Management

Annie Messmer-Kurdziel
MBA
Class of 2017
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Born in Shaker Heights, OH; lived in Boston for 10 years before business school
Previous Education: 
BA in philosophy from Boston College, 2008
Previous Work Experience: 
I worked for Building Excellent Schools, supporting urban school leadership in more than 125 schools across the country; I also worked in human capital for Fidelity Investments, as an executive search consultant
Post-CBS Goals: 
Working in consulting in Chicago
CBS Activities: 
Co-president, Cluster Q; board and cast member, CBS Follies; board member, Peer Advisors
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Running in Central Park, attending comedy shows, and finding new restaurants 

 

What were you looking for in a business school?
I was looking for a place where I would be really challenged. Prior to business school, I worked in human capital, and I viewed business through that lens. But I didn’t have a vocabulary or skillset beyond that. I came to Columbia Business School because I wanted to be exposed to things I hadn’t done yet in my career. My goal is to leave with a very strong understanding of the fundamentals of business.

What has surprised you?
I expected that I would learn a lot and be very busy. But I didn’t expect that I’d make really good friends. I’m 30 years old, and I have a wife and family. To my surprise, I found people here who are unlike any people I’ve met before. They are intelligent, yet also incredibly relatable and also very diverse. I’ve made close friends from Guatemala, China, India, and more. I’d never had this type of exposure before, and it surprised me a lot.

How are you involved in the Columbia Business School community?
I’m serving this year as a peer advisor and as co-president of Cluster Q, Columbia Business School’s LGBTQ professional and social association. Cluster Q is a community I really care about. It plays two roles, focusing on the experience of anyone identifying as LGBTQ within CBS, as well as looking externally at how we influence and create a better business world for the LGBTQ community outside the walls of Columbia Business School.

Can you talk more about the role of peer advisors?
Peer advisors are second-year students who get paired with incoming first-years, and through this relationship they become ambassadors of the culture. They play an incredibly important role, and the ongoing support they offer shouldn’t be underestimated. During times of transition, we all need support and a little guidance. I think every first-year looks for that along the way, whether it’s in the first week or six months down the road.

How has your education extended beyond the walls of Columbia Business School?
Columbia University is an amazing institution. I spent my second semester taking an intensive course at Columbia Law School, through its Center for Public Research and Leadership. I’m interested in education reform, and the course allowed me to consult with a team for an educational organization. I didn’t know about this program when I applied to Columbia, but my future in education has been shaped more by this experience than anything else I’ve done.

As a busy student, how do you find balance?
I take stock every day of what I need to get out of my day. That's no different than finding balance in a job. You look at the day and week ahead and ask, “What are my goals?” When I came to Columbia Business School, I wrote a mission statement for myself. Every once in a while, I'll go back to that and reflect on what matters to me and why I am here. It is very easy to get sucked into a day where you are running around — from a meeting, to class, to an extra-curricular, to a coffee chat with a future employer. When it becomes too much, you have to be able to step back. Saying “no” is one of the best skills I’ve learned in business school, as well as saying “yes” to the things that really matter.

Jane Sun
EMBA
Class of 2016
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Hometown or Country: 
Shandong Province, China
Previous Education: 
Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Ecole Centrale de Lyon
Current Work: 
Manager in Financial Service Risk Management Practice at EY (Ernst & Young)
Post-CBS Goals: 
My immediate goal is to climb the corporate ladder at my current organization.
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I like Central Park and the New York Botanical Gardens. I sometimes take my son there.
Areas of Interest: 

Why Columbia Business School? 
I have accumulated a lot of quantitative knowledge through my previous education and while working as a consultant at Ernst & Young, but I quickly realized that I need to have strong business acumen in order to be a true leader in the consulting business. I wanted to have the business knowledge that would help me understand broader issues facing my clients and to develop soft skills that would help me lead large-scale engagements for clients. I came to business school to close these gaps and accelerate my career progression. 

I also have several friends who graduated from the EMBA program at Columbia. I have seen the transformational experience they had through the program, both personally and professionally, and knew I wanted to have a similar experience at Columbia. I believe this will have a lasting impact on me. 

What is it like to go to business school in New York City? 
The best parts are the resources and access we have at Columbia Business School — guest speakers and adjunct professors who come to school to teach during breaks from their work. They are all industry thought leaders and accomplished practitioners who bring an insider's view into different industries to help students understand the ever-changing business landscape.

