Meet Rochester Simon’s MBA Class of 2019

Meet Rochester Simon’s MBA Class of 2019
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Accounting has been called the “language of business.” If true, it is a language with a modest vocabulary. On whole, balance sheets, cash flows, and asset classes are short-term markers with a narrow purpose. They hardly reflect the intricate interrelations and paradoxical patterns inherent to business – where data acts as words and economics serves as structure.

At the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School, data is the means to divine the complex and encompassing forces that drive commerce. Here, economics and analytics are the center point where the fundamentals – marketing, operations, finance – intersect. Indeed, Simon is a program where the art is deciphering the science. Students learn how to develop inclusive models that frame the present to better plot the future. In the process, they shed the clutter and ease uncertainty, so they can ask the right questions and invest in the right opportunities.

ECONOMICS-FUELED AND DATA-DRIVEN

The Simon system is characterized by a reverence for integration, depth, and evidence. This economics-fueled and data-driven approach is coveted by many MBA candidates who seek a well-rounded academic experience with analysis at its core.

“With an engineering background, I knew that I wanted a MBA program known for analytics that would allow me to continue to leverage my quant background,” says Mike Alcazaren, a Buffalo native and Raytheon veteran who joined the program last fall. “This is most certainly true at Simon. From our classes in business modeling to marketing research, we always make data-driven decisions.”

Simon centers its program around data, no doubt. That’s one reason why it ranks among the top MBA programs for finance and economics according to the Financial Times. However, #SimonStong is strong across the board. That’s courtesy of heavy academic demands being paired with intensive personalized coaching, which prepare students to translate the trends and project their potency.
Simon School students prepping for class.

“While it does rank very high for finance, we have brilliant faculty in a number of fields and many MBAs go into a multitude of roles after graduation,” explains David Distant, a 2017 graduate and member of Poets&Quants Best & Brightest MBAs. Marketing, consulting, operations and supply chain, data analytics, and entrepreneurship are all amazing career options that Simon MBAs are consistently chosen for. My classmates in other disciplines are very happy with the rigor of those tracks as well.”

FROM A CAGE FIGHTER TO A GARBAGE ARTIST

Thus far, you’d hear the same from Simon’s Class of 2019, a star-studded group of full-time MBA candidates who come to Rochester from firms as diverse as Oracle, PwC, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Chevron. Make no mistake: Rochester isn’t a quant finishing school for banking analysts and marketing managers. Take Krystalyn Jones. An “avid learner” and jazz aficionado, Jones has worked in human resources in roles focused heavily on diversity and inclusion. Among her accomplishments, she helped an employer rank among Vault’s Top 25 law firms for diversity. Later on, she implemented the Anti-Defamation League’s anti-bias and bullying prevention initiatives in the New York region.

For Jones, the Simon School, where nearly 50% of the class hails from overseas, was a chance to operate in a truly diverse environment on an everyday basis – and experience first-hand the benefits it offers. “I am eager to learn and understand different cultures because of the value-add different backgrounds and perspectives bring toward successfully achieving a common goal,” she notes. “Moreover, these interactions create significant contributions to organizations that directly influence both performance and culture, providing a sustainable, competitive advantage.”

The class isn’t just diverse in terms of origin. They also bring an array of unique experiences to the table. Adrian Gallardo, a “problem-solver” who’s “passionate about finance and technology,” has trained with UFC fighters. Think guillotines and kimuras are scary? Yonnas Terefe faced his fear of heights…by skydiving. While Devins Paton may be among the nine million people who work in American finance, just ask yourself: How many of them can say they made medicine for elephants in Thailand?

Outside of work, the Class of 2019 has found plenty of outlets to channel their curiosity and artistic instincts. Alcazaren may dream of commercializing technology, but his passion is travel. He has already visited 43 states and 16 countries – and plans to hit six more later this year. Cate Bannar stirs her creative juices by knitting and sewing. And then there’s Aparna Unnithan, who describes herself as “Leslie Knope meets Wonder Woman.” Her hobby? “I am a huge fan of upcycling,” she says. “I like turning ordinary discarded things into works of art.”

‘FAILURE IS TUITION FOR MAKING THE NEXT VENTURE SUCCESSFUL’

This year’s class also took ordinary situations and created extraordinary results. At SodaStream, Bannar launched new online strategies and functionalities that boosted digital channel sales by 45%. In her first year on the job, Sree Madakkavil had already filed her first design patent. Working for the City of New York, Unnithan spearheaded an analytics platform to assist with housing the homeless. At the same time, Jasmine Mitchell chose to forego a desk job for the rough-and-tumble world of retail – and eventually led merchandising for one of Macy’s top volume stores.
Simon students preparing a project together.

Sometimes, the class’ biggest successes came from falling short. Gallardo dumped a steady analyst job to launch a company – and absorbed the value of a team motivation and financial forecasting. By the same token, Alcazaren fully admits that his cleantech firm, which used drones to detect disease in grape vineyards, failed…on the surface, at least. However, it was also the “catalyst” that pushed him to business school. “My entrepreneurship professor at Simon, Dennis Kessler, describes this as a part of the entrepreneurial experience – it’s not a failure, it’s just “tuition” that I paid for making the next venture successful,” he jokes.

