What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
It’s fantastic. I feel everyone should go to business school in New York. The speakers we have on a daily basis are just incredible—not only executives from companies that are based here, but all over the world. So many political leaders visit in New York. One of our professors met the finance minister of India on a flight to New York and asked if he would come speak—it was arranged within a couple of hours and the room was packed. With so many companies headquartered here—especially in the finance, consulting and retail space—we get to visit these companies, hear from amazing speakers, and talk to CEOs and entrepreneurs all the time. The New York advantage is unparalleled.
What class are you most excited about, or what class has been your favorite?
Financial Planning and Analysis was a fantastic foundation, and the knowledge I gained in that class is directly applicable to business issues. Another was Defining and Developing Winning Strategic Capabilities with Professor Alonso Martinez, a former consultant. At each class, a speaker came in and talked to us about a different industry. Learning from Deepak Chopra was an experience, and his speakers, including Lauren Bush Lauren, were top notch. We have speakers in so many classes. Often we’ll do a case study, for example on IKEA and Yellow Tail wines, and then the main protagonist of that case will come speak to us. It’s exciting to get to speak to the actual person in the case and hear their perspective.
What has been your favorite experience at CBS?
Definitely the school trips I’ve gone on. I went to Israel and Jordan on a tour; it was organized by my classmates, so it was even more special. One night, 40 of us sat in the middle of Wadi Rum—a desert in Jordan—under the stars, playing music and having fun. I just sat there thinking, "Wow, this is incredible!" This spring I went on a retail and luxury-focused Chazen trip to Italy, where we visited Gucci’s production facilities. We also visited Ferragamo and YOOX, a company started by a Columbia Business School alum, Federico Marchetti ’99. We then went to Castello Banfi, a winery estate, and topped it off with gelato tasting at Grom Gelateria. The MBA program has given me a great network of friends and our moments together will forever be etched in my mind.
What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS?
The vast gamut of people from different backgrounds. It's not just people from consulting or finance, but also politics, marketing, retail, healthcare, tech, and other fields including family business and entrepreneurship. From military veterans to former musicians, I’m constantly blown away by what people have achieved professionally and personally.
In my cluster we have people from 26 different countries, which truly adds a global perspective. And despite their accomplishments, everyone is super friendly and collaborative. That’s also true of the faculty and school administration, who are very approachable. I found that I could meet with almost any professor and have a conversation, discuss ideas, or get career advice. Everybody embodies the Columbia spirit, and that’s something special.
How does being in New York City help you with your career goals?
Being in New York put me at the very center of business, fashion, and food, the three things I wanted to explore professionally and personally. From Godiva to Google, New York Times to MoMA, and Chanel to BaubleBar, I’ve met with senior executives at companies I really admire. I’ve also taken four courses in which I worked with companies as part of the curriculum, including an independent study working with Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia. We worked with our professor to provide a business development proposal and an end-to-end marketing strategy for his jewelry business. In another course I worked with students from Parson’s School of Design on a project for Ferragamo.
How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals?
It teaches us to treat every business like our own, whether or not we own the company. There’s a lot of emphasis on teaching courses that are truly relevant to us, up to date, and focus on what we want to learn. It's also great to learn from adjunct professors, who combine theory with practical application; they know what problems their industries are facing and what strategies they’re using. That real-world experience is quite valuable. There are also plenty of opportunities to work with startups as part of classes and independent study projects.
Once you have your Columbia Business School degree, how will you conquer the world?
My MBA from Columbia Business School has provided me with a huge network of talented professionals, knowledge of a wide array of business topics, and leadership skills to manage most challenges. It’s also given me a powerful insight into my personal strengths and weaknesses, and it's made me reflect hard on where I want to work, the kind of person I want to be, and the goals I want to achieve.