Also, being close to the business center is a great advantage for me, professionally. As most of my clients are in the finance and banking industries, staying in New York City and being close to my clients is very important to me. By going to business school in New York City, I can attend client meetings during class breaks or attend evening classes after work. Columbia’s location definitely helps me to manage both school and career.

How do you handle working full-time, going to school, and being a mother? 
It's definitely not easy working full-time at Ernst & Young, going to business school, and being a mother of a two year old, but it is not as hard as it seems. Like everyone else, I only have 24 hours in a day, so I need to make sure these three things fit in my life. I don’t want to use the word “balance” as that suggests I have to lose one thing in order to gain another. Instead, I consider work, school, and life as three projects that I have to constantly re-prioritize based on each situation. I have to be disciplined but at the same time very flexible to change plans all the time. This approaches works well for me. I am on the Dean’s honor list for academic excellence and being viewed as one of best managers in the advisory practice at Ernst & Young.

I have met other moms in the EMBA program who also have young kids. Being able to talk to those who are going through the same challenges and share my concerns is big relief to me. The moral support I get from the community is very important to help me go through this period of my life.

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been most helpful to you in your current work role? 
When I came to CBS, I wanted to take a lot of soft-skill courses, so after the core curriculum ended, I took non-technical electives, like Napoleon's Glance with Bill Duggan and Personal Leadership and Success with Hitendra Wadhwa. These courses have given me a new perspective on leadership and success. A true leader has the ability to attract talented people and is able to leverage the team to achieve great things. These new perspectives have greatly helped me with how to lead a team at work and how to become an effective manager.

What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS?
I have always been amazed by the collective wealth of knowledge and experience we have in the classroom. No matter what topic we are discussing in class, there will always be at least one student in the room who is an expert on the topic. My classmates’ participation in class has greatly contributed to my learning experience at CBS; I am learning not only from the professors but also from my classmates. Also, the commitment from the EMBA students is very impressive. We all have full-time jobs while doing the EMBA program, and yet students always do their readings and are ready to discuss cases in class. Many students have already had great achievements in their professional lives, but they still have the drive to learn more.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
I'm very proud to be part of the CBS community. When I go out, I’m proud to wear my CBS shirt. In New York City, CBS has a very big community and it is easy to connect with others in this community. It has already helped me with building relationships with prospective clients. When people know that I am pursuing my MBA at Columbia, they connect me with alumni they know. The community has opened doors for me both professionally and personally. 

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you apply it to your current role and beyond? 
I want to apply what I have learned at CBS to become a true leader in the consulting business. Before I came to business school, I thought that leadership meant a leader needs to give instructions for the team to follow. Now I realize being a leader means attracting talented people. Some of those people may be smarter than me, which is actually a good thing. It's more about the ability to attract people who are smart and believe in your vision. A great leader is able to use the knowledge and intelligence of the whole team, instead of just the knowledge of the leader, which is very limited. You want people who are smarter than you in the room.

Gerard Miller
EMBA
Class of 2016
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Hometown or Country: 
Cold Spring Harbor, New York
Previous Education: 
BA in financial economics from Columbia University
Current Work: 
Business Development Analyst at Citadel
Post-CBS Goals: 
Leveraging the knowledge base that I get from the classes I take and using that knowledge regularly to make better business decisions.
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I enjoy spending time with my fiancée and my dog. I also enjoy Central Park and hitting golf balls at Chelsea Piers.
Areas of Interest: 

Why Columbia Business School? 
I actually went to Columbia for my undergraduate education, but, before that, I played pro hockey for five years. At the time, education seemed to come second to my sport, but that did not detract from my desire to be at an institution like Columbia. When I did go back to school at a later age, I was enthralled with the educational process because I could appreciate it. Because of my experience of not only getting back into education but also doing it at Columbia, it made me think that there was only one place I really wanted to continue my business school education and that was Columbia. 

How does being in New York City help you with your career goals?
From a networking standpoint, the benefits are endless. Being able to grab coffee with so many alums in the area and having exposure to all of the conferences that Columbia opens up to all students are great draws. I even get to take classes when I want to because Columbia is in New York, so I have the benefit of being exposed to night classes and other experiences that I could not get in other EMBA programs.  

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been most helpful to you in your current role? 
One class that really sparked my interest was my Business Analytics class. In general, this idea of big data and the ability to process unstructured data sources, contextualize them and make them useful in a world that seems to be collecting any and all information is really important.  

