2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Ida Posner, Columbia Business School

Ida Posner

Columbia Business School

Age: 31

Railroad executive, food waste warrior, loyal friend, avid traveler, lifelong learner.”

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Family Members: Parents, Henry and Anne, siblings, Hannah and Gus

Fun fact about yourself: I teach spin classes which landed me on a billboard in San Francisco for a brief moment in 2017.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Princeton University, BSE 2008 – Civil and Environmental Engineering, Certificates in Sustainable Energy, African Studies

Where are you currently working? Vice President, Strategic Planning, Railroad Development Corp.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • Board Member, American Jewish World Service
  • Strategic Advisor, Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh
  • Secretary, Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Rail Rolling Stock and Motive Power
  • Princeton University Civil and Environmental Engineering Advisory Committee

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I was our class’s academic representative and it was a role I truly loved. I would say I am most proud of keeping us all on track as we navigated the most intense part of our EMBA program at the exact moment that the pandemic swung into full force. Being able to provide a small amount of structure and support (along with a few bad jokes) was incredibly rewarding.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Earlier this year, I became the first female board member of the Iowa Interstate Railroad. I am both excited and grateful to have the opportunity to step into a larger leadership role and bring different perspectives to an industry which plays such a critical role in the global economy.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Columbia truly is at the center of the business world, both through its physical presence in New York and the global reach of its alumni network. The format of the EMBA Americas program was ideal for me. It brought together students from around the country and world for block weeks in New York, coupled with opportunities to travel. While COVID had other plans for us, the dynamic and diverse personalities drawn to the program were still very much present. I was also interested in the Global Family Enterprise Program as I work for my family’s business.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Executive MBA programs are what you make of them. You have to want to be there and be intentional about what you are seeking to get out of the program. Though you will learn to stretch yourself and accomplish more than you ever thought you could, you also have to learn to make tradeoffs and prioritize what is truly valuable and consequential to you.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That there is any “right” way to do it. One person’s experience is just that – their own. The beauty of graduate school, and executive programs, in particular, is that you will meet people who have all taken very different paths that led them to the same place.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Starting business school in January of 2020 was arguably the worst possible timing given the pandemic. I regret that I wasn’t able to engage more with classmates through clubs or other extracurricular activities. That being said, so many people have gone above-and-beyond to stay connected and create a sense of community in the virtual world. Special shout out to Kristina Montville, associate director of student affairs, who has been an absolute star in supporting our class throughout the pandemic .

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I am surrounded by so many classmates whom I admire, particularly my America’s ’21 family. However, I want to recognize Margaret Knowles and Saad Muntazim. Margaret and Saad embody the ethos of leading with your values. In addition to being incredibly smart, driven, and accomplished, they bring an element of empathy to every conversation. I would best describe them as the heart and soul of our class.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? There is no better way to learn than by directly applying classroom theory to practice at work the next day. The depth of conversation in the classroom is at a totally different level when you’re bringing in real life examples and perspectives. The true highlight of this program has been learning from my peers. The intensity of balancing work, school, and life forces you to make fast friendships and deep relationships and that’s where I think the true learning is.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Create a carbon-neutral rail transportation system that expands access to freight and passenger markets while improving public safety, reducing inefficiencies (zero-waste), and moving us one step closer towards meeting our climate goals…and world peace.

What made Ida such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“Ida has been an integral leader and invaluable addition to the EMBA-Americas Class of 2021 and the boarder CBS community. From the beginning of her program, Ida has shown a great enthusiasm not only for academics, but also uniting her fellow classmates with the CBS community.

Serving as Academic Representative for the EMBA-Americas Class of 2021, Ida provided her fellow classmates with announcements detailing out deliverables, deadlines, and schedules while also communicating with professors on the class’s behalf. The Academic Representative position, while challenging in normal times, was made even more complicated with the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020. With an abrupt switch from in-person learning to virtual, Ida was committed to her classmates’ continued academic success, despite the distance, and made sure assignments and deadlines were still communicated clearly and worked with professors to ensure a smooth virtual delivery of classes.

In addition to her role as Academic Representative, in her second year Ida also served as an EMBA Advisory Board Representative. In this capacity, Ida brought EMBA representation to the full-time MBA Student Government Executive Board and shared information between the two programs to foster a more cohesive CBS community.

Ida’s contributions to our community have been outstanding and have set her apart as a leader at Columbia Business School. She has added great value to her classmates’ experience as well as the overall success of the CBS community.”

Kristina Montville
Associate Director, Student Affairs
Executive MBA Programs