2022 MBA To Watch: Emily Johnson, MIT (Sloan)

Emily Johnson

MIT, Sloan School of Management

“Positive, empathetic, funny, and loyal. I love my people and work hard for my passions.”

Hometown: Reading, MA

Fun fact about yourself: My birthday is the day after my sister’s and the day before my dad’s.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Trinity College (CT), BS in Economics & Political Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? AllianceBernstein, AVP of Institutional Equity Sales

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? DICK’S Sporting Goods in Pittsburgh, PA

Where will you be working after graduation? Eventellect

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-Lead, 2022 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (largest student-run conference in the world)
  • Co-Lead, 2021 MIT Sloan Admit Weekend
  • COO, Venture Capital and Private Equity Club
  • TA, Power & Negotiations
  • 2020-2021 Dean’s Fellowship

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my role in the 2022 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, the world’s largest student-run conference that typically attracts 3,000-plus attendees. I came to Sloan with the goal of being involved, and this year served as a lead organizer. I embarked on a multi-year process to achieve this goal and finally got to see the conference come to life in March of this year. I am proud of the 60 students who worked on our team, and especially proud of the 11-member leadership team who devoted the majority of their second year of business school to putting together this incredible event. We had a huge focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion and societal issues at the intersection of sports. We crafted panels on transgender athletes, cannabis, Title IX, hosted a Women’s Luncheon of 200+ people, and grew our mentorship program by almost 300%. We welcomed 2200 people back to Boston for our first in-person conference in two years, and we did it safely.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? For me, I am most proud of the process I went through at Bernstein. I started on the desk as a Sales Assistant, working my way up over 6 years to an AVP. It required hard work, patience, perseverance, and a deep curiosity and willingness to learn. My managers and teammates mentored and sponsored me, and I learned a lot about myself and managing others along the way.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Sloan because of the people. Frankly, I knew I could take similar corporate finance classes at any school. So, I focused on things I knew could be very different from place-to-place. The Sloanies I spoke to during the application process made a huge difference for me. Plus, I was lucky enough to have an in-person admit weekend, and I had a great time getting to know my future classmates. Many of them were engineers (or otherwise STEM-focused) in undergrad – and for someone with a liberal arts degree that was a little less familiar to me. I wanted to be at a school where not everything was comfortable, and I was excited about the opportunity to get to know classmates with varying backgrounds, experiences, and points of view.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is an unfair question! I have had so many great professors at Sloan. I will call out Kara Blackburn, who teaches classes around diversity, equity, and inclusion on individual and organizational levels. She has challenged me to speak up in uncomfortable situations, to listen and learn more effectively from my classmates, and to reflect thoughtfully. Kara requires you to do the work and show up to class ready to participate and learn. Yet, she is understanding and accepting that we are juggling many responsibilities as MBA students. Kara never asks for vulnerability from her students without first offering it herself. She is working diligently to make Sloan a more diverse, inclusive place.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The Yarn, for sure. The Yarn is a storytelling event that happens about once a month at Sloan. It is open only to members of the Sloan community. It can be funny, devastating, enlightening, unifying, and is often all of those things. Sloan students are vulnerable and real in front of hundreds of their peers. It is an incredible way to get to know friends and classmates on an entirely different level. I was lucky enough to give a Yarn earlier this year, and it was one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had. The interest and support from fellow Sloanies were simply priceless.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have taken on fewer commitments. I like being busy and I did come to school to change industries, but I think I said “yes” to too many things because I was focused on gaining more experience in sports. I was a TA, ran admit weekend, and did two internships in the Spring of 2021. That is unnecessary and a lesson I learned the hard way! I loved all of the experiences but came away understanding it was not necessarily smart or sustainable.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That the program is too quant-focused for some to thrive. This is false. We do love our data here at Sloan, but there are opportunities for people from all backgrounds to do as much or little as they want when it comes to quant-heavy classwork. I believe some women are especially turned off by this myth, and I want to help rectify that!

What surprised you the most about business school? How fast it went by! I can’t believe my time is almost up. It feels like just yesterday I was applying for business school.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I spoke to SO many current students and alums who were friends or interested in what I wanted to pursue. I probably talked to 6 current or former student leads of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference as I wrote my application and interviewed. It not only helped me during the application processes but also gave me a window into how willing to help Sloanies are – even for those they do not know/are not yet Sloanies!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Jack Blasberg, my co-lead for the 2022 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Jack was an incredible partner as we worked closely together for the last two years. He is highly-focused on inclusion and diversity – both on our organizing team and when it comes to our conference speakers. Jack is a champion of women and women’s sports. He is patient, kind, and extremely thoughtful. I am always impressed by the subject matter research he does on areas of interest. I can’t say enough about the person, peer, and leader Jack is.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My former manager at Bernstein, Steve Keyes. He always (and continues) to expect more from me. He pushed me to think about where my career was going and what might help get me to the next level. He served as a recommender and confidant as I went through the application process. And he showed me what it meant to be a great leader and manager. Having his support made pursuing my MBA a reality.

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

  • In some way grow the business and success of women’s professional sports
  • President/CEO of a professional sports team

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? It has made me think more about where I can have impact and what I am truly passionate about. It has also made me value going into the office – something I never thought I would say!

What made Emily such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022

“Emily Johnson is a well-respected student leader whose contributions as Co-Lead of the 2022 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference will increase access to opportunity for women in the sports industry and lead to better professional prospects in this field for years to come.   MIT Sloan and Emily’s fellow students have also benefited from her leadership of the 2021 Admitted Student Weekends and in her role as COO of the MIT Venture Capital and Private Equity Club. – Maura Herson, Assistant Dean of the MBA program at MIT Sloan School of Management.”

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