What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS? 
I knew what to expect out of the school work, but I was surprised by the people that come to the School. They are genuinely good and smart people and that is infectious because it makes us all better. It amplifies everyone's skills and positive qualities. I honestly think it would be very difficult to find a bad egg in the group of people in my EMBA class or anyone else I have interacted with throughout the Business School.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community? 
It is an honor. I was fortunate to grow up in a household in which my dad and two of my uncles are Columbia Business School graduates. Knowing the esteem in which I hold each of these men makes it an honor to say that we are all part of this network and community. 

How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals? 
The entrepreneurial mindset forces us to think outside the box and find better ways of doing things, regardless of whether we're an actual entrepreneur or in a structured environment. Entrepreneurs test the system and force people to change in a positive direction. Being at Columbia Business School forces me to look at every situation using the entrepreneurial lens. Being here makes me push the boundaries of how things are currently set up and how they can be better.  

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you apply it to your current role and beyond?
I think at the end of the day, the degree will be most useful in connecting with others and opening up doors for myself in the future. Whether it be managing data analytics at my current job or getting involved in a tech startup, the whole industry is changing so quickly, it's endless. I also think the alumni community is so huge that I will absolutely be using it as a reference point.  

Leahruth Jemilo
EMBA
Class of 2016
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Hometown or Country: 
Chicago, Illinois
Previous Education: 
Carleton College, 2008
Current Work: 
Managing Director, Strategic Planning and Business Development
CBS Activities: 
Social Rep for my cluster, Columbia Summer Start Up Lab, and Young Women in Corporate Governance
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I love everything about Central Park — I have lived within two blocks of the park for the last six years. My favorite activities include running in the park, watching the New York Philharmonic in the park (complete with a wine and cheese picnic), and sunning in Sheep Meadow. New York City is such a great summer city — I enjoy spending time at the Boat Basin, walking along the Hudson River, sitting at Pier 70 on the Hudson, and enjoying delicious cocktails from the many incredible mixology bars in the city. I’m also a member and frequent visitor of the MoMA, and I volunteer with StreetWise Partners, a non-profit career mentoring program for low income individuals. My favorite restaurant is Land Thai, the best Thai food in NYC. I also love Café Fiorello across from Lincoln Center; it’s an NYC institution!
Areas of Interest: 

Why Columbia Business School? 
I knew I wanted to go to a school of Columbia’s caliber, but I was initially positive I would go to a full-time program. I always investigate my options, and as the possibility of going to an EMBA program became more of an option because of my commitment to my job, I started to look more seriously at EMBA programs in New York City. Columbia was clearly the best program based on my investigation and conversations with current students, alumni, professors, faculty, and staff.   

What is it like to go to business school in New York City? 
I had an idea of what it would be like, but it wasn’t until I was actually living, working, and going to school in New York that I realized just how fortunate I was. Resources are literally all right here — guest speakers, special events, and everything else are readily available, and the School’s brand attracts the best of the best. I think New York is a love-to-live or only-want-to-visit kind of city for most people — either they love the idea of living here or they hate it. I have loved it from the moment I first visited. I love everything about the city — the speed, the vibe, the people, the subways, the crowds, the constant noise, Central Park, the Hudson River, and the Upper West Wide — having literally everything at your fingertips. The energy of the city is what is so conducive to getting a good education at Columbia. 

How does being in New York City help you with your career goals? 
One of the things I have taken advantage of is the access to the Columbia network. For example, I met with a New York Times journalist and he agreed to speak at an upcoming lunch for the EMBA students. I also recently met with Barbara Roberts, the woman who coined the phrase “glass ceiling,” and she’s one of my mentors for the Columbia Summer Startup Lab.

What I found through the Columbia network is that your access to individuals within that network is enormous, and people are very willing to meet with and help you if you just conduct the outreach. It really exposed me to a lot of new possibilities and opportunities, and a lot of it is because it's New York City and the access is right here. 

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been most helpful to you in your current work role? 
I am excited for Organizational Culture Demystified: Leading and Creating a Winning Organization. In my current role, I am helping to manage some organizational change, and preparing for this class is already helping me better understand how to think about organizational change. In particular, it’s given me insight into why change can be so difficult, why it’s often mismanaged, and how to create an environment where individuals are open to new ideas; it takes the right kind of leadership and a genuine willingness to understand.

