Dana Brownlee 98EvMBA
Dana Brownlee 98EvMBA

Goizueta alumni hold more than a coveted degree from Emory; they also boast a wealth of life experiences and business know-how. In this ongoing series, EmoryBusiness.com will share their sage advice, which you can add to your own toolkit.

Dana Brownlee 98EvMBA

Dana Brownlee 98EvMBA
Professionalism Matters Inc.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

After working as a business strategy consultant with top IT firms for nearly a decade, I started a boutique corporate training firm in 2003—Professionalism Matters Inc. I’ve been honored to speak and train on a range of professional development topics around the country and beyond. In 2019, my first book was published by Berrett-Koehler, The Unwritten Rules of Managing Up: Project Management Techniques from the Trenches, and I share business expertise regularly as a senior contributor for Forbes Careers and as an instructor for LinkedIn Learning.

What does your current role as a senior contributor for Forbes Careers entail?

As a senior contributor, I typically publish about five articles per month on a range of career/professional development topics. It’s truly an incredible opportunity to learn about and connect with some really amazing people and also provides me the opportunity to participate in the public discourse of the country’s most important current events—like the Black Lives Matter protests and antiracism (particularly workplace impacts).

What do you enjoy best about entrepreneurship?

The flexibility! With having an 11- and 9-year-old (and a husband with a more traditional work schedule), flexibility is an absolute necessity. I also love the variety. Some days I’m writing stories that I really care about, other times I’m facilitating calls with clients that I’ve known for years and other times I’m traveling for an important keynote address. I can virtually always take my kids to school and pick them up (with occasional help from my mom), and I get to jog most mornings, so I really love the lifestyle that it affords me.

How did Goizueta prepare you for the field you are in today?

Upon graduation I had multiple offers with consulting firms, and I really feel like my consulting years were some of my most important professionally. They provided me a rich and deep base of experience that I draw on now all the time. I feel that my distinguishing factor as a speaker/trainer is that my content is very practical in nature—not theoretical, and that’s all a function of the valuable experience I gained as a strategy consultant. Goizueta prepared me for that.

What was your favorite course at Goizueta?

Well, I’ve been out of school for a while, so I don’t recall course names much anymore. I think it was Decision Information Analysis (DIA). I loved the statistics courses. Yes, that’s rather nerdy I know, but I had undergraduate degrees in math and industrial engineering, so I love applied math. I feel like Goizueta was great because the statistics-related courses allowed me to understand the application of much of the theory I’d learned in undergrad.

Who inspires you and why?

Now that I’m juggling kids, work and everything else, I’m inspired by my parents and their ability to reach the top of their profession while also maintaining a positive home life for us. It’s so much harder than it looks. My kids are inspirational because they view life in such a pure way, and they’re so funny.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received, in business or life?

I love RBG’s advice. “In marriage, it helps to be a little deaf.” I still need to work on that one. I’m probably too opinionated for my own good.

Is there a lasting lesson, memory or skill gained from business school that you particularly remember or credit your success to?

I remember during a business law class during a discussion about affirmative action, a white male classmate expressed frustration over not getting a promotion that was instead given to a Black woman, and I immediately (and forcefully) suggested he consider just for a moment that the Black woman might have been a stronger candidate. I think our classes were really a true exchange of ideas and an opportunity to learn not just from cases but from one another.

What advice do you have for today’s business students?

Travel, learn a language, broaden yourself, develop strong speaking and writing skills—they will serve you well. You’ll likely make more money than you ever thought you would within a few years, so focus more on figuring out what you really love and where your natural gifts lie.