2017 MBAs To Watch: Steven Zerbini, Boston University (Questrom)

Steven Zerbini

Boston University Questrom School of Business

“Charismatic, passionate, humble and energetic person who is always smiling and looking to help others.” 

Age: 28

Hometown: Wethersfield, Connecticut

Fun fact about yourself: I make homemade lobster raviolis, from lobsters I catch.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Wheaton College (MA), Bachelors of Arts in Chemistry, 2011

Boston University School of Public Health, Masters in Public Health, Candidate 2017

Boston University Questrom School of Business, Masters in Business Administration, Candidate 2017

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Before enrolling in business school I held two positions:

  • Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Emergency Room Technician
  • Quintiles, Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Partners Healthcare, Corporate Finance, Strategic Operations Management Department, Somerville, MA

Where will you be working after graduation? Cleveland Clinic, Administrative Fellow, Cleveland, OH

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Health Sector Management Club, First Year Representative, Cohort B, 2015-2016
  • Health Sector Management Club, Vice President of Alumni Relations, 2016-present
  • Health and Life Sciences Conference, Director of Alumni Relations and Internal Marketing, 2016-2017
  • Health Sector Management Program, Alumni Board Member, 2016-2017
  • Admissions Ambassador, 2015-2017
  • Questrom MBA Soccer Team, Captain, 2016-2017

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Academically, I am most proud about being acknowledged by my teammates for my exceptional performance as a team member. To provide some context, we have team projects every eight weeks and at the end of each project, we must provide feedback to all of our team members and each one of my teammates has acknowledged me for exceptional performance. This achievement is important to me because it’s confirmation of my progress and learning, in addition to positive feedback regarding my ability to collaborate with diverse groups regardless of my position on the team. Going forward, most of my work will be on teams. I will continue to value my relationship with my peers and strive to maintain the strong work ethic that earned this recognition.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Despite the #1 ranking for market share growth in New England as a sales representative for Alcon Labs and being named the #1 performer in the St. Francis Hospital Emergency Department in 2014, the achievement I feel most proud of in my professional career is the recognition that I received from my patients. Though not an achievement in the typical definition, I received personal letters from some of my patients to thank me for the level of care that I provided to them. These letters are not received often in Emergency Rooms. This has served as a reinforcement of the pride I take in my work, as well as an inspiration and motivation to continue delivering the care I believe all patients deserve.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor in my MBA program would have to be Professor Paul (Hutch) Hutchinson. Hutch teaches Teaming and Organizational Behavior and was the first professor I had at BU. The energy and excitement he brought to every class was unparalleled by any other professor. He pushed us all to learn and understand the importance of teamwork and how to create a high performing team. This is a skill that I can transfer into any position and in every aspect of my life.

Beyond being a great teacher, Hutch makes an effort to get to know his students.  He makes our learning personal to each of our experiences, which is not an easy task.  There have been times while at BU that I sought Hutch out for advice on teaming issues as well as personal challenges. Since leaving Hutch’s class, I have kept in touch with him and look forward to maintaining our relationship beyond graduation from BU.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite business course to date has been Negotiations, due to its application not only in my career but in my personal life as well. The biggest insight I gained about business is that more often than not there is a satisfactory resolution to every challenge for all parties. Initially the solution may not be obvious, but with hard work and creativity, it can be found. In business, there is a lot of ambiguity and problems are not easily resolved. This course taught me to embrace this ambiguity and use it to our advantage to work collectively and create an optimal solution.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose to earn my MBA from BU for multiple reasons. First, for its academic excellence. BU has one of the best healthcare management programs in the country. This program not only provided me with the academic rigor I was seeking, but also brought in leaders of healthcare as guest speakers in many of my courses. In addition to this academic excellence, I was interested in pursuing a master’s in public health, for which BU has a tenured program.

Secondly, I chose BU for the people. I knew that the people who I surrounded myself with would help to define my learning, my network and my path forward. It was important to me that I would feel comfortable and want to create lasting relationships with students, faculty and staff. From my first visit to BU, it felt like home and an environment that I could envision myself in. The faculty and staff have proven to support each student achieve their aspirations and I have made connections with my peers that will be long lasting.

Finally, as one of the Meccas for healthcare in the country, the opportunity to learn and network in Boston was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This city has provided me with the opportunity to meet and speak with leaders from all aspects of the healthcare industry that are willing to share their experiences and offer their advice.  These conversations and relationships have enriched and extended my learning beyond the walls of the classroom.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? What I enjoyed most about business school were my classmates. They not only provided me with a great group of friends, but they provided me with a support system as well as pushed me academically and professionally. My classmates in business school were an invaluable source of learning and helped me to develop a strong professional network. I have spent countless hours sitting in team rooms talking out problems, which gave me a more well-rounded understanding of the issue and all of the potential solutions. They have helped me to make connections with healthcare professionals and they have become some of my closest friends. We explore the city together, take weekend adventures skiing and when we need to let off some steam, we are there for each other. My classmates have made this experience an unforgettable one.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The most surprising thing about business school was that most of my learning was not done in the classroom. I was expecting business school to be primarily focused on in-classroom learning and did not anticipate the extensive learning that would take place beyond the walls of the classroom. I learned a significant amount from the experiences and perspectives of my classmates. My internship also significantly expanded and enriched my learning experience. My internship has afforded me with the opportunity to build a robust network of healthcare leaders, whose experience and insight I value and respect. I was not expecting to be able to create relationships with top leaders at world-renowned organizations and am humbled that they are willing to provide me with advice on my path forward