Something else I was particularly pleased about was when two of my professors from the core curriculum, Paul Ingram and Hitendra Wadhwa, talked about the importance of "doing good" in the world with our degrees. So many business schools focus solely on the bottom line; I am so pleased that Columbia emphasizes other values.         

What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS?
The friendships and my classmates. Even though I knew I would not get the full-time MBA experience, the social aspect was still important to me. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not have a prominent social experience in the EMBA program, seeing as we meet every other week; however, it’s been the total opposite. In my first year, I can already say that I have friends for life. In particular, the men in my learning team are the brothers I never had and I have bonded so strongly with the women in the program. We get together for women's events often and everyone is so interesting, smart, humble, and fun! It really feels like we see each other much more often than we actually do. It’s a very tight-knit group, and I can tell it will stay that way for a long time.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
It means access to an incredible network and what feels like unlimited resources, mentors, and an affiliation to a brand that gives instant credibility. 

How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals? 
It invites and encourages me to think creatively and pursue my passions, to think about all options that are available to me. It makes me excited to think about future business and career opportunities.

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you apply it to your current role and beyond? 
The good thing about attending Columbia is that I realize there are so many options; I look forward to growing in my current role and using what I learn at CBS at my job. I also intend to be a very active alum — talking to prospective students, auditing courses, attending events, and more.   

Rick Carroll
EMBA
Class of 2016
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Hometown or Country: 
North Easton, Massachusetts
Previous Education: 
BA in history and art history from Kenyon College; MA in design history, decorative arts, and material culture from Bard College
Current Work: 
Manager of Information Services at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Post-CBS Goals: 
I want to reinvigorate the museum industry by emphasizing the importance of innovation, creativity, and sound fiscal judgment. I also want to inspire museum professionals to keep challenging the status quo and drive change — specifically, to bring The Met to the forefront of visitor experience, operational efficiency, and community engagement by incorporating technology and a business mindset.
CBS Activities: 
Cluster Q
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I love museums, of course! I also attend gallery openings regularly and scour the city for the best coffee. I also love Central Park.

"To have a class that was solely dedicated to embracing change and how to do it methodically has been very helpful to me, especially when managing and motivating a very large team. It was just so thrilling to be able to do that."

Why Columbia Business School?
My academic and professional background is in the museum industry, so the Columbia Business School core really appealed to me. The core gives me a solid business foundation, which I have been able to bolster with the wider classes to further my career in the arts.

What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
First, it's really awesome to be able to apply what I'm doing to work and also to be able to say, "I wonder what the MoMA's doing?" or "I wonder what the Museum of Natural History is doing?” and be able to go check them out in person to see what they're up to. It's amazing to be surrounded by so many professionals who also work in New York, both in my classes and at events that we attend.

Second, the ability to learn from my classmates has been one of the most rewarding experiences because I've been able to turn to the person next to me and say, "What do you do in finance?" or "What do you do in marketing?" Not to mention the quality of professors and speakers, which also comes from being in New York City.

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been most helpful to you in your current work role?
In terms of what was most helpful to me, that was definitely Leadership and Organizational Change — mainly because I was able to immediately apply it the following Monday at work. It was crazy. We had a whole case about The Met, which was especially interesting to me since I work there. To have a class that was solely dedicated to embracing change and how to do it methodically has been very helpful to me, especially when managing and motivating a very large team. It was just so thrilling to be able to do that.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
It just feels like something you're in for the rest of your life, in a good way. I also think that in the Columbia Business School community there's a shared vision of change and innovation. Everyone's looking to change themselves, change their industry, and change their outlook on life and business. I think that that shared vision brings an extra excitement to the community — and I think that's something I haven't seen anywhere else.

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you apply it to your current role and beyond?
I'm really deeply invested in the museum industry, and I want to show that museums can be dynamic instead of just a history lesson or a relic of the past. I think that businesses change a little bit more dynamically than museums, so I want to put museums on that same level. To drive change within the museum industry is really what I'm hoping to do with my Columbia Business School degree.

