Meet NYU Stern’s MBA Class of 2020

Alice Schnurman

New York University, Stern School of Business

I am happiest working in teams to solve puzzles, from crosswords to business cases.”

Hometown: New York, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I climbed the Great Wall of China one month after ACL surgery (Couldn’t pass up on the adventure!).

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Pennsylvania, Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Associate Consultant at SSA & Company

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: On a past project for the CFO of an insurance company, my team was working with a new analyst who sent over inaccurate financial statements, missed emails, and forgot instructions. At first, I was frustrated, but empathy won over. Instead of focusing on technical tasks, I took her to coffee for a heart-to-heart. As she confessed she wanted to quit, I remembered my own struggle to assimilate to corporate life post-college. So, I gave her tips on navigating office culture and set up daily touch points to review expectations. By the end of our project, she had been promoted! This moment not only cemented my love of mentorship, but also taught me to turn frustration into a productive opportunity.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The quality I respect most about Sternies is their humility. This came across during the application process when my conversations with current students were more about connecting person-to-person than listing accomplishments. Sternies listen as much as they share. They ask questions about you. I had an entire lunch without once mentioning work – just interests, relationships, and life. Most recently, I was worried about discussing pre-MBA programs with MBA classmates – What if things got competitive? Would it be awkward? I found the complete opposite. Sternies celebrated each other’s successes, shared information freely, and injected humor into tough situations. I could not be more excited to begin working on group projects, surviving recruiting and planning events with my MBA class!

Aside from your classmates, 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? Stern’s explicit focus on EQ (Emotional Quotient) aligns well with my personal philosophy toward business. In my five years as a consultant, I’ve seen the impact of uncomfortable situations, and realized that integrity and empathy are key to being both a successful businesswoman and person. Additionally, I was entering my MBA with strong technical skills, so I wanted a program that would help me grow as a leader. Stern’s Leadership Fellows and Signature Projects offered focused opportunities to reflect honestly on my weaknesses.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m excited to join Stern Women in Business and help plan the conference! At my first consulting firm, I co-founded a Women’s Leadership Initiative to offer a forum for women and men to discuss workplace issues and find female mentors. The positive impact this had on morale and retention inspired me, and I’d love to continue working in this area. Also, I’m super pumped for Stern Cellar – I got married at a winery – and am talking to other incoming students about starting a Triathlon Club.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? A natural career shift arose for me after a promotion at work, when I realized I wanted to take on more people management responsibilities. I wouldn’t necessarily have the chance to do that at my current firm due to its size, so my options were to recruit for other companies or go back to school. I wasn’t entirely set on getting an MBA until I met current students and researched schools; Isaw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for personal growth. The timing also coincided with my husband’s graduation from medical school, so we could decide where to move together.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Once I figured out that my career goal was to become a senior leader in a global organization, I checked out the resumes and LinkedIn profiles of my role models and found that they all had MBAs. I also saw that at my current firm, getting an MBA was a prerequisite to being promoted to a certain level. For me, an MBA is worth the investment to jump-start my growth as a manager, develop a lifelong network, and be considered for leadership roles.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? HBS, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg

How did you determine your fit at various schools? To make my decision, I created an Excel spreadsheet that ranked schools by: prestige (based on U.S. News reports), academic flexibility (from school websites), leadership development opportunities (from school websites), job prospects (based on employment reports), alumni willingness to help (based on conversations with friends at those programs), social life (based on conversations with friends), cost, and closeness to family. Highest weightings went to job prospects / alumni, social life, and closeness to family.

I found that most schools have fantastic classes and recruiting options for traditional career paths, so I’d recommend to future MBA applicants not to get too caught up in the numbers. To determine fit, reach out to friends currently in MBA programs and meet their friends. They will give unfiltered commentary, and you’ll be able to tell which people you truly get along with.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I was born ten days after my mother fled Soviet Bulgaria to immigrate to New York City, with hopes of raising me with more opportunities than she was provided. I grew up speaking Bulgarian at home, attended a French elementary school, studied Spanish in Cuba during a semester abroad, and ran a Model UN conference in China the summer after my sophomore year of college. My multi-cultural upbringing instilled in me a deep interest in international affairs, and these experiences have shown me that cooperation between businesses, governments and communities is necessary for economic development.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Right now, the plan is to go into corporate strategy, finance or a leadership development program at a company with a significant global presence. I’m hoping to translate the problem-solving skills I learned in consulting to an environment where I can see a longer-term impact. You never know what opportunities an MBA (and NYC) bring though, so I’m keeping an open mind.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Still pushing myself outside my comfort zone! According to my bucket list, I will finally be able to do crow pose in yoga, speak Russian, and keep a plant alive. Professionally, I will be making a positive impact on my organization, whether by mentoring others, promoting a culture of empathy, or implementing innovative business practices.

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