Meet The Rochester Simon MBA Class Of 2018


Chris DiGiacomandrea

Simon School of Business, University of Rochester

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Not your average b-school student; Former teacher and NGO guru hell-bent on big, bold, strategy.

Hometown: Fairport, New York

Fun Fact About Yourself: I once rappelled down the side of a 21-story building.

Undergraduate School and Major: SUNY Geneseo, BA History and Certification in Adolescent Education (Social Studies, Grades 6-12)


Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Teacher (2011-2012, Rochester City School District, York Central School District): Taught politics, economics, global and US history to urban middle-school and rural high-school students.

Sr. District Executive (2012-2016, Boy Scouts of America): Lead strategist and director of regional district of Boy Scouts of America. Led over 600 volunteers to deliver life-changing programs to well over 1500 youth, ultimately responsible for membership growth, revenue growth, new product development, and market positioning.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While with the Boy Scouts, the 100-year old organization wrestled with many important and historic decisions. The uncertainty and passionate opinions often interfered with revenue growth and membership growth. During this challenging timeframe, I was able to increase revenues by nearly 40% through a combination of process improvements, pricing adjustments, and the creation of new revenue sources, while also increasing operating margins. I also increased market share by 4% through new marketing strategies and product developments. These successes ultimately helped our organization serve our mission and make a positive impact for thousands in our community.

Ultimately, these successes helped me realize that good leaders can impact lives far beyond their reach only if they have the right tools and knowledge to succeed. Therefore, attending business school and fine-tuning the skills needed to fix businesses and processes was a logical next step in my life.

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

Be yourself. I know it’s cliché, but it’s so true for business school. You need to find a school that fits your personality, values, and future goals. If you don’t feel like you’ll fit at a school, then don’t attend. Every student, faculty member, and alumni will be part of that culture. You need to make sure you fit comfortably there or you will feel uncomfortable for the rest of your career.

Don’t worry about the rankings. Business school rankings are not a good indicator on the quality of your MBA. You will get offers to top schools and unsolicited advice from everyone you meet, but your final decision is up to you. Dig deeper into a school. Where do their students land internships and jobs? How does that align with your goals? What classes does a school have that relate to your interests? What’s the cost? What’s the realistic benefit?).

You are not your GMAT score. A high score is nice, but I know plenty of people with 700+ scores who didn’t get into business school because they had no passion, no grit, no vision. At the same time, I know many people with fairly low GMAT scores who are the most interesting, driven, and amazing people I’ve ever met. Why did a school accept them? Because they’re the people Who are going to make a real difference in the world.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I had several offers from some amazing business schools (top 10s), but I consciously choose Simon for three main reasons.

Culture: Simon keeps their class small. This strategy leads to close interactions between the faculty, students, and community. Everyone knows everyone; we quite literally act like a big family. At Simon, I’ve had the ability to have coffee with the dean of the full-time program, enjoy a meal with the dean of the school, and have had multiple one-on-one meetings with the dean of the career management center. This personal touch and availability has been invaluable for me.

Vision: Simon’s Dean, Andrew Ainslie, has been very public about his aggressive strategy to reinvent the Simon Business School. We’ve always been a data and economics powerhouse and we’ve always been recognized for our finance and pricing programs. Dean Ainslie has set a course to maintain the history and prestige of these Simon programs, while bringing a new emphasis on strategy consulting, as well as technology and marketing. I wanted to be a part of this change. I’m inspired by challenges and wanted to make an impact. I wanted to attend a school where I could make waves, not just ride them. We will become a top 20 school by 2020.

Rigor: As previously mentioned, Simon’s quantitative prowess is globally recognized. As someone who comes with the background of a “Poet” but the brain of a “Quant”, I wanted to round out my arts education with a quantitative graduate program. As Simon often says, “We were into data before data was cool.” The economic approach to decision making has already changed my way of thinking.

 Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? I’ve been very public with my classmates about my desire to work for Boston Consulting Group. I love their culture and problem solving approach. Their focus on client satisfaction is second-to-none and the caliber of people in their office is incredible. After my summer internship with Amazon, I’ll be excited to continue pursuing a career with Boston Consulting Group.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I’d like my classmates to recognize me as a passionate servant leader. I’m glad to take the reins in uncertainty, but only measure success when my team has succeeded. I want them to all know that they can call on me whenever they need something. Simon family extends long after graduation.

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