Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Leah Budson, MIT (Sloan)

Leah Budson

MIT, Sloan School of Management

“I am driven by people – whether in friendships, leadership, advocacy … or collaborative board games!”

Hometown: Newton, Massachusetts

Fun Fact About Yourself: My middle name is “Null”, and null sets were a core component of my undergraduate mathematics thesis.

Undergraduate School and Major: Haverford College, major in Mathematics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Consultant, Boston Consulting Group

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? I first became interested in applying to MIT Sloan after being exposed to the research of Sloan Professor of the Practice Zeynep Ton on what makes a “Good Job.” I came across her research while working for the Gates Foundation’s Economic Mobility portfolio, and realized that workforce equity and job quality was the intersection of my passions: the economic and racial equity I had focused on in philanthropy and the organizational strategy work I had done in consulting. I’m excited to have conversations in my Sloan courses that treat business decisions as people decisions — shifting the focus to the workers who are responsible for companies’ day-to-day success. While at Sloan, I hope to work with Sloan’s Institute for Work and Employment Research and learn from academics such as Zeynep Ton that are leading the way in this field.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at MIT Sloan? I’m most excited to take the courses, “People and Profits: Shaping the Future of Work” and “Leading the Way: Individual and Organizational Perspectives on Advancing Equity and Inclusion”. Workforce equity is an area of passion for me, and I am looking forward to gaining the tools to detect and communicate the profit implications of such organizational decisions. I’m excited to learn from my peers in these courses about how these topics have been handled at their prior places of employment and to develop my perspective on how to best ensure quality jobs for workers in a for-profit organization.

Action Learning Labs are one of MIT Sloan’s biggest attractions. Which lab interests you most? How does it fit with your interests? The Organizations Lab (15.335) helps a local organization “create more effective and engaging work” and consider the impact of organizational decisions on their employees and local community. This dovetails with my interests in workforce equity and effective organizational strategy. I also appreciate that the work is with a local organization, as I intend to make the Boston area my home and am looking to getting involved in the local community.

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? A former student told me that “Sloanies take their work seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously”, and that is exactly the environment I am looking for in a graduate school. I am, admittedly, a nerd (I’ve been known to have dreams about abstract math problems … even years after having taken a math class) and I’m excited to be in a community that is excited about learning. But I think learning is best — and most enjoyable — when you are collaborating and developing true friendships along the way, and I think Sloanies make sure that their egos don’t get in the way of that.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The accomplishments that I’m most proud of are the times I’ve started a conversation around diversity, equity, & inclusion and used this dialogue (and of course, supporting data) to make a tangible impact on workers.

One example of this is when I joined a team helping a company to substantially grow hiring to meet shifting business needs, and DEI had not yet been discussed. I raised the topic and ended up getting the green light to run analyses on the equity implications of different hiring practices. My analysis pinpointed areas in the hiring process that had unintentionally disadvantaged Black, Latine, female and non-binary applicants. With the support of my team, I formulated recommendations to address this inequity and achieve the company’s hiring goals, which were approved by the client’s leadership and have now been implemented across the organization.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard Business School

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? I would like to work with the world’s largest employers to develop solutions that prioritize both their workforces and their bottom line. Whether I would do this via a social enterprise, in-house at a large organization, or in a consulting capacity is a question I look to answer in my time at Sloan.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into MIT Sloan’s MBA program? As a woman applying to any business school—but especially to a business school like MIT—it was easy to feel like an imposter. There were countless times during the application process when I talked my technical background down to a friend or colleague and worried that I wouldn’t belong. My advice to anyone who might feel underrepresented in the application process is first and foremost to make sure that you apply — you owe it to yourself to try, even if you worry you cannot get in. I also encourage you to remind yourself (or have your friends and family remind you) that you are smart enough, technical enough, business-y enough even if you don’t fit into the mold of what you imagine when you think “MIT.” In addition, I found it helpful to get involved in Sloan’s affinity network recruiting, especially the Sloan Pride events, so I could find community with others with shared experiences.

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