FINANCE DECLINES AS CONSULTING BOOMS
In terms of undergraduate majors, over a third of the class (34%) came out of social sciences. They were followed by business (31%), engineering (8%), humanities (6%), and sciences (3%). Not surprising, financial services backgrounds account for 25% of the class, with consulting (20%), marketing and media (13%), private equity (7%), technology (7%), military and government (5%), nonprofit (5%), and real estate (5%) taking up substantive slices of the class.
The Class of 2018 is also entering CBS during an upswing. Base pay for the 2015 Class, for example, rose to $125,000, a $15,000 boost over two years. Financial services still rules the roost at Columbia —but just barely. Financial services recruited 37% of the 2015 Class, followed by consulting at 35%. Contrast that to eight years ago, where finance staked claim to 48% of the 2009 class and consulting nabbed just 25%.
This turnabout is even more profound when you look at employers. Here, consulting firms make up the top four employers for the 2015 Class, including McKinsey (55), Bain & Company (35), The Boston Consulting Group (29), and Deloitte (28). Combined, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Citi hired just 36 people in 2015. That’s a big difference from the 2012 Class, when J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs ranked as the second and third largest consumers of CBS talent. In fact, Bain’s interest has nearly tripled in the past three years (from 13 hires in 2012 to 35), as has the Boston Consulting Group (from 10 to 29 hires in the same period).
BIGGER CAN BE BETTER
These days, a business school hailed as “big” comes with a negative connotation. With nearly 1,300 full-time MBA students, Columbia ranks below only Harvard and Wharton in terms of student population. However, the school’s size offers innumerable advantages. For one, students can complete over a dozen joint degrees, including law, journalism and public health and engineering. The program supports over 100 clubs, which often host their own conferences. Aside from the usual fare for entrepreneurs, veterans, FinTech enthusiasts, media mavens, and investment bankers, CBS also boasts clubs for surfers, sailors, squash players, food lovers, cyclists, wine drinkers, and snow sports aficionados. This doesn’t even factor in the acclaimed Columbia Follies, a student-run comedy revenue, whose b-school skewering videos have become YouTube staples, including MRS (a satirical take of husband-hunting set to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”) and MBA (Standing from “Married But Available,” a gut-busting take on the difficulties of holding together a relationship set to the Black Eye Peas’ “Dirty Bit”).
CBS’ super-sized MBA also enables students to get to know more peers and develop a broader network. With over 200 electives, first and second years can take a course in almost any area, particularly with the program supported by Columbia’s larger Ivy intellectual capital. When you add 142 full-time professors and nearly 100 adjuncts, Columbia boasts potential experts and mentors in even the most esoteric areas. Plus, the program iffer one of the largest and most prestigious alumni networks, including Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, London Stock Exchange CEO Xavier Rolet, billionaire Henry Kravis, and Wall Street pioneer Sallie Krawcheck.
Access to such resources and intellectual horsepower were among the factors that led the Class of 2018 to Uris Hall to be ‘At The Very Center of Business.’ “I was impressed by the plethora of lectures and events catering to students interested in pursuing a degree at Columbia; especially the extensive outreach to women,” says Berkovits. “One of the club officers spoke of CEOs sneaking into the back of our lecture halls and listening in as we dissected their companies’ real life cases. I was in awe of how close Columbia students get to the companies they aspire to join, without even leaving the classroom.”
NEW YORK IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE
The school’s “New York advantage” was another irresistible enticement for incoming students. Kirwan observed that the school’s location helped it attract some of the top executives-in-residence, guest speakers and recruiters to campus. He also touts the easy proximity of the school’s alumni network. “My wife and I also want to stay in New York City after I finish school, and the Columbia alumni network in New York City will by an invaluable resource to help me make that next step.”
As a city long-known for being a refuge for people looking to reinvent themselves, it is no surprise that New York City is a magnet for students like McNulty, a consultant transitioning into human resources. “The ease of access to thousands of companies, industries, and alumni just a quick subway ride away made Columbia my top choice,” she says. Even more, the location enables students to keep their options open adds Repak. “Since I’m not 100% committed to one particular career path, I like that NYC gives me access not just to the cream of the crop in luxury retail, but almost every other industry as well.”
