Entrepreneurship

Yuta Yamada
MBA
Class of 2017
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Born and raised in Tokyo; lived in New York City from ages seven to 12
Previous Work Experience: 
I worked for Goldman Sachs in Tokyo in the investment banking division
Post-CBS Goals: 
Working in a finance role for a consumer-retail company in New York
CBS Activities: 
VP of international, Student Government Executive Board; member of Peer Advisors, General Management Association, Private Equity Club, and Basketball Club    
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Attending professional sports games, jogging in Central Park, trying new bars and cafes  

 

What have you enjoyed the most at Columbia Business School?

Columbia does a great job integrating academics and the real world of business. Being in New York, you can step out to see what’s really happening — how the theory you’re studying is applied. It also works the other way around, where you can take what you’re learning and apply it through internships. That’s been the greatest thing about Columbia so far.

 

What’s it like to be a student in New York City?

I come from Tokyo, but I lived in New York from age seven to 12. I’ve always had a strong connection to New York. There are so many opportunities to pursue. Outside of school, there are Yankees games, musicals, museums — all sorts of non-academic activities. There are a lot of opportunities around campus to enjoy, too, and lots of classmates live nearby. It’s been a great experience.

 

Why did you choose to begin the program in January, as a J-term student?

I originally applied for the fall term. But through talking to the admissions office, I learned about the January-term option, and it seemed like a fit for me. We began in January and took classes together through the summer, instead of taking the summer off for full-time internships. I come from banking and knew I was interested in finance, so the accelerated program made sense to me. It’s shorter, but it has the same curriculum as the two-year program, and you really bond with your classmates. There’s also flexibility, which allowed me to intern outside of class. It was a good balance.

 

What are your thoughts on the curriculum?

The core curriculum was really good for me. I came from finance, and I didn’t know much about areas like marketing and operations. I did some of this as an undergrad, but it was really good to brush up on it, especially now that I’ve had work experience. The electives are good, too, and they provide a lot of variety.

 

How have you been involved in the student community?

I serve on student government as VP of international. About 40 percent of MBA students are international, and for the January term, more than 60 percent are international. One of my missions is to smooth the transition for international students into and out of Columbia Business School. I have worked with the offices of student affairs and admissions to create arrival packages containing practical information on opening bank accounts, finding housing, and using public transportation. I also seek out ways to support international students’ job searches in the U.S.  Many of us will work in a globally-integrated environment after graduation, and I believe planning international cultural events and using case studies on non-U.S. companies in classes can help all Columbia Business School students to think more globally .

 

What will you take with you?

I have gained confidence. I will return to the working environment better able to influence change by supporting my thoughts with logic, especially when challenged about my views. I’d like to look back and say, “Hey, I went to Columbia Business School, and I learned that every view counts.” 

 

Related:
The Jerome A. Chazen Institute for Global Business

 

Clifton Smith
MBA
Class of 2017
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA
Previous Education: 
BS in accounting from the University of Southern California, 2010
Previous Work Experience: 
I earned my CPA working for Deloitte; created my own startup consulting firm; ran the operations of and built the digital side of my family’s community newspapers business; and built an international mixed media publication focused on fostering collaborations between politicians, philanthropists and entrepreneurs in emerging markets
Post-CBS Goals: 
Working in venture capital; founding another startup
CBS Activities: 
Founding co-president, Venture Capital Club; founding organizer, Columbia Impact Hackathon; co-president, Healthy Living Club; advisory board member, Lang Center for Entrepreneurship; cluster cup chair, Cluster A ‘17
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Running along the Hudson River, doing hot yoga and Krav Maga on the Upper West Side, and experiencing real seasons for the first time

 

What attracted you to Columbia Business School?

I’m passionate about venture capital as well as entrepreneurship, and I was drawn to Columbia Business School’s entrepreneurial endeavors. A few of my mentors are alums, so the network really stood out. Also, I come from a media background, so I was attracted by the opportunity to take classes that combine finance and media. This, plus the school’s location in New York, created the perfect mix.

 

What were your impressions when you got here?

The admissions team does a great job finding not only very skilled people, but also people who are interested in collaborating and exploring new ideas. As an entrepreneur, it’s great because there’s a lot of deep industry experience in the School, and classmates are always willing to talk over coffee or lunch. It’s a welcoming and warm environment.

