2019 Best & Brightest: Emma Wernecke, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Emma Wernecke

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

Energetic leader, creative thinker, travel-enthusiast, and Georgia peach learning to thrive in Midwest winters.”

Fun fact about yourself: I lived alone in New York City when I was 15 and 16 years old to train with professional ballet company summer programs.

Hometown: Peachtree City, Georgia

High School: Starr’s Mill High School

Major: Information Technology Management

Minor: Concentration in Business Analytics

Favorite Business Course: Business Problem Solving, Systems Analysis and Design

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:


  • Eugene D. Fanning Award for Business Communication Finalist 2018
  • Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society
  • Dean’s List (4 years)


  • Mendoza College of Business Peer Mentor
  • Undergraduate Women in Business Mentor
  • Consulting Case Interview Workshop Leader
  • Teaching Assistant; Application Development
  • Teaching Assistant; Statistical Inference for Business
  • Tutor; Accounting I


  • PR Manager, Choreographer, Dancer; Notre Dame Dance Company
  • Tour Guide; Office of Undergraduate Admissions
  • Media Relations Intern; Athletics Communications Office
  • London Study Abroad program
  • Welcome Weekend Captain

Community Work:

  • Keychains 4 CURE, founder and owner
  • Childhood Cancer Awareness speaker at various events

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • CURE Childhood Cancer (Atlanta, Georgia) – Patient and Family Services Intern
  • Stryker Corporation (Kalamazoo, Michigan) – Emergency Medical Services Marketing Intern
  • Ernst & Young (Chicago, Illinois) – Risk Advisory Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company – Business Analyst

Who is your favorite professor? Sharif Nijim – In addition to making me fall in love with the IT major, Sharif constantly shared his big heart with our class through dropping tidbits of wisdom. Despite being insanely busy as the Senior Director for IT Delivery at Notre Dame – not to mention a professor, a graduate student, and a father – he always makes time for his students. He is someone I can rely on for honest insight and advice, and I look forward to staying in touch after graduation. Thank you for being you, Sharif!

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I could say countless wonderful things about my experience at Mendoza, but what I have appreciated most is the school’s mission to “Ask More of Business.” The professors’ design classes to include hands-on project experiences to make us think as business leaders and develop our abilities to use business as a force for good in the world. This mission encourages students to stay grounded and responsible as we pursue careers after graduation. It’s one thing to teach students how to become successful businesspeople, but it’s another thing to transform them into quality business leaders.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? More than anything else, studying business has taught me to believe in myself and set high goals. Through my classes and with the support of my professors and peers, I have gained confidence in my public speaking, ability to connect with others, ability to lead and motivate a team, my organization and time management. When I first started recruiting and interviewing, despite having faith in my abilities, I was often intimidated and overwhelmed by the intensity of the entire process. However, I have proved to myself throughout my time in Mendoza that I can achieve what I set my mind to, and I should always aim high. One of my favorite motivational quotes is “She thought she could and so she did,” and I believe it has really described my development as a result of studying business.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? I believe that studying business can give you a very well-rounded and comprehensive education in which you gain technical, leadership, and presentation skillsets that are potentially difficult to cultivate in other fields. Use the many opportunities to build your confidence and refine your skills. Be creative, find your passions, and commit yourself to become a transformative and motivating leader.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? Business is the foundation of innovation and progress for our world! I have been surprised by the vast number of paths and different opportunities there are to pursue… and if something doesn’t already exist, then it can be created! Before my time at Mendoza, I didn’t realize that there are so many doors that open when you stay connected with a strong network and have enriching conversations.

 “If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Forensics/Criminal Justice. I know the field is far more in-depth than my favorite TV show Criminal Minds leads us to believe, but I used to fantasize about becoming an FBI or CIA agent, using technology, psychology, and analytics to solve problems and protect our country.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad, who manages the Charter Department for Delta Air Lines, most influenced my decision to pursue business. He essentially created his niche department, in which the airline charters professional and college teams to all of their games, and he overcame many challenges to grow it from a $15 million business to a $360 million business for Delta. From childhood, I was always curious about his job: it became habit to ask what he did each day at work and to truly understand it (as well as insert my own perspective). He has always encouraged me to stay inquisitive, to connect with others, and to reach for the stars. I look up to him as a business role model and admire his perseverance, steadiness, and positivity.

