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Laurel Powers-Freeling, SM '85

Non-Executive Director, Bank of Ireland Plc, London, United Kingdom

Laurel Powers-Freeling, SM '85Laurel Powers-Freeling, SM '85

As a woman who has enjoyed career success on an international level, Laurel Powers-Freeling is well acquainted with the challenges women in business face—and the talent, training, and drive it takes to succeed.

From her first post-MIT Sloan job as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company through her various directorships at Prudential plc and Lloyds Abbey Life, to her executive positions at Marks & Spencer and American Express, Powers-Freeling utilized the skills and education she received at MIT Sloan.

“MIT Sloan gave me an incredible platform from which to build my career,” says Powers-Freeling. “The School provided me with the knowledge to work with complex systems and processes and the finance skills to feel confident working in sophisticated financial environments. I graduated MIT Sloan at a time when women often got a hard steer toward non-analytical career choices. The demonstrable analytical skills I learned, coupled with the ability to embrace the total business picture, made a real difference for me.”

As high as she’s climbed, Powers-Freeling realizes that challenges to women in business still exist, and she is determined to give back to the School that gave her so much—and to the students who are currently striving to reach their professional goals. In addition to serving on the European, Middle Eastern, South Asian, African Executive Board (EMSAEB), Powers-Freeling is actively engaged in several on-campus initiatives, including Sloan Women In Management (SWIM). “While much has changed for women since I graduated [in society], too much is still the same and works against the development of truly talented women,” she says. “I was delighted to participate in the most recent SWIM Annual Conference and lend perspective and support to women in the early stages of their careers.”

Powers-Freeling’s engagement with MIT Sloan has also given her a profound sense of the School’s vast potential. “I’ve realized that the MIT Sloan community can make a difference, and can do so more effectively with the collective power of actively engaged alumni. And it’s a two-way street: There’s real personal satisfaction in making a contribution to an institution that can shape the future.”