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? The best piece of advice I could give a prospective BU student is to express your interest in the program and an explanation of why you are interested in a BU MBA degree. As you articulate why you need to be at BU, you will find yourself connected with the school and what it has to offer before you even get admitted.  This can be accomplished by attending admissions events, speaking with admissions staff, and having a passion for your career goals and how an MBA can help you succeed. I would also advise prospective students to talk to current students and alumni to learn about the culture and experience you can expect while at BU. An MBA program, similar to a job, is about finding a good fit.

What is the biggest myth about your school?  The biggest myth about BU is that the school is all work and no fun. This myth was definitely untrue and busted within the first few weeks at BU. Though, all of my classmates and I are at school for work, we also have a lot of fun as well. Being together for such long intervals of time, we created a strong bond with a great group of friends. The weekdays are focused on classes and work. However, BU makes sure that we are all enjoying ourselves and socializing as well. Frequently, BU hosted events for our program to network and enjoy ourselves outside of the classroom.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret in business school was not taking advantage of the alumni network sooner. The alumni are a great resource for advice, mentorship and career opportunities.

Once I started reaching out, I was surprised at how receptive the alumni were to speaking with me. In my conversations with alumni, I was able to receive great insight into future professions, job opportunities, most valuable classes to take while attending BU, and how to navigate the job search. For instance, an alumni member put me in touch with a Director of a hospital in Boston and I have subsequently volunteered on a special project for his team. This experience has proven to be invaluable, as I believe it was one of the factors that set me apart from my competition when applying for administrative fellow programs.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I most admire is Bei (Nicole) Zhu. She is an international student from China who came to BU knowing little English and had no family or friends in the area. She has done her best to learn not only academically but personally. During one of our classes, our teacher asked for a volunteer to come to the front of the class, introduce themselves and be critiqued on their tone and volume. No one in our class volunteered except for Nicole. Though she was nervous, Nicole put herself out there and did a fantastic job.  Ever since then I have admired her for her courage, strength and willingness to be vulnerable.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I knew I wanted to go to business school when I saw staff who were unsatisfied with their jobs and patients who were sitting in the emergency room hallways for hours or days waiting to receive medical attention. I knew that with my business degree, I could play an active role in transforming patient care and employee satisfaction.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…I am honestly uncertain with where I would be. Personally, I would most likely still be in Connecticut with my family.  Professionally, I was laid off the month I began business school so I am uncertain what position I would hold. However, I know I would be in the healthcare industry.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? If I were dean for a day, I would instill in the curriculum more opportunities for students to work with real clients. I believe these experiences provided me with the biggest opportunities to learn and understand how to practically apply my classroom learnings.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term professional goal is to run and manage a hospital organization at the C-Suite, SVP or VP level.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my parents. They have not only supported me through my schooling and career, but have also been the greatest role models for me. They have always encouraged me to go after my dreams and to not feel limited by anything around me.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as an intelligent, fun, and energetic person who is always smiling and willing to help anyone or take on any role needed to achieve a goal. 

Favorite book: Harry Potter Series

Favorite movie or television show: The Big Bang Theory

Favorite musical performer: John Mayer, in concert he is amazing

Favorite vacation spot: Rhodes, Greece. This is where my family is from and it never ceases to amaze me with its beauty and charm.

Hobbies? Soccer, boating, fishing, lobstering, waterskiing, clamming, downhill skiing, bowling, cooking

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

“It is easy to make the case that Steven Zerbini has been an invaluable addition to the class of 2017 at Boston University Questrom School of Business. With his strong passion and commitment to health care, Steven was elected as a member of our Health Sector Management (HSM) Club to enhance the program’s presence on campus as well as host learning events for students at Boston University.

Steven has been a vital team member of the health sector community at Questrom and feels comfortable assuming whatever role may be needed. For example, he was the only first year student to aid in our Health and Life Sciences Conference in the fall of 2016. This past year, Steven was selected to be the Director of Marketing for the same student run conference. As part of the HSM Club, Steven facilitated and organized a networking event to bring together 40 current students and fifteen alumni in a new format. Recognizing this effort, he also joined the HSM Alumni Board with the goal of connecting alumni with current students. Steven is recognized by his peers and faculty as a leader who listens and solves problems alongside his colleagues, while respecting individual opinions, thoughts and concerns. His calming nature sets those around him at ease under trying circumstances, allowing the entire team to feel included and participate in the decision making process.

In terms of his academics, Steven is just as engaged. He brings his passion into the classroom and seeks not only to grow as an individual, but to bring out the best in those around him.  Steven is a highly intelligent, motivated, and driven individual who possesses positive energy that extends to everyone he meets. As one of our MBA/MPH students, Steven has learned how to successfully balance his academic work load with numerous extracurricular activities. He has created events to connect students from both graduate programs and also organized events with students from other healthcare MBA programs in the Boston area.”

Ned Rimer

Faculty Director

Health Sector Management Program



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