Meet Rochester Simon’s MBA Class of 2019

University of Rochester, Simon School of Business, ©richardschultz2017

However, it is the school’s multicultural setting that stands out. Nearly 29% of the class consists of U.S. minorities, up nearly 9% over the previous year. Even more, international students comprise 46.9% of the 2019 class – a composition that gives Simon students a decided professional advantage after graduation.

“We’re a small school that’s home to different nationalities and different perspectives – and we intentionally incorporate those perspectives into everything we do,” shares Dean Andrew Ainslie in a statement to P&Q. “We believe this has helped our students thrive within the Simon environment and in the workforce. Different viewpoints make our research and coursework more relevant and forward-thinking. Diversity is also represented at Simon, and the University of Rochester, by our international immersions programs in South Africa, China, Switzerland and Israel where students learn by doing and further enhance professional skills such as problem-solving, leadership and team work.”


Dean Ainslie argues that there has never been a better time to be a part of the Simon community.” The numbers certainly bear out his assertion. At Simon, data provides the tools to predict, plan, and persuade. According to Ainslie, the program focuses on three areas: “how analytical frameworks drive success in business; what it takes to collaborate and manage in the contemporary, global workplace; and our students’ professional growth and goals.” Like data analysis, the Simon curriculum is continuously being reviewed and refined.

For one, Ainsile says, the faculty is beefing up their strengths, adding new courses in quantitative finance and business analytics to meet emerging demands in the marketplace.  At the same time, it is doubling down on its experiential learning programs in the Rochester community, such as its partnerships with Foodlink and Habitat for Humanity. Notably, the program has hired a director – a Simon MBA, no less – to manage the program. This director will also work to prep students for the various corporate competitions that Simon sponsors.

“The Simon culture is unified by our students’ interest in making an impact on the world around them,” he writes.  “We have strong participation in a variety of outreach initiatives that support the Rochester community.”

True to Simon’s mission, the program recently added international treks during the winter and spring breaks. These treks, says Ainsile, involve corporate and site visits and include project work for credit-bearing classes. Their goal? Build class camaraderie and expose students to business practices across the globe.

Andrew Ainslie, Dean of the University of Rochester’s Simon School

“These treks are for both first- and second-year student,” Ainsile adds. “If students have an interest in choosing one location in their first year, and a different location in their second, they have multiple options to choose from. We will travel to four to five different locations each year—South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In addition to supplementing the full academic term international exchange options that we have offered for years, these trips provide great opportunities for our students to round out their experiences and walk away prepared for internships and the job market.”


So what enticed the Class of 2019 to spend their next two years in Western New York? Not surprisingly, the program’s prowess in data and analytics rose to the top of the list. Mitchell admits that she “overlooked” Simon initially, targeting programs with a strong footprint in retail and luxury instead. However, she soon recognized that Simon offered the unique depth and breadth that would help her stand out among her peers.

“Branded as the “go-to” school for analytics, I knew I found my competitive advantage,” she says. “The common thread of quantitative rigor within the courses was instrumental in my decision to come to Simon. In a business marketplace with ever increasing amounts of data, today’s business executives must know how to manage, analyze, and interpret it.”

For others, it is Simon’s size, where the program balances that difficult line between being academically rigorous yet deeply intimate. Alcazaren and Unnithan both sought out the small school experience during the application process. Each wanted the ability to truly know their peers and connect with them. Thus far, the program has lived up to its billing for both.

“Simon’s small class size is an absolute advantage,” Alcazaren asserts. “I have been able to take leadership positions in our class, form lifelong friendships, and receive individualized attention from our world-class faculty.”

In contrast, Unnithan appreciates how “you know everyone and everyone knows you!” She got a taste of the passionate and helpful nature of Simon MBA candidates during on-site events. “One of the key things I remember is a current student reaching out to me after one of the admission events to let me know that she felt I was a good fit with the culture,” she recalls. “I found that level of personal attention indicative of the overall culture of warmth and support at Simon.”


What is the most overlooked benefit of the Simon MBA? That would be the city of Rochester, which is hindered by the impression that is geographically isolated. Kathryn Flaschner, a 2017 P&Q MBA to Watch, believes this impression misses the bigger benefits.

“It is a fact that we are a bus ride away from New York City,” she concedes, “but we are scrappy. Simon attracts talent that is willing to work for the doors they open, and then give back to the institution that supported them along the way. Our geographic location is not a myth, but I often feel that people do not give enough credit to this city. As VP of Partnerships for Net Impact, I have sourced various consulting projects with clients in the city. As MBAs, Rochester gives us an exceptional opportunity to gain experience while making an impact.”

Downtown Rochester, New York

That said, Rochester is home to a host of unexpected pleasures. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Rochester offered the most affordable housing in 2017 among markets with a million or more people. That same year, it also ranked among U.S. News’ Best Places to Live, with high marks for high quality education and short commutes. That doesn’t even include the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes region, highlighted by flashy fall foliage and jaw-dropping waterfalls…not to mention world class boating, fishing, golf, and farmer’s markets.

“Rochester isn’t an arctic tundra — at least not all year long,” Distant adds. “In the summer and fall, the campus and city are absolutely gorgeous.”


With year one nearly in the books, the Class of 2019 has begun reflecting on what they hope to accomplish. Gallardo ties his success to expanding the network tied to the Simon School Venture Capital Fund, particularly in his native Southern California. “I started on this initiative a few months ago and have managed to develop a few partnerships already, but there is still a lot of work to do. I am sure this work will pay off not only for the fund but also for the school,” he says.

On the other hand, Bannar is looking to cross more traditional goals off her checklist. “After my first year of business school, success would be building a strong network, pushing myself out of my comfort zone to learn new skills, and becoming a club leader to make a positive impact on the future Simon community.”

For Panton, success would mean he has attained the highest honor in business: the respect of his peers. “If, after my first year, you were to interview my peers and ask for one word to describe Devins and they said “reliable,” then I would consider my first year a success.”


Student Hometown Alma Mater Employer
 Mike Alcazaren  Buffalo, NY  University at Buffalo  Autodesk
 Cate Bannar  Medford, NJ  Northeastern University  SodaStream
 Patrick Coulter  Cape Town, South Africa  University of Cape Town  Pick n Pay Retailers
 Adrian Gallardo  Tijuana, Mexico  CETYS Universidad  PwC
 Gavin D. Hall  Brooklyn, NY  Villanova University  Cohen & Steers Capital   Management
 Krystalyn Jones  Mount Laurel, NJ  University of Virginia  Anti-Defamation League
 Sree Madakkavil  Trichur, India  Amrita University  The Bharatnatyam Project Arts   Academy
 Jasmine Mitchell  Rochester, NY  University of Pittsburgh  Macy’s
 Jarmarius Moten  Mobile, AL  Florida A&M University  Rockwell Automation
Devins Panton  Montego Bay, Jamaica  University of the West Indies  University of California-Berkeley
 Choudhury Shahariar (Shah)  Rajshahi, Bangladesh  Bangladesh University of Engineering and   Technology  SELISE
 Yonnas Terefe  Gaithersburg,   Maryland  University of Maryland  Calvert Investments
 Aparna Unnithan  Kerala, India  University of Kerala  T Fashion Boutique

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.