Eric Schnipper
EMBA
Class of 2016
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Hometown or Country: 
Scarsdale, New York
Previous Education: 
BA in American history from the University of Pennsylvania; MD from New York Medical College; and MPH in health policy and management from Columbia University
Current Work: 
Owner and partner at NRAD Medical Associates; director and treasurer of the Association for Quality Imaging; and an occasional medical and political commentator on CNBC
Post-CBS Goals: 
To be CEO of a large healthcare entity and have a feature role as a medical and political commentator on CNBC and its affiliates, as well as to continue as a radiologist providing excellent clinical services for my patients, and with my lobbying work in Washington and Albany.
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I like Sundays in New York City, including going to Central Park, browsing shops and galleries in TriBeCa and SoHo, walking the High Line, going to Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, watching the Mets at CitiField, going to the Natural History Museum and Hayden Planetarium with my kids, and going to the Museum of the City of New York, MoMA, and the Met. My favorite restaurants include Per Se, Peter Luger, Eleven Madison Park, Marea or any place by Michael White, and the Polo Bar.
Areas of Interest: 

Why Columbia Business School? 
Columbia Business School is the perfect amalgam of world-class academic business education taught by academically gifted and experienced professors in the business capital of the world. I have brilliant and inspiring student colleagues and get to network with accomplished alumni leaders in the business field. For me, the opportunity to immerse myself in this milieu has enhanced my skill set immeasurably, elevating my performance in my company almost immediately with the practical applications of what I have learned. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime.

What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
I see the primary advantage of going to business school in New York City as one of immersion with the kind of person that New York City attracts, whether it be a native New Yorker or someone who has been magnetically drawn to the city. New Yorkers have an intangible trait I call “moxie,” which is that extra special effort, gumption, character, and determination that, when leveraged in the business community, guarantees you will encounter people at their highest level of performance, grit, and effort, more so than anywhere else in the world.

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been your favorite?
My favorite class so far has been Professor Paul Ingram’s Leadership and Organizational Change class. The impact on my career from applying the lessons learned in that class as a personal compass has been something I profoundly consider on a daily basis, and it has been transformative. In the class, there's a lot about personally improving yourself to the point where you can become the most effective leader, and in that regard, the class has been the most unique in the history of my academic experience. There is immediate practical application. You would learn on Saturday and on Monday you were using it at work.

What has been your favorite experience at CBS?
By far, my favorite experience at CBS has been interacting with my fellow students, in particular those on my learning team. More so than at any other level of my education, the incredible degree of intellect, accomplishment, and the compelling personalities of my fellow students have been a joy to encounter, and it has made me savor every moment of interaction with them. I am inspired by their character and energized by their intellect and accomplishments across a multitude of different industries.  

What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS?
My own personal immersion into the coursework, which I thought might be somewhat laborious as I am simultaneously leading a large company and raising a family, has seemed almost effortless in large part due to the enthusiasm I have for interacting with my fellow students and learning incredibly compelling course material from my professors. When you do something you love, it no longer feels like work, and the ease with which I have achieved this state of mind is what has surprised me the most.

How does being in New York City help you with your career goals?
New York is where I have planted my flag, and it is where I am anchored by work, family, and friends. The fact that I can attend a world-class business school like Columbia while being close to work and family is an incredible stroke of luck. In addition, given the access to multiple networks, being in New York has afforded me the opportunity to pursue my media career as a medical and political commentator. It has also put me front and center in the most densely populated area for healthcare, given me access to top-shelf medical training, and the proximity to Washington has helped me with my lobbying career.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
Being part of the Columbia Business School community means that I am a legacy holder to one of the greatest networks of accomplished business leaders in the world. It also means that I have a social responsibility to carry forth the tenets of ethical business practices and to give back to the community through my professional and altruistic efforts. It also means that I have access to a global network of inspirational contacts in every business domain possible.

How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals?
The emphasis on entrepreneurship is front and center at Columbia. There are dozens of courses that focus on developing entrepreneurial skills, from Launching New Ventures to Dean Hubbard's Entrepreneurial Finance class. I think entrepreneurship is a critical skill for a business leader to have, whether one plans to develop a new venture within an existing corporate framework or from an entirely new concept. For me, it is invaluable as my field, healthcare, is in an extremely fluid if not revolutionary time period and change led by entrepreneurship is not only advantageous but necessary for growth.

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you apply it to your current role and beyond?
CBS is much more than a degree. Having the imprimatur of an Ivy League business degree carries with it the acquisition of tremendous business skills, an educational foundation, a network of incredible talent, and, most importantly, the inspiring examples of the people who surround me in the classroom. My goal is to use that entire package of experience to become the best leader I can be, and add to this my own natural talent and moxie; the world will become my oyster.

