Meet Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class of 2018

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Michele F. Sandidge

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I’m a creative problem solver, dependable, patient and a caring individual. I also consider myself a world traveler.

Hometown: Roselle, NJ

Fun Fact About Yourself: I absolutely love barbecue sauce. From pizza to French fries to chicken fingers, I put it on everything!

Undergraduate School and Major: Cornell University, Economics

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Starting with most recent:

J.Crew Group Inc., Benefits Analyst

J.Crew Group Inc., Associate Benefits Specialist

J.Crew Group Inc., Benefits Coordinator

J.Crew Group Inc., Distribution Analyst

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:  Enhancing the 401(k) program at my former employer was an opportunity to innovate within an established product and a significant work accomplishment to date. I was fairly new to the Benefits department and began by examining the established audits to find areas where I could implement new audits to identify incorrect or stale data. I collaborated with our IT department to automate several processes within the company’s HR system. Lastly, to increase employee awareness and participation in the program, I conducted monthly 401(k) orientations where employees could sign up immediately. While the changes made increased administrative efficiency of the program, they were most valuable because of the direct benefit to the employees. It’s rewarding to know that my dedication to improving the 401(k) program helped increase financial wellness.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? My advice is to start early. Even if you don’t plan to attend business school in the next one to two years, take a practice GMAT or GRE test to give yourself an idea of how much preparation you might need. I suggest taking your GMAT within one or two years of graduating after your undergraduate program. You will still be accustomed to studying and may have fewer responsibilities at work (thus freeing up time in your schedule to study). Finally, I suggest keeping a balance in your life and staying involved in pursuits outside the application process. Working full-time can diminish your ability (and energy) to do anything else, but make room in your schedule for personal interests and passions to help provide work/life balance.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? As a high school senior, I attended a three-week summer program entitled LEAD Summer Business Institute (SBI) at Cornell Johnson. It was during this program that I gained exposure to various business sectors, as well as an introduction to the resources Cornell had to offer. I then attended Cornell University for my undergraduate education and five years later when I decided to apply to business school, considered Cornell’s program first. I liked that the program was a manageable size and that I could truly get to know my classmates and professors. I also chose the program because of the structure of the curriculum, the immersion learning, and the ability to customize my MBA experience with courses at other Cornell schools.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? As a Girl Scout for 12 years, helping others, making the world a better place, and having a passion for teamwork was instilled in my core set of values at an early age. My dream job of building a career within human resources allows me to combine values of playing an active role in the success of an organization. I have an interest in developing and mentoring others, taking an initiative in the process of organizational design, improving employee health and wellness, and creating policies and procedures that drive a company forward. For me, my dream job is to not only increase profits for a company, but also to boost compliance, develop the people around me, and foster a great work experience for others.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I was a team player who exuded optimism and positive thinking on a regular basis and I baked the best mini cupcakes!