2020 Best & Brightest: Olivia Johnson, Tulane University (Freeman)

Olivia Johnson

Tulane University, A.B. Freeman School of Business

“Driven, creative, thoughtful; will laugh at own joke before telling actual joke; hosts a great party.”

Fun fact about yourself: I transferred to Tulane in the fall of my sophomore year!

Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

High School: St. Joseph’s Academy

Major: Finance

Minor: N/A

Favorite Class: My favorite class while at Freeman was the Selber Course on Hedge Funds. In this class, my team and I designed a hypothetical hedge fund that we pitched to a panel of judges in a competition-style environment. We used the information we had learned through case studies, lectures, and guest speakers to make sure that our fund’s concept was air-tight. My team and I ended up winning the competition by designing an activist fund that capitalized on ESG score momentum, extracting value from the inefficiencies in ESG reporting! The experiential learning that designing an actual fund allowed – including building back tests, creating a pitch book, and defending our ideas in front of a panel of financial professionals – was an invaluable experience.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • President, Freeman Student Government
  • President, Green Bull Investment Group
  • Senator, Undergraduate Student Government (USG) (two years)
  • Vice Chair, USG Finance Committee
  • Digital Media Coordinator, Green Bull Investment Group
  • Treasurer, Phi Mu Fraternity
  • Investment Research Manager, Burkenroad Reports
  • Brother, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity
  • Undergraduate Student Representative, University Senate Budget Review Committee
  • Student Representative, Freeman Undergraduate Studies Committee
  • Student Representative, Late Night Dining Committee & Mail Services Changes Committee
  • USG Awards and Elections Committee
  • Dean’s List
  • Collegiate Achievement Award and Tulane Scholarship
  • Tulane University Homecoming Court 2019

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • UBS Financial Services, Summer Analyst, New York, NY
  • Burkenroad Research Reports, Investment Research Manager, New Orleans, LA
  • UBS Financial Services, Sophomore ICS Intern, New York, NY
  • Rothschild & Company, Sophomore Women’s Program Cohort, New York, NY
  • The National Urban Technology Center, Intern, New York, NY

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working at UBS Financial Services in New York as a Credit Analyst in the bank’s sales and trading division. I will be a part of the bank’s Graduate Training Program’s 2020 class.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? My favorite part of the business school is the accessibility of the faculty and staff. While at Freeman, I have had great personal and professional relationships with instructors like Dean Hogg and Professor Ricchiuti. Dean Hogg teaches Business Law, which was one of the hardest classes I took at Freeman, but he was always on-call to answer any and all questions. Professor Ricchiuti teaches the Burkenroad Reports and remains heavily involved and accessible to students throughout the course. He also serves as the advisor to Green Bull, the investment banking club on campus and was one of the club’s best stewards when I was president. I know that faculty like Dean Hogg and Professor Ricchiuti was always willing to help me succeed in both extracurriculars and in classwork, which created an encouraging environment for learning.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I have gained from studying business is how to communicate efficiently on teams. With everyone clearly communicating ideas and the entire team executing the same vision, projects are easier to complete and work is more evenly distributed. Facilitating this communication, whether by assigning clear responsibilities or establishing deadlines, is the biggest lesson I have learned while at Freeman.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The most surprising thing I have learned while majoring in business is the level of interpersonal and communication skills required on a daily basis. Everything in business is done in a team environment, so learning how to work and succeed in teams is paramount to success in the business world. Before starting my coursework and having internship experiences, I greatly underestimated this dynamic. Rather than being a solely quantitative field, business is a balance between quantitative and qualitative skills. That’s because, ultimately, business revolves around people.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Although I am proud of my academic and extracurricular achievements, I am most proud of the personal growth I have experienced while at Tulane. I left high school as a very shy, soft-spoken student; I didn’t think I was built for leadership positions. However, while at Tulane, there are so many places and spaces to cultivate leadership and teamwork skills. I have come to realize that anyone can be a leader. With the encouragement of friends, professors, and classmates, I have been constantly pushed out of my comfort zone and have developed skills that I did not think possible. By knowing that I had a supportive network of friends, classmates, and supporters to fall back on, Tulane allowed me to grow and mature into these positions, and to know that I am capable of further growth.

Which classmate do you most admire? I admire my classmate Joseph Sotile. He currently serves as the President of the Undergraduate Student Government, among a multitude of other extracurricular activities. We are both from Baton Rouge and transferred to Tulane in the fall of our sophomore years from different universities. He is incredibly intelligent and the most hard-working student leader I know, always pushing to improve Tulane for the benefit of other students. He will be graduating in May with a perfect GPA and will be attending an Ivy League law school on a full-ride scholarship.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Although I can never thank them enough, I would like to thank my parents, Gary and Janelle. They have always cultivated a love of learning in myself and my siblings and have always trusted me to pursue my passions. They have always been an amazing support network at home and have been active participants in my academic and personal lives, which has been priceless.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I think it would be awesome to own or manage a professional soccer team! I used to play soccer and would love to stay involved in the sport. I’d also love to have lunch with people from across the business world that I look up to professionally – Sheryl Sandberg, Stacey Cunningham, Christina Tosi, and many others.

What are your hobbies? When I’m not busy with extracurricular activities, I like to spend my time reading, cooking breakfast for dinner, and baking sourdough bread. I also love hanging out with my friends and exploring New Orleans, taking advantage of all of the amazing parks and green spaces NOLA has to offer. My friends and I especially love attending all of the different food and music festivals.

What made Olivia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Olivia is exceptional inside and outside the classroom. Not only is she smart, diligent, and detail-oriented, but she is creative, innovative, polished, and empathetic – a true leader. She led her team to victory in our hedge fund pitch competition (her group’s environmental, social, and governance momentum-based strategy wowed the judges) while she headed the Green Bull Investment Group. It is working with students like Olivia, who you absolutely know will go on to great success, that make me proud to be an educator.”

Mara Baumgarten Force
Professor of Practice
Associate Director of the Master of Finance Program



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