2022 MBA To Watch: Jordan (Heitzner) Friedman, University of Maryland (Smith)

Jordan (Heitzner) Friedman

University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith Business School

“Driven, consummate team player with a genuine, outgoing, and sociable personality to match!”

Hometown: Newport Beach, California

Fun fact about yourself: Grew up playing competitive junior tennis finishing Top 100 in the nation prior to playing on the UCLA women’s varsity and club tennis teams.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) – Mass Communications Major, Political Science Minor

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was the Sheraton Hotels Senior Global Brand Manager at Marriott International, leading the training and engagement strategy for 100,000 Sheraton associates globally as part of the enterprise-wide Sheraton brand transformation.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? I interned for Liberty Mutual Insurance as an internal business consultant within their Corporate Development Program. During this internship, I had the opportunity to pioneer a strategic recommendation for operationalizing a key digital capability for the company, uncovering an opportunity to increase efficiencies while simultaneously improving the customer experience.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be going back to Liberty Mutual Insurance working as a senior business consultant within their Corporate Development Program.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: In 2020, I was elected to serve as a First-Year Board Member for the MBA Consulting and Marketing Communications Association student-run clubs, where I supported my marketing- and consulting-focused peers. In 2021, I was elected to serve as Executive Vice President of the MBA Association, the student government board for the full-time MBA community at Smith. In this role, I had the opportunity to lead the boards for all 14 student-run professional and social MBA clubs, guiding the strategy and execution of club events and helping to further strengthen the Smith community. With COVID-19 health and safety protocols constantly changing, helping the clubs plan engaging events was nothing short of challenging. However, this obstacle enabled increased collaboration amongst myself and the club boards in a way that brought our community closer together.

Additionally, I was selected as both a Dean’s Fellow and Forte Fellow upon entry into the Smith MBA program.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In February 2021, my team was awarded second place in the Ace the Case Global Business Challenge, a virtual opportunity for graduate-level business students to compete against peers from schools around the world on a real challenge through a case competition. My team developed a strategic growth plan for Aloy3d, a 3D printing company based in Mexico hit hard by the global pandemic.

The Ace the Case Global Business Challenge provided me with an exciting opportunity to learn about a new industry, challenge my strategic and analytical skills, and present a recommendation to a real, international client. Additionally, being placed on a team where none of us had ever met each other before – let alone worked together – gave me the opportunity to strengthen my leadership and teamwork skills. With all four of us coming from different advanced degree programs within Smith, this was an invaluable experience that challenged me to the greatest degree while simultaneously working through my regular coursework.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? One of the roles I held at Marriott was as Brand Manager for Moxy Hotels, a polarizing, millennial-focused brand in the Marriott portfolio. To improve guest satisfaction scores, I came up with the idea to retrain Moxy hotel associates on the brand experience through a hands-on, interactive workshop to help them better understand how to bring the brand experience to life. Not only did I develop the workshop content, but I also delivered the workshop at several Moxy hotels across Europe, continuously adjusting the content to account for regional and cultural nuances. As Moxy was a fully franchised hotel brand, my success was measured by our franchise partners. Ultimately, the success of the training increased franchisee support for Moxy, which was critical for the continued growth of the brand.

Why did you choose this business school? As the saying goes, it takes a village. I would not be where I am today without the help and support of the Smith community. What attracted me most to Smith was the collaborative nature of the program. Everyone was proactively looking to help each other succeed, both inside and outside the classroom. Before I had accepted my admissions offer, the admissions office connected me with several current students, all of whom were willing to have a conversation with me and share their Smith experience. Additionally, my own cohort established a strong virtual community before school even started, which shows just how open Smith students are to supporting each other, especially during a global pandemic.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Rachelle Sampson, who teaches Managerial Economics and Public Policy for first-year MBA students, was one of the most challenging yet influential professors I have ever had. She was able to adapt her teaching style to be effective in a virtual setting, as this class took place in Fall 2020 and was entirely online. Great professors are flexible, adaptable, and respond to changing circumstances. I was so impressed with how a professor, who was used to standing in front of a classroom, was able to integrate cutting edge technology into her Zoom platform in a way that made her feel comfortable and confident teaching complex microeconomic topics over a webcam. Her efficacy in teaching the required course material through Zoom speaks volumes to her tenacity as an academic.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? International Night is an annual event at Smith that focuses on celebrating our diverse, international community that plays an integral role in the Smith MBA experience. This year we were fortunate to have held an in-person event, which brought the entire Smith community together for an evening of Lion dances to celebrate the Chinese New Year, an international-inspired dinner and fashion show, and several student performances that represented their home countries. Attending this event enabled me to learn more about different global customs and develop a true appreciation for the cultures and backgrounds we all come from. Further, International Night allows international students to bring a taste of their home to our program in a meaningful way and is a strong reflection of the school’s diverse, inclusive culture.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Every mentor I had told me that business school goes by in the blink of an eye, and they could not have been more accurate. Looking back, I would pause more and enjoy the process. Like many first-year MBA students, I was very focused on getting good grades and finding an internship in the beginning. Especially being virtual during my first year, there was so much uncertainty not only in my professional career, but in the global community overall – after all, we were living through a case study! All things considered, I wish I would have taken more time to appreciate the MBA journey. It is so important to take a step back and be grateful for the opportunity you have given yourself to learn and grow both personally and professionally.

