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Lean into the community: An interview with alum Joann Praise Emmanson

Joann Praise Emmanson

Joann Praise Emmanson

While receiving a top-notch education in the W. P. Carey School of Business Full-time MBA program, alumna Joann Praise Emmanson also received a lifelong community and network with her classmates and peers. “Everywhere I meet W. P. Carey Sun Devils, there is always a sense of community and connection that we have,” she says.

This extends to her Executive Connections program mentor, whom Joann still has contact with. She says she often draws from lessons and advice from her mentor and others in the program during her current work as a Senior Technical Product Manager for Amazon Web Services.

“I'm not just looking at how I can advance or contribute in my workplace, but how I can contribute outside of my workplace and lend a hand to others, which is very beautiful.”

We spoke with Joann in more detail about her experience at W. P. Carey and with Executive Connections, including her advice for future ASU MBA students.

Q&A with Joann Praise Emmanson

What is it that makes Executive Connections so unique and impactful? Mentors, alumni, and current students know best. This conversation has been edited and condensed.

Question: Why did you decide to pursue your MBA at ASU and W. P. Carey?

Answer: When I first looked at the ASU MBA website, I was fascinated by the phrase, Where Business is Personal. That caught my attention, and I wanted to dive deeper to understand why business is personal to the Full-time MBA cohort. I went through the entire website and saw the Executive Connections program. I thought it was very interesting, and maybe it was why business is personal at W. P. Carey. I wanted to know more.

When I joined the program, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t just a phrase on the website — it was something that everyone in the program exuded. It was indeed personal, from the front desk to every interaction with our cohort, and this was during the pandemic. It was harder to make business personal during that situation, but I could see it shining through every single interaction I had.

Q: How would you say that the Executive Connections program enhanced your leadership skills while you were a student?

A: When I joined the MBA program, I was at a stage in my career where I wanted to define the kind of leader I wanted to be. The Executive Connections experience and having an executive mentor helped me do some introspection and examine my journey to see how I could contribute more to society. It made me realize some of the top skills that would be beneficial to becoming the kind of manager I wanted to be: being data-driven, result-oriented, and people-oriented. That was the key, the bedrock of who I wanted to be and how I wanted to show up in the world.

Q: Since you’ve graduated, how have you taken what you learned from the Full-time MBA program and become the leader you’ve sought to be?

A: Because I came in as an international student, it was a different landscape from what I was used to. My mentor helped me define how I could show up differently in my workplace. For example, I had my mentor give me tips about how I could connect more with my colleagues, how to hold people accountable, how to learn and continually ask questions.

Previously, I didn’t ask many questions because I didn’t want to sound like I didn’t know what was going on. My mentor helped me understand that it’s OK to ask as many questions as possible when you join an organization. That helped me ramp up very quickly when I started.

Q: How has the Executive Connections program made a difference in your life?

A: The Executive Connections program and mentors have been very helpful in defining my personality in terms of how I want to show up in the workplace. My personality at home is different than my personality at work, in the sense that I might be a little more laid back at home, but I’m showing up differently at work.

In the workplace, I’m showing up as a professional. I’m showing up as someone who is competent, someone who knows what she’s doing, and that has really made me stand out where I’m working now. There’s evidence of that in the number of projects that I’m handling, which wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t taken the advice that was given to me by my mentors and showed up in a way that makes me appear as a competent executive in the workplace.

Q: What advice would you give to a student considering the W. P. Carey Full-time MBA program?

A: I would suggest that they lean into the community. This is so important. In the Executive Connections program, you’re matched with a mentor. The great part of this is that you also have access to every other mentor in the program, so you can tap into their wealth of experience — several decades of experience that can help you stand out. Mentors have different ranges of expertise that you can tap into and explore. It helps you see things from a new perspective and understand the business world a little differently.