2017 MBAs To Watch: Sergio Frisoli, Boston College (Carroll)

Sergio Frisoli

Boston College. Carroll School of Management

Family-oriented, hardworking, humble, passionate, and a lover of all things Italian.”

Age: 35

Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a dual citizen of the United States and Italy, speak fluent Italian, and have been making home-made wine with my extended family since I was a young child.  

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Princeton University, Bachelors in Public and International Affairs

Columbia University Teachers College, Masters in Private School Leadership

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Global Quality Training Coordinator, GlaxoSmithKline

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ

Where will you be working after graduation? Johnson & Johnson, Human Resources Leadership Development Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I served as an academic tutor and mentor for youth in the Brookline, MA area as part of the Invest ‘N Kids program at the Carroll School. I met weekly with a middle schooler from the Brookline area to help with homework and provide mentorship. It provided a great opportunity to continue to practice my love of teaching and fulfill my desire to help youth achieve their full potential.

Awarded Dean’s Scholarship

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of the fact that I was able to balance a part-time job and parental responsibilities (I have a 4-year old son) with the Carroll School’s rigorous academic program. I made a commitment at the start of business school that I was going to extract every ounce of learning and personal development that I could from my two years at Boston College, but without sacrificing my responsibilities to my family and to my students (I teach GMAT prep part-time). I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to deliver on these commitments. It took a lot of hard work, late nights, discipline, and effective time management, but in doing so I also learned how to focus my life on what matters most and to prioritize.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of the three years I spent teaching middle school history at Link Community School, a small charter school in Newark, NJ. At Link, our mission was to help students from low-income families get into excellent public, parochial, and private schools throughout the Northeast. I witnessed our students develop academically, socially, and emotionally and gain the confidence and skills to get accepted to and excel in many excellent secondary schools. The opportunity to help these students achieve their potential was incredible and will remain with me for the rest of my life. That experience helped me to realize how fortunate I am, to never take for granted one’s blessings, and to make the most of every opportunity.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Bob Radin, who taught Managing People and Organizations in my first year. Professor Radin advised us to focus on gaining a better understanding of ourselves during business school- specifically our core values and passions- because ultimately, self-awareness would be critical to choosing the right career path and living a fulfilling life. In the midst of learning so many new concepts and skills and exploring so many potential career directions, this piece of advice stuck with me and has helped me make good decisions throughout business school. As Clay Christensen writes in his HBS article, How Will You Measure Your Life, (one of the readings Prof. Radin assigned us), “I promise my students that if they take the time to figure out their life purpose, they’ll look back on it as the most important thing they discovered at HBS. If they don’t figure it out, they will just sail off without a rudder and get buffeted in the very rough seas of life.”

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? I have to go with Managing People and Organizations once again. Much of business is about developing and leveraging relationships — relationships with clients, suppliers, fellow employees —and this course explored how to effectively build and manage those relationships. We learned, for instance, about different leadership styles and how to best communicate and interact with each leadership type. We also explored how to motivate employees, for instance by making the impact that they have on customers as tangible and real as possible. Lastly, we learned that the most important asset in the business world is one’s reputation, and so developing and protecting one’s reputation is paramount.

Why did you choose this business school? The Carroll School is an incredible place; I immediately felt comfortable here, as though I was part of a close-knit family. My classmates are very talented and passionate, but at the same time humble, supportive, and approachable. The campus is incredibly beautiful, with majestic Gothic architecture and quiet spaces for study and reflection, yet its close proximity to Boston allows one to take advantage of the city’s great dining and entertainment options, not to mention the incredible business and academic community. Lastly, the Carroll School’s alumni truly love the school and go to great lengths to lend their advice and support to current students and fellow alumni. I will forever cherish my time at the Carroll School and will give back in any way I can.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Business school provided an incredible opportunity to step away from the working world for a while and immerse myself in a wide variety of new concepts. I’m a firm believer in life-long learning; I’m always pushing myself to learn new things or to deepen my understanding of things I may know a little about. It can be tough, however, to find time for learning while juggling a full-time job and other responsibilities. Business school allowed me to dive head-first into the exploration of brand new concepts (I was relatively new to business, having worked in education previously). It was also great to be able to draw on my work experience during our class discussions, and to reflect on how I would have approached various past challenges differently given my new knowledge and skills. The breadth of knowledge and skills I gained in two years is incredible. I feel empowered to tackle any business challenge and approach it with a robust framework.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I was surprised at how intense business school was and how much it changed me as a person. For me, business school was truly transformative. During the first semester, I felt like I was drinking from the proverbial fire hose, just hanging on as best I could. Things moved so fast; I had a hard time processing and synthesizing all I was learning. But over time, as I’ve had the chance to reflect a bit, it dawns on me just how much I learned and how much stronger of an understanding I have of the business world. Lastly, I could never have anticipated how much business school shaped my view of the world and my belief about my role in it. Business school has given me great confidence and sense of empowerment; the sense that I can and will have a big impact on the world around me.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? As a part of Boston College, a Jesuit Institution, the Carroll School values individuals who care about more than just advancing their careers through their education. While career advancement is certainly important, I think Carroll School students also seek to use their skills and talents in the service of others. This means supporting one’s classmates while in school, supporting future Carroll School students, and seeking to improve the companies and communities in which we will go on to be a part of. I would encourage applicants who are interested in the Carroll School to keep this in mind and to ask themselves if these values align with their own.