Gabriela Soler
EMBA
Class of 2016
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Hometown or Country: 
Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Previous Education: 
BA in communications from Villanova University
Current Work: 
Strategic sourcing of food commodities
Post-CBS Goals: 
To lead product development and export projects at my family’s food ingredient company.
CBS Activities: 
Young Women in Corporate Governance, Latin American Business Association, Family Business Club
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I have two young children so we like to visit the Bronx Zoo, Prospect Park, and MoMa. We like The Dutch restaurant and Miss Lily’s (great Caribbean food).
Areas of Interest: 

Why Columbia Business School?
I chose Columbia Business School because I thought the EMBA program and its structure were very unique. In just 20 months you can complete your degree, and it offers a very rigorous and holistic core curriculum. Then, you can really make the program your own with the electives. This structure is what attracted me to the program. The other thing that is unique for me is the Deming Center. I work in operations and the Deming Center promotes operational excellence. I've been able to use resources from the center to improve operational processes in our company and to be able to make our business more efficient.                

What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
For me it's been very exciting to go to business school in New York. I currently live in Connecticut, but I've lived most of my life in Puerto Rico. Studying in New York has opened a door to a very diverse group of friends. They've helped me get to know the city better. The dynamic in the city is very energetic, and I find myself commuting to the city every chance I get to see my business school friends. It's very exhilarating, studying where I can learn and do business.    

How does being in New York City help you with your career goals?
I work in the purchasing department, so I deal with a lot of international suppliers and food processors. New York is very central for our company. It's accessible to our international suppliers, so I've used New York to meet with our suppliers. A lot of the food commodities that I trade, like orange juice and sugar, are traded in New York. A lot of major food processors have offices in New York, so I use it as a strategic location for our company to nurture old relationships with suppliers and to make new ones. It's really been an advantage for our company. 

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been most helpful to you in your current work role?
The class that I found most helpful is Financial Accounting in the core curriculum taught by Professor Amir Ziv. He taught the class in a way that was applicable to someone like me who has no financial background. He really helped me understand how the different financial statements work and interact with each other to help you make better internal business decisions. As a business owner, learning how to use our financial statements to make better business decisions was the most helpful to me so far.  

What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS?
When I was coming here, I knew I was going to be with bright and like-minded people, but I'm so surprised by the bond that I've created with my class and my cluster specifically. It has been an amazing experience. We all have different expertise and we use that to help each other better understand the courses. I really feel like I couldn't have done the core curriculum without my EMBA peers. 

How does the School's entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals?
I think the School's entrepreneurial approach has helped me see the different aspects of a business and how to integrate them to achieve the unified goals that will help you expand the business. My future career goal is to eventually lead my family's company and expand its food distribution services from Puerto Rico to the Caribbean and the U.S. I think the entrepreneurial approach will help me find ways to better integrate all the departments in our company — operations, marketing, and sales — to achieve unified goals. I think Columbia helps us solve problems as an entrepreneur would, and that's what I need to lead my family's company in the future.  

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you apply it to your current role and beyond?
My immediate goal after getting my degree is to lead our purchasing department. I also plan to focus on our key competitive advantages and use them to scale up the business. Even now, I feel like I'm using my degree to improve our internal processes and create a more successful business plan that will help us differentiate ourselves in the industry. 

Gairy Hall
MBA
Class of 2016
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Fayetteville, Georgia
Previous Education: 
BA in economics from Columbia University, 2011
Previous Work Experience: 
Assistant Vice President at Citi Private Bank
Post-CBS Goals: 
Management Consulting
CBS Activities: 
University Senate, Student Government, Hermes Society, Black Business Student Association, Management Consulting Association, and Wine Society
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Trying new restaurants (I love Indian, steakhouses, and anywhere with good cheesecake), learning about the city’s architecture, and visiting the smaller parks (Madison Square Park and Bryant Park are my favorites)

Sections, cohorts, teams — each school has a different name for it, and at CBS we have “clusters." However, my cluster might as well be called "Family E'16" as I have had the privilege of meeting 68 amazing individuals through both the ups and downs of our time at CBS.

Taking our core curriculum classes together meant that we could carry conversations and ideas from one course to another, tied together even further by professors who coordinated cases and topics from their side of the lectern. Recruiting is a notoriously rigorous commitment, but each company event became much more manageable and enjoyable when we spotted fellow Es and could take a breather from asking about firm culture and career development.

