Emily Hannenberg
Home Region

Wellesley, MA

Undergrad Education

United States Military Academy, BS, 2007

Previous Experience

United States Army/MIT, United States Army/249th Engineer Battalion/Bravo Company, United States Army, 249th Engineer Battalion

HBS Activities

LGBT Student Association, Armed Forces Alumni Association

“I felt that the things I wanted to explore were celebrated here.”

When you combine the logical mindset of an engineer with the values of someone who wishes to serve, you arrive at the inspirations behind Emily Hannenberg’s career in the military.

"My parents are both physicians," Emily says. "Early on, I tapped into their drive to serve others. Personally, I felt an ability to inspire trust in others and lead them toward goals. I had the physical fitness required to contribute as a member of a team, and I shared the military's core values: loyalty, integrity, duty, respect."

After graduating from the United States Military Academy (West Point), Emily enjoyed a distinguished leadership career that culminated as a Company Commander "in charge of 103 soldiers and $17-18 million in equipment. I had the honor of mentoring and coaching young leaders under me, exceptionally talented people who really cared about each other."

In a subsequent assignment as a teacher of military science at MIT, Emily shifted her focus from engineering projects (principally around utilities/power generation) "to developing the next generation of leaders. It was an 'ah-ha!' moment for me: as much as I loved managing teams, I discovered that I loved helping leaders be successful even more."

Leading in a business context

Emily's enthusiasm for coaching, paired with "a desire to change gears from the military to business," inspired her application to HBS. "I needed to round out my experience with an understanding of how leadership works in the business world. I felt that the things I wanted to explore were celebrated here."

As an experienced educator herself, she "was blown away by the professionalism and preparation of the faculty. I thought I understood what it took to orchestrate a conversation. But to conduct an orchestra of ninety brilliant minds – I'm humbled every day by my classmates and professors."

"I've really enjoyed making meaningful connections," says Emily. "Especially among people different from me—different countries, different industries, different socioeconomic backgrounds—who want to know more about me as a military person, as a queer person. That's been really rewarding."

Emily has seized upon numerous "micro-opportunities to further leadership," serving, for example, as a study group leader and as a team leader for the Field Global Immersion. "They're important ways to explore leadership in new contexts, to see what 'sticks' within a business environment," she says.

When she considers life after the MBA, Emily anticipates "looking at consulting roles with a focus on leadership development, organizational design, and talent assessment." But right now, she's deeply invested in appreciating what she has. "I take a lot of pride in being an ambassador for veterans to the future business leaders of the world. Meanwhile, I'm staying grounded and grateful for this magical place. My advice to others? Stay grateful—this magic is the product of hard work by everyone from the groundskeepers to the professors."