Emily Orr and her 2021 IBD Team
Emily Orr and her 2021 IBD Team

The IBD team is pleased to have Emily Orr, MBA ‘22 candidate, join us as this year’s IBD Graduate Student Instructor (GSI).  Emily brings a wealth of experience to the role, including first hand knowledge as an IBD student in 2021.  We interviewed Emily recently to learn more about her career prior to attending Berkeley Haas, her recent IBD experience, and the advice she has for current IBD students.

Please enjoy our interview with Emily below.

Q: Tell us about your background and what you were doing before coming to Haas to get your MBA?

  • I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in Political Science and French. Though at the time I intended to go to law school, by lucky accident I stumbled upon an internship opportunity the semester before I graduated that ultimately changed my career trajectory. The internship was a marketing role for a start-up wind energy company. As a marketer, my job was to convince consumers to switch their household energy provider from fossil fuel-based providers to wind energy, and in doing so I quickly realized how powerful marketing is as a tool for shaping consumer behavior for the better. I decided I wanted to pursue marketing as a career, and, post-graduation, I landed a job at Starfish, a boutique brand strategy agency in NYC. As an Account Supervisor, I was responsible for managing a range of B2C, B2B and nonprofit client accounts and developing their brands and marketing strategies. The role was exciting, fulfilling, and I learned a lot; but after four years I realized that in order to take my career to the next level, I needed to flesh out my skill set by learning the business fundamentals I never learned in undergrad. And that led me to Haas!
Emily Orr hiking

Q: Why did you want to be a part of the IBD program last year, especially knowing that travel wasn’t an option?

  • Having only ever worked with domestic clients at my previous job, I was highly interested in learning more about international business. Even though travel was not a possibility in Spring 2021, IBD still represented the best opportunity to gain international exposure in the Haas classroom. Second, as all of the most developmental moments in my career took place while on the job, not necessarily in the classroom, I was interested in having a more hands-on experience through a consulting-based class. IBD definitely delivered both wishes: I was lucky to get to work with a Peruvian company on a project that required my team to dive deep and work closely with our client.

Q: What was your biggest takeaway from the IBD experience? Did anything surprise you?

  • My biggest takeaway is that the IBD experience is what you make of it. In a year of virtual learning, where Zoom classes sometimes led me to feel a bit disconnected from my classmates and from the material I was learning, I was motivated to really immerse myself in my IBD project and make a tangible difference for my client. Fortunately, my team felt similarly, and we worked hard to deliver valuable insights to our client. I found this incredibly rewarding.

Q: What advice do you have for current IBD teams and students?

  • My advice is to not only leverage the skills you already have but also push yourself to learn new skills. IBD teams are intentionally constructed to combine students from varied careers and backgrounds. It can be tempting for a team to divide project work based on teammates’ existing skill sets, but the beauty of IBD is that it’s not a job…it’s a class! It’s a great time to try new things, experiment, and sometimes fail. I’d encourage current IBD students to take on work streams that push them outside their comfort zones.

Q: Why did you want to be a GSI for the IBD program this year?  What do you think the biggest challenge or opportunity of the position will be?  

  • One large motivation for me was wanting to give back to a class and experience that I enjoyed so much. Plus, as much as I enjoyed my IBD experience, I was only working for one client based in one country. By “GSIing” for the IBD program I knew I’d gain exposure to interesting challenges in countries beyond Peru. And finally, I wanted an opportunity to work with first-year (Full-Time MBA) and Evening & Weekend students who I don’t often get to meet in meaningful ways.

Q: What are your plans following graduation?  Do you think you will be able to utilize any of the skills or experiences you gained from IBD?

  • Post-grad, I’ll be joining McKinsey, and, yes, I will absolutely utilize what I learned in IBD! Although I was in client services prior to coming to Haas, IBD challenged me to take a more global perspective to my work, both in terms of understanding the nuances of my clients’ cultural and geographical contexts, and also ensuring that the recommendations my team delivered were grounded in an understanding of the people they would eventually impact. This is certainly something I will practice at McKinsey as I consult for its global clients.
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