Meet Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class of 2018

Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management

Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management

Many have already notched some remarkable achievements before entering Sage Hall. Alicia Jane Flanagan, for one, has served on the front lines on the war against terror. “I led the Coast Guard’s Deployable Specialized Forces (DSF) response to the Boston Marathon Bombings and helped restore order to Boston’s port. Following the DSF’s establishment post-9/11, the program highlighted the team’s specialized capabilities, the ability to integrate within the Incident Command System structure, and coordination between governmental agencies.”

They’ve also navigated complex bureaucracies and requirements to seemingly accomplish the impossible. At Kosmos Energy, Botchway helped 600 vendors earn certifications to be compliant with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)…and he did it in under a year. Hughes, on the other hand, had to work with leaders across six nations to overhaul manufacturing plant processes. Not only did he need to increase productivity while introducing new workstreams, but he also had to conduct surveys, produce financial models, and sell his plans, including tradeoffs, to stakeholders.”In the end, the proposed cross-functional changes gained corporate backing, were implemented without any schedule creep, and contributed 30 percent of the project’s $5M+ annual value to the client.”

Other class members earned their stripes by building something from scratch. Köpke moved from Germany to Singapore after graduation to manage the finance and operations for the service center for the G6 Alliance, a coalition of six trade shipping fleets. “Beyond living and exploring Southeast Asia, I gained the invaluable experience to work directly with the competition face-to-face and to engage with more than 10 different nationalities on a daily basis,” she says. Closer to home, Sara Johnson opened a social venture: a yoga studio tied to a public service organization.”This was a community-based studio that also partnered with area social services to provide physical, mental and emotional tools to underserved populations. What started as a team of volunteers and grassroots fundraising is now nearly a half million-dollar organization that employs a staff of 40.”

IMMERSON PROGRAM GIVES STUDENTS AN ADVANTAGE IN THE SUMMER INTERNSHIP

Ithaca, New York

Ithaca, New York

What drew the Class of 2018 to Johnson? Certainly, Cornell’s Ivy League pedigree adds prestige to the resume. Despite chilly winters, Ithaca ranks among the top college towns, with over 150 waterfalls within a ten square mile radius. Nestled along the southern bank of the Cayuga Lake, the city has long been known for its lush valleys and gorges, making it a Mecca for skiers, boaters, and hikers alike.

For many students, the school’s versatility and flexibility sets it apart. Notably, students can choose between a two year or one year experience. Even more, students take part in the Johnson’s unique “immersion” program during the spring semester. Here, students take a deep dive in a subject of their choice to equip them for their all-important summer internship. Intensive and hands-on, immersions include a series of electives, live cases, and field visits that culminate with a capstone project. Generally, immersions are broken into seven categories: investment banking, marketing, sustainable enterprise, digital technology, capital markets, operations, and managerial finance. However, students also enjoy the leeway to customize their immersion experience, with human resources, hospitality, entrepreneurship and health care often being popular choices. “Johnson has a strength in its curriculum, which uses immersion programs to tailor coursework to individual career interests and then to emphasize the classwork in semester-long consulting projects centered on issues facing existing businesses,” says Hughes.

The Johnson tradition of producing tight knit classes was another pull to applicants. Payne witnessed the intimate nature of the program shine through during recruiting. “Students constantly spoke about the great rapport they developed with professors which enhanced their learning. Coming from a small liberal arts school, I understood the advantage of this attribute.” Catianne Ngante, a Dartmouth anthropology major, seconds Payne’s observations. “It’s a community made up of highly ambitious, intelligent, and empathetic leaders. Johnson’s stellar curriculum, experiential learning, and strong focus on leadership development nurture individuals to grow into formidable well-rounded business leaders.”

For Sandidge, joining the Class of 2018 at Johnson was part of a long-standing tradition that she wanted to see through. Her journey started as a high school senior, when she attended a Johnson summer program called LEAD Summer Business Institute (SBI). This led her to choose Cornell for her undergraduate studies. After a six year stint in human resources at J. Crew, she is back in Ithaca for another go around. “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.”

A LEGACY OF GIVING BACK…AND MAKING THE BEST CUPCAKES

Cornell University

Cornell University

Looking forward, the momentum is behind the Class of 2018. Starting salaries, for example, rose $8,200 from 2014-2015 for Johnson MBAs. The school has also lured over a dozen new recruiters to campus this fall, including Microsoft and Barclays. Come 2017, the school will be opening its state-of-the-art   Breazzano Family for Business Education Center, providing another 76,000 square feet of classrooms, meeting rooms, and offices.

In typical Johnson style, the first years are more focused on how their MBAs can make a difference than their bank accounts. Botchway certainly fits this mindset. Her dream job is found in a venture capital firm that’s devoted to investing in agribusiness, education, and technology in West Africa. In the corporate arena, Etheridge is aiming to be a Chief Diversity Officer at a Fortune 500 firm. “Advancing diversity has always been a passion of mine, and leading diversity and inclusion efforts to positively impact human capital strategy and business results is the perfect intersection with my personal and professional goals.”

Johnson hopes to follow a similar path as Etheridge, only using social impact as her means. “I want corporate social responsibility to be a part of the company’s decision-making process at the highest level. I’d love to build out the department for companies that are ready to commit because they understand that social responsibility is good for business.” Ngante echoes those sentiments. “My dream employer is a company that has strong values centered on positively impacting humanity. It is a company that has been or is actively striving to have its brands and products positively represent and meet the needs of diverse communities.”

Before that, each member of the Class of 2018 is hoping to leave a mark. For many, being remembered for giving back would be the best legacy. “I’d like my peers to say that they learned as much from me as I did from them, especially since the education gained in business school comes as much from peer interaction as from academics,” explains Hughes. “It would also be great to be remembered as someone always ready to share sincere enthusiasm, whether by providing unique challenge to ideas, helping tease out insights from a discussion, or being an encouraging listener to classmates’ goals.” At the same time, Sandidge hopes to be known for being a team player and an optimist…along with baking “the best mini cupcakes.”

After graduation, the big accomplishments pale in comparison to the day-to-day impressions students leave. That is the gift that Middleton hopes to leave behind. “To quote the poet Maya Angelou “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” I hope my fellow classmates will speak fondly of the strong relationship we built as classmates.”

DON’T MISS: THE STEREOTYPE-DEFYING MBAS IN THE CLASS OF 2018 OR MEET THE CORNELL JOHNSON MBA CLASS OF 2017

To read profiles of incoming Johnson students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.

Bright Botchway / Accra, Ghana

Emma Etheridge / Lawrence, MA

Alicia Jane Flanagan / Missoula, MT

Jeff Hughes / St. Louis, MO

Sara Johnson / Sacramento, CA

Kristina Köpke / Hamburg, Germany<

Gianne Middleton / London, UK

Catianne S. K. Ngante / Lakeville, MN

William Payne / Louisville, KY

Andrés E. Quintanilla / Monterrey, Nuevo Leon

Brady Reece / Grand Junction, CO

Michele F. Sandidge / Roselle, NJ