For Xeus, the combination of CBS and NYC just checked all of the boxes. “New York is the epicenter of arts and finance,” he explains. “Columbia Business School, at the heart of creativity and innovation, offers a robust finance program as well as access to the most forward-thinking leaders in fashion, film, architecture, and arts. With their close-knit networks, CBS and New York provide the perfect platform to bridge arts and finance.”
Columbia’s in-depth offerings and unbeatable location aren’t its only advantages. Another is Columbia’s approach to its curriculum, which is basically equal parts cases, lecture, and hands-on learning. Notably, the curriculum is geared to philosophical bridging theory and practice, which is particularly potent in its entrepreneurship offerings. In 2015, 28 students launched a startup after graduation, likely emboldened by watching recent CBS grads launch firms like Grofers ($165.5 million in funding) and KeyMe ($10.4 million). Run through the Lang Center for Entrepreneurship, the program draws inspiration (and resources) from the growing number of tech startups and investors coalescing in the Big Apple.
For Wang, who hopes to someday open her own retail firm, CBS offers the best chance to make a splash. She clicks off benefits the Entrepreneur-In-Residence and Lean Launchpad as strong supplements to classroom learning. “Even post-graduation,” she adds, “the Columbia Start up Lab will provide invaluable resources to support my goal of starting and growing a company right at home in New York City.”
STUDENTS AIM TO INTEGRATE PAST EXPERIENCE, PASSION, AND MBA TOOLS
The city’s cosmopolitan ethos spills over into the Class of 2018’s ambitions. It is nearly impossible to find two students with the same dream. Xeus, for example, wants to figure out a way to help artists apply business tools to gain greater sustained exposure. “Today’s visionary creatives aim to use mediums like film, architecture and engineering to underscore social issues, transform old economies, and integrate technological breakthroughs into meaningful human experiences,” he shares. “At the same time, creative professionals face great challenges as resource distribution is increasingly skewed. I aim to help a broad spectrum of creative professionals turn visions into successful businesses by bridging the gap between arts and finance.”
Hervitz hopes to combine her expertise in anthropological behavior with greater marketing savvy to create a unique niche for herself. “I’ve always been fascinated by why people do what they do. I love learning about different cultures and societies and figuring out what makes people tick,” she explains. “After my MBA, my goal is to leverage my experience in promoting consumer and business value to drive the strategic decision-making of a technology or retail company.”
At the same time, Ibrahim hopes to find himself in a place where he can “drive change” and make a “true impact.” “Life is so precious and for me it’s about leaving this world in a better situation than the day I was born to it,” he says. “I come from a place filled with a lot of challenges. As an educated young African, I take it as an obligation to change this reality. We have to create more wealth for our societies to fight poverty and to live in peace.”
HOPE TO KEEP IN TOUCH AFTER GRADUATION…TO LISTEN OR SHARE INSIGHTS
The 2018 Class is equally sprawling when it comes to how they want to be remembered after graduation. McNulty, for one, hopes to squeeze the most from her two years, saying she wants her peers to see her as someone who “took advantage of every aspect of Columbia’s MBA program — academically, professionally and personally. I want to be seen as someone who brought their full self into the program and successfully completed a truly transformative, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Wang wishes to be a person that classmates turn to after graduation. “I’d like them to tell me themselves after this program by keeping in touch! Ideally, I would like to be known as the one you can always reach out to for a good listen, but also a very honest and thoughtful opinion.”
On the other hand, Korgaonkar admits that her peers may not share her passion for social justice work. However, she hopes to help them re-frame how they view the world. “I hope that my time with them will change what they ask of themselves as future leaders in the business world. I hope that they’ll be able to say that I helped them to define success in the business world as necessarily entailing a commitment to diversity, to fairness, and true equality of opportunity – and to always consider the impact that they can have on racial justice and other social justice issues in our country. I hope my classmates will say that I was able to help them commit to being mindful and intentional with how their decisions as business leaders will impact millions of people’s lived realities every day.”
To read profiles of incoming Columbia students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.