Current Employer: Shearman & Sterling
Title: Global Senior Manager, Business Development
Hometown: New York, New York
Undergraduate School: Cornell University
No matter what your path was and where you were before, you set the path going forward and you can do anything you set your mind to, and I’m living proof of that.
Why did you choose Cornell?
I went here as an undergrad and had a terrific experience. I really enjoyed the education, the faculty, the staff, and the administration—everybody was really terrific, especially the students. Graduating from Cornell has had a huge impact on my career. Everybody sees the Cornell name and they love you immediately. Many times, I’ve encountered people who also graduated from Cornell and there is an immediate bond formed. They are so willing to help and will really go out of their way to make themselves available to you– the alumni connection is just so strong. So, it was a no-brainer for me to come back here, and it was the only school I applied to.
What has surprised you most about the EMBA program?
I was really surprised about just how much we are learning in such a short amount of time. Nobody really comes into an Executive MBA program knowing what to expect. We really are completing a full-time program condensed into weekends; the program is not abbreviated, and it operates at a really fast pace. I was truly surprised at just how much I was taking away from my classes, retaining, and able to immediately apply, especially when juggling the program with a full-time job and family.
What is your most memorable experience?
One moment that stands out in my mind and that left a lasting impression on me is the first Saturday night that we stayed in Ithaca for the residential session. We had a quiz bright and early Saturday morning and then had to get together with our teams, which we’d never worked with before.
Getting through that first day together and then going out as a group afterwards and having a chance to unwind collectively really helped us to build incredible bonds within our team, as well as with the rest of our cohort. The realization that this class of 66 people are in the same boat as you, are going to be sharing this experience with you for the next two years, and are going to be spending a significant amount of time with you was the result of this very powerful experience.
What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself from this program?
I learned that I don’t need very much sleep! [Laughs] You know, I always thought that I was pretty stubborn, but this program and experience has forced me to be more open-minded and adaptable, which has been a pretty great takeaway for me.
What makes the EMBA program unique?
I think there are two things that really make the EMBA program unique.
The first is the format. Instead of trying to go to school after work or traveling in for a weekend and only being in class for one day, the Saturday-Sunday format works with both my professional and personal life. It is great having a group of people that you are traveling with and staying with because you get really close to your classmates so quickly and build bonds that you would never, ever build in another program.
The second piece is the alumni network—the fact that they want to help. As soon as they know you are from Cornell, they want to do anything that they can to help you out. It definitely played in my decision to come here. I spoke to alumni that I randomly called to ask about their experiences at the business school and everyone was welcoming and more than willing to speak to me about their experiences, and they encouraged me to apply.
What advice do you have for anyone applying to the program?
My biggest piece of advice is to make sure that you are ready. It is an amazing program, but it is also a big commitment. You need to be able to balance your work, your education, and your family. Everybody else in your life has to be ready and understand that they are going to lose a big piece of you for the next two years, so it is important to make sure you and your support system fully understand what you are signing up for.
What is the legacy you’d like to leave behind?
I have a very non-traditional academic path. I dropped out of high school before I went back to college, and I ended up going to a community college for two years and then transferred to Cornell undergrad. Now, I’m back at Cornell for a second time, getting my MBA, and I think the legacy that I’d like to leave is the thought: No matter what your path was and where you were before, you set the path going forward and you can do anything you set your mind to. I’m living proof of that.