Media and Technology

Nathalie Tadena
MBA
Class of 2018
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Ossining, NY
Previous Education: 
BA in journalism and political science from Northwestern University, 2011
Previous Work Experience: 
I was a business reporter for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones & Company.
Post-CBS Goals: 
I plan to work in technology or media.
CBS Activities: 
Board member, Columbia Women in Business (CWIB); board member, Media Management Association (MMA); Asian Business Association; Technology Business Group; Hermes Society
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Weekend brunch dates, New York City Ballet performances, picnics in Central Park, and getting lost in art museums.

 

Why did you decide to attend business school?
Before business school, I was a reporter at the Wall Street Journal. As a reporter, I saw first-hand how technology was changing the media industry. I knew I wanted to come to business school to better understand technology and also gain a skill set for how to lead an organization as the marketplace changes.

 

Why did you choose Columbia Business School?

Columbia is in the media capital of the world. As someone who’s passionate about media, I wanted to be at a school with a good network of alumni in the media industry as well as great classes on the industry. I also wanted to work with students who share my interest.

 

What was it like to transition from being a reporter to being a student?

It was definitely challenging. I knew coming in that many of my classmates came from finance and consulting. It’s been an incredible experience to learn from these classmates who have had such different experiences than my own. I’ve been able to share with them the writing and communications skills that I’ve honed.

 

Can you talk more about how you’ve brought your professional experience as a reporter to the business school experience?

When I was a reporter, I was always asking questions to executives: How do you stay competitive? What’s the future of this industry? These are questions I ask in class, too, about cases we are studying or new topics we’re approaching. I try to bring a journalist’s mindset to exploring business topics.

 

What has surprised you at Columbia Business School?

I’ve been really surprised at how collaborative the community is. I thought that students would want to study on their own, but I’ve always been able to find classmates who want to work together — from doing homework, to studying, to reviewing answers. Everyone is very supportive.

 

How have you engaged with the community at the School?

I’m an associate vice president of Women’s Week, which is a part of Columbia Women in Business. Together we plan a week-long program around women’s issues. We aim to provide a well-rounded suite of events and speakers, including women from various industries, entrepreneurs, and investors.

 

You’re a first-year student. What are your summer plans?

I plan to intern at IBM. I am excited about it because I have always been interested in technology. I want to learn about how technology can impact different industries, especially the media industry.

 

 

Coree Mahoney
MBA
Class of 2018
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Scottsdale, AZ
Previous Education: 
BS in criminal justice from California State University Sacramento, 2010
Previous Work Experience: 
I was an active duty intelligence officer in the United States Navy.
Post-CBS Goals: 
I would like to begin a career that involves management, financial services, or aerospace and defense. I want to join an organization with a positive culture and motivating mission.
CBS Activities: 
Member of the Forte Foundation; Military in Business Association; Columbia Women in Business; Investment Banking Club; Wine Society; and the Retail and Luxury Goods Club; Chair of Sponsorship: Brand and Apparel for the CBS Fashion Show
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I enjoy running in Central Park, trying new restaurants, shopping, and sightseeing.

You were in the Navy before business school. What was that experience like?

I loved my time in the Navy. For my first tour, I was with an F/A-18 squadron. These jets can take off and land on aircraft carriers. I did one deployment with them to the Arabian Gulf for eight months. The pilots would fly into Afghanistan every morning to support the ground operations, and I briefed the pilots before and after missions. If they dropped any bombs, I reported it. Overall, it was amazing to experience the dedication to mission accomplishment within the US military.

Life on the carrier — which was huge, there were about 5,000 people onboard — was not as bad as it sounds. We had a Starbucks, multiple gyms and stores, a post office, and concerts and BBQs on holidays. I never had to cook, and I only had a five-minute walk to work each morning. I would get off the night shift and exercise on the rowing machine in the morning while watching dolphins play in the water.

For my second tour, I did a non-operational intelligence tour, in Washington, DC, where I worked at the Office of Naval Intelligence. I analyzed foreign naval operations in Europe, Russia, Syria, and parts of Africa. I absolutely loved that, too.

What was behind your decision to end your Navy career and go back to school?

I was attracted to Columbia Business School because there were so many international students whom I knew I could learn a lot from. I did not want to be at a school full of people just like me. I also met with alumni, who were so supportive — that’s when I knew Columbia was a community that I wanted to be a part of. Additionally, I wanted to be in New York to begin my new career, and the School offered so much access to the top businesses in the world. You can’t beat being in the heart of New York while being a student in business school.

