAA)
  • Graduate Teaching & Research Assistant, Georgetown Pivot Program
  • Fellow, Consortium for Graduate Study in Management
  • MBA Interviewer, McDonough School of Business Admissions Team

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am very proud of taking every opportunity to explore organizational change initiatives surrounding the development of equitable formal hiring processes for qualified formerly incarcerated individuals within corporate roles. As the Graduate Assistant for the Georgetown Pivot Program, I directly supported over 25 formerly incarcerated individuals during their program matriculation which led to the earning of their Certificate of Business.

One example from this experience is the opportunity that I had to engage with corporate sponsors who were actively looking to recruit people of this demographic. We conducted numerous conversations regarding the capabilities of the organizations to hire our Pivot Fellows for a variety of roles. As a result, we were able to secure both internships and full-time offers at Deloitte, Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and many others.

Lastly, I created numerous events to connect current MBA candidates with the Pivot Program Fellows. I felt that it was a great idea to expose my classmates, who are the next generation of industry leaders, to a large pool of underutilized talent. To prepare Pivot Fellows for their corporate recruiting cycle, I organized multiple mock interview sessions where my fellow classmates were the assigned interviewers. I received a great amount of feedback from these events that stated they were very impactful and eye-opening to everyone involved. Most importantly, they were chances to further remove the stigma surrounding formerly incarcerated individuals in the workplace.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  In 2015, while deployed in Kuwait and Iraq, I received the Joint Services Commendation Medal for my efforts as the lead for a multi-national crisis response team. This is my most proud accomplishment due to the positive impact we had on people in dire need. My team was comprised of military officers from Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy. We were allocated a multimillion-dollar budget to conduct procurement and delivery operations in support of the 300,000 citizens who became refugees due to internal civil conflict within Syria.

Our team prioritized procuring food, water, shelter, feminine hygiene products, and mobile showers. We had to overcome the challenges of working within a high tempo environment due to the real-time crisis. Moreover, we had to create strategic plans from procurement through point of delivery because foreign governments were not permitted to enter the country at that time. Thus, we worked directly with NGOs and other logistical entities to support ongoing efforts. Though we were not able to remove the imminent danger of a country facing internal conflict, we were able to help many refugees who were in desperate need of assistance to support their daily life.

Why did you choose this business school? Growing up in southern Maryland, less than 20 miles from Washington D.C., I knew I wanted to come home and generate impact in my community. Most importantly, I sought an MBA program that was deeply rooted in selfless service and maintained a high standard of global business initiatives.

Georgetown University immediately caught my attention! After I learned about the Georgetown Pivot Program and the Global Business Experience, McDonough became my top choice for business school admission. I have always been passionate about serving marginalized communities, mostly at-risk youth, through extracurricular teaching and mentorship. Therefore, I was truly thrilled to see one of the top MBA programs in the world driving positive change within the marginalized community of formerly incarcerated individuals.

Lastly, I have been fortunate enough to work alongside professionals from six out of the seven continents. This experience has shown me the extreme value of having an international approach to business. Having built teams with professionals from over 30 countries, I wanted to ensure that my MBA experience will continue to hold this value in high esteem. Fortunately for myself, the McDonough School of Business is internationally known for doing just that.

What is the biggest myth about your school?

Myth: If you do not attend a Top 10 ranked MBA program, you will not have the ability to interview at the top companies across various industries.

Debunked: Georgetown will provide you every opportunity to secure interviews, internships, and full-time roles at a plethora of top companies during the program. I have classmates who earned positions at Bain & Company, BCG, McKinsey & Company, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and many others! There is truly an abundance of opportunities once admitted to McDonough, plus being in D.C. is a competitive advantage as well.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was truly surprised about the number of resources available to students and how accessible the faculty is for professional development. For example, I started my MBA journey primarily focused on beginning a career in consulting. I spent a significant amount of time working with Larry Verbiest and others in the career center to help me achieve my goals. However, as I learned more about the industry, I realized that this career path did not align with my long-term goals. I thought to myself that there would have been some challenges in switching career advisors and exploring a different industry. My thoughts could not have been further from the truth!

I soon thereafter connected with Eric Young, Assistant Dean of the Georgetown MBA Career Center. We conducted numerous phone chats and Zoom calls as I prepared to interview for internships within the tech industry. His overall guidance was instrumental in my ability to secure an internship and full-time position at Apple. Therefore, I will forever be grateful.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose?  I believe the one thing I did during the application process that gave me an edge was communicating early and often to current Georgetown MBA candidates. I took it upon myself to establish relationships with both students and faculty alike very early in the application process. I wanted the McDonough community to know that I was extremely interested in the program and wanted to learn as much as I could prior to submitting my application. I took every opportunity to request Zoom and phone chats to ask specific questions about McDonough’s culture, student-body clubs of interest, and application essay reviews.

