Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Robin Butler, MIT (Sloan)

Robin Butler

MIT, Sloan School of Management

“From Devacurl Curl-Specialist to MIT Beauty Tech-Entrepreneur.”

Hometown: Henderson, NC

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have a Twin Brother with an JD/MBA from Howard University.

Undergraduate School and Major:  North Carolina Agriculture and Technical University/ Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Self Employed/ CEO and Founder of COIL Beauty Inc.

What has been your first impression of the Sloan MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Sloan story so far. My first impression of the Sloan MBA students and alumni I’ve met so far has been that they are very helpful and collaborative.

My best Sloan story so far is a tie between two stories. The first story is my connection with the current Sloan students. I had a chance to speak with before deciding to apply to Sloan from a simple Instagram DM. These students had never met me before in my life, but they were willing to take 30 minutes out their day to speak with me on the phone about their experiences at Sloan. They even took it step further and offered to help me if I had any questions moving forward with the process. I realized very quickly that Sloanies helping Sloanies is very much so a real thing that starts before the admission process.

The second story takes place before our interview day for admissions at Sloan—year one and two MBA students sent us these handwritten notes via email wishing us good luck a day before our interview. It was hands down one of the most thoughtful and intentional acts I’ve ever experience before an interview at an institution.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of MIT Sloan’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? There are only a few MBA programs that support Entrepreneurship in a creative way in the USA. MIT’s Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship offers the key MBA programming that led me to choose this business school. I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I’m very interested in Sloan entrepreneurial culture, which marries business, technology, and disruptive ideas. Choosing Sloan was important to me because I have a vision to build “Salons of the Future” and MIT Sloan will give me the opportunity to bring my idea to fruition.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at MIT Sloan? The MIT Delta V Capstone Educational Accelerator program that prepares MIT students entrepreneurs to launch into the real world is one of the experiences that excites me the most. This opportunity is special because it is piloted in NYC, and New York is going through a tech boom of its own. For me, this location on the East Coast is the epicenter for business, real estate, beauty/ fashion, and tech. As an entrepreneur who has her cosmetology and real estate license, this type of opportunity to create a disruptive idea in a 3-month-long incubator. Having access to resources, information, engineers, designers, venture capital and more is a game changer in my hopes to solve industry problems. It excites me because historically, as a woman of color, I haven’t had access to all the resources and “institutional knowledge in one room.” It’s exciting to have everything at my fingertip in order to create more of the world I desire to see.

Action Learning Labs are one of MIT Sloan’s biggest attractions. Which lab interests you most? How does it fit with your interests? I would say the Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab) interests me the most because the world is constantly changing every day. My interest revolves around using entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship to solve our worlds’ biggest problems on a domestic and international level. It takes a strategist or consultant to understand how we take ugly problems and convert them to create disruptive ideas/solutions in an organized manner; it often takes a business-minded person to develop and scale those BIG ideas into high value companies. I’m somewhere in the middle: a global thinker and social entrepreneur brave enough to explore these types of opportunities for the betterment of society.

When you think of MIT, what are the first things that come to mind? How have your experiences with the Sloan program thus far reinforced or upended these early impressions? When I think of MIT Sloan, I think about the word intelligence on every level; other words such as technology, creativity and innovation/disruption come to mind. MIT Sloan, from my experiences thus far, understands the word intelligence on a very deep level – not just from an intellectual and data-driven perspective but from an emotional perspective as well. I saw this in the MBA Admissions Application when students had to submit a video introducing ourselves to our future classmates. According to popular thinking, most creative people are right-brained thinkers who are typically creative, intuitive, imaginative, and very much connected to their emotions, while most business schools are looking for left- brain thinkers who are logical/rational. Yet during our application interview, Sloan tested our thinking process by having us complete a data visualization chart.  I believe the best business students are living in both worlds of left and right-brained thinkers. MIT Sloan does a great job of requiring this type of multifaceted intelligence from students early in the admissions process.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment in my career so far is launching a Kickstarter campaign in December 2020, where I authored and designed a children’s book and doll for young girls of color. I conducted research and found that many multi-ethnic children grow up with low confidence in their looks since there is only 13% of children’s books that include multiracial content. The campaign raised over $15K in five days with over 200 backers and was listed as a Kickstarter “Projects We Love.”

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I would suggest Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans because it gave me autonomy in designing a life that works for me. I believe this book is a great start to understand design thinking in business as well as in life.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied and gained admissions into Cornell Johnson School of Management as well. MIT and Cornell were the only two schools I applied to. 

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into MIT Sloan’s MBA program? I would advise potential applicants looking to gain admissions into the MIT Sloan MBA program to know and study yourself first and foremost. Really take your time to attend events, and get to know the students, faculty and staff at Sloan to make sure this school is a great fit for you. Lastly, be confident in your voice, skills, and story when you apply.  You and your authenticity is single handedly one of the most important parts of your application and admittance into MIT.


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