“Something for everyone.”
That would make a great slogan for New York University’s Stern School of Business. Located in the heart of New York City, Stern markets itself as “an education in possible” – and for good reason. The school is massive. Between its undergraduate and graduate programs, Stern boasts nearly 5,500 students. The MBA program alone offers 25 specializations, not to mention 215 different electives. On top of that, the faculty numbers nearly 340 professors, including three Nobel Prize laureates, who rank among the world’s most cited business researchers.
Notably, the MBA program offers specializations in such increasingly popular disciplines as digital marketing, FinTech, luxury marketing, and sustainable business. Rangarajan Sundaram, the vice dean of MBA programs, attributes this opulence to the school’s Big Apple locale, which enables it to quickly partner with practitioners who are running operations or conducting research in cutting-edge arenas like blockchain. These resources, coupled with Stern’s scale, bring a remarkable variety of expertise and subjects to Stern MBA students.
INTERESTED IN SOMETHING? STERN HAS A CLASS FOR THAT!
“There is an enormous range depending on what students are interested in,” Sundaram points out in a 2017 interview. “That’s a key differentiator for us and it is something that we’re very conscious of deepening and widening as the world around us is changing.” Even more, this ecosystem opens up avenues for Stern to pool its resources with employers. In the process, it creates a high number of experiential learning opportunities, where students can apply their talents and make themselves more attractive to employers.
Sundaram tells Poets&Quants he wants to elevate Stern’s commitment to experiential learning through its “Stern Solutions” program. His vision, he says, is to intensify the program’s emphasis on developing leaders who can grasp the big picture, turn transformation into opportunity, and thrive in an ever-changing global climate.
“We will provide more students with more opportunities to participate, while deepening our relationships with companies that value the fresh insights Stern MBAs can bring to the table,” he shares. “Stern Solutions projects will pair students with faculty to work with actual organizations in tackling their most pressing business challenges – real-world, real-time learning with real impact. In the past, Stern MBAs have engaged with companies ranging from Diane Von Furstenberg to MasterCard to the NBA to HBO and more, with student participation in projects growing by more than 130% in the past two years alone. Students gain incredible experience while building relationships – and contributing value – to organizations.”
THE PROJECT IS THE CASE ITSELF
In a nutshell, Stern students will enjoy more options than most MBA counterparts. “There is a project for whatever taste that you have at Stern,” Sundaram adds. “Experiential learning is a fantastic opportunity that Stern provides because it combines the best of academic learning and case study because the experience is the case study itself. You’re learning about the project and you’re learning hands-on in way where you’re learning to apply all the tools, techniques and concepts and ideas that you learned in the classroom.”
For Omolade Salawu, a Howard grad who cut his teeth at Deloitte Consulting before joining the Class of 2019, Stern’s scope was a rare value add that gave him a decided advantage after graduation. “A unique benefit of the NYU Stern program is that it offers a wider variety of specializations (20+) than other schools,” he explains. “This was important to me because while working as a consultant, I often had to work in multiple roles and wear multiple hats on different projects. I believe that a great MBA program should give you the opportunity to gain depth in multiple areas as many career paths today are multifaceted.”
It is also a program stocked with some heavy firepower. Stern MBAs scored the school’s alumni network among the ten-best in the Economist’s 2016 student and alumni survey – a network that is 100,000 graduates deep in 125 countries. In a 2017 U.S. News survey, rival deans and administrators ranked Stern as a top 10 program in accounting, finance, information systems, international business, and marketing. Molly Rowe, who comes directly from George Washington University thanks to Stern’s William R. Berkley Scholarship Program, was drawn to this innate versatility. “Unlike some programs that have a more rigid core, Stern offers the ability to take courses in multiple specializations and has a flexible core curriculum,” she says. “Stern will allow me to customize my curriculum around all of my different areas of interest and create an education that is tailored specifically to my needs.”
CLASS BOASTS A GUITARIST, A DANCER…AND AN AVALANCHE SURVIVOR
For an MBA program whose calling card is size and choice, it should surprise no one that Stern can draw MBA candidates from far and wide. The 2019 class features alumni of blue ribbon organizations like Google, PwC, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the U.S. Navy SEALs. Conor Pieri played professional hockey in Germany and Finland before eventually signing up with Bain & Company. Rachel Harrison Gordon, who is earning a dual degree with Kanbar Institute of Film & Television at the Tisch School of the Arts, co-hosted the White House’s tech video blog “We the Geeks.” Let’s not forget Meghana Hegde, who has already tasted the c-suite, most recently serving as an assistant vice president at Credit Suisse.
That’s just the starting point. Looking for a non-traditional background? Alberto Fabian studied jazz and modern dance as an undergrad (along with advertising and publications). Looking for a background as diverse as the Stern curriculum? Meet Salawu: “My desire for adventure led me down several journeys including trying to be a movie director, tech entrepreneur, seafood restaurant manager, guitarist and a race car driver.” While Salawu is a man for all seasons, Alison Snyder dreams of meeting the ultimate Renaissance man: Leonardo da Vinci (not DiCaprio). And Rowe brings a sense of whimsy to Kaufman:
As a child, I dressed as a computer for Halloween one year, complete with a keyboard, a mouse, and even a bug.”
How is this scary? Adam Scheer, a SEAL Platoon Commander, survived an avalanche when he was climbing Mount Whitney, America’s talent mountain at 14,500 feet. Josie Yin experienced her own rite of passage. She endured the fastest roller coaster in China….and did it in true MBA style. “I cried for 20 mins before getting on the second time.” Speaking of sheer terror, how about this story from Ian Murphy about his Special Forces training?
“Part of my training involved parachuting from an aircraft. On my first ever jump, the first thing I felt as I hurled myself from the door of the C-130 was the blast of hot, fuel-soaked air from the turboprop, followed by the most serene calm I think I’ve ever experienced as my parachute opened. The second thing I felt was my best friend’s boot on my helmet as he sailed through the risers of my parachute, got tangled and swung down under me with a look of terror painted across his face that likely mirrored my own. With only seconds before our combined weight brought us hurtling to the ground, I managed to wrestle my way through his risers and “steer” myself away from what would have been a painful and ugly joint landing.”
The O. Henry twist? “Somehow, I am no longer afraid of heights,” he jokes.
BOUNCE BACK YEAR AS APPLICATIONS AND GMATs RISE
For a program custom made for career changers, Stern also drew plenty of MBA candidates who’ve successfully made difficult transitions. After tearing up his knee and ruining his shot at becoming a Green Beret, Murphy reinvented himself by becoming an expert in data analytics and psychological operations. Then again, what can you say about Pieri? Somehow, he made the jump from being an English major at Tufts to a senior analyst in corporate finance at JetBlue Airways Corporation – and the go-to guy on finance questions for JetBlue’s senior executive team.
2016-2017 was a bit of a bounce back year at Stern, which had plummeted to 20th in the 2016 U.S. News business school rankings courtesy of a reporting error. Whether a correlation or a causality, the result was a 10-point drop in average GMAT average for the Class of 2018 over the previous year. That decline was rectified, to an extent, with the incoming class – where the average GMAT rose from 710 to 714. Still, the number is the second-lowest in nine years…and represents a seven point decline from the Class of 2016’s 721 heyday. Despite the rise in test scores, Stern continued to slide in average GPAs to the tune of 3.48 — .03 of a point lower than last year’s class.
Go to next page to read 12 profiles of incoming Stern MBA candidates.