Sabrina Co, MBA ’18
Hometown: Manila, Philippines
Undergraduate School: Simon Fraser University (Canada)
Immersion: Semester in strategic operations (SSO)
You will hear it time and time again: the Johnson people—students, faculty, staff—are what make Johnson stand out. We’re a small community and even if Ithaca is far away from home, you will build a Johnson family.
Why did you decide to go back to school for your MBA?
I wanted to get my MBA because I enjoyed and excelled in an operational function and needed to build my skillset in that function. I worked in a finance-related function before Johnson, and found the work to be more reactive than proactive. It got repetitive and boring. I wanted a role that was geared more towards strategic planning and defining a business’s future than just making decisions based on what has already been decided by top management.
Coming from a family business, it was also a challenge for me to receive unbiased feedback from my colleagues. I needed an avenue where I can receive honest feedback from people who do not know me. A reason I chose Johnson is because I connected with how they develop leaders.
What did you do prior to coming to Cornell?
I worked in our plastics-manufacturing family business. I rotated across different functions, but primarily worked in the procurement of direct materials.
What have you learned about yourself from your experience at Johnson?
I learned that I can do well in uncertainty. I am the type of person who needs everything planned out to the most minute detail. At Johnson, you will be put into circumstances where not everything is set in stone, and you know what? I have the skillset to adapt accordingly.
What makes your program unique?
You will hear it time and time again: the Johnson people—students, faculty, staff—are what make Johnson stand out. We’re a small community and even if Ithaca is far away from home, you will build a Johnson family. There are a lot of events that bring the whole community together such as our weekly Sage Socials, dinners with faculty and staff, and charity auctions.
Academically, the faculty are top-notch and are readily available to help you. They give it their all (tutorials, office hours, video recording of classes) to help you do well in your classes. The immersions that Johnson offers are also unique. I was part of the semester in strategic operations (SSO) immersion and appreciated how relevant the curriculum was to the work I did over the summer.
What advice do you have for anyone applying to the program?
Look at the two sides of the application. What do you bring to Johnson? What can Johnson do for you?
Add personality in your application! Some of the essay prompts allow you to be less formal and rigid; take advantage of it.
Who is your favorite professor or class and why?
Managerial Spreadsheet Modeling by Larry Robinson—one of the most useful, practical classes you can ever take. The course teaches you how to present your Excel models and reports in a way that can be easily understood by others. I have used what I have learned at work and it definitely adds that extra ‘oomph’ factor to help you stand out. Professor Robinson’s dry sarcasm also makes class time pass by quickly.
Management Writing by Craig Snow. Take this class at the soonest possible term your schedule (and space availability) allows. It will make writing assignments more effective and a lot less tedious. I’m not going to lie—it was a lot of work. However, you notice the big progress you make over the course of seven weeks. Professor Snow adds relevance to the course by customizing your deliverables into scenarios/ prompts of your own choosing.
What student groups, activities, or clubs are you part of?
Activities: Johnson Admissions Group, Family Business Club (co-chair), General Management Association (treasurer)
Immersion: Semester in strategic operations (SSO). SSO has a lot of site visits incorporated into the curriculum. Our capstone project is a week-long project in Pennsylvania, helping a company decrease their lead time by 70 percent. It replicated a real business setting wherein any decisions made affect other departments. In our project, aside from identifying unnecessary wait times and preparing the ideal plant layout, etc., we had to consider the impact of our proposal on other departments such as other production lines in the factory, staffing and training, and sales.
Case competition: My core team took part in the USC Marshall Global Consulting Challenge. Over the span of two months, we were given prompts to answer and we presented our proposal at Amazon HQ at Seattle, WA. Bringing home the trophy and getting a spot in Sage’s staircase (where Johnson accomplishments are displayed) was a real treat.