MIT, Sloan School of Management
“Steady, fair, pragmatic and curious introvert who loves sports, sneakers and coffee.”
Hometown: Richfield, MN
Family Members: Kim (sister)
Fun fact about yourself: When I was hired into my current position in 2011, I was the youngest commissioner and still am today.
Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, B.S., Exercise and Sport Science
Where are you currently working? I’m the Commissioner of the America East Conference, an NCAA Division I college athletics conference.
Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Co-Leader of the MIT EMBA 18 Women’s Group; MIT EMBA 18 Values Committee
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of being one of the leaders of our MIT EMBA Women’s Group. It’s difficult in an EMBA program to do “extra” given the constraints of work, studying and family. However, our commitment to meet regularly gave us an opportunity to connect with many of the women in our class on a much deeper level. The experience has been both empowering and a humbling reminder of the strength of the human spirit.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The moments that bring me the greatest sense of achievement are those where I can see my contributions have a positive impact on others.
Specifically, the America East Conference partners with two organizations that are dedicated to building respect, equality and inclusion, especially with LGBTQ awareness. Seeing the positive impact that this visibility has made for student-athletes in their communities is something that gives me immense pride and purpose.
What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite course is Competitive Strategy. I learned several useful frameworks to analyze, evaluate and develop strategy at the firm and industry level. These tools have already been useful to my organization in helping us assess our strategy in a more analytical manner resulting in a more precise and coherent strategic direction.
Why did you choose this executive MBA program? The mission, purpose and culture of MIT immediately resonated with me. Its focus on principles, innovation, community and making a difference align with my values so it was a clear choice for me and I’m grateful to have been accepted.
What did you enjoy most about business school in general? My classmates are the best part of this program. I’ve certainly learned a great deal from our world-class professors, but the opportunity to learn from and connect with such a diverse group of individuals has been the best part of the experience. I’ve made colleagues and friends that I know will be part of my professional and personal life forever.
What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? For someone who has learned much about business on-the-job and through trial-and-error, I’ve been introduced to several frameworks that I’ve already begun to apply in my organization. These models give me a solid foundation upon which I can extend and explore decisions in a more rational manner. Whether it’s a refined strategy, a greater understanding of our financial position and budget, or how we can work with data analytics to make better decisions, I am leaving with many more tools in the toolbox than when I started.
Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? As the CEO of my organization, I’ve been fortunate to have some flexibility in managing my own schedule. There are times, however, when I am the only person who can address a certain work issue. For example in the last week of June, I had to study for and take my Data, Models and Decisions final while preparing for my Board of Directors Meeting. It was chaotic and I was stressed, but it was very rewarding once they were both finished.
What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Ensure you are prepared to allocate time to be a fully engaged member of your class to benefit both yourself and your classmates.
What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That it would be easy and they wouldn’t push us since we’re executives who are working full-time. That’s not my experience at all at MIT Sloan. The homework, problem sets, papers, and projects are substantial and challenging.
What was your biggest regret in business school? I regret not being more engaged with the broader MIT community earlier in the program. MIT has so many valuable resources, initiatives and programs in a variety of areas and I wish I had started to explore those earlier.
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I’m particularly amazed by the women in our class who faced enormous challenges over the course of their lives and have emerged as powerful, strong and brilliant individuals.
“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I learned that MIT Sloan was more than just trying to get people into the financial, investment or consulting industries. The part I love about MIT is that it is truly committed to helping develop broad-based leaders by challenging them intellectually and technically, so they can contribute and influence beyond what they think is possible.”
“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…intellectually restless.”
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I have no idea. I’d simply like to keep doing things that are consistent with my values, that I enjoy doing, that challenge me, and that solve problems that can help improve the lives and experiences of others.
In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like them to remember that I listened well, was fair, respectful, reliable and occasionally made people laugh.
Favorite book: Sula by Toni Morrison
Favorite movie or television show: Homeland
What are the top two items on your bucket list? See the polar bears in Canada and attend the Olympics (winter or summer).
What made Amy such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?
“As the acting Commissioner of the America East Conference, Amy is currently the youngest commissioner in college sports. She encompasses the MIT EMBA mission, “To develop principled, innovative, senior leaders capable of transforming the world’s important institutions.” Amy came to the EMBA Program to help explore her interests in technology and innovation, with the hopes of transforming the college sports industry. Thanks to her passion and focus, Amy pioneered the use of social media to bring awareness to the student-athletes while simultaneously promoting and rebranding the America East Conference.
Amy is one of the most down to earth individuals in the cohort and has an easy, natural presence about her, both inside and outside of the classroom. Her unique perspective as a female in a male dominated industry is fascinating and she is able to thoughtfully share these experiences with her peers and the EMBA faculty during class sessions. Amy has impacted the program by giving her time participating in panel discussions and webinars for prospective students. On the Women’s Webinar, she discussed the effects the program has had not only on her personally, but on what she has learned and been able to bring back to the Conference professionally. Amy has also volunteered to write for the MIT EMBA Executive Insights Blog, further touching on her experiences at MIT Sloan. As a leader of our EMBA Women’s Group, Amy represents the traditions of MIT and the Sloan School of Management as a distinguished leader, mentor and collaborator.”
Johanna Hising DiFabio
MIT Executive MBA Program Director
MIT Executive MBA Faculty Director and Faculty