Alumni Profile: Michael Crawford EMBA '09

Author: Angela Sienko


Michael Crawford earned his EMBA in 2009 from the Mendoza College of Business. He has truly experienced the world, thanks to his career in hospitality, working for organizations such as Walt Disney Parks & Resorts and Four Seasons.  Here he shares the details of how his EMBA has helped him traverse the globe.

The Rally: Why did you choose ND for your graduate degree?

M. Crawford:  I’ve always found Notre Dame to be a place that has the highest educational standards, and one that carries great integrity in its brand. I felt if I were going to invest the time and effort in obtaining my MBA, I wanted it to be meaningful both personally and professionally.   I fell in love with the campus the moment I set foot on it, but the reality is I wanted my degree to be respected and have a meaningful impact on my professional career, and I thought Notre Dame did just that.

The Rally:  How have you utilized your graduate degree in your career?

M. Crawford:  An MBA was an important credential for me as I aspired to grow my career with the Walt Disney Company. It became important again, when I was approached for a new job as President, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, as the company was looking for someone with international business experience and advanced education. The ability to think strategically, understand detailed and complex business growth opportunities, and lead a broad and diverse organization were all skills that I continued to refine while obtaining my degree from Notre Dame.

The Rally:  What has your experience been like working internationally?

M. Crawford: I encourage everyone to take international assignments.The world is now easily connected, and businesses are looking for global leaders with the ability to think broadly. For me it’s been rewarding to work in China, Japan and now Singapore. I’ve learned to appreciate the cultural differences in how business is conducted and it’s forced me to continually develop my approach. As an example, waiting for a translator changes the pace and dynamics of meetings. It definitely impacts the timing of a humorous comment or a joke, I enjoy that slight delay before the laughter comes.

The Rally: How do you stay connected to ND as an alum?

M. Crawford: I have very close friends in and around the Notre Dame community that I stay in touch with and connect with when I’m on campus. I’ve also been invited back to speak at the University and participate in work groups focused on a few particular business subjects. Of course there are always football games, but I’ve also acted as a resource by speaking with graduate and undergraduate students about their careers and helping them understand potential opportunities.

The Rally: Is there a professor who had a significant impact on your time at ND?

M. Crawford: I thought Professor John Affleck-Graves was great in his approach to pushing and inspiring people to do their best. It meant something when you got a good grade in his class, as you knew he took great pride in how the students of Notre Dame compared to the best colleges and universities in the world. He provided a level of “tough love” that I found refreshing, and it made us all want to do well in his class. 

The Rally: What is your favorite memory from your time in your graduate business program?

M. Crawford: I’d have to say going through the struggles of learning and doing well in a team environment. It probably sounds a little cliché, but I think those times built bonds with many individuals, as we all had the “we’re in this together” attitude. It made a huge difference to have friends that I could count on, and that I would support as well. The times out together, the classroom work, the projects, all helped form lasting relationships with people that I still consider close friends.