Meet Cambridge Judge’s MBA Class of 2017


Doug Paetzell

Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Former middle school teacher who loves talking about and solving challenging issues

Hometown: New York, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love Nordic skiing. On a whim, I joined the ski team as a sophomore in college my second time ever on skis also happened to be my first competitive race. I finished dead last. I didn’t give up, though, and by my senior year I improved a lot and I had worked my way into the position of Captain.

Undergraduate School and Major: Hamilton College, Economics and History

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Pearson Education: Implementation Efficacy and Analytics Manager, Program Manager, Leadership Development Program Associate

Teach For America: Teacher

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During my years as a teacher and then as an employee at Pearson, I became frustrated when I saw well-intentioned district-wide initiatives fall by the wayside. In my last role at Pearson, I worked to launch a consultative service that helped Pearson’s largest K-12 districts strengthen and successfully launch math and literacy initiatives. In addition to helping contribute to major renewals and expanded sales within Pearson, it also helped districts become more successful at achieving their intended outcome and, in turn, helping students become more successful in school.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants?

GMAT: Don’t give up on the GMAT if you don’t succeed the first time.  Standardised testing never was, and probably never will be, one of my strengths, but I realized that it’s a test that can be mastered. When it comes to the GMAT, practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. Make sure you’re constantly assessing yourself to understand your strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve mastered something, move on to a topic where you’re struggling.  Doing the problems where you are weakest will never be fun, but it’s the only way that you’ll grow and progress toward your target score.

Recommendations: Have an honest conversation with your recommender and make the process collaborative so that you’re both on the same page. If this person is recommending you, that means that they want you to succeed. Meeting with your recommender will allow you to discuss areas you want them to emphasize in their recommendations. Throughout the application process, you want to be able to showcase your personal brand—your recommendations should not be an exception to this. Guide your recommenders by giving them specific points that align to you overall application so that they can more clearly reinforce the personal brand you’re trying to convey.

Interview and Essay: For both the interview and the essay, be able to articulate why you want to go to business school. While you may believe that you have a coherent rationale for wanting to go to school, your friends and colleagues may be able to poke holes in your story that you may not have noticed and would likely seem disingenuous in an interview. Business schools want to know that you have a coherent story and trajectory—part of this story is why and where you went to business school. The more times you explain this story to your friends, the better. Each time you explain this story, it will become clearer. You’re going to be asked this question every step of the way, so you need to be able to sleep and breathe your rationale.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? There are so many great MBA programs and it’s important that you choose the program that is right for you. For me, I’ve always learned best outside the classroom and the Cambridge MBA does a great job integrating those experiences into the curriculum. Throughout the year, there are several consulting projects—the Cambridge Venture Project and the Global Consulting Project—that will allow me to get hands-on experience across a variety of fields.

During these projects, I’ll also be working with a diverse group of talented individuals from all over the globe. My visit to CJBS really reinforced that this programme draws students from so many different backgrounds and geographies who can bring a diversity of ideas and opinions to the discussion. I really think that working on real-world problems while learning from my peers from so many different backgrounds will prepare me for the increasingly global market.

Furthermore, I appreciated that the business school does its best to integrate students into the broader university. During the MBA, you’re placed into a College, which also immerses you among students in non-business concentrations who can share their unique perspectives about the challenges they’re working to address. It’s conversations like these that will help make you a more well-rounded, knowledgeable business student. 

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? In my dream world, I would provide consultative services to help social enterprises and non-profits become more effective and impactful. My entire professional career to date has focused on education, but I want to broaden my scope to help organizations that are doing a variety of beneficial work.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I want them to say I had an open mind to new solutions and that I was a great team player as we worked together to solve challenging problems.