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Meet Emory Goizueta’s MBA Class Of 2020

It’s easy to get lost in business school. There are the invitations and expectations, the push of clubs and peers and the pull of recruiters and faculty. Long on stimulation and short on time, opportunity becomes a burden for many. That’s where the small school experience comes into play.

There’s no hiding out at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. That’s exactly what brought the Class of 2020 to Atlanta. It is a place where everyone knows their classmates, expects them to be actively involved, and refuses to let them fall behind…let alone fail.

TALK IS CHEAP – GOIZUETA’S COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY ISN’T

That starts academically. Boasting a 5-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio – the lowest among any Top 20 MBA program – Goizueta’s pitch is simple: We’re going to invest heavily in you because every student matters. As much, Emory is a place where MBAs receive personal attention from deeply-connected industry experts who embrace their roles as mentors. That proposition resonated deeply with Tyrone Sampson, a portfolio manager who joins the incoming class from East Point Investments.

“Smaller MBA class size means students also develop closer relationships to professors to help facilitate the learning process,” he observes. “This was important to me because I will be returning to finance, so I’m seeking to obtain specific leadership and technical abilities to enhance my career.”

These “deeper level relationships” apply equally to the student body. 181 members strong, the 2020 Class repeatedly cited ‘community’ as the driving force behind enrolling at Goizueta. Take David Hinshillwood, a rainmaker in sales who studied history and literature at Harvard. During the recruiting process, he was struck by the sense that Goizueta was the place where he could “simultaneously feel challenged and supported.” It was this esprit de corps that differentiated Goizueta from the rest.

Emory MBA students talking outside the main building

“Every top business school boasts great professors, impressive networks, and hard data on success,” he argues, “but not every school can craft a narrative of care, compassion, and community that is so intertwined in Goizueta’s core values as an institution.”

AN “EFFERVESCENT” CLASS

A marketing ploy? Hardly, says Alex McNair, a 2018 grad who joined Deloitte Consulting after graduation. “The biggest myth (at most business schools) is that everybody knows everybody – and it is 100% true. My class is 180 people, and I know everyone’s name and at least one thing about everyone. Goizueta brags about our small community, but it really isn’t just all talk. Having such a close-knit community is amazing, and I couldn’t imagine being at a business school where I didn’t know everyone in my graduating class.”

This same community spirit was imbued in the 2020 Class long before they even started their first year classes, adds Andrew Schirmer. “Though classes haven’t yet begun, 1st year students are actively engaged in the Goizueta community and are pursuing relationships with each other. Students constantly share information on helpful resources and events and often sacrifice time to find answers to their peers’ questions. I believe this genuine desire to grow one another and the community as a whole forms the foundation of Goizueta’s uniquely close-knit and supportive culture.”

Hinshillwood tosses out a few more terms to describe the incoming class. “My classmates are a mix of many things: ambitious and talented, hardworking and fun, but most of all, I’d have to say they’re effervescent. Effervescence goes far beyond describing a tart and satisfying sip of good champagne; it’s a bubbly, tingly, and even inspiring sensation that gives you a warmth in your gut and a smile on your face. From day one, the folks I’ve interacted with in Goizueta’s incoming class have given me nothing but these positive, intoxicating feelings.”

FIRST YEAR INCLUDES AN ARMY COMMANDER, TALK SHOW HOST AND A DRAG QUEEN

How different is this class? Start with Schirmer, a religious study major from Liberty University who spent summers teaching North Korean refugees and poverty-stricken students in India.  He’ll be joined by Jason Waidzulis, a Ranger Company Commander in the U.S. Army who was once part of a championship Division I wresting team. Nakaiya Turk hosts a YouTube talk show called Kandid Kaiya, where she “interview(s) millennial black women on their different pathways to success.” For Goizueta students looking to indulge in Atlanta’s legendary nightlife, don’t forget to bring Hinshillwood along. “I am an aspiring Drag Queen who goes by the name Miss Patti Archy (like “patriarchy,” which I hope to dismantle one lip-sync at a time!),” he says.

Speaking of dismantling, don’t toy with Caracus chemist Alexa Ceballos. She holds a black belt in Japanese traditional karate. That goes double for Oscar Mendez, Jr., an investment analysist who claimed two gold medals from the AAU Junior Olympics. Looking for the class Ironman? That’d be Tyrone Sampson, who runs 55 mile marathons…when he isn’t skydiving or scuba diving, that is. Sampson isn’t the only first year who thrives in the water, either. Despite being a “city girl,” Maggie Niehaus can also ride the rapids as a whitewater kayaker. Then there’s Bren Marschner, who co-holds the Alabama state record for three pointers made in a basketball playoff game.

Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business

It is only natural that such students would gravitate to a program like Goizueta. Their careers have been defined by making connections and building communiteis. In 2015, Taylor Richardson co-founded a thriving contemporary women’s fashion line called CROSBY by Mollie Burch, which doubles as a social enterprise fighting human trafficking. A year later, she notched her biggest accomplishment: she headed an ambulatory surgery center (ASC), a $15 million dollar operation with 30 staffers reporting to her. In the process, she achieved the seemingly impossible: implementing a change management initiative that worked. Her secret: servant leadership.

“A servant leader embraces the value of teamwork and focuses on influencing team members to be the best versions of themselves, ultimately empowering those around you to elevate the team altogether,” she  explains. “I empowered the staff to work together and seek solutions to problems instead of just escalate complaints. It was culture shift for the surgery center, but one I believe set the organization on the right path moving forward.”

APPLICATIONS UP OVER 17%

Impressed? Andrew Schirmer, for one, overhauled the methodology behind a “flawed and insufficient” data stream. The result: $6 million dollars in new sales – and another $20 million in opportunities in other sectors. At Hewlett Packard, Nakaiya Turk was tapped to author a briefing document for CEO Meg Whitman. Don’t tell Maggie Niehaus that you can’t teach an old ad agency new tricks. She helped turn Edelman’s paid media and digital advertising slice into an operation that could compete with any agency, winning a coveted Search Engine Land Award in the process.

By the numbers, it was a strong bounce year for Goizueta. During the 2017-2018 cycle, the school received 202 more applications than the previous year – or a 17.6% jump. At the same time, the class size rose by nine students, though the acceptance rate did rise from 32.2% to 37%. That said, the school didn’t see any drop off in academic quality. Average GMATs climbed three points to 685, though undergraduate GPAs did slip by .1 of a point.

Demographically, the Class of 2020 closely resembles its predecessor. Both classes attracted 30% women to its ranks, with the percentage of underrepresented minority students edging up a point to 13%. The same is true of international students, which account for 28% of the incoming class. Overall, the class boasts students from 21 countries, not to mention 11 U.S. military veterans.

GOIZUETA TURNS 100

Named after Roberto Goizueta, who served as Coca-Cola’s CEO for 17 years, the school also ranks among America’s oldest business programs. In fact, Goizueta will soon begin celebrating its 100 year anniversary, offering exclusive events and programming for students along the way, says Brian Mitchell, associate dean for the full-time program, in a statement to P&Q.

“Most people have no idea that Emory University has had a business school since 1919, and this is our opportunity to reaffirm our mission of preparing principled leaders who act in service to humanity. The centennial campaign is adding resources and depth to each of our eight “strategic themes” – analytics, social enterprise, real estate and private equity, healthcare, leadership, entrepreneurship, behavior and decision insights, and experiential learning. Incoming students will benefit from enriched curricular offerings and career connections more than ever before in each of those areas as a result of our push towards turning 100!”

DON’T MISS: MEET THE MBA CLASS OF 2020: PROFILES IN COURAGE