2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Alexia B. Borden, MIT (Sloan)

Alexia B. Borden

MIT, Sloan School of Management

Age: 43

“Optimistic. Grateful. Fun. Boisterous. Thoughtful.”

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

Fun fact about yourself: I was born in Pensacola, Florida as a Category 4 hurricane made landfall a few miles away, sending tree branches through the window of my mother’s hospital room.

Undergraduate School and Degree: 

Georgia Institute of Technology, B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering

University of Alabama School of Law, J.D.

Where are you currently working?

Alabama Power Company—SVP of Customer and Community Engagement

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Most of the time I feel like an Uber driver for my children, but when I get some free time I try to spend time by the water (preferably the Gulf or Lake Martin) and I absolutely love exploring the world with my husband and two boys.

I also try to spend as much time as I can in the community serving on boards like the Birmingham Zoo, the Greater Alabama Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and Legal Services of Alabama.  I am so fortunate to be able to give back my alma mater, Georgia Tech, through the Alumni Board of Trustees, the President’s Advisory Board, and the Industrial Systems Engineering Advisory Board.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During our final spring semester, the cohort fans out across the world for capstone projects called Global Labs.  I had the chance to work with an energy company outside Tel Aviv that is on the cutting edge of all things solar; our project focused on the use of agrivoltaics technology.  We consulted at the company headquarters for a week, immersed ourselves in Israeli culture, and presented our findings to the leadership of the company. I had a wonderful team (thanks Andy and Atul!) and we had a blast in Israel.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud to have been the youngest person and the first woman to serve as General Counsel for Alabama Power Company. Two years into my tenure with the company, I was working as the VP for Governmental Affairs when the General Counsel, a mentor and friend of mine, passed away suddenly.  Even though I was just 38 years old, my CEO and the Board had faith in my ability to do the job. I gave it my all for almost six years before transitioning to the business side of the company during my last EMBA semester.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is the first time I’ve ever put the words “fun” and “accounting” in the same sentence, but somehow Professor Rodrigo Verdi made accounting fun. He was engaging and thoughtful, and his heart for teaching was on display every day. He immediately put the class at ease with his huge smile and interactions with us that made the class feel comfortable.  I wasn’t the only one who felt this way—Sloan honored him with the 2022 Outstanding Teacher Award.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? As an engineer and lawyer, I had never taken a business class. Not one. For that reason, I’ve been interested for some time in improving my financial acumen through an MBA program. I chose the MIT EMBA because I wanted to marry my technical background with business concepts, and it has far exceeded my expectations in that respect. I also appreciated that the average age of the cohort is 41 years old and 61% have advanced degrees. Many business schools simulate the c-suite, but we didn’t have to fake it at Sloan with more than 90% of the class at the director level and above.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Most MIT EMBA classes start with the same question: What is the problem you are trying to solve? At work, it’s easy to be so task oriented that you miss the big picture. Keeping that question at the front of my mind during meetings helps me to focus the discussion and keep us from getting into the weeds before we have a clear path forward.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I will be honest in saying that the work/life/travel balance has been a challenge.  MIT’s class schedule was a key factor in my decision to choose this EMBA program, and it’s proven to be manageable for me—even without a direct flight to Boston. Class would always end at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and barring some issues with pilots (I’m looking at you Delta), I always made it home Saturday night so I could have all day Sunday with my family. Plus, my kids found it hysterical that mom would have to do her homework at the same time as them. It was definitely a bonding experience.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Don’t be intimated about going back to school!  You can handle it, and you won’t have to do it alone, at least at MIT. The school gives you all sorts of resources to help you, including hours of video recitations, which are invaluable. And remember to make sure to thank the people back at home and in the office helping to make this possible for you.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? One myth is that you will only be successful in an MBA program if you have a business background.  Obviously, those with finance backgrounds aced those types of classes, but I found a business background wasn’t necessary at all considering that the doctors and lawyers in the class thrived!

What was your biggest regret in business school? I honestly have no real regrets. Our cohort fully embraced a work hard/play hard mentality and went full throttle for the entire 20 months. The EMBA staff (shoutout to my wonderful advisor Amber) did an incredible job planning social activities around the city after class so we really got to know Boston.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This one is easy: Hamilton Bennett. It’s not because she contributed to saving the human race with her efforts in the creation of the Moderna vaccine; or being listed in Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list; or because she speaks on U.N. panels around the world. I admire her the most because of her thoughtfulness, her gift of encouragement, her sage advice, her quick one-liners, and her skill in planning events for large, rowdy parties. She makes everyone around her feel like they are capable of anything they put their minds to, and I will forever be thankful for her friendship.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? The people!  Our cohort is fantastic.  MIT’s international reputation allows it to recruit some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, and I feel fortunate that every day I get to learn from them.  I have made lifelong friendships and had scores of deep conversations that just wouldn’t be possible with online interactions.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Luck and timing control at least half of our lives, but we get some control over the rest, so my goal is always to do my current job to the best of my capabilities. I’m not going to take my eye off the ball to worry about the next big thing.

What made Alexia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Alexia isn’t shy about confronting tough issues in a respectful and constructive way. She serves as General Counsel for an electric utility company in Alabama with significant coal-fired electricity. As a result, you might expect that she’d be in defensive observer mode, or stridently question the practicality of climate transition and decarbonization. But, in fact, while enrolled in MIT Sloan’s flagship sustainability class, she brought insights into our classes in a way that illuminated the complexity and tensions she has to hold in her work, such as her role in political engagement in government affairs, particularly when a company is in a gradual process of climate transition. And she exposed the issues that those of us living in Cambridge, Massachusetts might not think about including poverty and energy accessibility in low-income areas in a southern state. She was a perfect example of the value of bringing EMBA students into the MBA classroom (via hybrid classroom technology) to share live, real-world experiences during an otherwise theoretical or case discussion.”

Jason Jay
Director of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan and Senior Lecturer


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