 

How did you get to know your classmates?

Before starting the MBA program, I participated in the CBS World Tour, which is a student-organized selection of trips around the world. You can sign up for as much or as little as you want. I went to Croatia, and it was a great opportunity to build and solidify relationships with people prior to starting school. The MBA orientation was very helpful, too. All students are part of clusters, and the clusters give you the opportunity to get to know a small number of people really well. Orientation is supplemented by a class called Lead, which shines a light on the culture-building practices that are applied during orientation. That was very helpful.

 

What has surprised you?

I didn’t come in with set expectations — not because I wasn’t expecting a lot, but because I had faith in the program. The biggest surprise has been how friendly and flexible the administration is. They strive for continuous improvement and are very open to feedback. For example, I’m co-president of the Venture Capital Club. It had previously been part of the private equity group, but last year, several of us expressed interest in separating, so that we could focus on venture capital. The administration was very supportive. Our aim is to establish the School as a thought leader in venture capital and to connect Columbia more strongly with entrepreneurship in New York City.

 

What is one of your most memorable experiences?

I created a company with two classmates. We participated in a Shark Tank–style challenge, which included presenting to a panel. Our idea was in the FinTech space, and our panel had several high-caliber Columbia Business School alums. It was phenomenal meeting them, and it was particularly eye-opening to me because it showed how strong our network is. We advanced in the competition and got to compete at another school, where we won for best crowd-pleasing presentation.

 

What is it like to be part of Columbia University?

In terms of entrepreneurship, one very interesting experience has been working with an undergrad student who found me online, on a platform I participate in. This has led to my mentoring him. We’ve talked a lot about how to navigate the entrepreneurial landscape and the things I’ve gone through — especially what’s made me bang my head against a wall. Across Columbia, there are many students and individuals who are eager to work together to solve challenges.

Jolly Mazumdar
EMBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Hometown or Country: 
Calcutta, India
Previous Education: 
BSc and MSc in microbiology from the University of Mumbai; PhD in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Georgia, 2006
Current Work: 
Oncology research and development professional at GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals
Post-CBS Goals: 
My long-term goal is to become a bio entrepreneur
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I am a big museum buff. I go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Another thing I love is to catch a play on Broadway or go to the Metropolitan Opera. In terms of restaurants, I like to visit the culinary scene of Little Italy or go to Chinatown. I also love food carts!
Areas of Interest: 

Why Columbia Business School?
I wanted to make sure that I was getting an MBA from a world-class institution. Columbia Business School undoubtedly has a world-class reputation and excellent academic standing. Then the curriculum — I love it. I come from a science background, so the core courses definitely built my knowledge. I've learned to negotiate, and I now understand the rationale behind better decisions. I took the Launching New Ventures course, which taught me the basic steps that are needed to launch a new venture. The South Africa International Seminar gave me global exposure. Also, I really appreciate the flexibility of the program. I'm an EMBA Saturday student, and I think that's such a brilliant idea — it truly empowers students to obtain an education on their own terms. The EMBA Saturday program really frees you.

What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
It's absolutely exciting. New York City is so vibrant and energizing, and the character of the city also permeates the classroom. When we walk into class on Saturday morning and start our lecture, there are always ample discussion points based on what has happened that past week or what has happened to someone — which also means that there is ample opportunity to link our learning to everyday incidents. We are bridging theory and practice in real time.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
It's an absolute privilege. To think that, after graduation, I would be joining our vast database, it's an extremely gratifying experience. What has amazed me is how the professors and classmates literally infuse you with a sense of confidence, which is quite unparalleled and something I'll miss. The way I look it is: I have received a world-class education and now it is my turn to give back.

How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals?
It's helped a lot. For example, I have taken advantage of various programs, from Career Management Services to the Lang Center. I have also participated in several club activities, which has helped broaden my perspective and network. Also, thanks to this curriculum I have taken multiple entrepreneurial courses. All of these factors ultimately helped me develop a greater awareness of self and helped me clarify my entrepreneurial goals.

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you apply it to your current role and beyond?
Simply put, I'm going to dream big. I definitely feel more comfortable taking risks. No more settling for average. Whether you are leading your own venture or you're in a big enterprise, there's all this opportunity for entrepreneurial thinking if you're willing to push yourself. That's my motto — basically relentlessly practicing the learning, which sometimes may not be easy. I'm very comfortable taking this approach because I know I have the backing of the Columbia Business School community. 

