2016 Best MBAs: Ian Folau, Cornell

Ian Folau Cornell

Ian Folau

 
Cornell Tech

“This is clear when you meet Ian: he is bright, genuine, inclusive, receptive to the needs of his multi-disciplinary team, an engaging presenter, extremely hard-working, and has an incredible EQ. This semester, in addition to being a team lead, Ian was chosen to be a class scrum master, with the responsibility to help guide several other peer teams to make meaningful, ever-forward progress on their Studio projects.”

Age: 33

Hometown: Puyallup, WA

Education:

  • West Point, United States Military Academy, B.S. Systems Engineering
  • Middlebury College, M.A. German Studies

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? U. S. Army, Captain and Chief Intelligence Officer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? (List Company and Location)

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be the CEO and Co-Founder of a tech startup called GitLinks in NYC.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Team leader of a 5-person team that won the Johnson Marketing Case competition

  • Team leader of a 4-person team that won 1st prize in the Newcomer bracket of the Big Red (Technology) Hacks competition
  • Team leader in two other tech hackathons involving students from Computer Science, Design and Business.
  • Selected to serve as Scrum Master at Cornell Tech for weekly collaboration and critique meetings involving six startup teams.
  • Volunteered as a technology mentor to middle school age children introducing them to coding and technology.
  • Volunteer as a Sunday school teacher and community outreach leader at a local church.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I was invited to speak at TEDx Cornell Tech with other very powerful and influential speakers. As the only student speaker of the event, I was asked to speak about leadership development. It was memorable because this affirmed that I had effectively and positively impacted those around me as a leader, even though I was previously unsure about how my former leadership experiences would translate in the tech world.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I was awarded the bronze star medal for the impact of my contributions as a tactical intelligence officer in Afghanistan. I led intelligence data collection and analysis on a day to day basis over 15 months. The assessments that my team was able to publish saved hundreds of lives by preparing soldiers for the dangers that they were facing daily. The depth of impact I made there will be hard to beat in my upcoming ventures.

Who is your favorite professor? Steve Gal left his life in Startups in order to teach and mentor others in their business pursuits. He believes strongly in aiding business students with forming solid business plans. His advice has always been extremely insightful and inspiring. He is currently doing something that I aspire to do one day, which is to first find success and then find ways to give back to young motivated minds.

Favorite MBA Courses? Startup Studio, Brand Digital, Data Products, Entrepreneurial Journey, Company Challenges, Design Thinking

Why did you choose this business school? I had three main criteria in choosing Cornell Tech. I wanted to attend a top 20 school with an extensive network. Cornell is the largest Ivy League school and alumni have a presence in essentially every Fortune 100 company. I also wanted to spend as little time in school as possible, so I was looking specifically for a one year MBA program. Lastly, I wanted my MBA program to include a lot of entrepreneurial content. Cornell Tech’s MBA program was only in its second year of existence but the curriculum and culture was unabashedly focused on innovation and product management.

What did you enjoy most about business school? I was totally out of my comfort zone, but my goal was to push myself as much as possible. Cornell Tech allowed me to work as a business person alongside computer scientists in very real product development contexts. I really enjoyed forming highly skilled teams to build and grow amazing ideas.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? I was surprised by how cool and supportive my classmates are. I imagined that business school would be full of egotistical and back stabbing individuals, but I found my classmates to be very competent, helpful classmates who enjoy an accommodating, socially-responsible environment.

What was the hardest part of business school? Finance and accounting was difficult. With such smart classmates, I had to work hard to keep up with them. Luckily, I have strengths in other areas to boost my confidence.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Find out if you have a valid interest in building products or companies. Attendees of Cornell Tech should be excited about building a new future for the world.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that I could focus on entrepreneurship while going to school and I have not been disappointed in the least.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…slugging away at founding a startup, likely making lots of mistakes and learning along the way.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I would like to be considered a serial entrepreneur. I have a passion for building amazing things that solve problems. At some point (likely in 10-15 years), I will transition to being an Angel Investor, but I would like to have at least three successful businesses by that point.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I have a wife and three sons that have been very supportive of my learning and my future career aspirations. The time I spend with them keeps me both grounded and motivated to succeed.

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a professional Polynesian dancer.

Favorite book: Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Favorite movie: Meet Joe Black

Favorite musical performer: Jack Johnson

Favorite television show: Goldbergs

Favorite vacation spot: Samoa

Hobbies? Making videos with my kids, learning new tech tools, cooking and eating.

What made Ian such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Cornell Tech’s Studio is a challenging, real-world learning environment that provokes many roadblocks and conflicts that teams must overcome. Ian’s fall semester team was no exception, and Ian quickly stepped up as a born leader. In peer feedback, his teammates credit Ian as the key motivating factor of the team’s success. This is clear when you meet Ian: he is bright, genuine, inclusive, receptive to the needs of his multi-disciplinary team, an engaging presenter, extremely hard-working, and has an incredible EQ. This semester, in addition to being a team lead, Ian was chosen to be a class scrum master, with the responsibility to help guide several other peer teams to make meaningful, ever-forward progress on their Studio projects.

In addition to his leadership ethic, Ian is dedicated to an entrepreneurial career, and it shows. This semester, his Studio project is on pace to be one of a handful of projects with the legs to become a real startup company after graduation. Over the course of last semester, Ian and his teammates invented and evaluated hundreds of startup ideas and identified an exciting, forward-thinking opportunity to build in Studio this semester. Ian works vigorously with his multi-disciplinary team to refine the product, build the prototype, create the startup strategy, and more. Ian consistency impresses us faculty—but also impresses the many practitioners who regularly visit campus to seriously critique student projects.

Finally, in the well-rounded department, Ian is this year’s Cornell Tech cornhole champion, having recently won Cornell Tech’s school-wide, competitive cornhole tournament. Ian is an invaluable role model at Cornell Tech and a guiding light for the class of 2016.” — Professor Greg Pass, Cornell Tech

DON’T MISS: CLASS OF 2016: THE BEST & BRIGHTEST GRADUATING MBAS