2017 MBAs to Watch: Daniel Porus, Cambridge (Judge)

Daniel Porus

Cambridge Judge Business School

 “Enthusiastic, trustworthy, driven and self-confident New Zealander who thrives off social interaction and new challenges.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand

Fun fact about yourself: I once spent a university vacation working as Santa Claus in a local shopping centre.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of Arts (Economics)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Russell McVeagh, Solicitor; Mills Oakley Lawyers, Associate


Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

CJBS Israel Trek – One of five MBA students who designed and coordinated the inaugural Cambridge Judge Business School student-led innovation Trek to Israel.

Hult Prize Regional Finalist – Part of a team of four from Cambridge Judge Business School selected for the Boston Regional Finals for the Hult Prize. This competition required each team to come up with an idea for a sustainable and scalable start-up enterprise to restore the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2022.

Women’s Leadership Initiative – One of the debaters as part of the Women’s Leadership Initiative Series. The topic of the debate was ‘women should want it all – chivalry and equal pay’.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of leading the inaugural CJBS Israel Trek in January 2017.  This was the first year that an Israel Trek had been organised at Cambridge Judge Business School and more than one fifth of the MBA cohort ended up joining.  The Trek was focused on innovation and provided a number of unique business-related opportunities such as meeting with the Mayor of Jerusalem, a start-up incubator and senior executives from four start-up companies worth more than US$1 billion. Besides the business-focused aspects of the Trek, it was also a great opportunity to share new experiences with a diverse group of fellow MBA students and to get to know them on a more intimate level outside of the class room.  Many participants described this as a highlight of the MBA so far.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I previously worked as an M&A lawyer, first in New Zealand and then in Australia. I am most proud of one particular transaction as a lawyer which involved the sale of an Australian boat manufacturing business. I had worked on a number of transactions which had larger transaction values, but what made me particularly proud of this transaction was the relationship that I developed with the client — a sole shareholder who had built this business from nothing over a number of decades — and the result that I managed to achieve for him. The client had a low risk profile and wanted to ensure that he completed the sale with the minimum potential exposure. I simultaneously managed the client’s responses to due diligence queries, negotiated the sale agreement between my client and the US purchaser, and closed a separate insurance contract to cover any potential warranty claims with a third party insurer.  The client was thrilled with the outcome and I was proud of helping him to achieve it.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favourite professor was Mark de Rond who taught us for the Negotiations Workshop.  Mark is a softly spoken ethnographer who facilitated a series of fantastic interactive classes where we conducted negotiations based around a case and then debriefed about what we had collectively learnt from the experience, and what practical learnings we could use for future negotiations.  Mark has an amazing ability to create a collaborative learning experience within the class room and to clearly distil learnings from each session.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favourite course has been Organisational Behaviour and the biggest insight that I gained was the importance of aligning your human resources and your corporate strategy.  This is summed up by a quote from Jim Collins (author of ‘Good to Great’) which our professor used in class and has remained with me: ‘In order to execute strategy and get where you want to go, you need the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and then put the right people in the right seats.’

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Cambridge Judge Business School because of the diversity of the class (both in terms of culture and work experience), the small class size which enables you to really get to know your classmates, the practical components which involve two consulting projects, one with a start-up from the Cambridge Cluster and a separate Global Consulting Project, and finally the incredibly collaborative nature of the programme.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I have most enjoyed the opportunities to work in small groups with my fellow class mates. For the Hult Prize, my team consisted of people from France, India and Zambia and each person brought a different and valuable perspective and set of skills. As much as I learned from the classroom, I felt that I learned more from my fellow classmates on practical projects.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The most surprising thing for me about business school was just how much I learned about myself. I was constantly overloaded with work, but also wanted to take advantage of the networking opportunities, do case competitions, apply for jobs, socialise with classmates, keep up with some form of sport, and get (at least some) sleep. Every day involved trade-offs and I learned a lot about my personal priorities and values in the process.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program?  Think carefully about how you can contribute to the diversity of the classroom and focus your application around this.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth (which turned out to be entirely true) is that formal dinners at the University Colleges are just like being in a Harry Potter film.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admired Moji, who was one of the members of my assigned study group for the first term. Moji had a five year-old son and a husband who did shift work. She had previously deferred coming to business school to look after her son and was now balancing business school commitments with her husband’s job and looking after her son. She had an amazing attitude, never complained, and always was the first person to put her hand up to help out the group with work that needed to be done.

 I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realised that I did not want to be a lawyer for the rest of my life.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…traveling the world.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would put in place an optional short-course just before starting the formal MBA programme for any students who have not had prior experience in accounting, finance or using Excel.  This would ensure that all students have a certain level of base knowledge in these areas which would enable the faculty to skip over the basics more quickly during the core courses and cover more content.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To use my post-MBA experience to help grow and develop the start-up communities in Australia and New Zealand.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents for always believing in me and giving me the support (both financial and non-financial) to follow my passions.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Reliable, trustworthy and fun to be around.

Favorite book: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Favorite movie or television show: Good Will Hunting

Favorite musical performer: Billy Joel

Favorite vacation spot: Waiheke Island (an island 30 minutes from the city centre in Auckland, New Zealand)

Hobbies? Trail Running, Pilates, Travel

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

“Daniel is an active member of the School. He’s focused and embraces the Cambridge collaborative ethos, which has been demonstrated by him being instrumental in the organisation of a student trek to Israel. Daniel is an incredibly supportive classmate and team member, which is reflected in the success of his Hult Prize team being selected for the regional finals in Boston.”

Carla Keen

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Cambridge MBA



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