Meet London Business School’s Class of 2019

Sherry Stolar 

London Business School 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Certified wine lover, passionate world traveler and lifelong student in adventure.

Hometown:  East Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

Fun Fact About Yourself: Since I got my first passport at 14 years old, I’ve traveled to 46 countries spanning every continent except Antarctica.

Undergraduate School and Major: Cornell University, Communications

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Clif Bar & Company:

Associate Brand Manager, CLIF Kid (Jun 2015-Jun 2017)

Brand Analyst & Coordinator, CLIF Bar (May 2014-Jun 2015)

Old Bridge Cellars:

Market Analyst/Events Manager (Aug 2011-Apr 2014)

Benson Marketing Group:

Account Coordinator (Jun 2010-Aug 2011)

UBS Investment Bank:

Employee Communications Officer (Oct 2008-May 2010)

Communications and Marketing Coordinator (Aug 2007-Aug 2008)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Diploma is a stepping-stone to the competitive Master of Wine (MW) title, the highest attainable qualification in the wine industry. It is divided into six mandatory units that each must be passed independently. The largest unit is an all-day exam, with seven essays and a blind tasting of 12 different wines. In total, the Diploma takes two years to complete, which I did while working full-time.

When I first started, I found it difficult to express aromas or flavors in a wine any more specifically than “fruity” or “oaky.” However, acceptable tasting notes on the exam require 4-5 specific descriptors, such as “red cherry” and “blackcurrant.” To prepare, I organized a weekly tasting group with five classmates. Each meeting we focused on a particular region or grape variety and practiced our abilities to see, smell and taste the nuances of 10 to 25 different wines. In addition, I attended courses two weekends a month and spent my weekday evenings studying.

After two years of devoting approximately 25 hours a week to my coursework, I received my WSET Diploma. I passed Unit 2 with Distinction and Unit 5 with Merit, meaning I scored in the top quarter of a class of approximately 400 students worldwide on these two units in particular. Completing the Diploma not only allowed me to further my education in wine substantially, but also pushed me outside of my academic comfort zone, which I hope to continue to do at LBS.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants?  The biggest piece of advice I would give to future applicants is to be true to yourself in your application: be honest with who you are and what you want to get out of school. Whether that’s to start your own company or to simply explore different career options to find the one that best fits your skills and interests, you need to apply for YOU and your own goals, not what anyone else expects of you or tells you. I took the GMAT more than three years ago and when I started applying at the time, I realized I didn’t have a clear purpose and my application didn’t feel authentic. I ended up not applying and putting the idea of school on hold. Over the next few years, I really asked myself where I wanted to go in my career and gave some deep thought to what I wanted. At that point, business school really made sense to help me achieve my goals and, so when I began applications the second time around, the process simply flowed – my application truly reflected who I am and why business school made sense for me. You have to really want this experience to make the most of it. Whether you have a clearly laid out specific end goal or you just want to use the time to discover new opportunities, you need to be clear in what you hope to get out of it.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? For me, the global nature of London Business School’s program was the major draw. I’ve lived in London twice before and there’s no place else in the world I’ve ever been with such a diversity of people. LBS’s class reflects that, with students from 70 countries and diverse backgrounds in various industries. I know I’m not the most ‘traditional’ business school candidate and it was important to me to find a community of people from different industries, countries and experiences. I wanted to build a diverse global network and have a truly international business school experience. LBS offers this in the truest sense.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? My goal is to start my own wine education business geared toward consumers who are interested in learning more about wine, but who don’t know much about it. In my own wine education, I’ve found that the snobbery and complication of the topic of wine can be intimidating and, thus, off-putting to those who don’t know much about wine. My intention is to overcome that stigma by offering basic wine education that empowers individuals to understand how wine is made and how to properly taste, and ultimately provide them with a language and framework for expressing what they like and don’t like. Ultimately, you don’t need to know every grape variety and every region – but if you can articulate your preferences, you’ll end up drinking more wines you like.

Within my first year after business school, success would look like me offering my courses to companies worldwide as a team-building activity or private event, and receiving positive feedback and word-of-mouth referrals to keep growing my business. Of course, that goes hand in hand with maintaining the lasting connections I look forward to making with my classmates and lifelong friends at LBS.

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