What is the biggest myth about your school? One thing I often heard about the Carroll School, and Boston College more broadly, is how loyal and passionate the students and alumni are about their school. This has turned out to be 100% true. Carroll School alumni cherish the school and go to great lengths to give back in numerous ways. When I was searching for an internship, Carroll School alumni did not hesitate to speak or meet with me to discuss my career goals. In fact, it was Carroll School alumni who helped me to secure my internship at J&J. I plan to pay that support forward to future students.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I honestly have very few regrets, since I went into business school with a clear sense of what an incredible opportunity this was and a desire to make the most of it. That said, I do regret that I did not get to know more of my classmates more deeply. It was challenging, as I had to prioritize many competing responsibilities. But I certainly developed some great friendships and plan to stay in touch with them.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is a really tough question, as I admire so many of my classmates — they are all so incredibly smart, passionate, and talented. I especially admire the international students. Business school was a real challenge for me, and I’m a native English speaker who is intimately familiar with the American educational system. I can only imagine how challenging things were for them, given that English was not their first language and that they had to adapt to a very different educational system than they were likely accustomed to. If I had to choose one student, though, I’d say Adair Bender, the Graduate Management Association (GMA) President. She had an incredible ability to balance her many academic and GMA responsibilities, while still being constantly present to her classmates. She also was always in a good mood — smiling, joking, having fun — no matter how busy or stressful thing were. She cares deeply about the Carroll School and did a lot to maintain and further its reputation.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I saw certain things being managed in a way that I knew was not optimal, but lacked the skill, knowledge, and authority to provide the leadership needed to make improvements.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…teaching middle or high school history in a Boston public or charter school.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would organize more opportunities for students to get to know one another on a deep, personal level during orientation and throughout the first year. For instance, as part of orientation I would organize a two-day trip away from school — perhaps in the White Mountains of New Hampshire or along the coast- to allow students to get to know one another and begin to develop strong bonds. Between the first and second quarter, I would organize another off-campus event, shorter in duration, such as hiking in the Berkshires to see the fall foliage or a craft brewery tour. Things get so busy and hectic during the academic year that these sorts of social bonding opportunities are important for getting to know one’s classmates.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to leave the world around me a better place than I found it. Whether through my personal interactions with colleagues, family, and friends, or through my contributions to fulfilling a company’s mission and vision, I want to be a positive influence on the world. I hope that, as I prepare to enter the field of Human Resources, I can help J&J better accomplish its mission by helping employees perform at their very best. I will also always remain passionate about education and hope to continue to support student learning in a variety of ways.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Hands-down, it would be my wife, Elizabeth. She is an inspiration to me. Throughout my time at business school, she has worked a demanding full-time job in the legal profession while attending law school in the evening and helping to care for our 4-year old son. I could not have succeeded in business school, let alone attended, without her support, sacrifice, and encouragement.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?  I would like my peers to remember me as a humble, hard-working, friendly, and passionate person who devoted himself fully to each project or assignment, was a strong teammate, and did not hesitate to provide a word of encouragement or assistance.

Favorite book: Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Favorite movie or television show: My Cousin Vinny

Favorite musical performer: Bob Schneider

Favorite vacation spot: Southern Italy (Puglia)

Hobbies? Sailing, swimming, hiking, cooking

What made Sergio such an invaluable member of the Class of 2017?

“Sergio joined BC as a seasoned professional with a background in Education Leadership who brought a humble manner and an open, mission-driven mind-set. Part of the Boston College MBA experience for Sergio was to help him identify where these skills might fit in the business world as well as to explore different functional and industry perspectives.

Sergio’s strong focus on continuing to make a difference allowed him to experience a broad range of classes and opportunities that embodied similar values. While excelling in the classroom, taking initiatives outside of the program. and being an exceptional colleague to his classmates, Sergio is a stand-out in the community and to his peer group.

Sergio completed his summer internship with Johnson & Johnson in their Human Resource Leadership Development Program, where he was recognized for his mature and broad perspective on high impact projects for a company where new ideas and new voices are valued.  Post-MBA, he will return to Johnson & Johnson in a full-time role in New Brunswick, New Jersey.”

Marilyn Eckelman
Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Student Services
Boston College Carroll School of Management

 

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