Lauren Johnson | IE Business School
Lauren Johnson
About me

I was born in a small town in Pennsylvania, USA, and have lived in Philadelphia for around 15 years. I have spent my career focusing on both behavior and policy changes that impact human health. I have dedicated much of my career to helping healthcare executives, advocates and policymakers add rigor and structure to the ways in which they meet the diverse needs of the communities they serve. Before studying for the IE Brown Executive MBA, I studied in London and spent significant time in India, where my family lived for five years. I love to travel and discover new cultures; I’ve gone on solo trips to 23 countries. These experiences have deeply influenced my worldview, inspiring empathy and insight. I am currently the director of marketing for a social impact consultancy

Lauren Johnson
Marketing Director at Fors Marsh
United States
IE Brown Executive MBA
Lauren Johnson | IE Business School

"My network has been enriched with smart people with diverse perspectives, job functions and cultural experiences that can champion me and push me forward throughout my career."

Lauren Johnson

Did you always know that you wanted to pursue a career in marketing and strategic communication? 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an interest in human stories. During my bachelor’s, I was working to become a broadcasting personality. After interning at the Red Cross, I became more interested in marketing. I quickly realized that branding was exciting. The Red Cross is one of the most recognizable brands around the world! I realized the power of using stories and messaging creatively to influence action.

What personal and professional qualities do you feel are important to be a successful marketing professional?

Curiosity and persuasiveness are vital traits. Insofar as marketing is a business function, you always have to be equal parts interested in and able to influence the lives of your end users and the business that is trying to build a mutually beneficial relationship with them. 

You have over 10 years of experience as a marketing and communications professional. What skills did you hope to gain or improve through the IE Brown Executive MBA?

I wanted to develop health promotion marketing within the government. At the time, I was in charge of administering the department's funding across several programs and initiatives, so I felt that as a steward of government funds and constituent resources, I needed more vigor around managing them judiciously. I believed that the program could help increase my skills at brokering public and private partnerships and provide the budget and finance experience that I would need.

What was your most interesting experience during the program? 

As someone with ADHD, I often believed it was something I should hide professionally. Navigating a full-time career while being in the program allowed me to come up with new tactics to ensure I was able to perform well professionally, personally and academically. I developed new tactics around focus, problem-solving and innovative thinking that helped me to push through. These are qualities that I still lean into today that help me add value to the teams I work on.

What professional or personal opportunities do you think the IE Brown Executive MBA has opened up to you that may otherwise have been more difficult to access?

Like any personal or professional development endeavor, you get out of it what you put in. I did not go into the program to land a specific job post-graduation, but I knew that it would help me gain exposure to opportunities that I may not know about or be positioned for otherwise. One of the program’s greatest assets for me was the other members of my cohort. My network has been enriched with smart people with diverse perspectives, job functions and cultural experiences that can champion me and push me forward throughout my career. 

What did you learn about purpose through the IE Brown Executive MBA? 

The intersection of humanities and business was an aspect of the program that aligned well with my values. I come from a heritage that embraced both education and leaning into doing things differently. My great-great-grandfather, for example, attended college at a time when there were inequalities in acceptance into higher education. They all believed in education as a pathway to not just personal development but a more inclusive and productive society.

As part of your IE Brown Executive MBA, you traveled to Cape Town for your Immersive Experience week. Can you tell us more about the trip, its purpose and the activities involved?

Our project was to create a solution that could help early childhood development centers in Langa Township in Cape Town. Read about our group’s experience here.

During your Residential Period in Cape Town, you had a week to gain in-depth insight into the link between business, entrepreneurship and development. What are your three main takeaways from the experience?

  1. Most organizations want to have a positive impact on their bottom line. However, operative models that positively impact people and the planet while doing so are still in the early stages. I learned that having a system of checks and balances at every level of a company’s value chain can produce long-term benefits and sustainability.
  2. I learned how to validate the feasibility of a product/service through research, stakeholder engagement and model testing. Our work in Cape Town allowed us to roll up our sleeves with end users.
  3. You cannot create solutions to business challenges in a bubble among peers, and you have to be open to introducing your ideas to the end-users and letting them show you what would make it work across their value chain. 

What was it like learning about business in South Africa’s townships alongside its rich history and culture?

I learned so much from the women running the early childhood development centers that we got to meet in Cape Town. Township was a life-changing setting to take our work outside of the classroom in such a high-potential and all-hands-on-deck environment.

How do you think your week-long experience in Cape Town will add value to your career?

The in-person experience was a game changer for me in thinking about how to approach community, governmental and corporate arrangements. I’ve worked on every side of these partnerships as a community advocate, a growth-based marketer for Fortune 500 companies, and a civil servant. The work has helped me to be effective in solving problems that involve engaging stakeholders from each group. While everyone wants to reach a positive result, each is incentivized and structured differently. I’ve learned that you have to get to the root of what a best-case scenario is for everyone, then design the messaging and the solution from there.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to pursue the IE Brown Executive MBA?

Don't put off going after your goals. There’s never the best time in life to pursue something that will challenge you. So if you’re willing to be a good team player, and be dedicated to the work, you should apply.

Describe the IE Brown Executive MBA in one word.

Groundbreaking.