Management

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"

 

Chris Riha
MBA
Class of 2016
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
West Des Moines, Iowa
Previous Education: 
BA in mathematics and spanish from Washington University in St. Louis, 2008
Previous Work Experience: 
Administrative staff member at Washington University in St. Louis; Recruiter at Teach For America; IT Analyst at Teach For America
Post-CBS Goals: 
Management consulting, with the aim of eventually specializing in functional IT work
CBS Activities: 
Chair of Cluster E'16, Co-president of Cluster Q, Peer Advisor, CMC Career Fellow, Small Business Consulting Program, Technology Business Group, Gourmet Club
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I'm huge into the food scene in NYC and am always scoping out new restaurants. I organized a mini ‘pizza trek’ before CBS so I could take friends to a few of my favorite spots. Roberta's in Brooklyn is a must!

Why Columbia Business School?
First and foremost, I felt like the emphasis on creating a strong community came through even from the very first info session I attended. When visiting and meeting other students, I just felt a much warmer reception than at other places. Academics and career opportunities — a lot of top business schools boast those. But I think community was something that really stood out at Columbia.

Another thing I would highlight is: I don’t have a business background, and so for me, it was important to feel like I was getting a more rigorous introduction to business principles. The way that Columbia sets up its core — it’s one of the more rigorous of the top programs.

What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
There are a lot of opportunities. In particular, for people who want to change careers, it is so easy for them to find an externship, part-time work, or an internship with a huge company. For instance, I have a friend who wants to get into media who is interning at ABC; I have a friend who's working at Burberry and wants to go into luxury retail. This semester I’m taking an immersion seminar, which means that for six Fridays we go to different companies and have executives talk to us. I can't imagine many other programs being able to have a class like that, with as many well-known people and organizations.

What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS?
I think I came here with this goofy preconception that Columbia Business School would be particularly finance-y, and people were really into banking and were coming from that background, and so that was going to be the culture. I’d think, ‘I don't know if I’ll fit in.’ I was pleasantly surprised. My background and the experiences I had to offer were seen as just as valuable to people in the community. The stereotype I had of the typical business school student wasn't really on point — in a good way.

How does the School’s entrepreneurial approach help you with your career goals?
The School presents a lot of resources for job seekers — there are helpful second-years, there’s the Career Fellows Program, there’s the database of alums — but it's on you to choose a path and make the most of it. Being at Columbia has gotten me to really think not only about how you get the job, but once you’re there, how you can shape it and turn it into something that will benefit you down the road.

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you conquer the world?
I'm open to my long-term career going a lot of different directions. The beauty of coming from Columbia Business School, having such a strong network, and being in a place like New York City that has so many opportunities, is I'm confident that no matter how my interests change I will be supported. I’ll be able to follow any path, and I think that's sort of like conquering the world. I feel pretty good that, no matter where I end up, I have the network, the resources, and the education to do so.

Stephanie Sherline
MBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
West Bloomfield, Michigan
Previous Education: 
B.A. in Theater from Northwestern, 2007
Previous Work Experience: 
Production management for Broadway and touring shows in Chicago and NYC
Post-CBS Goals: 
Short term: management consulting at McKinsey; long term: to have an impact in the performing arts industry, in a management or board position
CBS Activities: 
Co-president of the Social Enterprise Club; cluster alumni representative; peer advisor; chair of CBS Reflects; bass player for Juranimal; participant in international consulting projects through Pangea Advisors
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Going to see live theater and live music, having a picnic in Central Park with my cluster, seeing a live taping of David Letterman as a cluster, or generally taking advantage of being in the city and having hundreds of other students to explore it with me!

Why Columbia Business School?
It is the trifecta of getting a great education at a really well-respected academic institution; the fact that it's in New York, which was important to me because I was already living here and I was interested in gaining exposure and experience in the arts industry; and, most importantly, the community at CBS. When I saw the kind of community created by students who helped run CBS Connect [a fair for admitted students], and saw that same sense of community among my fellow prospective students, I thought, “This is my place. This is where I'll fit in.” Being here, I have realized that the CBS community is even more inclusive and dynamic than I imagined it would be.

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been your favorite thus far?
I'm in a class called Supply Chain Management right now. I had no idea going into the class that I would like it so much. It's a really exciting topic and Professor Medini Singh keeps things very interesting, to the point where now I'm starting to think about how to bring this type of work into my consulting career. Also, the core, in aggregate, was really helpful to me coming from the nontraditional background of being a theater major.

What's been your favorite experience at CBS?
My first year, I did a Pangaea project with two other CBS students for a nonprofit in Oaxaca, Mexico. We worked with the client remotely for a semester, and then traveled to Oaxaca in January for 10 days. That was the first time that I really used my business skill set in the real world, saw the impact of it, and felt the sense of collaboration among the team. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, that CBS helped facilitate.

