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What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
It's been all the positive things that everyone said it would be, and more. Your access to everything is above and beyond what you'll get anywhere else, at any other school. It's so easy to set up meetings with important people in management — they're just here. It's something we don't even have to think about. That has been a huge, huge benefit.
What class are you most excited about, or what class has been your favorite?
I am really enjoying Capital Markets & Investments with Professor Mark Zurack right now. My entire life I've shied away from the stock market because it's something I didn't know anything about. It feels like the veil is finally being lifted and I actually have an understanding of it now — maybe even enough to go put some money in the stock market, which I wouldn't have done before. I feel like understanding how markets work is an important life skill for anybody.
What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS?
How supportive everyone is. Coming from an engineering background, having zero business experience, I thought I would have to try harder to be taken seriously — or, like the last one picked for dodge ball, no one would want me on their team. I was a little unsure about what I had to offer in this setting, but that feeling quickly disappeared. Everyone is so helpful and eager to learn from each others’ experiences. I feel that people value what I have to say and that I have alternative work experience that wasn't for a financial institution or consulting. Everybody's experience is valued here, even more than I would have expected.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
I already feel like I've learned so much from my classmates. It's a cool feeling to sit in class talking about Argentina’s economy and have three students be able to comment firsthand on what hyperinflation was like 10 years ago. To be able to hear their experiences firsthand makes me feel very, very lucky that I'm here. I really feel a sense of pride being associated with Columbia Business School. Part of the reason I wanted to be Cluster Chair and want to stay involved in leadership next year is because it means a lot to me to be part of this community, and to help shape my classmates’ experiences here, as well. We all play such a big part.
Once you have your CBS degree, how will you conquer the world?
Construction is not a particularly innovative industry, because you are successful by doing what you've done before more efficiently and being able to bank on that. I'd love to be able to walk away from my career and see that I had a really big impact on driving that industry towards sustainability. How do you incentivize companies to act more environmentally responsible when the technology is not financially feasible? I think success for me is finding the answer to that question.