I could not talk about cluster bonding and not mention our Fall Break trip. Each cluster takes a few days of rest and relaxation in the fall, and while we love bonding in Uris, the sand and sun of Cancun helped develop even stronger friendships. I am already excited for next year’s trip!

My cluster has a reputation for giving CBS our all, from academics to recruiting to socializing, and we absolutely do! What might not be visible at first is how this extends to our personal relationships. The support we show one another after our CBS Matters sessions is powerful. We are always looking out for each other, from Watson Library to the many social events held around the city, and have collectively built an intense, inclusive bond.

It is exciting to know we have more semesters together. Clusters are representations of the student body as a whole. I am looking forward to branching out even more and getting to know many people across classes and programs. CBS is full of the most amazing people, with the most interesting backgrounds and achievements, I have ever met.

Daniel Eguche
EMBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Hometown or Country: 
Abuja, Nigeria
Previous Education: 
BS in electric engineering from Howard University, summa cum laude
Current Work: 
Fund Manager of Compass Frontier Partners, LP
Post-CBS Goals: 
I plan to further my simultaneous goals of delivering superior risk-adjusted returns to our investors, while spurring the development and stability of frontier capital markets that will, in turn, provide capital for growth-constricted businesses and reduce reliance on public funding. In my spare time, I hope to compete in the New York Golden Gloves championship, venture to new locales on my motorcycle, and learn French.
CBS Activities: 
Columbia Student Investment Management Association, African Business Club, EMBA Hermes Society
Favorite NYC Activities: 
NYC encapsulates many of my favorite things with its plethora of options for delectable food, museums, theaters, and speakeasies. If I started a day with a run through Central Park, then stopped by Buvette for brunch, followed by a stroll on the High Line, then sought visual amazement at the MoMA, followed by a quick visit to The Campbell Apartment right before dinner at Carbone, I would consider it a marvelous day.
Areas of Interest: 

Why Columbia Business School? 
In my desire to pursue investing more seriously, I started to read more on the topic and discovered value investing. It seemed at once simplistic and logical, and I grew rather obsessive about learning more. Columbia Business School remains the preeminent institution for value investing — I can’t think of a better place to go if you're serious about it. That made CBS the obvious choice for me. 

How does being in New York City help you with your career goals?
In the past three or four months, I have listened to or spoken directly with Bob Bruce, Bill Ackman, David Einhorn, Henry Kravis, and Michael Price. These are some of the legendary value investors in the field, and they're on campus so frequently. They can give you creative advice and tell you what to do and what to avoid. I think you just have rare access.

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been most helpful to you in your current work role?
I’ve benefitted immensely from strategy courses with Bruce Greenwald, investing lectures by Tano Santos, bankruptcy and LBO courses with Michael Grad and Margaret Cannella, and many others. If I had to pick one, however, it would be Applied Value Investing with Tom Tryforos. The practical nature of the course made it incredibly beneficial, albeit quite demanding as well. He treated the entire class like investment professionals and encouraged us to engage in what should be the requisites of sound and well-deliberated investing. I took a lot of his recommendations to heart, and I expect the learnings from the course will stick with me throughout my investing career.

What has been your favorite experience at CBS?
While there are several strong contenders, I would rank the international seminars to Shanghai and Rio de Janiero as my favorite experiences. Being able to wed my love for travel and foreign cultures with the knowledge gained from studying the intricacies and challenges of foreign businesses left me with a broader perspective and greater appreciation for those parts of the world. The fact that all of this was undertaken with a group of friends, and combined with a sampling of different cuisines and visits to many of the world’s must-see sights, made it that much more enjoyable.

What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS?
I came into the program with a preordained plan to focus on value investing, which remained true throughout. However, I decided to stray beyond my comfort zone and took several courses on behavioral finance, entrepreneurship, personal leadership, and management. To my surprise, the non-quantitative courses had a remarkable impact on my mindset and personal development, as well as my approach to conflicts and resolutions. It’s refreshing that CBS provides such a well-balanced program, and I encourage all to exploit the myriad of options and resources to their utmost.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
I consider it a real privilege, not due just to what I've gotten so far, but what I think will still remain available once I graduate. I've been surrounded by very highly regarded professors who have a deep passion for their subjects. I also now count as friends accomplished yet still very ambitious professionals in various industries. I have access to a very diverse student population, and I've met people with all sorts of ideas that grant a varied and often unconsidered perspective on different subjects. There's a very extensive network, and I think it will only continue to grow.  

