Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Christianne Johnson, Northwestern University (Kellogg)
“Giving the best of myself, personally, professionally and through community involvement, is at the heart of who I am.”
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Fun fact about yourself: I speak Chinese and studied abroad in Guilin and Shanghai, China during my undergraduate studies.
Undergraduate and major school: University of Pennsylvania, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and Business Economics and Public Policy
Most recent employer and job title: BlackRock, Associate in Product Marketing Strategy
Apart from your classmates, what was the key element of the school’s MBA program that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? My long term goal, and one of the reasons I am pursuing a business school education, is to create my own social impact investment fund that offers honest money management coupled with community impact. I entered my MBA journey knowing that I wanted to challenge traditional conceptions of investing (one being that impact investing generates below average returns – which is a proven lie).
So with that in mind, I was looking for an MBA program where faculty and students were open to new ideas. I discovered this at Kellogg through its curriculum, social impact, and entrepreneurial offerings. Finance and Social Impact courses like Entrepreneurial Finance & Venture Capital and Impact Investing & Sustainable Finance were exactly what I was looking for. In second year, I plan to enroll in the Asset management lab, an experiential course which will allow me to acquire an investment experience thanks to his integrated internship in an asset management company.
What quality best describes your MBA fellows and why? Pushed. To get through the other end of the MBA application process, you need to really be focused and motivated. So from being admitted to Kellogg, I would say all of my classmates could qualify that way.
What club or activity are you most passionate about at this school? Giving back to the Kellogg community is what excites me the most. I intend to promote diversity by getting involved with Kellogg’s Black management association and by becoming a mentor during my second year with minority students who are starting their MBA path. Kellogg has a very outgoing and active student body that drives Kellogg’s many clubs and extracurricular activities. Everyone is involved! It’s funny because before coming to Kellogg I spoke with several current students and alumni. One thing they always shared about their time at Kellogg was the leadership roles they had in the community. It’s a small detail but also says a lot about Kellogg culture.
As someone who has always felt comfortable teaching and mentoring from home, I have used education as a tool to effect change and increase social mobility. In college, I worked with tweens through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Philadelphia. As a professional, I have given back to the community by leading initiatives in two non-profit organizations: BoardAssist, where I have encouraged young adults and professionals to join the boards of directors of non-profit organizations. lucrative, and Homefront, where I worked with people struggling with homelessness. I will continue the work I do with BoardAssist and HomeFront at Kellogg and I will also join clubs like Kellogg Cares and Net Impact and share what I have learned from volunteering at both nonprofits.
Kellogg is often described as “team driven”. In your experience, what is the most important quality of a team member? How do you plan to bring this into Kellogg? In any top-tier MBA program, like Kellogg, you’re bound to find yourself in the classroom with people who have excelled in their past endeavors. My classmates at Kellogg are all smart, articulate, and highly motivated to make an impact on the world around them; it is a given that they are full of ideas. I am the same. In a team environment, I make a concerted effort to listen first and for a good time, weighing people’s comments before expressing my own. This way I can really focus my attention on what my teammate is saying instead of thinking about myself. As a result, the team members feel heard and I feel I am able to bring more valuable ideas to the discussion than I could have otherwise.
Describe your greatest achievement in your career so far: One type of professional achievement is one that is highly visible and publicly recognized (such as a promotion). The other type of accomplishment is a lesson quietly learned and applied countless times in one’s professional life. What I consider my greatest achievement to date has been learning to listen and act according to my inner voice.
During my first year as an Investment Management Associate at BlackRock, my job was to educate and convince outside financial advisors to use BlackRock’s products – classic sales work. Instead of using a typical sales strategy, I focused on what came naturally to me: building relationships. I would talk on the phone and find out about my clients’ dogs, take notes on their children’s birthdays, email them sharing interesting articles or tools to help them grow their business.
My unique approach has been successful. During my first year as an associate, I was always the best performer in my cohort. I ended up mentoring analysts and teaching them my customer relationship building techniques. One of my favorite mentees in San Francisco did so well that she beat me in sales 2 years ago. I joked that the student had passed the teacher!
What other MBA programs have you applied to? I applied to both Michigan Ross and Kellogg because I felt a real connection to the student body at both schools.
What was the most difficult question you were asked during the admissions process? “What do you think will be your biggest challenge at Kellogg? I wasn’t expecting this question, so I thought about it before answering. I believed my biggest challenge at Kellogg would be to define what personal success looked like and then hold myself accountable for achieving it. At Kellogg, deepening my ability to communicate, persuade and lead others is one of my main areas of focus.
I think that when you are in the baccalaureate or at work, there are a lot of predetermined success markers (good grades, positive annual report, etc.). Grades aren’t the only measure of an MBA student’s success, however. You need to think about how you want to allocate your time, not only to achieve your professional goals, but also to continue to grow as a person, team member, mentor, and leader.
How did you determine your suitability in different schools? I visited the Kellogg campus twice before deciding to join the Class of 2022. The first time was during Diversity Insight Days, when I was able to connect with students and teachers. current alumni. Later, I came to the Student Admissions weekend, when I got a glimpse of who my real classmates would be. During my two visits, I really felt at ease and at home. I would start chatting with someone and learning more about their Kellogg experience and I would totally lose track of time!
The campus was also a huge selling point. I didn’t know Chicago and Evanston, but I was blown away by the Kellogg campus and the Global Hub, which is on Lake Michigan. The building is open and modern but with a lot of convivial spaces. You can see downtown Chicago from the Hub, but you get tons of green space (love to run) on the Northwest Campus.
I know what you are wondering, “But Christianne, how will I know if Kellogg is the right school for me?“My answer is that I think some of the personal decisions we make in life come down to logic and intuition. Because Kellogg is such a friendly place, I’ll end my answer with a few things to think about. When the French philosopher Montaigne was asked about Why he had been such good friends with Etienne de La Boétie, he explained: “Because it was him; because it was me. In other words, there are choices in life that we cannot fully analyze or explain and yet we can know that they are the right ones for us. Kellogg was the right choice for me and I encourage you to learn more about the school!
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? My dad played and coached in the NBA for over 20 years. Growing up, I met many NBA players who most often came from underprivileged or popular backgrounds. One player I have met has made over $ 200 million in his career but is now almost penniless. Why? He lacked general financial education. This made him vulnerable to the very people he hired to manage his money.
This realization was a defining moment for me and motivated me to pursue business education so that I could use what I learned to inspire the generation behind me to learn more about generational wealth. In the long term, I would like to create my own social impact investment fund that offers honest money management coupled with community impact. My fund will focus on investing in communities of color, minority-owned businesses and affordable housing developments across the country.
What’s your favorite business and what could business students learn from it? I’m inspired by people like Mitch and Freada Kapor who are the founders of the Kapor Fund and also the early pioneers of impact investing, where they funded companies like LendUp (an alternative to payday loans) and Pigeonly (which helps prisoners maintain family ties.) The Kapor Fund is proof that impact investing generates positive returns and real impacts on the lives of citizens.
As my peers begin to assess companies, I would like to draw the attention of students to the recent announcement by the well-known think tank Business Roundtable, which repealed its 20-year-old definition of business purpose. as being “first and foremost to create wealth for shareholders”. In its new statement, the Business Roundtable emphasizes concepts such as “creating value for customers, investing in employees, fostering diversity and inclusion, dealing fairly and ethically with suppliers, supporting the communities in which we work and protect the environment ”. I am convinced that we are on the brink of a different way of running and investing in businesses and I am delighted to be part of it.
DO NOT MISS : MEET THE NORTHWESTERN KELLOGG 2022 MBA CLASS