JD Dolan
EMBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Hometown or Country: 
Silver Spring, Maryland
Previous Education: 
BA from Dickinson College
Current Work: 
Active duty army officer, former special operations strike force commander; cofounder and partner, LDR Investments LLP
Post-CBS Goals: 
To grow LDR Investments across two sectors: 1) the mid-stream energy services sector, and 2) the law enforcement and emergency management sector
CBS Activities: 
CBS Entrepreneurship Network and Columbia University Military Veterans Group
Favorite NYC Activities: 
My favorite restaurants are Wolfgang's Steakhouse, Tres Carnes, and Meat Hook. My favorite gyms are Crossfit Gantry and Velocity Sports. I also like Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, Bear Mountain in upstate New York, and the Intrepid Museum.

Why Columbia Business School? 
For me, it was a unique opportunity. I was on active duty in the Army and wanted to look for a position that was in an area where there was a very good business school. My family is from the Tri-State Area, and Columbia was always a dream of mine. I also happen to teach at St. John's University, so it's close enough where I can do both. It was really the best of both worlds for me.

What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
I really think it's like no other city in the world. When you think of the United States and the pinnacle of business and the American way of life, you think of New York City. Being able to go to a top-tier business school in arguably the greatest American city — there's really nothing like it. Obviously there are business implications and ramifications of being located here, but I think there are also lifestyle and personal benefits of being in the Big Apple.

How does being in New York City help you with your career goals?
I've been entrepreneurially driven since I was introduced to business. My father started his own business many years ago, and I started a business while I was on active duty in 2011. The Columbia network, but more importantly the Columbia network within New York City, has allowed me to grow my business in ways that really no other city would permit. That means involving investors and subject matter experts, and there's somebody from every sector, every industry, every field, in New York City — all within the Columbia network. For me, that's been a significant tangible benefit in the short term.

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been most helpful to you in your current role? 
I would have to say it's a combination of courses. In the core, the focus on quantitative skills was crucial for me to round out my own skill set, but my favorite classes were the entrepreneurial ones. The entrepreneurship course that I took in South Africa was pretty incredible, but my absolute favorite was Organizational Culture Demystified, which really looked at how culture affects business growth and success. It was something that was immediately applicable. I felt like I could immediately bring what I was learning to my company, which had started as a management and leadership consulting company. It's something that my partners and I were able to apply from day one for a number of our clients.

What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS? 
It should not have been a surprise, but it's the raw talent across the board, from the professors to the staff, my classmates, and all the people we interact with. I really believe that everyone brought their best to the classes and contributed significantly. Having ample opportunity to personally interact with everyone — classmates, professors, staff, industry leaders, etc. — is so rare in an academic forum and has been a real blessing for me. I really think the Columbia network is unmatched, both nationwide and worldwide.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community? 
I come from a background where I was involved with a very small, very elite special operations group within the US military. Columbia is like a larger version of the same: an elite group that is very welcoming and provides many opportunities for outreach within the community, and the growing business network that is New York City and the nation. It really means a lot, and I can't stop talking about it. Friends and family always ask me, "What is it like, and how is your experience?" and I'm always talking about the people. I really feel blessed and humbled, but also really proud of being a part of it.

How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals? 
That was one of the things I was unsure about when I started. One of the reasons I wanted to go to business school was to round out my quantitative capabilities, but more importantly, I wanted to grow my business by opening up doors that I didn't really even see yet. Being able to take a number of classes that were entrepreneurially driven — two of which were with Don Weiss — where I could spend a significant amount of time on my own business and get feedback from classmates, professors, and visiting business professionals, allowed me to see different openings, windows, and doors that I could explore, push, and expand.

My business, which started as a strict leadership consulting firm, has grown into a functioning operations group as well. We also recently launched our own energy services company. That was really an inspiration from Don Weiss, but also from a number of my classmates as well, who have come into these different entrepreneurial classes and assisted me in growing the business in directions I hadn’t seen before.

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you apply it to your current role and beyond?
The Columbia brand speaks for itself, and being able to not only leverage the network but also the tangible lessons that I've already gleaned from the academics, my classmates, and our professors has already had a palpable result within my business. 