And these successes haven’t stopped since they entered business school. Many have already landed their dream internships. This summer, you’ll find Jarmarius Moten, the pride of Florida A&M, at Google. At the same time, Terefe and Alcazaren at Morgan Stanley and Amazon respectively. The first year also has been kind to South Africa’s Patrick Coulter, who earned a spot on both the dean’s list and the Boston Consulting Group’s summer internship roll. How is this for overcoming a fear of networking: Madakkavil became so good at it that she is weighing internship offers from Facebook, Amazon and Whirlpool!

The class’ achievements don’t stop there. Gallardo was part of the first Simon team to ever win the regional finals at the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC), ticketing them to the global finals. He wasn’t alone in making history. Mitchell was awarded the inaugural Women’s Alliance Scholarship. For her, the scholarship represents far more than just assistance in meeting her financial burdens. “It is catalyst for me to serve as a change agent for women’s rights throughout my time at Simon and future career,” she says.

NEARLY HALF OF CLASS HAIL FROM OVERSEAS

And Simon’s Class of 2019 is 84 catalysts strong. Overall, the school received 894 applications during the 2016-2017 cycle, down from the 915 apps it received the previous year. In the process, the acceptance rate fell from 33% to 30%, putting Simon on par with Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) and USC (Marshall).

Academically, the class brings a 666 average GMAT to class, along with a 3.4 undergraduate GPA. The class boasts a 34.1% female population, a higher number than programs like Georgetown (McDonough) or Vanderbilt (Owen). Chances are, that number will go higher in future years as graduates enjoy one of the smallest pay gaps with men according to the Financial Times. That doesn’t count its above average $116,294 average pay and 93.8% placement rate for the Class of 2017 – with recent graduates gobbled up by the likes of Bain & Company, McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Twitter, Johnson & Johnson, and Nike.

Go to Page 2 to Access a dozen profiles of Simon’s Class of 2019 MBAs.

University of Rochester, Simon School of Business, ©richardschultz2017

However, it is the school’s multicultural setting that stands out. Nearly 29% of the class consists of U.S. minorities, up nearly 9% over the previous year. Even more, international students comprise 46.9% of the 2019 class – a composition that gives Simon students a decided professional advantage after graduation.

“We’re a small school that’s home to different nationalities and different perspectives – and we intentionally incorporate those perspectives into everything we do,” shares Dean Andrew Ainslie in a statement to P&Q. “We believe this has helped our students thrive within the Simon environment and in the workforce. Different viewpoints make our research and coursework more relevant and forward-thinking. Diversity is also represented at Simon, and the University of Rochester, by our international immersions programs in South Africa, China, Switzerland and Israel where students learn by doing and further enhance professional skills such as problem-solving, leadership and team work.”

SIMON INVESTING HEAVILY IN GLOBAL TREKS AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Dean Ainslie argues that there has never been a better time to be a part of the Simon community.” The numbers certainly bear out his assertion. At Simon, data provides the tools to predict, plan, and persuade. According to Ainslie, the program focuses on three areas: “how analytical frameworks drive success in business; what it takes to collaborate and manage in the contemporary, global workplace; and our students’ professional growth and goals.” Like data analysis, the Simon curriculum is continuously being reviewed and refined.

For one, Ainsile says, the faculty is beefing up their strengths, adding new courses in quantitative finance and business analytics to meet emerging demands in the marketplace. At the same time, it is doubling down on its experiential learning programs in the Rochester community, such as its partnerships with Foodlink and Habitat for Humanity. Notably, the program has hired a director – a Simon MBA, no less – to manage the program. This director will also work to prep students for the various corporate competitions that Simon sponsors.

“The Simon culture is unified by our students’ interest in making an impact on the world around them,” he writes. “We have strong participation in a variety of outreach initiatives that support the Rochester community.”

True to Simon’s mission, the program recently added international treks during the winter and spring breaks. These treks, says Ainsile, involve corporate and site visits and include project work for credit-bearing classes. Their goal? Build class camaraderie and expose students to business practices across the globe.
Andrew Ainslie, Dean of the University of Rochester’s Simon School

“These treks are for both first- and second-year student,” Ainsile adds. “If students have an interest in choosing one location in their first year, and a different location in their second, they have multiple options to choose from. We will travel to four to five different locations each year—South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In addition to supplementing the full academic term international exchange options that we have offered for years, these trips provide great opportunities for our students to round out their experiences and walk away prepared for internships and the job market.”

SMALL SCHOOL ATMOSPHERE IS THE CLINCHER

So what enticed the Class of 2019 to spend their next two years in Western New York? Not surprisingly, the program’s prowess in data and analytics rose to the top of the list. Mitchell admits that she “overlooked” Simon initially, targeting programs with a strong footprint in retail and luxury instead. However, she soon recognized that Simon offered the unique depth and breadth that would help her stand out among her peers.

“Branded as the “go-to” school for analytics, I knew I found my competitive advantage,” she says. “The common thread of quantitative rigor within the courses was instrumental in my decision to come to Simon. In a business marketplace with ever increasing amounts of data, today’s business executives must know how to manage, analyze, and interpret it.”

For others, it is Simon’s size, where the program balances that difficult line between being academically rigorous yet deeply intimate. Alcazaren and Unnithan both sought out the small school experience during the application process. Each wanted the ability to truly know their peers and connect with them. Thus far, the program has lived up to its billing for both.

“Simon’s small class size is an absolute advantage,” Alcazaren asserts. “I have been able to take leadership positions in our class, form lifelong friendships, and receive individualized attention from our world-class faculty.”

