Josef Mastragostino

Josef Mastragostino

Executive MBA Metro NY '16

Age: 33
Hometown: Boston, MA
Education: LUISS Guido Carli

Why I chose Johnson

I chose Johnson at Cornell as it resonated with what the program strives to create for its students and faculty, a collaborative community. Collaboration is a pivotal aspect of achieving success in life. I am glad to be at Johnson as the school challenges my skills and enhances my experiences with pro-active and cooperative international communities. I strongly believe in belonging to a community that shares ideas while gaining insight in an inspiring context.

Distinctions and Awards


March 11 2016

Firsthand Look: Finance Concentration at Johnson

The second semester of our final year is underway. This time around, we had the opportunity to select electives. This article is for all finance enthusiasts seeking to take on a challenge that only Johnson at Cornell has to offer. In particular, I will try to give you a sense of electives I chose and how our residency week in Ithaca made a huge difference in distinguishing Johnson from other schools. First and foremost, I would like to note that Johnson was recently ranked as a top four business school in the country for Wall Street jobs. This is a great accomplishment as the real deal of finance is often times played in those areas of the market. Johnson overshadows many other schools and consistently ranks in the top positions of this niche industry. The good news doesn’t end there as the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in NYC is slated to open next year creating even stronger ties with the business world.

Let’s get back to electives and classroom experiences. This term, I chose three advanced electives including Financial Analysis and Investment Management, Raising Capital, and Managerial Spreadsheet Modeling. The experience was beyond any of my expectations. I will walk you through each class and provide my impressions on how strong the finance curriculum really is at Cornell. Needless to say, you will have to work hard but the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management means business when it comes to finance.

Financial Analysis and Investment Management, taught by Sanjeev Bhojraj, faculty director of the Parker Center for Investment Research at Cornell, was a great experience. We were immediately immersed in the analysis of financial statements from minute one and asked to match statements to their respective industry. It was a hands-on approach that encompassed knowledge and critical thinking acquired from previous Johnson courses. It required accounting, valuation, strategy, and marketing. From the first exercise I started realizing how the program puts everything in perspective and pulls you into a great learning experience. Classmates were eager to learn more. Using real-life case studies we learned the dynamics of overvalued/undervalued stocks. Having such a diversified cohort made class discussions extremely interesting, offering a chance to discuss our assumptions, and experience “hands on” market expectations. The class goes beyond valuation techniques of finance; it makes you think in a critical way as you dissect firms with an efficient approach. We studied in-depth Ratio Analysis, Cash Flows, Relative and Residual Income Valuation, and more. The class gives the ability to learn about Momentum, Value, Earnings, and Behavioral Finance for a deeper knowledge of financial markets. Class deliverables provided an opportunity to apply and practice concepts learned in class. We were asked to write a note on an investment idea which could include any asset class (equities, bonds, foreign exchange and options). One could then research the necessary material directly from Johnson’s Management Library (second most impressive b-school library in the nation) and conduct financial analysis justifying assumptions and findings. The best part? I learned an impressive amount of information and was able to apply the concepts directly at work as the head investor of a publicly listed company.

Raising Capital is taught by Yaniv Grinstein, adjunct professor of Finance, who also teaches Corporate Finance and Corporate Governance. I enrolled in all of Yaniv’s classes and the experience was always excellent. The course takes you through financing New Ventures, Debt Financing, Negotiating Terms of Debt Contract and Multinational Project Finance. We were able to thoroughly dissect a complete term sheet and pinpoint major issues that affect negotiating with financial institutions. Experienced financial professionals as well as lawyers in the class helped us better understand the “must check items” to look for when engaging with financial institutions. If you already have finance experience this course will definitely take you to the next level.

Managerial Spreadsheet Modeling is taught by Larry Robinson, professor of Operations, Technology and Information Management. I assure you that he teaches best kept secrets of spreadsheet modeling. In addition, it’s a pleasure to sit in his class and enjoy learning while immersed in the Parker Center for Investment Research at Johnson. In the Parker Center students have the opportunity to learn hands-on how to improve spreadsheet modeling techniques and follow lectures interactively. We learned how to create and present professional spreadsheets at executive meetings and lessons learned always had a direct application in the workplace. As is always the case at Johnson, the most impactful skill is being able to interact with other students and learn from your cohort.

Cornell offers this great opportunity to all students with a plethora of elective courses to choose from. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons why Johnson at Cornell ranked sixth highest MBA salaries for 2015 nationwide. Let’s go Big Red!


Josef Mastragostino @CornellMBA_JM 14 Jan 2016
Cornell_MBA Cornell ranked top 10 university in the World.


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