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2015 Best MBAs: Elizabeth Owens

Author: Jeff Schmitt

Poets & Quants website names Mendoza MBA graduate Elizabeth Owens, former defense intelligence officer, to its list of top MBA students in the world.

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For nearly a decade, Elizabeth Owens had little time to catch her breath. After graduating from the University of Virginia and the National Intelligence University, she spent several years in the United States’ Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), rising to the level of a Senior Intelligence Officer. A true career changer, Owens found purpose in career services, where she helped revamp student orientation content, career workshops and boot camps (along with organizing a successful networking event in Chicago involving leading recruiters and Mendoza alumni). Ranked among the top students academically at Mendoza, Owens will soon start work as a senior finance analyst at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, not very far from where she grew up in Kentucky.

Age: 34

Hometown: Covington, KY

Undergraduate School: University of Virginia

Undergraduate Degree: Foreign Affairs/African Studies (double major)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Senior Intelligence Officer, Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, DC

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH

Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Finance Analyst, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I had my interview with Brian Lohr, the then-Director of Admissions for the Notre Dame MBA. Prior to my interview I wasn’t 100% sure an MBA was for me, but my conversation with Brian opened my eyes to the endless possibilities one can pursue with a business school education.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would…still be living in Washington, DC and working for the Defense Intelligence Agency. I’d probably be working in the Middle East Office and lamenting the fact that developments in Iraq were once again dictating the pace of my life.”

What are your long-term professional goals? Eventually I would like to work in higher education in some way, whether it’s teaching, counseling, or administration. I love working with people and watching them grow and develop, and I relish the opportunity to work in a university environment where I can pass on some of the lessons I’ve been so lucky to benefit from in my past.

Favorite Courses: Competitive Growth Strategy, Judgment, Business on the Front Lines, Finance II


Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? In May 2011, I deployed to Baghdad to serve as the Senior Intelligence Officer for U.S. Forces-Iraq, as part of my job as a civilian intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Over the course of eight months I helped close down DIA’s presence in Iraq ahead of the impending U.S. departure at the end of the year, and ultimately became the last DIA employee to depart the country on the last day of the war. Near the end of my tour, I developed an innovative new process for providing daily intelligence support to the U.S. military commander, the implementation of which ultimately enabled the team of analysts who worked for me to redeploy from the combat zone a month ahead of schedule.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My personal “Board of Directors” — COL Richard Paquette, U.S. Army, who was my boss and mentor for many years at the Defense Intelligence Agency, and John Rooney, my career coach at Notre Dame. These men have served as trusted advisors during periods of great uncertainty in my life, and their counseling has been essential not only to fleshing out my own life goals, but also to ensuring that the decisions I made were in line with those goals. Their demonstrated commitment to developing the people around them is something I strive to emulate.

Why did you choose this business school? Notre Dame is a truly special place. The small size of the program, combined with the collaborative nature of the student body, was incredibly attractive to me as I sought to make a career change. I also strongly believed that the Mendoza College of Business’s focus on business as a force for good in the world was a natural fit for me. I was confident I wanted to leave my career with the Defense Department, but I wanted to ensure that the next phase of my life still incorporated the same sense of purpose and meaning that made my previous job so fulfilling.

What did you enjoy most about business school? All of the time! Time for reflection, time to have fun with classmates, time to give back to the Notre Dame and South Bend communities, time to travel. Taking the opportunity to hit pause in my career, take stock of my life, and figure out what I really wanted to do next…the time is what made that possible.

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been collecting the annual Kentucky Derby glasses for 20 years, but have never actually been to the Derby! Until this year that is—I’ll be heading down in May with a large group of my classmates from Notre Dame.

Favorite book: Leap of Faith

Favorite movie: When Harry Met Sally

Favorite musical performer: Van Morrison

Favorite television show: The West Wing

Favorite vacation spot: Easter Island, Chile

What are your hobbies? I have two dogs who take up a lot of my time and energy. I enjoy reading and traveling, and have been to 26 countries. I love watching sports and am an avid Cincinnati Reds fan…and of course I can’t forget Notre Dame football!

Read this on the Poets & Quants website.
 

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