2015 Best MBAs: George Wilson

George Wilson-Columbia-PoetsAndQuants

George Wilson

Columbia Business School

Who says you can’t come home again? Two years ago, George Wilson left the National Basketball Association (NBA) to enroll at Columbia Business School. Two years later, with an MBA in hand, he is returning to the NBA to work in business development and operations. In between, Wilson deliberately used his MBA experience (along with three internships) to gain a deeper understanding of the NBA’s business partners. Along with stepping into the shoes of stakeholders, Wilson also traveled globally, gaining exposure to the people and practices of such overseas markets as Colombia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.

Along with his travels, Wilson served as co-president of the Black Business Students Association and Sports Business Association, along with being the head peer advisor and a member of Columbia’s admissions ambassadors team.

Age: 29

Hometown: Cleveland, OH

Undergraduate School: Cornell University

Undergraduate Degree: B.S. Applied Economics and Management

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? National Basketball Association – International Business Development

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? PepsiCo in Dallas (I also interned for the Brooklyn Nets-Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY during 2014 fall semester and Wasserman Media Group in New York City during 2015 spring semester).

Where will you be working after graduation? National Basketball Association – Business Development & Operations

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I attended a Columbia Business School class as a prospective student and the CEO of a company I admired was a guest speaker (huge coincidence and phenomenal surprise!). The CEO then stayed after class to speak with students directly and offer advice. This happens all the time at Columbia because the campus is not far from the hundreds of major businesses located in the NYC area.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…figuring out how to get into business school. It is the best thing I could have done for my career, as it has catapulted me ahead and I look forward to what the future holds. I can’t imagine another route honestly.”

What are your long-term professional goals? To become a media and entertainment c-suite business executive with a lifestyle brand.

Favorite Courses: Applied Regression, Global Strategic Management, Business Analytics and Global Immersion: Exploring the Business Environment in Cuba

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? I am proud of the fact that I was able to successfully complete three internships during business school, and make my way back to the NBA post business school. It was important to me to utilize my time in school to learn and experience the entire business landscape of sports, from the perspective of a corporate sponsor (PepsiCo), a territory property (Brooklyn Nets), and a media consultancy firm (Wasserman Media Group). I truly feel like I maximized my two years in business school.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? I would like to thank my fiancée for my success. She has been my biggest supporter throughout this process, from when I was studying for the GMAT, up until now as I approach graduation day. Business school has been my primary focus during these past two years, and I would not have been able to successfully make the most of my time at Columbia without the loving support of my fiancée. We’re getting married on September 4th of this year, can’t wait!

Why did you choose this business school? I love Columbia Business School because of the people in the community, the diversity in the community (especially international diversity), and the location. I chose this business school because I wanted to not only learn in the classroom, but also conduct experiential learning via internships and coursework that related to real business issues with a global perspective. I have learned so much from my classmates, who come from all over the world and represent all industries. I have a more well-rounded understanding of my industry of choice due to my internships (a team, an agency, and a corporate sponsor of sports), and I have life-long friends with whom I have shared countless trips to visit their home countries or states. Most of these new friends will remain in the NYC area post-graduation, so I can continue to develop and cultivate our relationships.

What did you enjoy most about business school? I most enjoyed traveling with new friends to visit their homeland, and learning about the social and business culture in their country of origin. I visited Colombia with my cluster…a trip led by one of my clustermates from Bogota, Colombia. It was amazing. I also visited Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Dominican Republic. All of these trips were led by classmates that I have befriended during my time in school.

I also took a trip to Cuba as a part of a Global Immersion course exploring the business environment in Cuba. Given the current transformation taking place with Cuba-United States relations, this was an excellent course and learning opportunity organized by Columbia Business School.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? My most memorable moment is being a Lead Peer Advisor, managing a team of eight peer advisors. We were responsible for organizing and leading orientation for 70 new Columbia Business School students in the class of 2016. I was one of seven Head Peer Advisors, tasked with leading over 60 peer advisors, all of which were leading orientation for over 500 incoming students. This was a great leadership exercise for me, and Columbia Business School provided me with expert leadership coaches who have advised Fortune 500 CEO’s amongst other clients. I also made new friends in the incoming class and my own class. It was a very rewarding experience to craft a program that would become the class of 2016’s first touch-point with Columbia Business School. I will never forget the great memories and friendships made during that week.

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve never broken a bone. I used to play football, basketball, and I rowed crew. Even today I’m still pretty active. Sometimes I wonder if I’m like Bruce Willis in the movie Unbreakable (just kidding).

Favorite book: Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Weisman

Favorite movie: Boomerang Starring Halle Berry, Robin Givens, & Eddie Murphy

Favorite musical performer: Michael Jackson

Favorite television show: Breaking Bad

Favorite vacation spot: Cartagena, Colombia

What are your hobbies? Playing basketball, Going out in NYC (theater productions, movies, parties, anything, I love this city), Traveling

What made George such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?

“When the Admissions team met George, we saw tremendous leadership potential. We now see him as an influential leader and inspiration within our community. Ever dedicated, driven, and focused, George always creates time and opportunities for others. From working with prospective students and sharing his own story at CBS Matters, about what has influenced him and why, George is a role model for others. As Michael said, George is one who remembers those who have also helped him along the way. From participating in admissions events to sharing the voicemail that David Stern (former commissioner of the NBA) left George, congratulating him on the acceptance to CBS, George is a salt-of-the-earth guy who is one of the good ones. We are proud and fortunate that George Wilson wears Columbia Blue and represents our CBS brand.”

– Michael Robinson, Senior Associate Director of Admissions

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