2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Emily Kort, Wharton School

Emily Kort

Wharton Executive MBA (Philadelphia)

Age: 37

Driven, kind, curious, quick-witted, and fiercely loyal.”

Hometown: Brighton, MI

Family Members: Julia & John Kort (Mom & Dad), Michael & Laura Kort (Brother and sister-in-law), Meagan & Steve Neal (Sister and brother-in-law), Lauren Kort (Sister)

Fun fact about yourself: At the age of 36, I took up residence in a retirement community for 6 months – and, as their youngest resident by decades, was featured in the December newsletter for virtually completing my penultimate term at Wharton!

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Michigan, BA in English & Psychology

Where are you currently working? Lumen Technologies – Senior Client Partner Lead, Lumen Digital Ventures

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Board Member, 98-100 Suffolk Corporation

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In a management simulation in our second term, my learning team selected me to be the CEO of our company. My team was made up of 5 other individuals, each of whom I deeply respected and who brought their own exceptional professional credentials and know-how. I was honored and humbled to be chosen by them to lead our group.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Just six months after joining my last firm, the external partner to which my team was dedicated severed their relationship with all third parties. This was a seismic shift not only for our company but also in the industry; my team’s remit quickly pivoted to rebuilding a viable revenue path for this significant portion of business. It was a challenging task, and we navigated the obstacles and managed internal and external communication and demands to successfully secure new pathways for the revenue at stake. Throughout the months-long process, there were many periods during which we were managing with a distinct lack of concrete, specific information. Despite the ambiguity, each team member owned their role and responsibility to their core constituents and the broader organization with full accountability. Most importantly, the team banded together and supported each other during a highly tumultuous time, and I was proud to have been part of an exceptional team that accomplished quite a feat that had material impact and benefit to the organization.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Cait Lamberton – I loved Cait’s class, which focused on Marketing and Consumer Behavior. The lessons taught in class were interesting and applicable to both work and personal life, and it was fascinating to think about the nuanced ways in which companies and organizations can impact consumer behavior through the strategy around their messaging and delivery modality. Moreover, Cait’s teaching style is highly engaging, and she brought these lessons to life with real-world examples and humor.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program?  For me, it came down to a couple of key factors: Wharton has a strong reputation for its rigorous MBA program, and I wanted a school with a strong curriculum that would push me to stretch beyond my existing boundaries. Additionally, the residency component of Wharton’s program promotes and fosters relationship building outside of the classroom and enhances the overall program value and experience.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Everyone has a voice and a unique viewpoint to share, but many do not readily offer it up. This is true in the classroom and in the workplace, and applying a diversity of perspective to any situation increases the likelihood of achieving optimal outcomes. This was an important lesson that demonstrated itself repeatedly when working in teams with students across different functions and industries. I’ve applied this at work by soliciting feedback from teams outside of my own that typically may have been more siloed, and from those within my team who are less vocal. Gaining the distinct opinions and ideas from a host of others has better equipped my team to make more robust strategic decisions.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? At the end of my first term of WEMBA in August 2019, I flew to Spain to be maid-of-honor in my best friend’s wedding. We had just finished exams but the deadline on a team paper was set for 10 days after the term end. While I had cleared the time with work to have office cover while I was out, the personal and school obligations were still competing priorities. I juggled my responsibilities by communicating with my teammates about the timeline of events in the lead up to the wedding, and by taking ownership of the components that I could complete independently while abroad. This meant drafting part of the paper from corners of the hotel between events (as we all learned in 2020, you really can work anywhere!) and then taking the final review of the collective assignment on my flight back home after the festivities were complete. The wedding week went off without a hitch, my work team had deliverables at the office covered, and my school team submitted a paper well done – effective communication and team collaboration led to a win on all fronts.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Be clear on your goals for why you are looking to pursue your EMBA, and then commit to it fully. Be all in, with your course work and with your classmates. Explore the subjects that will benefit you professionally, but also that will expand your perspective beyond your current scope. You will get out of the experience what you put into it, both academically and personally.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? “Grades don’t matter.” True, the learning is what really matters, but we still stressed our exam performance and grades. Just because you’re no longer in undergrad does not mean you can’t  — and won’t — pull an all-nighter!

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret in business school is not setting more 1:1 on-campus coffee chats with classmates I didn’t often interact with. Time is a great constraint, particularly with the executive MBA program, but even briefly connecting with individuals to learn more about their life outside of WEMBA was always highly rewarding when I took the opportunity to do so.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Simone Betchen. Simone personifies excellence in all facets of her life. Professionally, she’s achieved great success in the male-dominated field of neurosurgery. In her personal life, she is a wonderful wife and mother to two daughters. And she’s managed to balance both of these while excelling at school and being an involved, accountable, and caring classmate. I have the utmost respect for her as both a classmate and friend.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I wanted to further my education and business acumen without taking a step out of the workforce. The executive MBA program enabled me to do this while applying the lessons I was learning in class to my everyday work.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to serve in a C-level executive leadership capacity helping to steward and shape the strategic direction of the firm while promoting and fostering a culture of diversity, empowerment, and growth for future leaders.

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

“Emily has been one of our standout students in the WEMBA Class of 2021. Not only has she performed strong academically throughout her two years at Wharton, but she has been a leader amongst her classmates and a welcoming face to both our first-year WEMBA students and our new incoming class that will start in May. She has gone out of her way to meet up with and mentor students living in the New York area to transition them into getting ready for life at Wharton and prepare them for classes. Throughout the COVID pandemic, she has stood out as one of our students who has maintained a positive and encouraging attitude while making the most out of the virtual learning platform.”

Jenn Craig
Associate Director, Wharton MBA Program for Executives



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