Related:
"Entrepreneurship in South Africa: At the Center of Global Impact"

 

Lee Cleghorn
MBA
Class of 2016
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
I moved about 12 times growing up, but I call Leesburg, VA, home.
Previous Education: 
BA from Boston University, 2005
Previous Work Experience: 
US Army, most recently serving as a Detachment Commander for the US Special Forces
Post-CBS Goals: 
I am trying to do something entrepreneurial. I’m in the nascent stages of planning to open a brewery.
CBS Activities: 
InSITE Fellow, Micro-Brew Society, AVP of events for the Military in Business Association
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Whenever my wife, Emily Cleghorn ’16, and I get the option, we like to go downtown and watch shows. We also just like to go out and grab dinner and drinks with friends downtown.

Why Columbia Business School?
I was in the military, and coming from that environment I understand the value of community and camaraderie. When we came to look at Columbia, I found both of those things in abundance. I got the feeling that students went out of their way to help each other out. It takes the form of people preparing each other for interviews, helping classmates study for tests, or — one thing that is really big for me —opening up networking opportunities here in the city. Starting a company, so many students have come to me and spent time helping me work on business model and giving me feedback on different ideas. So, I’m extremely happy with Columbia.

What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
In New York City, you basically have the world’s network right at your fingertips. That network is physically accessible. I found that pretty much anyone will sit down with me and have coffee to tell me about their company, their industry, and their experiences, and a lot of opportunities have come from that.

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been your favorite?
Right now, I’m most excited about Launching New Ventures taught by Jack Kaplan, because I’m pretty much using that as an accelerator to start a company. You form a team with fellow students, and you basically continue to develop your business plan in its entirety every week. It’s pretty exciting. One of the classes I enjoyed the most was Business Analytics with Professor Omar Besbes. You come out of that class being able to do a fair amount of analytics yourself, as a business leader, which I think gives you a great advantage.

What has been your favorite experience at CBS?
I didn’t realize how quickly a sense of community can be built here. The process of getting to know incredible people from incredible backgrounds really well, and getting really close with them in such a short amount of time, has been the most enriching part of the experience.

Mian Qin
MBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA, January Entry
Hometown or Country: 
Born in Tianjin, China; moved to Washington, D.C., 10 years ago
Previous Education: 
BS in accounting and finance (dual major), 2010
Previous Work Experience: 
Finance rotation at Capital One Bank
Post-CBS Goals: 
I want to work in the clean energy industry using my finance skill set
CBS Activities: 
VP of social and community for the Peer Advisor program
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Just getting lost in the city in the summer; exploring independent coffee shops

Why Columbia Business School?
My family lives in D.C., and Columbia Business School is one of the closest top MBA programs. It turned out to be the best choice I've ever made. At CBS, we always are encouraged to step outside of our comfort zones. It's turned out to have a profound impact on every single student who ever tries something new, having the full support of the community.

What has been your favorite experience at CBS?
Hands down, the Peer Advisor experience. A group of 70 students facilitate the one-week orientation program for the 550 students who enter in the fall and the 200 students who enter in winter. It's a program all about dealing with people. It allows us to learn how to build deep connections with other people and how important it is to build the right culture for business school. That has such huge impact on everyone's daily life in school.

What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS?
Coming in, I thought CBS was a school where people were just supposed to be really good at finance, but what really surprised me is how the school teaches leadership in action. We have great speakers and classes that teach about leadership, and so many activities that allow us to practice leadership skills with other students. The Peer Advisor group is an example -- it allows us to see how our peers lead and to try that out ourselves. Everyone has some great skills that we can all leverage to become better leaders. I now understand that leading is not managing and delegating tasks; it's more fun than that, because you can influence other people and push things in a better direction. To me, that’s the most meaningful part of leadership.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
I'm a lifelong member of a group that cares about building the right culture and doing the right things for society. A group of people who are extremely honest and genuine to each other. People who care about building a truly inclusive culture at school and, when we go out into the world, will bring this value of inclusion to the organizations we serve and become compassionate leaders.