In contrast, Unnithan appreciates how “you know everyone and everyone knows you!” She got a taste of the passionate and helpful nature of Simon MBA candidates during on-site events. “One of the key things I remember is a current student reaching out to me after one of the admission events to let me know that she felt I was a good fit with the culture,” she recalls. “I found that level of personal attention indicative of the overall culture of warmth and support at Simon.”

LOW COSTS AND NATURAL BEAUTY MAKE ROCHESTER A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE

What is the most overlooked benefit of the Simon MBA? That would be the city of Rochester, which is hindered by the impression that is geographically isolated. Kathryn Flaschner, a 2017 P&Q MBA to Watch, believes this impression misses the bigger benefits.

“It is a fact that we are a bus ride away from New York City,” she concedes, “but we are scrappy. Simon attracts talent that is willing to work for the doors they open, and then give back to the institution that supported them along the way. Our geographic location is not a myth, but I often feel that people do not give enough credit to this city. As VP of Partnerships for Net Impact, I have sourced various consulting projects with clients in the city. As MBAs, Rochester gives us an exceptional opportunity to gain experience while making an impact.”
Downtown Rochester, New York

That said, Rochester is home to a host of unexpected pleasures. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Rochester offered the most affordable housing in 2017 among markets with a million or more people. That same year, it also ranked among U.S. News’ Best Places to Live, with high marks for high quality education and short commutes. That doesn’t even include the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes region, highlighted by flashy fall foliage and jaw-dropping waterfalls…not to mention world class boating, fishing, golf, and farmer’s markets.

“Rochester isn’t an arctic tundra — at least not all year long,” Distant adds. “In the summer and fall, the campus and city are absolutely gorgeous.”

SUCCESS TIED TO GROWTH AND RESPECT

With year one nearly in the books, the Class of 2019 has begun reflecting on what they hope to accomplish. Gallardo ties his success to expanding the network tied to the Simon School Venture Capital Fund, particularly in his native Southern California. “I started on this initiative a few months ago and have managed to develop a few partnerships already, but there is still a lot of work to do. I am sure this work will pay off not only for the fund but also for the school,” he says.

On the other hand, Bannar is looking to cross more traditional goals off her checklist. “After my first year of business school, success would be building a strong network, pushing myself out of my comfort zone to learn new skills, and becoming a club leader to make a positive impact on the future Simon community.”

For Panton, success would mean he has attained the highest honor in business: the respect of his peers. “If, after my first year, you were to interview my peers and ask for one word to describe Devins and they said “reliable,” then I would consider my first year a success.”

DON’T MISS: MEET ROCHESTER SIMON’S MBA CLASS OF 2018

Student Hometown Alma Mater Employer
Mike Alcazaren Buffalo, NY University at Buffalo Autodesk
Cate Bannar Medford, NJ Northeastern University SodaStream
Patrick Coulter Cape Town, South Africa University of Cape Town Pick n Pay Retailers
Adrian Gallardo Tijuana, Mexico CETYS Universidad PwC
Gavin D. Hall Brooklyn, NY Villanova University Cohen & Steers Capital Management
Krystalyn Jones Mount Laurel, NJ University of Virginia Anti-Defamation League
Sree Madakkavil Trichur, India Amrita University The Bharatnatyam Project Arts Academy
Jasmine Mitchell Rochester, NY University of Pittsburgh Macy’s
Jarmarius Moten Mobile, AL Florida A&M University Rockwell Automation
Devins Panton Montego Bay, Jamaica University of the West Indies University of California-Berkeley
Choudhury Shahariar (Shah) Rajshahi, Bangladesh Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology SELISE
Yonnas Terefe Gaithersburg, Maryland University of Maryland Calvert Investments
Aparna Unnithan Kerala, India University of Kerala T Fashion Boutique

Mike Alcazaren

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Mission-driven engineer hoping to solve today’s most challenging problems by commercializing innovative technology.

Hometown: Buffalo, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love to travel! I drove across the US—from Buffalo to San Francisco—and back. In total, I have visited 43 states and 16 different countries, with plans to visit six more countries this year.

Undergraduate School and Major: University at Buffalo, Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Autodesk, Program Manager

Autodesk, Application Engineer

Canary Drones, Co-Founder, COO

Raytheon, Mechanical Engineer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My greatest career accomplishment to date is co-founding my own clean technology company, Canary Drones. We built an algorithm to detect disease before the human eye in grape vineyards. It was an amazing learning experience to bootstrap a technology company from the ground up. Ultimately, we were not successful – but this was the catalyst for me to attend business school. My entrepreneurship professor at Simon, Dennis Kessler, describes this as a part of the entrepreneurial experience – it’s not a failure, it’s just “tuition” that I paid for making the next venture successful.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: My greatest accomplishment at Simon so far is becoming a senior product manager intern at Amazon. This wouldn’t have been possible without our Career Management Center’s help with resume preparation, mock interviews, and connections to our alumni at Amazon.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Make sure that you find the school that fits you. The best way to do this is by doing in-person research such as connecting with the school community, visiting campus, or attending a class. Meet with alumni, staff, faculty, and current students to hear about their experiences and learn about what a typical day is like for students.

Simon has great visiting opportunities for prospective MBA students. Attending an Experience Simon Weekend will help you get a true sense of life in business school and the opportunities you’ll have after you graduate. The conversations that I had during these weekends shaped my decision to join Simon.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I had two requirements during my MBA search: a rigorous quantitative program and a close-knit community. With an engineering background, I knew that I wanted a MBA program known for analytics that would allow me to continue to leverage my quant background. This is most certainly true at Simon. From our classes in business modeling to marketing research, we always make data-driven decisions.