What did you learn about leadership and organizations in the Navy that you brought with you to business school?

The US Navy is a massive organization, and inevitably there are both good and bad examples of leadership. I always looked at both as great situations from which to learn something. During my first tour in the aviation community, we had a really cohesive group. Our squadron was about 220 people, and the most senior person would meet with all of us in the hanger about once every two weeks. I saw how he set an example to take care of the sailors in the squadron and their families. I started to emulate that example.

From then on, I focused on the people who worked for me. I realized that being able to pull people in and bring everybody together, while recognizing that the method for doing so is different for everyone, is a part of leadership that is rarely emphasized. You need to adapt your strategy for motivating each person and build your team that way. And when you build a great team, they will move mountains to complete the mission.

What’s your impression of the community at Columbia Business School so far?

The military community here is awesome; it’s comforting to hear the banter back and forth between the different branches in our group chat. The Columbia community as a whole is so diverse, and I’m learning a ton, about both business and different cultures. I thought I learned a lot when I went to other countries with the Navy, but here I’m learning even more from everyone’s personal stories. I don’t think it would be such an amazing experience if it weren’t that way.

What are your plans for the future?

I am interested in the banking industry, maybe a corporate strategy type of role. Before coming to business school, if I saw a Wells Fargo on the corner, it was just a bank to me, and I didn’t think much about it. Here, I started to learn that there’s a lot behind that, so I may go that route. But I’m here to explore. I want to find something that I enjoy doing and that may be something else that I haven’t even heard of yet.

What advice would you give other military veterans who are interested in attending business school?

The most surprising thing for me was that recruiting kicks off right away in the fall. I thought I would come to business school to figure out what I wanted to do, but there isn’t much time for that. My advice for other veterans is to think about what they want to do the summer before school starts, and come prepared to start recruiting for that career path.

Saskia Chanoine
MBA
Class of 2017
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Born in Washington, DC; Haitian roots
Previous Education: 
BA in international relations and community health from Tufts University, 2009
Previous Work Experience: 
I worked for PBS/WNET in New York as a producer for the national show SciTech Now, and as an associate producer for the docu-series Treasures of New York
Post-CBS Goals: 
Working in media in New York or launching a venture in the media space
CBS Activities: 
VP of speakers, Media Management Association; VP of Women’s Week, Columbia Women in Business Club; alumni chair, cluster H’17; member of the Technology Business Group, Wine Society, Marketing Association of Columbia, Black Business Association, and Hermes Society
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Walking, which is how I discover new places, find new stores, and take in the architecture of the city; trying new restaurants; seeing shows, from free jazz nights at Lincoln Center to Broadway

Why did you choose Columbia Business School?

When I visited Columbia, it just felt like home. The School has a very strong media program. I dove right into it, taking a position in the media management association. It provided an avenue to work closely with the department and to learn from the people in it. There are so many opportunities.

 

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

I’m taking a master class this semester. These are often taught by New Yorkers who are at the top of their field. You get real, practical knowledge from them – what’s happening in the field and what you should be concentrating on. We have access to so many interesting people. And there’s also the cultural aspect of being in New York. I love the theater, I love the arts, and I love music. You also learn from that.

 

What has been your favorite thing at Columbia Business School so far?

My favorite thing is called CBS Matters. Every Thursday, one or two people present about their life, on any aspect they choose. Some people have focused on the country that they come from. Others dive into the details, like, "My ancestors came on the Mayflower." These are the most precious moments, because it's really when people open up.

 

What has surprised you?

The people surprised me the most. I came from a non-traditional background, in nonprofit, and didn’t necessarily have the quantitative experience that a lot of my peers have. But people are so open to helping you. They’ll take their time -- 30 minutes, an hour, three hours – to break down a problem and help you walk through it. In school, time is your most valued asset, but everyone makes the effort to help each other as much as they can.

 

What advice would you give to others?

It's really important to take the time to reflect, and to have new experiences. Some people come to business school with one specific goal in mind. For example, I came for media, and I was looking to get back into media. But an internship opportunity in finance came up. I never saw myself as a finance person, but the School opened the doors for me, and I got to peek behind the curtains to see how the industry works. I’d have lightbulb moments like, "Oh that's what that meant in the class," or, "Oh, that's what the professor was trying to drive at." It’s so important to be open to new opportunities, to try different things. This is the time that you can do it.

