Meet Georgetown McDonough’s MBA Class of 2017

Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business


The underlying principle of McDonough’s curriculum is relatively simple: ‘Doing good by doing right.’ In the aftermath of the financial collapse, it is a way of thinking that’s attractive to employers. And that’s born out by the experiences of the Class of 2015, who saw their average salaries rise 7% (to $108,789) and average signing bonuses jump by 15% (to $27,219). What’s more, job offers by graduation climbed 5% over the previous year.

However, such fortunes had little to do with why many members of the Class of 2017 enrolled at McDonough. Malaviya was struck – and inspired – by how these students came to campus “with dreams about how to make the world a better place.” In many ways, that reflects student buy-in with the McDonough philosophy. “The school’s Jesuit tradition and emphasis on cura personalis, the education of the whole person, was attractive to me,” explains Chris Cottrell, an aspiring entrepreneur who had already started a non-profit before joining Georgetown community. “A strong moral compass is equally important to a rigorous education and I have appreciated the school making this a point.”

And Aditya Ponnapalli, a native of India who has worked in software development and consulting, believes the school’s stress on character will prepare him to be leader. “The McDonough School of Business is dedicated to producing leaders who serve society and work for the greater good of society. These values are completely in sync with my goals and where I want to see myself as a leader. I would like not only to lead people, but also to contribute toward improving the lives of people while doing so.”

McDonough Interior

McDonough Interior

Although McDonough’s class size is smaller than east coast mainstays like Harvard and Wharton, its affiliation with the larger Georgetown community was another deciding factor for some 2017 class members. “I started my search by speaking to alumni of Georgetown, not only McDonough,” confesses Tahira Taylor, a Peace Corps volunteer and Michigan alum. “I got the sense that everyone from every school or program at Georgetown looked out for each other. So even if my network of fellow Georgetown MBAs would be relatively small, my network of fellow Hoyas would be massive. I hope to one day take my career overseas, and between the undergraduate program, the Law Center, the School of Foreign Service, and other programs offered at Georgetown, I can go pretty much anywhere and find another Hoya.”

McDonough’s emergence in entrepreneurship was also a “huge deal” for Cottrell, particularly the school’s StartUpHoyas program, which includes an incubator that connects students with mentors, office space, and resources. “I think this will be one of the most defining parts of my experience,” Cottrell predicts. “Washington, D.C., also is one of the best cities in the country for access to venture capital, which will be valuable after school.”

Christopher Gomez Blank, who worked in public service before moving into business development for Sesame Street, sums up McDonough’s value proposition this way: “I knew I wanted a global business career and Georgetown, being in D.C., offered that. I also wanted a school with a global brand, and Georgetown offered that as well. It also was important for me to have a student body that had integrity and a grounding in ethics regardless of their professional history and aspirations. Georgetown’s Jesuit tradition is central to everything at the university – including MBA admissions – so I knew that I would graduate with a network of thoughtful, principled global business leaders.”

McDonough students in class

McDonough students in class


Growing up, most students learned the 3Rs. At McDonough, MBAs must master a new set of Rs to succeed: Resourcefulness, resilience, and resolve. And that’s particularly true for Lynn Lai Oo, a business development manager from Myanmar, who has already set a high bar for herself.Before I graduate, I would ultimately like to develop quantitative and analytical skills and intangible qualities of successful global principled leaders such as the ability to manage, presence to inspire, charisma to lead, and fortitude to persist in the face of challenges.”

At the other end, Cottrell plans to get his feet wet in the startup space. “Before graduation I hope to have gone from idea to execution on a venture, whether it’s my own or supporting a classmate. It may not be a venture I pursue after graduation. But that experience will be invaluable.”

And Gomez Blank hopes to convert his classmates into his network. “I want to meet and have at least one meaningful conversation with every member of my graduating class. With 270 of us, I know it is possible. I do not need to be everyone’s best friend, but the network I graduate with is very important to me and I want to be able to pick up the phone 30 years from now to congratulate one of my classmates when their company goes public, makes it onto the Fortune 500, or they make it to the C-suite.”

To read profiles of incoming Georgetown McDonough students – along with their advice on tackling GMAT, applications, and interviews – click on the student links below.

Chris Cottrell / Phoenix, AZ

Lauren Doll / Downingtown, PA

Gerald Gangaram / New York City, NY<

Christopher Gomez Blank / Arlington, VA

Lynn Lai Oo / Yangon, Myanmar

Tamar Papava / Tbilisi, (Republic of) Georgia

Aditya Ponnapalli / Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Tahira Taylor / Detroit, MI