Additionally, after attending a large undergraduate university, I wanted my grad school experience to be much more intimate. I wanted more opportunities to truly connect with the school community of staff, faculty, and peers. Simon’s small class size is an absolute advantage. I have been able to take leadership positions in our class, form lifelong friendships, and receive individualized attention from our world-class faculty.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? At the end of my first year of business school, I would consider myself successful if I’m able to launch a clean technology start-up company. There are so many local resources for entrepreneurs that I plan to leverage, including the University of Rochester’s Ain Center for Entrepreneurship and Rochester’s local incubator, High Tech Rochester.

Cate Bannar

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Inquisitive learner with a passion for developing new products and visiting national parks.

Hometown: Medford, NJ

Fun Fact About Yourself: My creative outlet is knitting and sewing clothes. The next goal on my list is sewing a pair of jeans.

Undergraduate School and Major: Northeastern University, Business Administration

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Staples, Product Management Specialist

SodaStream, Assistant Marketing Manager, Associate Marketing Manager

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At SodaStream, I developed and launched a new website with mobile functionality along with a new social and digital strategy designed to drive consumer engagement and sales, ultimately growing the e-commerce channel by 45%. This initiative played a key role in re-positioning SodaStream in the market as a sparkling water brand.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: Accepting an offer for an internship next summer has been the biggest accomplishment so far. Recruiting is a source of stress for all MBA students, so being able to look back at all the work I put into the recruiting season and knowing it paid off is something I’m very proud of.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants?

  1. My biggest piece of advice is to start early. Allow yourself enough time to fully prepare for each step of the application process.
  2. Find a mentor who can give you advice and constructive feedback along the way.
  3. Plan school visits so you can assess your fit within the school’s culture. During the application process, GMAT score, school ranking, location, and other factors can overshadow cultural fit, but in order to be successful, I believe fit is the most important factor.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? When I visited Simon, what stuck out most to me was the sense of community within the class of 2018. It was very apparent that Simon was a collaborative environment and students were more interested in success as a whole than personal gain. For me, this was the type of school environment I was interested in.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? After my first year of business school, success would be building a strong network, pushing myself out of my comfort zone to learn new skills, and becoming a club leader to make a positive impact on the future Simon community.

Patrick Coulter

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Friendly, active, and outgoing. I enjoy helping businesses become more efficient and effective.

Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa

Fun Fact About Yourself: I enjoy running on the road and trails as often as I can. I’m most proud of completing a half marathon in just under 90 minutes.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Cape Town, Bachelor of Business Science (major in Finance)

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Pick n Pay Retailers (Pty) Ltd – Cape Town, South Africa:

  • Senior Analyst, Smartshopper Loyalty program
  • Manager of Pick n Pay Online Business-to-Business, Online Shopping Division
  • Corporate Strategy Analyst, Group Strategy & Planning Dept.
  • Business & Data Analyst, Information Services Division

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I wouldn’t want to claim any one professional accomplishment as being “mine.” Every time we achieved something or produced a great piece of work, it came down to the efforts of the whole team. I don’t think any one of our numerous successes or accomplishments stands out more than any other. There were, of course, some that had more impact while others were more personally satisfying. So, I would say that rather than any single event, my greatest success has been being able to work successfully as part of numerous teams and consistently deliver a high standard of work.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: I’m early into the program, but making it onto the Dean’s merit list for the 2017 fall term has been one highlight so far.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Think seriously about what attributes of each school matter to you. You don’t have to go to the most expensive school or the one with the highest ranking to get the experience that is best for you.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Aside from Simon Business School’s excellent credentials in finance and economics, I chose Simon because of the small class size and the incredible warmth of everyone I had engaged with at the school before coming here. I felt that Simon would be a place where I could be an integral part of a closely-knit group and build meaningful relationships with my classmates.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? For me there are three big items. The number one goal is to convert my summer internship with BCG into a full time offer for when I finish at Simon. I also feel that continuing to excel academically and making the Dean’s merit list for the winter and spring terms would also be something I consider a success. Lastly, I think being elected to a club board and having everything well planned and in place for the new academic year (before leaving for my internship) will make a tremendous difference for future members and would be considered a success.

Adrian Gallardo

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: A multicultural and problem-solving entrepreneur who is passionate about finance and technology.

Hometown: Tijuana, Mexico

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have trained with a couple of current UFC fighters before they turned professional.

Undergraduate School and Major:

CETYS Universidad, BS in Business Administration

City University of Seattle, BS in Business Administration

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Endeavor Mexico, Jr. Analyst

Lerenit, Co-Founder

PwC, Asset Management – Tax Associate

PwC, Transfer Pricing – Experienced Associate

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My most significant accomplishment so far has been quitting a good job with a steady paycheck to launch my own company. I took the entrepreneurial leap of faith, moving to a new city for incubation, and experiencing things that only happen once in a lifetime. In a couple of months, I learned more than what I had in my previous job. Understanding the importance of having a highly motivated team, how everything needs to be perfectly connected, and how financial forecasting can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Would I do it again? Definitely! It was an amazing experience, and I hope that if I ever have the opportunity again; the skills that I am developing at Simon Business School will help me succeed.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: Making history within the Simon Business School community by being part of the first team to ever win the regional finals for the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC), the world’s largest venture capital competition where students get to be a venture capitalist for a day. We’ll be making our way to the global finals in April 2018.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? My recommendation is to not be afraid of sharing with your employers your intentions of attending business school. My previous manager wrote the best recommendation letter I received, and it was based on my performance at the company. He wrote a compelling and realistic letter stating the reasons why I was a perfect match for Simon Business School. believe this helped position me ahead of many other applicants during the selection process.

