Meet Columbia Business School’s MBA Class Of 2019

Brandon McCampbell 

Columbia Business School 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Servant leader with a big picture mentality, who thrives on challenges

Hometown: Warrenton, VA

Fun Fact About Yourself: In 2012, I drove a 378 foot ship through 45 foot seas when we were caught in a typhoon off the coast of Japan while conducting law enforcement operations.

Undergraduate School and Major:

School: United States Coast Guard Academy

Major: Management

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: 

US Coast Guard

Career Management Advisor, US Coast Guard Headquarters – Washington, DC (2016-2017)

Executive Officer, US Coast Guard Cutter KEY LARGO – Gloucester, MA (2015-2016)

Executive Officer, US Coast Guard Cutter GRAND ISLE – Gloucester, MA (2014-2015)

Deck Watch Officer, US Coast Guard Cutter RUSH – Honolulu, HI (2012-2014)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During my time as second in command of the USCGC GRAND ISLE, a 110 foot ship, my unit was tasked with taking the ship permanently out of service. As the lead project officer, I spearheaded this $7 million warship decommissioning. By engaging all relevant stakeholders early, dividing seemingly unconquerable tasks into manageable pieces and streamlining financial and administrative processes, I led the project to completion 50% ahead of schedule and faster than any prior unit. This project taught me how to engage across many functions and lead people through a project of several working parts, to one common goal.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Don’t be afraid to do some true introspection and ask yourself the tough questions of what it is that you want in your career and ultimately what’s important to you. As someone who is shifting industries from the public to the private sector, I know how overwhelming the process of figuring out what you want to do can be. As a result, my advice is to figure out what you value most in a program and in general, then explore several different programs to see which one aligns best with those values. Also, go visit the campuses because that’s the best way to get a feel for the program and the people!

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? The most important factor that led me to choose this program goes along with my advice from the previous question is something abstract, a feeling. As soon as I set foot on Columbia’s campus and interacted with the people from current students to admissions staff and professors, I knew right then that it was where I wanted to be. Looking beyond the exceptional quality of the program itself, the feeling I got when I walked on campus was one that felt warm, friendly and inclusive.

As someone who did not grow up in NYC and had only visited a few times, I was nervous that it would be the opposite and the culture would feel somewhat transactional and unfriendly, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. During that short visit, I tried to get to know Columbia from as many different perspectives as possible, from shadowing a current student veteran for a day, to meeting with an admissions officer and attending an admissions briefing, the feeling that I got from all was the same, that diversity makes us stronger and we work better together. As a military veteran, this is a feeling that was familiar to me and one that I’m honored to be able to continue to be a part of.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?  First, I know that I will meet incredible people and make life-long friends at business school while continuing to learn a lot about the business world and myself. That, in and of itself, is success. Additionally, I want to be able to look back on the year and say that I took advantage of every opportunity I could and that I was never afraid to truly put myself out there. This time next summer, I hope to be at an internship that challenges me and pulls me out of my comfort zone.

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