 

What will you take with you from Columbia Business School?

I didn’t expect business school to be emotional, but a self-reflective journey is part of the experience. I had confidence coming in, but I realized when I arrived that everyone here is a superstar. It made me question my fit and skills. But I discovered this is part of the process, and you emerge from this process with a different confidence than you had coming in. I'm going to leave more confident than before, knowing that I can attack problems and challenges that I didn't foresee, or that I had never expected to come face to face with.

 

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.

Sonie Guseh
MBA
Class of 2016
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Durham, North Carolina
Previous Education: 
BA in english from the University of Pennsylvania, 2006
Previous Work Experience: 
Advertising Sales Account Manager at Google, Senior Communications Associate at Group Gordon Strategic Communications, and Summer 2015 Digital Distribution and Partner Marketing Group Intern at HBO
Post-CBS Goals: 
Television marketing strategy
CBS Activities: 
Hermes Society, Black Business Students Association, Columbia Women in Business, Marketing Association of Columbia, and Media Management Association
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Summer in the city — everything from lounging on rooftops to visiting local beaches to outdoor eating

Since joining CBS, I’ve noticed that cross-cultural community building is an integral part of the program. It’s not just that my first-year class consists of 41% international students, 32% US minorities, and 36% women, but that people are really open and transparent about sharing their backgrounds and experiences.

From the first day of Orientation — when our peer advisors shared that inclusion is one of the key tenets of the CBS experience — to the everyday openness and transparency with which people share their backgrounds, cultures, and creeds (for example, the diverse attendance at cultural events), the community heralds and maintains our inclusive nature.

On September 11, 2014, a member of my cluster sent a message to all of us that said, “I know this can be a tough day for many New Yorkers — let’s open up our arms and be there for each other during what is likely a difficult day for many.” It was a warm reminder for all of us, whether we lived in New York at the time or not, that our community is open and that our classmates are here for each other.

I am amazed by the many opportunities for cross-cultural learning in the CBS experience, including visiting Italy as part of the Chazen International Study Tour program. Fellow students from Italy helped organize the trip, and we visited professional and cultural sites during our week there.

Additionally, the most fascinating part of business school is getting to know my classmates. This year, we have a supper club series where students invite small groups of peers to dinner in their homes. We sign up to either host or attend, and it is a great way to meet new people. The supper club really helps build the community feeling that is so pervasive and strong here at CBS.

In this environment, I feel comfortable sharing my own perspectives — like my work experiences in tech, advertising, and communications — with my classmates. When I think back to why I chose CBS, it was partially because of the strong academic programs and exceptional relationships in industries of interest to me. And while I expected to learn lots from my classmates, it's amazing to think about how much I've learned personally and professionally from them. I hope to continue to share my own views with others given all of our unique traits and backgrounds.

Corey Lian
MBA
Class of 2016
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Cerritos, California; born in Xi’an, China
Previous Education: 
BS in mechanical engineering with a minor in political science from UCLA, 2010
Previous Work Experience: 
Growth strategist at Deloitte Consulting
Post-CBS Goals: 
Product manager in a tech company; growth equity (investment side)
CBS Activities: 
Private Equity/Venture Capital Club; Innovation and Creativity in Business Society, Technology Business Group, General Management Association; Volleyball Club; Gourmet Club
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Grabbing cheap eats from Xi'An Famous Foods—that's where I was born so it's always good to be able to have a taste of home
Areas of Interest: 

What is it like to go to business school in New York City?
One day, I was able to speak with David Stern, the ex-commissioner of the NBA, visit a rising health startup and speak to the founder about the challenges he overcame, and squeeze in a food tour adventure, all within 24 hours.

What class are you most excited about, or what class has been your favorite?
I really liked Business Analytics because we were taught really practical ways to use data for insight into making better decisions. I feel like that's very important no matter what role you're going into. Also, Economics of Strategic Behavior with Professor Bruce Greenwald, who has a book out, too. I thought this was an awesome class because it presented a refreshingly simple approach to business strategy.

What has been your favorite experience at CBS?
I think one of my favorite experiences was the West Coast trek in January. Over 40 of us spent a whole week in the Bay Area visiting companies and getting inside access to top tech and startup firms – and it was awesome simply traveling with the people there.

