2022 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Johntá Austin, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Johntá Austin

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Age: 41

“Passionate creative who is always looking for new ways to be inspired and inspire others.”

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Family Members: wife, Porsche, and sons, Jagger and Cash

Fun fact about yourself: I am a two-time Grammy award winner.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Where are you currently working? I run my own business, Austin Entertainment Enterprises Inc. My company provides music content for recording artists and TV/film studios.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I am an avid martial arts practitioner. I also coach recreational flag football for groups of 12-13-year-olds in my local area.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The relationships that I have been able to build with my classmates have been the achievement I am most proud of because they were formed with a variety of people from different backgrounds and I believe these relationships will continue to be a major part of my life and career going forward.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Co-writing Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” because it was during a time in Mariah’s career where a lot of people had stopped believing in her even though, in my opinion, she was still a legendary artist. The song and that album (which I co-wrote four other songs on) reaffirmed what we all knew: Mariah had never lost a step. It won a Grammy and was named by Billboard as the Song of the Decade (2000s) and the No. 1 Hot 100 song of all time.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Adam Reed. Professor Reed was able to break down complex financial ideas in a way that was easy to digest and the lectures were always interesting. And I’ve been able to apply them while still in school in my business.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? The admissions staff was open to having a dialogue with me even though I had no previous undergraduate experience. The admissions process was fair and everyone gave my application fair consideration which I am grateful for.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson that I learned is execution and not procrastinating. The idea you have will never be perfect. A lot of times we miss great opportunities waiting on the perfect one. Deep down I always knew that, but this program reignited that core belief

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? When the program first started, the classes were virtual. My kids and my wife were also attending school and working virtually. We set up desks around the house for everyone to be able to do their work and do live class/work sessions. I would get up and 5 a.m. to work out and get breakfast ready for the kids, and then make sure they were squared away before starting my own classes. Some nights we were doing homework together.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Understand that it is a serious commitment. The work is and should be challenging. It can be intimidating at first, especially for someone like me who hadn’t been in a school environment for over 20 years. Also, build relationships. Make friends. Talk to people. The camaraderie building is truly one of the best parts of an executive MBA program

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I can’t speak of any myths that come to mind. I talked to colleagues who had attended the MBA program at Harvard. They told me that getting my MBA would hard and it has been, so no myth there

What was your biggest regret in business school? No regrets.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Timothy Shafroth. Tim and I hit it off immediately due to us both being a couple of over-40 married guys who both have two kids and love sports. Even though he’s a Broncos fan and I’m a Raiders fan, we were able to get past that and bond. Tim took extra time to show me how to work Excel and run regressions. He went out of his way to be an invaluable help to me.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I wanted to level up on my overall business acumen, learn new concepts and sharpen my proficiency in the language of business. I felt like an executive program allowed me to enhance my 25+ years of experiences that I accumulated over the years

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate core competency is music. I want to continue to look for ways to merge music with all types of tech, brands and lifestyle necessities.

What made Johntá such an invaluable addition to the class of 2022?

“I have had the singular pleasure of having Johntá Austin as a student. His contributions in class have enriched the learning experience not only for his classmates but for me as well. I might have been the one teaching the course material, but as any professor will tell you, the act of learning extends both ways.

Throughout, Johntá was fully engaged with the course material, exhibiting a commitment born of the professional acumen he already had brought to the program. To that engagement and focus, he added both his innate passion and a high degree of creativity. Executive MBA students by nature bring a broad mix of professional and life experiences and Johntá excels bringing both to the learning experience. His high degree of inquisitiveness about and responsiveness to the lessons enhanced the chemistry that occurs when such a diverse group learns together.

Johntá’s expertise in music entertainment and his outgoing personality also injected a healthy degree of fun into the class experience, making it even more pleasurable for all.  At the same time, he approached the material with a keen intellect and insightful observations.”

Adams Reed
Professor of Finance and Julian Price Distinguished Scholar of Finance
UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

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