What is the biggest myth about your school? With Smith being a large state school, I heard several times that the alumni network was strong regionally, but not nationally. While the Smith alumni base is largest in the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia area), I have found that there are still a considerable number of alumni in other regions of the United States. This has become more prevalent as the global pandemic has changed the way companies recruit. For example, now that remote working is the norm, alumni are working for companies in all parts of the country without having to relocate. By leveraging my LinkedIn connections, I found Smith alumni representation at almost every company I was interested in working for.

What surprised you the most about business school? Business school was a very humbling experience for me. Having worked in the lodging industry for over eight years, I came into business school feeling confident and ready to take on the world. However, business school made me realize that the world of business goes far beyond travel. Getting my MBA forced me to push myself outside my comfort zone and learn about other industries, functions, target customers, and processes. Even more, I had to develop an understanding of how every industry and company work together and contribute to driving the global economy forward.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? You only get one chance to make a first impression. In my application, I made sure to show my authentic, true self and clearly articulate what makes me unique. For example, I shared that, having grown up with parents in the hotel industry, my childhood was filled with change, excitement, and a lot of moving around; I was frequently being the “new kid” in school and adjusting to different cities and cultures molded me into an outgoing, outspoken, competitive, and goal-oriented young professional that others migrated toward. I also shared that growing up a nationally-ranked junior tennis player taught me at a very young age that attitude is everything. I described how this mental conditioning from playing competitive junior tennis taught me how to manage my time, learn from defeat, and push towards my goals – lessons that benefited my tennis and, later, my approach to both business and life.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Daylin Russo as both a fellow MBA Association Board Member and friend. Daylin has been helping and supporting the Smith community since before day one. He is a genuine, caring person who always makes the effort to get to know every student, attend all events, and do everything he can to help others, both inside and outside the classroom. You can count on him to show up and be present, no matter how much of an inconvenience it might be. Taking a full course load, holding multiple TA positions, and always having a presence in the community, he is the true reflection of a leader and his dedication and positive attitude are an inspiration to everyone around him.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? While I took it upon myself to pursue a graduate education in business, my dad played a major role in influencing me to have a career in business. Having been a corporate executive in the travel industry for over 30 years, my dad exposed me to the life of a businessperson at a very young age. As my role model, my dad showed me first-hand the impact he made on a regular basis to hotel guests and improving the business, and I could not wait to bring my millennial take to the table. I loved talking shop with my dad, way before I worked in the industry myself, and was fascinated by the strategic thinking required for an industry as seemingly straightforward as hotels! Vicariously living through my dad’s career as a kid – and then working in the industry myself – made me realize that business is so much more than just providing a product or service for a consumer. It’s about innovation, efficiencies, and creating an experience that increases brand loyalty and enhances people’s lives.

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

Chief Experience Officer. As someone who loves meeting new people and learning about different backgrounds and cultures, driving the customer experience for a company in a way that improves the lives of others is what inspires me to work hard every day.

Motivational Speaker. Every day I aspire to create a positive impact on others. Being able to do this at scale by educating and engaging audiences on how to leverage leadership, mental toughness, and drive to succeed in their professional or personal lives is something I cannot wait to pursue.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? There are problems. And then there are real problems. I used to stress so much about always having a “zero unread email” inbox or overachieving to impress my team. While I still advocate for working hard, the pandemic has taught me the importance of quality over quantity and how to be more efficient with my time. A career should be fulfilling and not feel like you have sold your soul to another entity. Living through COVID-19 reminded me to never take anything for granted, and that putting yourself first is not always a bad thing! Your job will always be there, but time with family and friends is finite.

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

Jordan Friedman is the epitome of a Smith student and excels both inside and outside of the classroom at Maryland Smith. She has made a positive impact at Smith over her two years in the Full-Time MBA program and we know she will continue to make an impact in her career moving forward. Jordan is thoughtful and strategic in all of her communications and decision-making. She was elected as Executive Vice President (EVP) of the MBA Association for her 2nd year, where she oversees 14 MBA clubs. This role requires excellent attention to detail and communication skills as Jordan is responsible for creating and managing the club’s event schedule, calendar, and guiding overall event execution. She has excelled in the role, which was even more challenging as the university navigated the return to in-person with changing COVID-related guidelines and restrictions throughout the year. Jordan has used her position to help strengthen the Smith community. She proactively asks for feedback from club leaders, attends numerous club events to show her support, and is an active club member and participant outside of her official EVP responsibilities. In addition, Jordan mentored fellow students and assisted with case interview preparation throughout the year. Jordan also engaged early with her career search and was very strategic about her approach. She leveraged career resources available to her and secured her internship with Liberty Mutual Insurance as a summer associate in the Corporate Development Program. Jordan was offered a full-time position with Liberty Mutual Insurance after a successful internship and will join as a senior business consultant.”

Dr. Nicole Coomber
Assistant Dean, Full-Time MBA Program


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