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Women In Business: How MY JD/MBA Helped Me Launch A Career In Law

After graduating from the Kogod School of Business’s JD/MBA program, Danielle Hart is breaking down barriers and thriving in the male-dominated law industry

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By  Emmy Hawker

Tue Nov 10 2020

BusinessBecause

Danielle Hart is a role model for women in business everywhere who want to break down barriers and thrive in traditionally male-dominated industries. The assistant general counsel for Lockheed Martin works with clients like the US federal government and is charged with ensuring the company’s compliance with relevant laws and regulations. 

A legal career mixed with business was always on the cards for Danielle (pictured right). She was a young entrepreneur—she started a candy store at just 10 years old—who grew up in a family-owned business and developed her passions early on. 

The JD/MBA degree she received at American University’s Kogod School of Business allowed her to combine law and business. It was the ideal platform from which to accelerate her career.  

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At Kogod, Danielle was the president of Kogod Women In Business (KWIB), a club whose main purpose is to encourage women in business by creating job and networking opportunities. She was also a research assistant for the 2020 Women on Boards project, which aimed to achieve a target of at least 20% of board members to be comprised of women—that goal was met and exceeded in 2020. 

“This afforded me the invaluable opportunity to connect with dozens of successful women on corporate boards,” she says.  

“Not only was this great for networking, but meeting those women and being a part of the push for equal representation absolutely encouraged me to step confidently into the business world knowing that progress is happening, and there is literally and figuratively a seat for me at the table.” 

Now firmly established at Lockheed Martin, BusinessBecause caught up with Danielle to find out more. 


Why did you decide to study the JD/MBA joint degree program? 

When I was in law school, I knew I wanted to still be involved in business, albeit in the legal capacity. I ultimately chose to go to business school because, while I had a passion for law, I always had a passion for business. 

My direct route to law school skipped over essential business experience. I felt getting the MBA would help solidify that knowledge so I could use it in a meaningful way. 

I wanted to be a truly trusted advisor to a business, and that requires understanding business; the MBA gave me the knowledge to do that. 


How have the skills you developed at Kogod benefitted you in your career? 

The most important skill that Kogod gave me was self-awareness. Ironically, self-awareness isn't necessarily something you can learn, but it’s absolutely a skill you can further develop and hone. 

To be clear, the substantive knowledge I received from Kogod was absolutely important and invaluable to my everyday work experience. Even now, I draw on it when thinking about how I advise my clients or when working to understand the inner workings of our business.  

However, the developing of self-awareness through constructive group feedback sessions, through executive presence coaching, mastering the elevator pitch, and much more is why I am where I am today. 

The overall knowledge Kogod provided was superb, whether that was through the amazing professors or the many case studies we did. I left Kogod prepared to fully and knowledgeably engage in business meetings, and when I provide legal advice, I’m able to keep both legal risks and business risks in mind. 


What advice do you have for future generations of women in business? 

I work in an industry that’s considered male-dominated, but I’ve always had confidence in myself as a woman in business. Furthermore, Kogod absolutely encourages female business students. 

To be successful as a woman in business, you need to be grounded in who you are.  

It’s easy to think that in order to be successful in a male-dominated world, you have to take on certain male characteristics. This just isn’t true.  

The benefit of having more women is that you then have a diverse business environment that allows for diverse thought and, therefore, diverse business solutions. Acting as a man would to be successful is counterproductive for both diversity and business goals––it means you’re not being true to yourself, and therefore you are not providing your true value to the business.

Additionally, women are becoming more vocal about discrimination, sexual assault, and pay grade inequity. I think women have started to realize that how women were/are treated in the workplace is not okay and not normal. 

Ultimately, I just want to say that if you don’t see anyone at the top that looks like you, don’t let it discourage you. In fact, allow it to motivate you to become a first. In the future, someone just like you won't have to question if it is possible. They will see you and know it is. 

Student Reviews

Kogod School of Business - American University

Joy

Verified

23/08/2023

On Campus

Clean and well maintained campus

I am completely enamored with this school. The entire student body is driven, inclusive, and highly intelligent. The decision to attend American University is not made haphazardly. Its close proximity to Washington DC, making it one of the most strategically located schools after Georgetown, means it's just a short train ride away. The campus is well-maintained, with mostly attractive buildings, although there are a few that are less appealing. Additionally, there are numerous excellent food options available. The wide range of clubs and organizations to join is remarkable. It is undeniably a school filled with immense passion.

Ann

Verified

22/06/2023

On Campus

City life

I’m having a wonderful time at American University. I love that I can get to a big city and still feel like a traditional campus. Sincerely, it is a school that may require some adjusting to, but in the end, it is a very good school with numerous opportunities for its students. The atmosphere in AU is so great that it pushes you in a positive way and offers every opportunity you could want.

Collings

Verified

28/05/2023

On Campus

Amazing helpful professors

American College is an incredible school with astounding teachers. Best professors I could have asked for at an amazing school. My opinion is that American University's professors are its greatest asset. They are extremely intelligent and always eager to assist their students. They go above and beyond in their classes to make sure that their students do their best.

Wisdom

Verified

15/12/2022

On Campus

AU Review

The workload is quite high and AU is definitely not an "easy" school. Students take their studies very seriously and can almost always find a group in the library, DAV, Starbucks or MGC. Courses can be quite ambitious if the right courses are offered and the admissions process can be confusing at times, but with the help of an advisor it is quite easy to navigate. The library can be crowded, and while it's not huge, there are plenty of other places to study on campus. The professors really want to help during office hours and interact with students. I've had good experiences with the professors and workload at AU, but it's an expensive city.

Paul

Verified

15/12/2022

On Campus

Majoring in Political and International Relations

The instructors are unique and the classes can be boring at times. Check-in is stressful (but it is everywhere). The workload is what I expected. The most popular majors are international relations and political science

Evidence

Verified

15/12/2022

On Campus

I Love Being A Musical Theater Major

I love being a musical theater student, if you want to help behind the scenes, if you want to be an assistant director, if you want to be a director, if you want to write, you can do anything at this academy, very supportive, it's amazing, they are always there to help you. This is their working time. Even after the audition tells you what you did wrong, you can do better, or if you get picked, you know why they picked you, which is great

Timothy

Verified

15/12/2022

On Campus

AU's Business Model

Overall, there were a lot of good opportunities at UA, both in terms of course range and faculty. However, I had a few complete misfires. People who shouldn't have taught at all. Like all universities, AU's business model is to hire hands-on assistants so they don't have to pay them extra or perform well. They are signed and if that does not work, they are not hired any more. The problem with this is that you end up with people who are unqualified and bring their own agendas, biases that may or may not be based on research. Most of the professors were absolutely fantastic.

James

Verified

14/12/2022

On Campus

AU - The Real Problem With Academics

Some teachers are amazing, some awful - typical of any school. But the real problem with AU is that many students don't care about academics as much as other things (eg, partying). The academics are really interrupted by the Greek life and the social life of the students. This makes it difficult for students interested in academics to get the most out of their school experience. Some students do not take classes seriously and do not respect teachers and other students. Courses and opportunities at UA are perfect for people who want to take advantage

Student

Verified

14/12/2022

On Campus

American University - The Best Place to Study

They know their stuff - I chose American University because the campus is beautiful and the biology program is relatively small. But after the first semester, I realized that all the professors, especially the people in the science department, are experts in their field. They are enthusiastic and helpful in lecturing; even the TAs who teach the labs are amazing and engaging.