Another piece of advice is to take advantage of your network and find someone who has already attended business school to be your mentor. Having someone who has been in your shoes before as a mentor is a significant advantage because he or she can guide you on the steps to follow to reach your goals after business school.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Before coming to business school, I knew three things:

  1. I needed to develop and master financial skills.
  2. I had the interest to live and experience life on the East Coast of the US.
  3. I always wanted to participate in real-life venture capital deals.

After a long search, I came up with a few schools that met my requirements, but after having the opportunity to talk with current students, alumni, and faculty members from Simon, I fell in love with the school, and that made my decision a lot easier. Fast-forward eight months and I’m sure I made the right decision, especially because of the Simon Venture Fund, which is a student-managed venture capital fund that invests real money in entrepreneurs and their startups.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? As of now, I believe part of my success already happened. When I started business school, one of my goals for my first year was to build strong relationships with my classmates. I can already tell that I have friends whom I will be able to count on in the upcoming years, not only in professional matters but also in personal life. The second element to have a successful first year is to expand the Simon School Venture Capital Fund’s network, especially in southern California, where I was born. I started on this initiative a few months ago and have managed to develop a few partnerships already, but there is still a lot of work to do. I am sure this work will pay off not only for the fund but also for the school.

Gavin D. Hall

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Every day trying to be a better son, student, friend, person, than I was yesterday.

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: In 2017 I was co-chairperson of JDRF Young Leadership Committee annual fundraiser where we raised over $180,000 in one night for research for a cure to Type One diabetes.

Undergraduate School and Major: Villanova University, B.S. Computer Science

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Wellington Management Company, LLC, Systems Analyst

Cohen & Steers Capital Management, Senior Business Systems Analyst

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Shortly after I joined my most recent employer, my department endured a reorganization, and after some volatility my team was downsized from seven people to just me. It was a tumultuous and challenging time, but it allowed me to grow outside my comfort zone and learn much more than I had ever imagined. Looking back, it was an immense accomplishment to not only survive that time, but also come out improved as I was rewarded with a promotion at the end of that year.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: Being able to be part of many life-changing experiences, including participating in the 2017 National Black MBA Association case competition and the Simon/Minority Male Leadership Association mentorship program with Vertus High School in Rochester.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Network early and often. The people you meet through this process will be your greatest resources and can impact your decision, regardless if you attend that school or not. I found that interacting with students allowed me to get a much better perspective about different programs than I would have gotten from the admissions department.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Culture and fit is super important to me. The reality is that you are going to spend a lot of time (emphasis on a lot) with these people over the two years, so you should like and feel comfortable with them. Everyone I met at Simon through the application process was super accommodating and helpful, administration and students alike. The culture here is to help one another: #SimonStrong. It felt as if I was immersed in the Simon community even before I was admitted. So the opportunity to be part of an intimate community where I can develop tangible, close relationships with my classmates was valuable to me. Additionally, half of the Simon MBA Class of 2019 class is international, so it is rewarding to learn from their experiences.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? A summer internship, of course, but also to know I have evolved as a person from when I began school—in and out of the classroom. Life is still occurring while we are in school, so since I enrolled in a full-time program, I want to make sure I am benefitting from the experience but also giving back to the school community as much as possible.

Krystalyn Jones

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Avid learner honing my data analytics and leadership skills. Inquisitive, introverted, advocate, ally, efficiency aficionado.

Hometown: I grew up in Mount Laurel, NJ, a suburb of Philadelphia

Fun Fact About Yourself: You can often find me at Small’s Jazz Club on a cold Saturday night because they have the best jazz and hot toddies in NYC.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Virginia, BA French Language and Literature

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: After graduation, I joined the diversity & inclusion office of Polo Ralph Lauren as human resources coordinator. Later, I joined Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP as diversity & inclusion coordinator, where I was responsible for coordinating the organization’s recruitment, retention, and promotion strategies. Additionally, I managed charitable contributions and planned networking, professional development, training, and educational programs. I gained extensive experience in project management and marketing, organizing more than seventy-five community service, continuing legal education, recruiting and pipeline, affinity group-specific, and organization-wide programs and events. The programs contributed toward the law firm’s top 25 ranking on Vault’s Best Law Firms for Diversity and Human Rights Campaign’s Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality for three consecutive years.

Immediately prior to business school, I was the associate education director in the Anti-Defamation League’s New York region, implementing anti-bias and bullying prevention trainings, including A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute, No Place for Hate® Initiative, and workplace education initiatives.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I was at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), I worked with a parent whose child was being bullied for a racial identity. I worked with the school’s administration to provide best practices and resources so they could implement stronger policies to alleviate bullying behaviors more expediently in the future. In addition, all six schools in the district enrolled in anti-bias and bullying prevention trainings and programs to empower students from kindergarten through 12th grade to confront issues of bias and bullying in their schools and communities through education and discussion. Most importantly, the target of the bullying was able to feel safe in the school environment and focus on learning rather than being anxious and distracted. After reflecting on the positive impact these efforts had on this student’s life, I realized that this experience will forever be one of my greatest professional accomplishments because I was able to educate students on the impact of their language and behavior.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: In December 2017, I had the opportunity to expand and heighten my global awareness by participating in a professional development trek to Shanghai and Hong Kong, organized by Simon’s career management center. According to a recent McKinsey & Company article, healthcare expenditures in China are projected to grow to $1 trillion by 2020. China remains one of the world’s most attractive healthcare markets and offers (by far) the largest growth opportunity of all the large emerging economies. Because I plan to pursue a career in healthcare marketing after business school, the trek helped me to better understand the global opportunities available in the healthcare industry. I was able to see first-hand how healthcare is managed in China and identify relevant transferable skills from my human capital management experience that I can apply to future roles.

