2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Adam Lair, Georgetown University (McDonough)

Adam Lair

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

Age: 40

“Working to make my family proud, make an impact, and enjoy the journey.”

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Family Members: My wife Molly, four-year-old son Teddy, two-year-old daughter Elizabeth, and cocker spaniel Daisy

Fun fact about yourself: As a kid, I dreamed of being an artist. In grade school, my classmates would pay me their allowances to draw sketches of superheroes and cartoons. That was my first entrepreneurial experience.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Louisiana State University, B.A. in Criminology/Pre-Law, minor in Political Science

Where are you currently working? I am Managing Director of Hospitality Investments at Partners Capital. I oversee investment strategy for the firm’s hospitality-focused real estate investment funds, in addition to deal sourcing, due diligence, asset management, and investor relations.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: My family and I moved to Atlanta from San Francisco not long before I applied to the program, and over the past few years I’ve volunteered with Project Open Hand, the San Francisco Food Bank, the Atlanta Humane Society, and Special Pops Baseball. I’m also a member of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, a nonprofit here in Atlanta that works to protect and preserve the Chattahoochee River and watershed. In the next few weeks, our family will be relocating to Houston. Now that the kids are getting older and can join us, we’ll be looking for new volunteering opportunities as a family.

At Georgetown, I was one of the leaders of a team that created an entirely new service line, including a marketing campaign, for a major payments processor in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I was also inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma business school honor society as one of the top 20% of students in my cohort. I’m a former college athlete, and in my spare time, I like hobbies that keep me active, including running, hiking, cycling, golf, and fly fishing.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Commuting to school for two years is no small feat, especially with small children, and it gave me a lot of anxiety in the months leading up to the Georgetown program. I’m proud to have finished the program near the top of my class while still being present in my wife’s and kids’ lives.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? A mentor once told me that in her 40-year career, she was most proud of the role she had played in training dozens of people who had gone on to reach the highest levels of the hospitality and real estate industries. Now, half as far into my own career, I’m beginning to understand what she meant. I get the greatest sense of joy and accomplishment from sitting side-by-side with younger team members and teaching them the skills I’ve learned over the years, from sharing my mistakes and the lessons I’ve learned with them to being a sounding board when they need advice. I’ve achieved a lot of things in my career that make me proud, but nothing makes me feel happier and more fulfilled than seeing the people I’ve hired, trained, and hopefully mentored along the way start to do amazing things in their own careers. I’m lucky to have seen it happen a few times already.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? My goal in choosing an Executive MBA program was not only to get a first-class education, but also to join a community that would help me grow and to which I could contribute for the rest of my life. I applied to a handful of exceptional programs, including some that would have been more convenient. From the start, Georgetown felt the most like the family environment I was looking for. One of the school’s unofficial mottos is, “Hoyas help Hoyas”. That saying epitomizes the legacy of serving others that drew me to Georgetown.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I entered the Georgetown Executive MBA with a two-year-old son and a daughter who was three months old. An admissions director who interviewed me the previous spring told me jokingly that I must be “a glutton for punishment,” and I don’t think I fully comprehended what he meant until I was well into the program. I could tell countless stories of the help I received throughout my Executive MBA experience, but what’s certain is that I didn’t juggle anything by myself. I wouldn’t have made it through the Georgetown program without an amazing and supportive wife, understanding professors, and classmates who were willing to pitch in and adapt whenever necessary.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? The dean of Georgetown’s Executive MBA program, Bardia Kamrad, once told our cohort, “You’ll never know how much you’re capable of until you give something your all.” I remember writing that down the second I heard it, and it’s stuck with me for nearly two years. If you are interested in an Executive MBA program and you’re willing to invest yourself in it fully, it can be one of the most rewarding, fulfilling, and memorable experiences of your life. It certainly has been for me.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That it won’t be worth it. It seemed like some variation of that idea was everywhere during my program, but it couldn’t have been farther from the truth in my experience. Not only did we learn invaluable tools from some of the best professors in the country, but a number of students in my cohort (including myself) received promotions or found their ideal jobs during our program. I’m often asked if I’m glad I made the decision to go back to business school, and the answer is absolutely.

What was your biggest regret in business school? No regrets. Going back to school when I did and juggling the demands of a young family and a full-time job pushed me to work harder to earn my MBA and made me more appreciative of my accomplishments and the experiences I had in the Georgetown program. I feel confident that I gave this program all I had.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are quite a few, but Blake Barfield stands out. Our cohort’s resident Texan, Blake is a devoted husband and father of three young boys who puts his family first in everything he does. Despite the fact that he commuted halfway across the country twice a month, he showed up in every class with maturity and thoughtfulness and contributed something valuable every time he spoke.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or  online alternatives? I had been told by multiple MBAs while applying that one of the biggest benefits of an MBA program was the relationships it provides, and I wanted to form those relationships with other people who were accomplished in their careers and were on the cusp of doing great things. I’m fortunate that my program began at the tail-end of the pandemic lockdowns, so our cohort was able to spend most of our time getting to know one another in person.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To become an advocate for and investor in businesses and ideas that ensure my children’s generation will be better off than my own.

What made Adam such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023? “It’s a pleasure to write, with strong endorsement, on behalf of Mr. Adam Lair.

I have known Adam since he started his course of studies in the Executive MBA program at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in August 2021. Similar to his cohort classmates, Adam, was one of my students in the Opening Residency and Decision Analytics courses in his first year of the program.

In my view, Adam is a poised, reliable, and committed professional and a natural leader. His professional, consistent, and thoughtful disposition are characteristic and distinctive. He is remarkably intelligent, skillful, and perceptive. He is sensibly adapted to his environment and to others’ presence, abilities, and needs.

A former quarterback for Nick Saban’s SEC-champion LSU Tigers, Adam is a driven, goal-oriented, creative individual. He has lived all over the world, including stints in Paris and San Francisco, loves reading classical literature, and has written several essays and short stories.

Adam was attracted to real estate after seeing the destruction of his hometown of New Orleans in Hurricane Katrina and the wide-scale redevelopment that followed. Since then, he has built a 17-year career in the industry. In his current position as a Managing Director, Adam manages a real estate investment fund focused on hospitality assets – where he oversees all aspects of his firm’s hospitality investment strategy, including deal sourcing, due diligence, asset management, and investor relations. Adam’s professional accomplishments are similarly echoed in his academic journey and distinguished by having been inducted to the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.

As he unequivocally makes it known, Adam’s most important role, however, is husband and father to his wife Molly, four-year-old son Teddy, and two-year-old daughter Elizabeth.

It’s been a pleasure to know Adam and to see his accomplishments.”

Bardia Kamrad
Senior Associate Dean of Special Projects
Professor of Operations


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.