Student Blogs


Laura Guzman, CEMBA '14

May 12 2014

A Postcard from the Future

Laura Guzman, CEMBA '14

I am in the very dated habit of writing a postcard to my grandmother almost every time I travel, taking a few minutes to share a reflection on my latest adventure. While certainly there are a number of more convenient means to do this these days – email, Facebook, a phone call – I appreciate the lost art of the hand-written note.

There is something about the little bit of extra effort required to track down that perfect postcard, putting pen to paper, writing out an actual mailing address, and tracking down a stamp makes the whole process feel like a real accomplishment.

A recent trip to Singapore (a whole other adventure story for another day) gave me the occasion to send a “report from the future,” a fun recount of the day that had not yet happened 12 hours behind back in the States.

Team SauerkrautToday, I have another opportunity to give a report postmarked to all of you current and would-be students from the first day of another future – the day after the Cornell Executive MBA experience has ended.

I departed Palisades early today to catch a flight to San Francisco. This is an important flight, as I’m permanently moving from NYC to the Bay Area, the first of many big changes coming on the heels of my CEMBA adventure.

All was quiet, as one might expect at 4:30am after an evening of celebrating our final class day. Yesterday we delivered our final presentations for our Global Business Project.  A parallel the whole CEMBA experience, I was impressed by how far we all came. There were moments for many of us where completing our projects seemed a near impossible feat, yet somehow we all pulled off some amazing global adventures and very impressive project outcomes.

Most of my classmates will think I’m a bit crazy for reporting this, but early Sunday mornings on Palisades weekends are among my favorites. I’ll miss hearing the birds outside and watching the sun rise over the little pond outside the window. (A tip for all you in-comers: request a room on the water side. The view is well worth it.) I’ll miss the early workouts at the gym before class, often accompanied by only a couple of other dedicated classmates and Joe A. I’ll miss hearing everyone regaling their adventures from the evening before over coffee, Red bulls, and those infamous Palisades breakfast sandwiches just before the start of Sunday class.

Of course, there are a few things about Palisades Sundays I won’t miss, like those panicked exam-day Sundays where waking early was generally spent doing some last minute cramming. I also won’t miss going home after class on Sunday and assembling the mile-long inventory of assignments due over the next two weeks. But I digress.

As the car pulled out of the driveway this morning, I couldn’t help but reflect on the gravity of that moment. Today is a new chapter. My two-year intense journey, one that has tested every ounce of my stamina, mental capacity, and time management abilities, is over. And let me tell you, now that all is said and done, many of the outcomes of those two years are nothing like I anticipated.

Like many of my classmates, I walked into this experience with some level of intent. The knowledge I would learn in the classroom was to help me become a more well-rounded professional, expand my business management knowledge, and allow me to advance in my career. The degree might even help me land a bigger, better role somewhere else. And I’m happy to say much of this did happen.

But what I didn’t see coming was how much my fellow classmates would contribute the experience. I can honestly say that I learned as much from them as my classes – and that’s saying a lot. The exposure to such a broad range of professionals from all sorts of businesses, walks of life, and corners of the globe has opened my eyes to so much. My classmates pushed me to go far beyond what I ever thought I was capable of, and for that I am so grateful.

I also didn’t anticipate how the program would push me to think beyond the prescribed trajectory I thought this whole journey was going to put me on and consider a new paths. For someone who has singularly focused on one career path nearly her entire life, this was a real epiphany.

So today, on this first day of life after the CEMBA program, what does Sunday look like? True, this particular one will likely be spent unpacking and starting to settle into my new West Coast life and transitioning into a new role at my company. Will Sundays go back to pre-CEMBA days or end up being something else entirely? Who knows?

What I do know is that as I end one chapter of my life and embark on my next adventure, it’s going to be entirely impossible to predict the final outcome. And that’s OK. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the path will make many unexpected and pleasantly surprising turns.

So, for all you current and prospective CEMBA students and to all my graduating classmates, here is a postcard from the future, and the view is pretty nice from here.

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