2015 Best EMBA: Erin Dady

Erin Dady

Erin Dady


University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

Want to elevate a classroom discussion? For the past two years in Carlson’s superb Executive MBA program, you just called on Erin Dady, whose zeal was only matched by her respect for her peers. Currently the Special Assistant to the President for Government and Community Relations at the University of Minnesota, Dady hopes to channel her MBA for the public good. She is a board member for the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Visit Saint Paul, and the Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce Foundation. She was also a past board chair of Women Winning, a political organization that elects women to all levels of political office.

Age: 38

Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota

Family Members: Single

Undergraduate School: Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Undergraduate Degree: BA in Political Science, Minor in History

Where are you currently working? I was named the Special Assistant to the President for Government and Community Relations at University of Minnesota just a couple of months ago. I work to advance the University’s interests at all five of its campuses at the federal, state, and community level.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I talked to my sister, an alum, who told me that going to the Carlson School was one of the best decisions she ever made. And she said that I’d have a lot of fun.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…wondering if I should have gone to law school.”

What are your long-term professional goals? My long-term professional goals are to use my business school education to contribute to the public good. Using business ideas to solve public problems is incredibly exciting to me.

Favorite Courses: Strategy, Negotiations, Marketing, International Business

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? I’m most proud of the opportunities I’ve had to improve and grow the city that I love—Saint Paul, MN. Having grown up in the city of Saint Paul, the community has given me so much, including safe neighborhoods, strong schools, and a sense of place. Serving as the mayor’s chief of staff gave me the opportunity to see and touch the improvements I made in the community.

Specifically, I was incredibly proud to champion the City of Saint Paul’s paid parental leave policy, making the city one of the first in the nation to offer the benefit for its employees. As the city’s workforce ages and retires, the benefit is an important tool to recruit and retain the next generation of talent. While conducting research for this policy, we uncovered the disturbing trend in the city’s workforce that women and people of color were leaving the city at higher rates than white men. It’s gratifying to me that this policy could help reverse that trend and provide some important support to young families.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? Throughout my career, I’ve been inspired by many women who have taken the time to mentor and encourage me, for which I’m incredibly grateful. Joan Growe, Minnesota’s first woman secretary of state, encouraged me to pursue a career in public service.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? When I visited a classroom at the Carlson School, it just felt right. The classroom was full of energy, and was made up of engaged students with diverse backgrounds and committed professors who delivered a high quality of instruction. In Minnesota, the value of an MBA degree from the Carlson School is second to none. I am proud to be a member of the broader University of Minnesota community and its vast network of alumni. My experience in the program has enhanced my appreciation for the complexity and effectiveness of the University and the importance of its mission to advance learning and apply knowledge to benefit the people of the state, nation, and world.

What did you enjoy most about the executive MBA program? What I have enjoyed most about my experience at the Carlson School is thinking about how to apply business solutions to public sector problems. While I have extensive experience working in both the public and non-profit sectors, I decided to attend business school to round out my education and ability to collaborate among the three sectors. As I learned in my business ethics and corporate social responsibility class, the famous business and economics professor Michael Porter argued in Harvard Business Review’s “Creating Shared Value,” that the world’s problems will only be solved with a collaboration of the three sectors and tri-sector leaders who can navigate between them.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? I’ll savor every moment I spent with my team. We had one of those fairy tale business school team experiences where everything just clicked. We understood each other’s strengths and played to them. I learned an incredible amount from the strong dynamic of my team.

Fun fact about yourself: I spent a summer in high school serving as a page in the United States Senate.

Favorite book: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Favorite movie: Thelma and Louise

Favorite musical performer: I have the same musical taste as my tween niece and nephew. We’ve seen Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea, and Miley Cyrus in concert.

Favorite television show: Scandal, mostly for the fashion

Favorite vacation spot: Horseback riding at my father’s South Dakota ranch

What are your hobbies? Running slowly for short distances, electing women to political office, strolling through the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market

Twitter Handle: @erindady

What made Erin such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015 for your executive MBA program?

“Erin stood out in my strategy course as a sharp, thoughtful, and highly- motivated student who was always ready to challenge or defend a point of view, but in a manner that was inclusive, built on the prior discussion, and provided insight and nuance to the issue at hand. I always knew that calling on Erin was a surefire way to take the discussion to new heights, and in this way she contributed superbly to the tenor and the quality of the classroom experience and the course. We are all so proud of Erin’s journey and her success in leveraging her MBA into an exciting new career path!”

– Aks Zaheer, Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship Professor, Curtis L. Carlson Chair in Strategic Management

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