How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals?
It's been absolutely pivotal. Thus far, I've studied a plethora of businesses through case studies, company filings, and analyses of business plans. Learning about their keys to success, and the unique approach of the entrepreneur or the management team in each case, has been very elucidating. More important is that in a lot of these cases, professors encouraged us to focus on missed opportunities and potential pitfalls. Being at the helm of a young fund, these sorts of exercises have been most useful for me and have spurred a greater sense of confidence in my ability to maneuver through challenges in the coming years. 

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you apply it to your current role and beyond?
I'm fortunate to be able to combine my fervent passion for investing with my ardent interest in the burgeoning landscapes of frontier markets, particularly Africa. While I cannot dismiss the significant impact luck has had on my journey thus far, I believe my opportunities to gain a thorough education have been just as meaningful. Ergo, I cannot think of a better way to arm the marginalized than with a similarly sound education. Looking ahead, I believe education will continue to be integral in raising standards of living and planting a ladder for the less privileged to emerge from the depths of abject poverty, and I hope to launch or support causes striving towards this goal. I also believe that the eradication of poverty in these frontier markets will be supported by efficient and transparent capital markets, and I hope that my involvement there will continue to foster the necessary steps towards meaningful progress.

Emily Ford
EMBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
EMBA Americas
Hometown or Country: 
Ridgewood, New Jersey
Previous Education: 
BA in English from Columbia University; MA in British studies and law and politics from Humboldt University; MEd in international education and language, literacy and technology from Teachers College, Columbia University
Current Work: 
Director of outreach programs at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University
Post-CBS Goals: 
I want to lead an organization that helps address inequity in education, particularly higher education
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I live in Brooklyn, and Fort Greene Park is one of my favorite places. I also love the dance class that I take at Mark Morris Dance Center.

Why Columbia Business School? 
I would have never guessed that I would end up in business school, and even more surprising is that it's been the best thing for me. A lot of my career has been one step at time, and that's very much how I lead my life. Through my experience mostly working in education and nonprofits, over time I realized the need for business skills in the nonprofit world, and the desire to learn these is really what got me to Columbia. 

What is it like to go to business school in New York City? 
It's exciting and challenging. I think it's the best place in the world to do business school, but nothing is easy in New York. You have to fight for it, and that's true of school, too. You can't come here and coast; you really have to work — New York just demands that of anybody.    

How does being in New York City help you with your career goals? 
New York has the whole world in it and you can see really egregious inequities between people who have things and people who do not. For me, the proximity to these disparities is a constant reminder to engage, keep working, and know that there's so much more work to be done. I don't want to live in a bubble, and New York is not a bubble. Everything is here and close together, and I find that really motivating. Anyone can sit next to you on the subway; it's all there. That is what is exciting and motivating — connections with all kinds of people is something I really enjoy.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
The diversity of the School is really impressive. I'm in a very small cohort — the EMBA Americas '15 class — and there are only 25 of us. My classmates are great: they're an amazing group of people and we have all gotten to know each other really well. You might not guess our small group is so diverse, but in terms of the backgrounds, experiences, and different countries that people come from, it is astoundingly diverse. That has been a lesson that I've really taken to heart in my line of work: diversity is more than one thing. I have come to appreciate diversity in an entirely different way. The community has really opened my eyes to how many wonderful and unexpected ways people can contribute.  

How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals? 
I am a big believer in trying new things and doing things differently, and I see that happening at Columbia. I came in skeptical because there is a lot of hype these days around disruption, and it turns out one of my favorite classes has been in entrepreneurship. What I see happening at the School is a willingness, and even encouragement, to try things differently, and that's something I really appreciate. It's also very much how I work — creating a space to try things and see if they work or not.  

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you apply it to your current role and beyond? 
I have been using my business school education pretty much since day one. I almost can't imagine doing what I need to do without having gone to business school. To a great extent, it lets me do what I'm doing better and be smarter about it. It also lets me do things that, before, I would have relied on other people to do. Now I can do them myself. My education has expanded my world and what's possible. I am a more capable person, and I have a greater capacity not just to work but also to do better in life.

Pages

apply

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.