In connection with my background in diversity and inclusion, I am eager to learn and understand different cultures because of the value-add different backgrounds and perspectives bring toward successfully achieving a common goal. Moreover, these interactions create significant contributions to organizations that directly influence both performance and culture, providing a sustainable, competitive advantage.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? After you have done your research and decided that business school is right for you, make a personalized plan to gain admission to your dream school(s) and execute it as quickly as possible. If you do not apply until you have the perfect GMAT score, essay, and/or recommendation, you may never take the leap! Learning how to quickly troubleshoot and change course can be a game changer. Finally, be sure to have mentors who have gone through the process successfully, know you well, can identify your weaknesses, and can provide successful strategies tailored uniquely to you.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I received feedback from several of my managers that I needed to work smarter, not harder. For me, this advice indicated that I was lacking the necessary frameworks to systematically approach the problems I had and would face throughout my career. I knew that attending Simon Business School would provide me with the quantitative and data analytics skillsets to frame, analyze, and communicate insights that will solve complex business problems efficiently. Additionally, the small class size allows me to have the support I need from fellow classmates and professors to be successful and gain leadership skills in and outside of the classroom.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? After my first year of business school, I would like to make an impact in the healthcare industry and continue to develop close, lasting bonds with my classmates.

Sree Madakkavil

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Adventurous and spontaneous person who is always keen to try new experiences.

Hometown: Trichur, Kerala, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: As a high school athlete, I once clocked 11 seconds for a 100-meter sprint.

Undergraduate School and Major: Amrita University, Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Larsen & Toubro – Electrical Business Group, Graduate Engineering Trainee; Sr. Design Engineer; Asst. Manager

The Bharatnatyam Project Arts Academy, Co-Founder

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: One of my biggest accomplishments is when I filed my first design patent in my first year of employment. The electrical product which incorporated this patented design went on to capture the largest market share in its product category. This achievement was also special because I was the first graduate engineer to file a patent in the first year.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: One of the biggest accomplishments in the MBA program would be overcoming my fear of networking, which was instrumental helping me land three internship offers (from Whirlpool, Amazon, and Facebook).

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Work diligently on preparing for your interview, especially your pitch and why you feel you would be a good fit for the school. Additionally, my advice would be to thoroughly research and assess how the school fits you, too.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? One of the many reasons why I chose Simon was because of its excellent academic reputation, especially in finance and Analytics.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? Not only excelling academically, but also developing a well-rounded personality, which comes by constantly interacting with a diverse set of people at close quarters; an opportunity that comes with a small class size.

Jasmine Mitchell

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I am an incredibly independent spirit who laughs often and never settles.

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am obsessed with blue suede shoes. I own six pairs!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Pittsburgh, B.S. in Business Administration (Major: Marketing and Economics)

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: As a fashion enthusiast, I began my career at Macy’s Inc. in the Executive Development Program (EDP) for store leaders. Over the course of five years, I held various positions at multiple locations. Most notably, I was a cosmetics and fragrance department sales manager where I managed a total sales volume of $6.2 million and 37 beauty advisors. Per my performance, I was elected to the Store Leadership Development Program (SLDP), a program designated for those recognized as a Top 40 high-performing store leader in the company. Most recently, I served as a merchandise team manager in one of Macy’s top 50 volume-driving stores. My experience at Macy’s was invaluable. I had a “front row seat” to better understand our customers and how technology is quickly shaping the way they shop.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Working in the retail industry is an experience that is truly unique. The industry changes so rapidly that not one of my years with the company resembled the one before. I loved the fact that I did not have a desk job and could frequently interact with customers on my sales floor.

As a cosmetics and fragrance department sales manager, I proudly managed the most dynamic and high performing team in the store. Over the course of a year, I partnered with my MAC business manager to increase incremental sales through event planning, heightened customer interaction, and product knowledge education. We proudly increased sales 35% over LY, resulting in a milestone achievement of surpassing $1 million in annual volume.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: This year, I was awarded the Inaugural Women’s Alliance Scholarship for Simon Business School. I am incredibly thankful and proud to receive this honor. Women are still significantly underrepresented within senior leadership roles — women of ethnic backgrounds in particular. I consider this award to be more than an accomplishment. It is catalyst for me to serve as a change agent for women’s rights throughout my time at Simon and future career.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? You are more than the GMAT! I spent so much time stressing about the GMAT prior to business school. I was convinced that my score was so much more than just three numbers. I believed it was a measure of my worth and potential as a business student. In truth, the GMAT is just one “language” used to communicate your skills and abilities. I would encourage prospective students to consider the GRE in addition to the GMAT.