How does being in New York City help you with your career goals?
You think you know what you want to do coming to business school, but chances are, you'll change your mind. If you do change your mind, being in New York City, you have access to people, resources, conferences, coffee chats, and internships that will really help you solidify what you do want to do after school.  For example, I had no idea coming in that I would be coming out as a management consultant, and I am very excited about this career switch!

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
It's really incredible how student-driven the community is, which I didn't fully appreciate until I got here. Everything from on-campus events to the resources passed on from second-years to first-years during recruiting and the peers who really rally around you, to help with academics, and adjusting to life at CBS. There is also a very palpable feeling that this is a safe space to take risks, have difficult conversations, and push yourself beyond your perceived limits. You see that in the emphasis that the school places on diversity and inclusion — it creates a cohesive community of people who are really pushing themselves to take advantage of these two years to become the best new version of themselves that they can be.

 

Jacopo Meneguzzo
MBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Vincenza, Italy
Previous Education: 
BA from Georgetown University, 2010; master’s degree in European Union studies from Université libre de Bruxelles, 2013
Previous Work Experience: 
Investment banking analyst at Citi; served as a trainee in the Cabinet for Italian Vice President Antonio Tajani, who is also the Commissioner for Industry and Enterprise in the European Commission
Post-CBS Goals: 
To continue learning and developing as a leader in my future career (consulting), and to work in a diverse environment that allows me to travel and interact with different people
CBS Activities: 
VP of International on the Peer Advisory Board; Co-President of the International Students Advisory Board; Co-President of the European Society; Follies
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I enjoy cooking with friends and discovering new cuisines and restaurants

What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
In Italy, a lot of people commute to school and live at home. When I went to Georgetown as an undergraduate, I was basically always living on campus. I feel like being in New York City allows us to get the best of both worlds [at Columbia]. There are events that are independent of Columbia that offer us a chance to be inspired. On the same note, Columbia does still feel like a campus when I’m there.

What's been the most surprising thing about being at CBS?
There is a very strong sense of community. People go out of their way to help each other in a variety of ways—such as on personal issues, work, career, anything. When I arrived, I was a little bit worried, wondering, “Is it going to be very much a commuter school? Are the New Yorkers going to be very much living their own lives, away from school?” It’s funny because [what actually happens is that] people who live in New York operate as guides for those of us who are less familiar with the city. It’s just how collaborative everyone has been, generally—it’s an amazing culture. 

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been your favorite?
One of the classes I’ve taken that was very, very interesting and aesthetically amazing was called Leadership Through Fiction taught by Professor Bruce Craven. It’s not necessarily the first class you think about when you think about an MBA, but it was a great class that combined some more soft-skills elements with trying to develop as a person and as a leader.

How does being in New York City help you with your career goals?
I got three internships when I was at Columbia that I think were just a result of the fact that I was in New York. Being in New York allows you to do a semester’s work experience that other schools may not have access to just because of their location. [For example], I was able to take an internship at a tech startup and I’m working in a private equity fund [now]. The other thing is, New York City is a great place to network and get to know people. It’s one of the hearts of the world, and that’s a big plus at both a personal and a career level.

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you conquer the world?
I don’t think I would want to conquer the world, but I would want the world to conquer me. Meaning, I would love to be able to keep learning, opening my mind, and seeing all the diversity and the richness that there is in the world. At Columbia you live in a temporary microcosm that allows you to get to see a mix of many different people; I hope that going into the future, in my career, I will have the chance to keep learning about what’s around me: the different people, different experiences, different perspectives. That has been probably one of the biggest drivers of why I love Columbia.

Eliza Coleman
MBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA, January Entry
Hometown or Country: 
Atlanta, Georgia
Previous Education: 
BA from New York University
Previous Work Experience: 
I spent five years working for a fund that invests in wineries
Post-CBS Goals: 
Consultant at Bain in New York City
CBS Activities: 
Peer Advisor Program, co-president of the Student Government
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I love going to The High Line, Riverside Park, and The Frick Collection

"Everyone here is passionate about something and will find their niche."

The community is one of the best features of Columbia, and I did not know that coming in. I was pleasantly surprised to find such an engaged group of students. Everyone here is passionate about something and will find their niche. A good community member is somebody who steps up, raises their hand and says, "I want to get involved in this thing that I'm passionate about."

Students can get involved in leadership positions almost as soon as they arrive on campus. At the end of Orientation, there are elections for cluster leadership roles that have a huge impact on how your cluster functions over time and how you bond with people. As soon as clubs start having meetings, they elect assistant vice president positions, so within a month of school you can get involved in a leadership position that really does make a difference.

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Fall 2015 Cross-Registration Dates

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