Meet The Cornell Johnson MBA Class of 2017

Patrick Grumley

Patrick Grumley

Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University

Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Minnesota Twin Cities —BS Applied Economics, BA Political Science

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: United States Navy — Strike Officer aboard USS Shoup, Naval Surface Fires Officer at I Marine Expeditionary Force

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? If possible, take the GMAT/GRE well before preparing to apply to MBA programs. I took the GRE in my last undergraduate year for a few reasons: 1) It would force me to make a decision about graduate school after four or five years in the military (noting the GRE expires in five years); 2) at the time, I was interested in joint graduate programs and I wouldn’t need to study for two different standardized tests; and, most importantly, 3) academia was still fresh in my mind and studying for “another test” seemed far less daunting.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? School selection is just as important, if not more, as writing application essays. I was fairly methodical in my approach. First, be honest with yourself about where you shake out for chances of acceptance. I researched 10 to 15 schools that were ranked where I thought I would be competitive based on the application criteria. Read as much as you can on the school websites and then reach out to your network. Veteran student groups were exceedingly helpful on getting an inside look at what it was like to be a B-school student at the various programs. Lastly, choose how many applications you wish to compile. I decided to apply to four programs (in the end I only applied to three): One stretch school, two on par with my self-perceived competitiveness, and one on the safer side.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? Coming from the military, I approached the application process like preparing for an exercise. First, I put together a plan of action and milestones (POA&M) listing all that I needed to accomplish with reasonable deadlines. With regard to recommendation letters, it’s important to ask before you ask. By this I mean try to get a list of potential recommenders together and ask them if they would be willing to write a recommendation in a month or two. When the time comes, the quickly approaching deadlines will be less of a shock. On the essay front, it’s important to be creative. Believe it or not, I like to think admissions officers have a sense of humor — I’m sure they see a lot of interesting factoids. If the application suggests accomplishing something a little different than a simple essay, embrace it. Find a way to be entertaining yet professional in your application. With interviews, I’ll impart the same advice as your parents: Be yourself. I’m not suggesting that you show up unprepared — far from it.  Rather just be aware that the admissions team is better at perceiving insincere answers than you might like to admit.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Selecting Cornell came from a myriad of factors, but a few aspects stood out. I wanted a graduate education that was smaller and more personalized than my large public undergrad experience. Not that I felt one was superior to another, but rather that I would gain a different perspective. Also, I was most impressed by Cornell’s Sustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) immersion relative to other programs. I knew I wanted to have a positive impact and a sense of purpose beyond my own interests. I found such meaning in the military, and Cornell’s SGE program spoke that same language. Lastly, Cornell has so much to offer outside of the business school. I was excited to discover that up to 25 percent of our coursework can be accomplished at the various schools throughout campus.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Leadership competence comes from confidence in your abilities to know the correct answer and the best path when faced with a decision. Confidence comes from proficiency, and proficiency comes from practice. I ultimately want to begin a career in management consulting, but I am a long way from being confident in my ability to add value to a consulting firm. When I’m done at Johnson, I hope to be just as proficient at analyzing a case study as I am today at driving a Navy ship.

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