Landon Johnson ’17 and Brittni Dixon-Smith ’18

Landon Johnson ’17 and Brittni Dixon-Smith ’18
EMBA
2018
Program
EMBA Americas
Areas of Interest

The two of you are married and moved from Texas to New York together to start the Columbia EMBA program. What was that transition like?

Landon: We were deciding whether one of us would go to school first or would we go at the same time and how we would work that out. We wanted to make sure a steady income would still be coming into our household. Columbia was the only school we considered that provided an option that actually met this need. It’s been fun having my wife by my side. The EMBA program allowed my household to keep making an income while we pursed our MBAs together. It was something unique.

Brittni: Columbia provided us with two opportunities: we could either do the EMBA program and stay in our current jobs, or do the full time program. We originally had planned to enroll in the EMBA-Americas program from Texas, but we were both kind of feeling dissatisfaction with our jobs, so two weeks before the program we literally packed up our apartment and drove from Texas to New York. We had both worked out transferring our jobs, but as it happened, when we got to New York, neither one of those opportunities ended up working out. So we had to start from scratch. Luckily, we both landed jobs and we had amazing opportunities to jump-start our careers post business school. I’m now the head of strategic partnerships at GE Ventures. Landon is working in the financial services industry. We’re both very happy with our new directions.

What was your favorite part of the program?

Brittni: The people. When you first start the EMBA-Americas program, it’s a small group, about 35 people. But I think the structure of the program allows you to have an expansive network, from full-time students to executive students. The way they make that possible is through the elective options and the student clubs. Also, we started in January 2016, and we’re graduating in 2018, so we’re seeing three different classes over the amount of time that we've been here. I just really love the people. It’s like having an extended family here in New York, and it helps us to have that community right away after being here for such a short time.

Landon: My favorite part of the EMBA-Americas program is being able to travel as a group. Brittni and I like to travel, and embarking on this journey together draws you much closer. You get to hear a lot of different perspectives and take away a lot more when you travel with a diverse group. We went to Toronto and South America, visited local businesses in each place, and took our international seminar in Germany. Being able to hear directly from the local business gave a lot of great insights.

What has it been like to go through the program together?

Brittni: We were both student athletes at Stanford. I was a freshman when he was a fifth-year senior, so we didn’t have a lot of overlap. I ran track-and-field, and he played football. But what’s special about us having gone to the same university is that when we have homecoming or any alumni activities, we usually run into the same people, so there’s overlap in those relationships. But Columbia was the first time we really went to school together, to classes, and had to figure out our schedules together.

Are there any lessons you learned as student-athletes that have helped you in the EMBA program or, more generally, in life?

Landon: As student-athletes, you learn to set goals. You learn how to plan and map to reach those goals. The fact that we are similar in that mindset has made the program an easy transition. And now that we’ve accomplished this, it’s time for us to sit down again and start mapping out what our next goals are going to be. Somewhere in my house there are two pieces of paper with, ‘We want to go to business school by’ a certain date on there. That student-athlete mentality of concrete goal-setting was definitely a plus for us.

What’s been the biggest impact you’ve felt from the program so far?

Brittni: I think the biggest benefit has been our ability as a couple to concentrate our careers on the same path. Because when I graduated, I really wanted to go abroad and I had a career that was going to take me here, there, and everywhere. I had been working in the Middle East. Landon had a totally separate career trajectory, and honestly had I not gotten that transfer back to Houston at the time that I did, I don’t know when we would’ve ended up in the same place. Business school was a great opportunity for us to kind of control our destiny when it comes to making sure the careers that we were choosing were going to fit the lifestyle that we wanted.

The other part is personal growth. When I think about us individually and the exposures that we had across the program, I feel like Landon just blossomed into this amazing professional — I don't even know who he is after this program. From public speaking to taking on an entirely new industry, I feel like it allowed us to take risks that maybe we couldn’t see for ourselves before we were here. I never thought in a million years I would be doing corporate VC or Landon designing and scaling global talent development programs for an asset management firm.

What advice do you have for other EMBA students?

Landon: Keep an open mind. I have many classmates who came in with an agenda and a certain goal and through their time and experience in the program they realized a lot about themselves, and found the true passion that they wanted to follow for the rest of their life. I think that’s something special that happens in business school. So while you may come in with a goal, make sure you listen to your heart and yourself as you go through the program.


 

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Fall 2015 Cross-Registration Dates

  • A-term, B-term, and Full-term electives: 10:00 am on Thursday August 20th until 4:00 pm Tuesday September 8th.
     
  • B-Term electives: 10:00 am Wednesday October 21st until 4:00pm Wednesday October 28th.