I would also encourage prospective candidates to take a deeper look at schools you may not have previously considered. Business school is a sizeable commitment, challenge yourself to attend a program that is worth such commitment.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? The Simon EDGE Program! I wanted to stand out against other b-school graduates upon re-entering the workforce. In truth, I overlooked Simon during my initial search. I naturally gravitated towards programs with a discernable retail/luxury marketing focus within its curriculum. However, I realized with my experience, that type of program may be redundant. I shifted focus and rediscovered Simon. Branded as the “go-to” school for analytics, I knew I found my competitive advantage. The common thread of quantitative rigor within the courses was instrumental in my decision to come to Simon. In a business marketplace with ever increasing amounts of data, today’s business executives must know how to manage, analyze, and interpret it.

I wouldn’t do Simon justice if I didn’t highlight our unyielding commitment to each other. We serve as each other’s coaches and cheerleaders. It is a contagious part of our culture and makes me undeniably proud.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? At the conclusion of this year, I want to have developed strong, meaningful, and highly engaged relationships with my peers. The level of engagement I have with my classmates is a key component of how I define a successful first year.

Jarmarius Moten

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I am purpose-driven, gritty, inquisitive, adaptive, competitive, resilient, and striving to better myself daily.

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

Fun Fact About Yourself: At my last job as a financial auditor, I traveled to 11 countries throughout North America, Latin America, Asia, and Europe.

Undergraduate School and Major: Florida A&M University, Business Administration (Finance Concentration)

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Rockwell Automation, Financial Auditor

Rockwell Automation, Lead Global Credit Analyst

Rockwell Automation, Finance Leadership Development Program

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I began my six-year career at Rockwell Automation as a financial analyst in a two-year Finance Leadership Development Program. In the program, I had the opportunity to work in four different businesses and functions, from which I gained experience in budgeting, profitability, and business intelligence analysis. Upon completion of the program, I took the role of lead global credit analyst where I assumed credit underwriting responsibilities for Rockwell’s largest global customers. In this role, I also led global projects that improved the Credit Management team’s performance and efficiency. In my most recent role as a financial auditor, I participated in, led, planned, and managed Sarbanes-Oxley and financial compliance audits in 11 countries throughout North America, Latin America, Asia, and Europe.

Of these many experiences, one major accomplishment I am proud of is being able to lead global projects as the lead global credit analyst. The projects reshaped Rockwell’s global credit organization and led to improved performance metrics over the years that followed.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: Landing my corporate finance internship with Google.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? When preparing for admissions interviews, be authentic. The uniqueness you bring to the MBA program is what makes the experience so special. The most enriching part of business school is the cross-pollination between extremely bright individuals with different perspectives and experiences.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Coming from a six-year career in corporate finance and planning to go back into finance post-graduation, I wanted to attend a school with a strong finance program. Finance is Simon Business School’s sweet spot. In fact, in 2017 the Financial Times ranked Simon No. 2 in the world for finance. Coupled with the strong finance program, Simon’s analytical and quantitative approach to problem solving greatly enhances one’s ability to tackle tough problems.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? Success following my first year would be landing an internship with a Fortune 100 company.

Devins Panton

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I enjoy stability; I do everything in my power to avoid chaos.

Hometown: Montego Bay, Jamaica

Fun Fact About Yourself: I once made medicine for elephants in a small village in Thailand.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of the West Indies, Mona, BS in Actuarial Science

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

University of California, Berkeley, Financial Analyst

Otis Spunkmeyer, Trade Promotions Analyst

Guardian Life Limited, Jamaica, Pension Administrator

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment so far is the development of a graduate funding model at UC Berkeley to track income and expenditure of endowments totaling over $1 million. Using the model, the department was able to identify scenarios in which funds would be insufficient to cover graduate students’ salary and fees.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: My biggest accomplishment at Simon so far is completing the speaking series in my business communication course during the fall quarter. When I decided to attend Simon, the communication course stood out to me because I knew that in order to become an effective leader, I needed to improve my communication skills. To obtain this, I needed formal training coupled with consistent and deliberate practice to achieve the level of communication expertise required to become effective in the business world. The business communication course was the perfect training ground for me to achieve that.

Looking back on your experience, what is one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give to anyone thinking about business school is to know what you DO NOT want prior to enrolling. It is so easy to lose focus and follow what everyone else is doing that you can sometimes get dragged into career paths or even classes that you have no interest in. The quicker you can figure out things or experiences that you actually want, the more authentic your business school experience will be.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? The Simon community is without question one of the greatest strengths of the school. The admissions team deserves high marks for their willingness to bring students from incredibly diverse backgrounds together to form a small class size. What you get is a close knit group of very motivated students who will move mountains to help each other out. The feeling I got from the people here was one of genuine interest in your success – something that was very important to me.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? If, after my first year, you were to interview my peers and ask for one word to describe Devins and they said “reliable,” then I would consider my first year a success.

Choudhury Shahariar (Shah)

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: A sales guy at heart waiting to make his first sale. Proud Bangladeshi.

Hometown: Rajshahi, Bangladesh

Fun Fact About Yourself: Due to work, I had the chance to live in Siberia for a while and trust me, it is cold!