What academic or professional achievement are you most proud? I am proud of my drive to make a difference, especially for those who need it most. During my junior year of high school, I started a small business, Keychains 4 CURE, to raise money to support childhood cancer research. What started as an idea and a set of homemade keychains to sell at small community events turned into online national sales, participation in national childhood cancer events, and thousands of dollars donated to CURE Childhood Cancer. Since that time, my whole family has become involved with the cause, with my dad now sitting on the Board of Directors for CURE. I take any opportunity I have to speak about childhood cancer to raise awareness, and I enjoy spending time with children in our local pediatric oncology unit when I get the chance. My parents instilled in me the importance of giving back from a young age, and I am grateful to attend a business school where this social responsibility is so emphasized!

Which classmate do you most admire? I truly admire my dear friend, Kirsten Snook. She is an extremely smart, talented, and dedicated individual with a huge heart, and from our first ever Notre Dame Dance Company auditions to now, her support of me has been constant. However, not only does she support me… I admire how much of a role model she is for my younger sister who is pursuing the same field of medicine. When I cannot provide the best advice for my sister, I know Kirsten can help. Although I typically don’t enjoy going to the doctor, I can’t wait to visit the future Dr. Snook!

Who would you most want to thank for your success? There are too many people that have been instrumental in my personal, academic, and professional growth to thank just one. So, a HUGE thank you to every single family member, friend, professor, classmate, co-worker, peer, and mentor who has supported me and challenged me to grow and succeed. I am beyond grateful, and I would not be who I am today without their unwavering support.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Complete the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across northern Spain!
  • Publish a children’s book. When I was younger, I had a very vivid dream that inspired me to write a picture book called If My Closet Were a Mall. I hope that one day I will fulfill 2nd grade Emma’s dream and actually write it!

What are your hobbies? Dancing, traveling, running, yoga, making to-do lists, crossing things off the aforementioned lists, belting out musical theatre songs in the car

What made Emma such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Emma was a student in my fall 2018 undergraduate Business Problem Solving course.  This course is a fast-paced and intensive course where students are required to solve complex business problems in a compressed timeframe.  Students receive problems from top consulting firms, and over the course of the week, structure the problem, define the important considerations and present back a well-supported recommendation to the panel of consultants.  Students are evaluated based on their recommendation, and their ability to present back a convincing recommendation.

Throughout the class, Emma demonstrated a strong ability to work on client problems in a team environment and to deliver back solutions in a clear and concise way. Emma consistently received excellent marks from the panel of consultants throughout the semester. And beyond the firms, Emma was ranked as a top presenter by her peers in every presentation.

Beyond the client projects, Emma has impressed me with her professionalism, work ethic, and positive attitude. Emma was a consistent and excellent contributor to classroom discussions. She always came prepared and frequently built off the comments of others.

Her work ethic was consistently demonstrated in individual assignments. She cared about her work, and it showed. The final semester project she decided to tackle a larger problem than was required, focused around addressing the strategic growth needs of a non-profit in her hometown, specifically around raising more awareness and funding. Emma spent time getting to understand the needs of the stakeholders and delivered a thoughtful and professional recommendation to the board of directors. I will be using Emma’s approach and work product as an example for years to come.

Emma’s positive attitude is contagious.  She always has a smile on her face and a warm and kind welcome for everyone. I saw this first-hand in her interactions with her team and classmates, but this was further instilled as I read the peer evaluations she completed. She took the time to provide thoughtful feedback for every member of her team on their strengths and opportunities for improvement.”

Wendy Angst
Associate Teaching Professor
Asst. Dept. Chair, Management



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.