How is the J-Term experience similar to or different from the standard school cycle?
J-Termers are extremely international, which has given me the opportunity to learn about different cultures. It’s surprising how much I can relate to a person from a completely different continent that I would expect to have nothing in common with, and fuse a deep connection with that person. J-Term is also the most efficient way to do your MBA. Not everyone can allocate two full years. And because J-Termers lose that first semester to mingle with the larger community, we have been working really hard in the Peer Advisor program to facilitate inter-class mingling.

How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals?
The School is very open minded. Every semester I see the School take students' feedback very seriously and try to implement changes. It is always open to new ideas. Also, the School has been promoting entrepreneurship a lot recently. I'm involved in a Summer Startup Lab where I met my business partner. We’re working on a startup idea that we're both pretty passionate about: we want to export organic food that's produced in the U.S. to China. My business partner is from China and has a marketing background, and I'm based here, so in the future maybe we can make something happen.

Sagar Shah
MBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Mumbai, India
Previous Education: 
BS in electrical engineering and finance/management (dual degree) from the University of Pennsylvania Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology
Previous Work Experience: 
Consultant at Cornerstone Research
Post-CBS Goals: 
Management consulting in the short term; getting involved in technology firms in the long term
CBS Activities: 
InSITE Fellow, Career Fellow, Peer Advisor, Co-President of the L.E.A.D. Club, VP of Events for the South Asia Business Association
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Theater dates, specifically Shakespeare, with my wife, Gunjan Shesh ’15; exploring restaurants, playing poker and Settlers of Catan with CBS friends; rock climbing in Brooklyn, and playing cricket in Central Park

Why Columbia Business School?
New York was an important part of it. We wanted to be in a city, as opposed to a smaller town. In addition, when we visited Columbia, we met a former colleague from Cornerstone who was a second-year student. She sat down with us for 45 minutes and talked about Columbia in an open, candid, not-pulling-any-punches kind of way. We got a sense for how down to earth the community is. Also, my wife is interested in healthcare, and the healthcare program here is very good. I am interested in focusing on tech/entrepreneurship in the future, so for me, New York has a great startup culture.

What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
Because it is New York, anytime a world leader or someone else influential comes to the U.S., they always end up stopping in New York. Columbia is well connected, internationally speaking, so these leaders will often end up coming to speak at Columbia. We also get to take advantage of some great adjunct professors from the city.

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been your favorite?
I think it is the professor, more than the topic, that makes a class a favorite. Professor Angela Lee, who taught me leadership communication, is one of my favorite people at CBS in terms of being a great mentor and being somebody who cares about her students. There is also Professor Medini Singh; he teaches all of the operations classes. I have taken all three of his classes — he is very knowledgeable, and he tells it like it is. Adjunct Professor Michael Mauboussin, who teaches security and analysis, is absolutely excellent. I come out of that class every Wednesday feeling like my mind has expanded.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
I think there is a focus at Columbia on contributing to the community. As a first-year, I had a ton of support from my peers and a couple of career fellows that I worked with, as I prepared for recruiting and business school life in general. Now, as a second year, I get a lot of joy from mentoring first-years as a Peer Advisor and Career Fellow. At CBS, I have also made some really close friends along the way. Having interesting conversations with them and going deep on issues and arguing back and forth about stuff. It’s a great learning environment.

How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals?
There is a general scrappiness at Columbia. There's a sense that if you want to go and do something, you can. You just have to try to get the resources together to convince people — and you'll often be able to go and do it. For example, the L.E.A.D Club recently planned an inaugural trip to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and we received a lot of support from the School administration and faculty in making it happen.

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you conquer the world?
The truth is, I don't want to conquer the world. It’s more important for me to focus on my own character development and on growing as a person. I would also like to have a meaningful impact on the lives of others/society, along the way. I recently heard a talk by Warren Buffet where he discussed the importance of integrity. For example, when you are hiring people, the last thing you want is to hire somebody who is very smart, has a lot of energy, but doesn't have a lot of integrity. That person will do really well at all the wrong things. I want to spend time building my capabilities and defining my values, which I think will ultimately lead me to success in whatever I end up doing.

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Fall 2015 Cross-Registration Dates

  • A-term, B-term, and Full-term electives: 10:00 am on Thursday August 20th until 4:00 pm Tuesday September 8th.
     
  • B-Term electives: 10:00 am Wednesday October 21st until 4:00pm Wednesday October 28th.