During my application submission window, I was currently living just north of Austin, Texas, and expecting my first child. I even decided to drive two hours to Houston, Texas to meet Shelly Heinrich, the Georgetown Associate Dean of MBA admissions for a coffee chat. My overall goal was to share my story of why I wanted to join this MBA program and how I would generate impact for the community at large. By taking these steps, I feel that I was able to become more than just my resume and application essays, but a prospective student who was driven to make positive organizational changes during his MBA tenure and beyond.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Leigh Harwood (MBA’22). She is someone to keep your eye on within the area of social impact! However, it is not just her passion for making the world a better place that makes her awesome; she is a genuinely caring person who wants everyone to succeed in their respective careers. She served as my cohort representative throughout my MBA journey. I believe that she is the epitome of selfless service and will go above-and-beyond for her friends in need. I have worked with Leigh on countless class projects, and she has found a way to positively support others during every assignment. I am truly excited to see where her career takes her post-MBA. I know that she will be generating real change for people and organizations in need.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father, who passed away on New Year’s Eve of 2020, most influenced my decision to pursue business in college. Growing up, my highest aspiration was to become a first baseman in Major League Baseball. I dedicated a significant amount of my free time training to become the best baseball player and athlete possible. Despite my lofty goals, my father constantly instilled the importance of financial literacy and always having a secondary and tertiary plan. I figured his frequent conversations came as a result of his 22-year career in the United States Marine Corps. However, I began to see my father, who came from humble beginnings, continually teach the importance of financial planning to many of his relatives. Then I realized that I wanted to create a positive impact for my family and community which led me to pursue a business degree in college.

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

* To become an executive coach focused on supporting three types of clients. First, I intend to assist c-suite executives in their ability to build high-performing teams. Additionally, I intend to build comprehensive and engaging workshops to help build synergy within organizations. Secondly, I intend to incorporate human resource executives with creating organizational change that will allow more equitable hiring practices for formerly incarcerated individuals. Lastly, I intend to work with veterans to help assist their transition to corporate roles, primarily within the tech industry.

* To start my own consulting firm that will allow me to conduct and expand my executive coaching goals. My firm will enable me to build a talent pool of qualified diverse talent for formal corporate recruiting accessibility.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has shown me that a successful career path does not always have to be linear. Most importantly, I view a successful career as one that can simultaneously fulfill both your professional and personal goals. Due to the unpredictability of the professional environment during the pandemic, I have a deeper understanding of the value derived from cultivating an environment where people can bring their whole self to their workplace. Now, as a soon-to-be manager in the tech industry, I intend to invest even more in those I work with, regardless of their seniority level.

Additionally, I have rebalanced my “weight scale” of how I assess the criteria to either accept or resign from a professional employment role. Prior to the pandemic, I was much more accepting of roles that would provide me with linear career progression but required an overwhelming time commitment. I used to believe that your professional career was always the top priority and spending quality time with your family and friends was secondary or tertiary. However, moving forward, I intend to seek opportunities that will allow for the development of both important aspects of my life.

What made Rich such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Rich is a natural leader who brought a mission-driven mentality and deeply-rooted service orientation to Georgetown McDonough. “No stranger to adversity and diversity,” as he describes himself, Rich is a US Army veteran who has served on three continents, led teams, and managed projects that have shaped and informed his perspectives and provided rich experiences and insights to share during his MBA experience.

With operations and project management strengths, Rich interned at Apple in the supply chain function, where he will return after graduation. With a passion for serving others, Rich was a graduate assistant with Georgetown’s Pivot Program, a one-year transition and re-entry program for formerly incarcerated individuals that blends academic work and employment to launch new ventures and careers. Rich coached Pivot Fellows, helped organize a pitch competition, and developed relationships with potential employers. As vice president of career for the Georgetown Black MBA Association, Rich created a strong partnership with the Pivot Program through a two-day mock interview event that engaged MBA students to prepare Pivot Fellows for interviews. Rich also served as vice president of the first-ever first-year MBA student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Board, engaging students and making the Georgetown MBA program a supportive space for his peers and under-represented populations.

Beyond campus, Rich’s young family keeps his schedule full as he balances classes, career, and community at Georgetown McDonough. Rich exemplifies Georgetown’s value of “people for others” as he operates with a thoughtful leadership style. Whatever the involvement, Rich passionately cares for others and seeks the greater good in creating a brighter future for all.”

Eric Young
Assistant Dean, Georgetown MBA Career Center


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