How does being in New York City help you with your career goals?
Generally speaking, the city is so dense with industry leaders that no matter who you want to meet, that person is never too many connections away. Also, it doesn't matter where the industry that you're passionate about is concentrated: if it’s not New York City, the influencers in those industries will definitely make a trip here within a year.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Columbia Business School community?
You know how there's that saying about how you love your friends more because you get to pick them, but your family's always there for you? Well, I think that at CBS you get to pick this family that will always be there for you.

Once you have your CBS degree, how will you conquer the world?
For me it wasn't ever so much about conquering the world. I feel like at CBS I've learned that it's about bringing these collective minds together to do something that we all care about.

Aditi Sahani
MBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Westborough, Massachusetts
Previous Education: 
BSBA in entrepreneurship at Babson College
Previous Work Experience: 
EMC before business school and Google intern during summer 2014
Post-CBS Goals: 
Marketing in the technology space
CBS Activities: 
Peer Advisor Program, VP of communications for the Student Government, South Asian Business Association, Innovation + CBS, Technology Business Group
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I love trying new places to eat and finding hole-in-the-wall gems like Taim in the West Village. Weekend brunch is my favorite meal, and I love walking around the different neighborhoods in NYC.

"You don't open up your life story to anyone, but when you do and people take it in and understand you, you build stronger relationships."

I have done my CBS Matters twice — once for my cluster during cluster elections and once for my rookie cluster during the Class of 2016 Orientation. The first time I talked about how I grew up, what matters to me, and shared stories that have made me who I am today. It was a nerve-wracking experience in some ways because it was September — the first month of business school — and I was talking with 68 students in my cluster who I didn't know very well about something that was really personal to me. As nervous as I was starting that conversation, by the end of it I felt much closer to my cluster. That's one of the reasons CBS Matters is so powerful. You don't open up your life story to anyone, but when you do and people take it in and understand you, you build stronger relationships.   

The second time I did it was for my rookie cluster when I was their PA, and it was to show them the power of doing CBS Matters and how you can build connections with different people. Afterwards people said to me, "It was amazing to see your CBS Matters, and I think I will do mine because I saw yours." That's a powerful statement to get from someone you have only known for two weeks.     

Divya Surana
MBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA, January Entry
Hometown or Country: 
Mumbai, India
Previous Education: 
BE in engineering and business management, University of Warwick, UK, 2009
Previous Work Experience: 
Leader of Site Services at Procter & Gamble UK, Marketing for Chef’s Basket (food startup), Pinkberry, and Hard Rock Cafe in India
Post-CBS Goals: 
Marketing and business development
CBS Activities: 
Teaching assistant for Digital Marketing; VP of Student Leadership & Ethics Board; VP of Retail & Luxury Goods Club; VP of Hermes (Admissions); International Student Advisory Board
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I love exploring the city’s amazing restaurants and food markets and soaking up the atmosphere in Times Square

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. 

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.

Justin Merolla
MBA
Class of 2015
Program Details: 
Full-Time MBA
Hometown or Country: 
Larchmont, New York
Previous Education: 
BA in economics from Union College, 2006
Previous Work Experience: 
Consulting at PricewaterhouseCoopers, operations at New WIN Products, and product marketing at Apple
Post-CBS Goals: 
To work at the intersection of fitness and technology in Northern California for a company that makes a meaningful social impact by improving our health and fitness.
CBS Activities: 
Chair of the Peer Advisor Program board
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Running and cycling in Central Park and up to Bear Mountain, walking and people watching in different neighborhoods is oddly entertaining, the Met Museum and its rooftop bar, Museum of Natural History, Atlantic Grill, La Esquina, Red Rooster, Blue Smoke, Sushi Yasuda, Keens Steakhouse…this could go on for a while.

 

"At the end of the day, it's a familiar face in the hallway, and it's a person you know you can trust."

The relationship between peer advisors and incoming students is a really wonderful one because being a peer advisor is not an event – it's a process. During Orientation, you build this rapport and camaraderie with new students, but then beyond that you're constantly a point of contact for them. You're a safety spot for the new students. They know they can always come to you after Orientation ends. 

Some of the things that peer advisors do after Orientation is over is follow up on assignments to make sure everyone is comfortable, that the learning teams are functioning efficiently, and that there aren't any problems with team dynamics. At the end of the day, it's a familiar face in the hallway, and it's a person you know you can trust. It's someone who has made you feel you're part of something really special. 

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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.