Undergraduate School and Major: Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Mechanical Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Reliability Engineer, Chevron

Drilling Services Engineer, Schlumberger

Business Consultant, SELISE

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In 2014, the oil and gas industry weathered the worst industry cycle in 20+ years, and I had to pursue key strategic choices to continue. It was a tough period seeing many of my friends and colleagues having to leave the industry. Surviving that period successfully, and finding the right transition at the right time, is something I am extremely proud of. I left drilling engineering, something I loved, for a program management role at Chevron which I had little knowledge of. At the end, it was an equally rewarding journey. This experience early in my career has taught me my biggest lesson in life: the importance of irrational optimism when all seems lost.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: During the winter quarter kickoff ceremony at Simon, I was asked to give a speech to the school about support, one of our core values. Sharing stories about how everyone in the school thrives on this and how this defines our day to day activity was an amazing experience. Especially when I could help everyone remember small defining moments.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Every program is different with its own core values and strengths. I’d advise applicants to commit to defining what they’re looking for in a business school, writing down those criteria, and analyzing programs which fit their interest. In addition, study for GMAT at the same time!

Getting in touch with different people is the best way to start. We have all been on the other side and now want to help individuals make informed decisions. I found school information sessions, campus visits, and networking with alumni and current students to be extremely helpful in determining where to apply and what areas to focus on. Finally, start the process early!

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? An on-campus visit to Simon for Scholarship Weekend cemented my desire to attend the school

From the moment I had my admission decision, I’ll never forget how current students literally donated several hours out of their busy schedule to familiarize me with Simon and to explain to me different career paths. Visiting Simon, I witnessed the shared enthusiasm and passion amongst the student body for the school and its entire support system.
After that weekend, I left Simon with a conviction that the school nurtures genuine care and collaboration and strives to be the best.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?

  1. Preparing myself to be a well-rounded leader, able to think strategically, be reliable for my surroundings, and work with empathy in every situation.
  2. Securing an internship in one of my target companies.
  3. Creating a strong lifelong network.

Yonnas Terefe

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: An ambitious individual focused on self and community improvement through education.

Hometown: Gaithersburg, Maryland

Fun Fact About Yourself: I went skydiving to overcome my fear of heights.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Maryland, Economics

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Calvert Investments, Equity Analyst

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Being part of an organization that was on the cutting edge of finance by championing the concept of ESG investing (incorporating Environmental, Social, and Governance factors into the investment selection process).

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: Landing an internship in Morgan Stanley’s Investment Banking Division.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Make sure to reach out to individuals and professionals in the career field you are interested in to truly understand the role and the potential professional progression available.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I knew I wanted to transition into investment banking after business school, so I wanted to enroll at a school with a very strong background in finance. I also wanted to join a program with a small class size so I could easily access professors to solidify my understanding of valuations.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? Forming long-lasting relationships with highly intelligent and kind individuals who will be the future global business leaders.

Aparna Unnithan

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Leslie Knope meets Wonder Woman! Sociable and fiercely ambitious woman who appreciates the little things in life.

Hometown: Kerala, India and Muscat, Oman

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am a huge fan of upcycling. I like turning ordinary discarded things into works of art.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Kerala, India, Electronics & Communication Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Oracle Financial Services, Associate Consultant

Arbitron (Nielsen Audio), Data Analytics Specialist

New York City Government, Department of Information Technology & Telecommunication, Senior Analytics Developer

T Fashion Boutique, Co-Founder.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I got the opportunity to take a lead on an analytics project for New York City government that focused on prevention and rehousing of the homeless population of NYC. This was a project very close to my heart because my volunteer work at a homeless shelter and my resolve to do something more to help was what initially got me interested in the government sector.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in the MBA program so far: My biggest achievement so far in the MBA program has been my ability to form close bonds with my classmates. The diversity of both thoughts and culture of my friendships has helped broaden my perspectives and round out my education. I honestly feel that these friendships will be as valuable to me in the future as what is being taught in the classroom.

Being one of the students chosen to represent my class in this Poets & Quants feature also feels like a significant accomplishment since I get to represent an outstanding class of superstars.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? My advice regarding the interview process is to be as genuine as possible. Do not be afraid to show your personality. Know your unique selling point and have stories to support it. This is important because finding the right fit is as important to you as it is for the school. An MBA degree can be stressful, so make sure you invest time to find a school that suits you. Try to reach out to current students or alums before your interview to get an accurate account of their experience. This has the additional advantage of getting you started on the networking aspect of business school if you are not used to it. Do your research thoroughly on rankings, job opportunities, and culture but make sure to choose the school where you will be able to excel the most and make an impact.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Going to a school with a smaller class size was important to me because I felt that I could make significantly more impact and form closer bonds within the class. My undergrad was in a small tight-knit community which offered life-long bonds, and some of the places I have enjoyed work the most and performed the best were in small collaborative environments.

With just over a hundred students in a class, you know everyone and everyone knows you! I attended several admission events before starting school. At all of these events, the most noticeable aspect was the strong ties between students as well as between students and faculty. Everyone seemed eager to help and were super supportive of each other. One of the key things I remember is a current student reaching out to me after one of the admission events to let me know that she felt I was a good fit with the culture. I found that level of personal attention indicative of the overall culture of warmth and support at Simon.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? I have always been someone who celebrates small victories. After the first year, I hope to look back and see the positive impact I have had on my classmates and school. I hope to continue my spot on the Dean’s List and intern at an organization which is challenging and intellectually stimulating. I also intend to leverage the larger network of the University of Rochester and utilize the available resources to focus on my long-term goal of entrepreneurship. Most of all, success to me would be living in the moment and thoroughly enjoying every aspect of my first year of business school.

The post Meet Rochester Simon’s MBA Class of 2019 appeared first on Poets&Quants.

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