2017 Best MBAs: Charles Gallo, Georgetown (McDonough)

Charles Gallo

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

“Passionate with a relentless drive to make a difference.”

Age: 35

Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa

Fun fact about yourself: I ran a marathon in a monkey suit to raise money for charity.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Southern Methodist University, BSc. Economics with Finance

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? HNW Private Banker at Investec

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Noble Markets, a FinTech firm with a banking license that enables clients to clear, net and settle OTC trades in real time

Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Business Analyst, Noble Markets

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • VP of Career – Student Government Association
  • VP of CalTrek – Technology Club
  • MBA Student Leader – Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Co-founder – Georgetown FinTech

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I was part of a team of three that launched Georgetown FinTech. We wanted to build something for future generations of Georgetown students. We put together a structure that brought multiple schools and initiatives at the university together. We built the program through events, partnerships, and educational workshops.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While working as a HNW Private Banker, I co-founded a Chinese food delivery service in Cape Town. We grew the business to approximately 10,000 customers and 40 employees. It was a lesson in the realities of implementing a business plan and how to iterate. There were some evenings where we had drivers not turn up and I would make deliveries in my work suit. The necessity to pick up the unglamorous responsibilities was humbling yet rewarding.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Ken Homa – I took both Consulting Frameworks Methods & Context and Strategic Business Analysis. His courses transformed the way I think about business problems in a fundamental way. It was about applying structured diagnosis and data analysis into a rigorous problem-solving framework.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Tutorial on Blockchain and Financial Inclusion. We have the opportunity to propose an independent study as one of our courses. We performed case studies and analyzed how companies were utilizing an innovative technology to better the lives of billions of people. When studying these companies, we learned how important it was to be able to iterate. All of the companies faced significant challenges in getting going and were able to pivot and adapt. A consistent theme for all of the companies was really listening to the feedback of their customers and continually improving their products and services.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Georgetown for 3 main reasons:

  1. The culture of focusing on the whole person. It is important to focus on multiple aspects of development to get a rounded MBA experience.
  2. Washington, D.C. is a fantastic city with a growing entrepreneurial scene.
  3. Global focus. Technology has broken down global boundaries. It is vital to be able to navigate different cultures and perspectives.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The opportunity to learn would be the first. You can push everything to the limit and if you fail you are still in school for the next couple of years. The environment is set where you are encouraged to try new things and get feedback.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? How much I learned about myself. We work a lot in groups and at the end of every semester we have structured feedback sessions with our group members. You get really honest feedback from your classmates allowing one to really re-asses your leadership style and the way you interact with peers.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Visit the school if possible and meet as many current students as you can. Work on telling your story and be clear around your reasons for wanting to do an MBA.

What is the biggest myth about your school? No myths that I know of: Looking forward to finding out what they are however.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret was not being open-minded to all of the opportunities early on. I had always worked in finance and initially thought that I would only explore banking as a career. There are so many opportunities that the MBA provides and it is the best opportunity to re-evaluate what you really want to do.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Mike Beck – Mike is a natural leader with a genuine care for others, an easy going attitude and drive to make the Georgetown MBA the strongest possible experience for students.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was not challenged enough in my current role.”   

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…an entrepreneur building technology business in Africa.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Create a common space for eating. Everyone is so pressed for time that it is challenging to all get together.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate goal is to make a positive change to the world. I am grateful for all of the opportunities that I have been given and want to create opportunities for others. I would like to work for a company that is not afraid to do something different to achieve its objectives.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My Wife. We moved to DC with one child and had a second during the MBA. She has been a constant support and motivator through the experience. I started working part time in the second year so I was even less available. She took on all the challenges of raising two kids in a foreign country.

Favorite book: Thinking Fast and Slow

Favorite movie or television show: Inception

Favorite musical performer: Black Eyed Peas

Favorite vacation spot: Italy

Hobbies? Golf, Squash, Trail Running

What made Charles such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Charles Gallo brought to Georgetown McDonough a global mindset, with prior work experience in Cape Town, London, Los Angeles, and Dallas. As an international student arriving in Washington, he came with an open mind and an eagerness to explore new possibilities through his classwork and conversations with classmates, Entrepreneurs in Residence, career coaches, alumni, and employers. Charles is on a mission to have the most positive impact on his school, his family, and his future.

On the school front, Charles wasn’t interested in titles for his resume; he wanted to make a difference for his classmates. He was elected to Georgetown’s Student Government Association as Vice President for Careers, where he proactively established frameworks to better connect the MBA Program Office, MBA Career Center, and MBA Student Organizations in the design and delivery of dozens of Career Days and Career Treks throughout the year, making them better for organizers and participants. As a first-year student, he participated in the annual MBA California Trek, asking engaging and thoughtful questions during Georgetown’s first-ever visit to Andreessen Horowitz; as a Vice President in the MBA Tech Club the next year, he helped plan Cal Trek that included an encore visit to A-H thanks to his maintaining strong relationships there. He thoughtfully utilized first-year students as junior board members to help them take on leadership responsibilities earlier and accelerate learning.

As for his family and future, in between meals and play-dates with his young family at home, Charles devoted many hours exploring different industries and functions, becoming most intrigued with FinTech. He researched the field, quickly became knowledgeable and presented to the MBA Career Center on the primary players, trends, opportunities and threats in FinTech to support career coaches in their work. He secured a summer internship at Noble Markets, a next generation banking platform in Manhattan. He later helped organize and host “FinTech: Innovating in Financial Services” panel discussion and networking event in New York, sponsored by Georgetown University Alumni Association in partnership with Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative and Georgetown Entrepreneurship Alliance, university-wide entities where Charles is respected for his leadership, collaboration, and ability to deliver results.

Charles’ intelligence, maturity, presence, and kindness are his hallmarks. He does the right things for the best of reasons: to help advance relationships with and among faculty, staff, classmates, alumni, and employers, for the good of others even more than for himself. He exemplifies Georgetown’s Jesuit values of academic excellence, community in diversity, and women and men for others. His gifts as an exceptional global citizen who contributes so constructively, passionately, and purposefully are rare. Charles drives to make a difference and has left his enriching and inspiring mark on the Georgetown University community.”

Eric Young

Assistant Dean for the MBA Career Center


Comments or questions about this article? Email us.