Meet NYU Stern’s MBA Class of 2020

Sternies leaving school for the day and heading off to Greenwich Village.


This wide range is extended into hiring. In the Class of 2017, for example, 288 employers hired Stern MBAs. While ‘Sternies’ found work in traditional MBA haunts like McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, and Google, they also earned coveted spots in brands like the National Basketball Association, Louis Vuitton, and Lionsgate. Stern alumni even made a dent in the startup world, with Spring, Inc. ranking 9th among P&Q’s top MBA startups of 2018. In the process, the class pulled down average starting pay of $181,457, higher than nearby competitors like Yale SOM and Dartmouth Tuck.

Like many MBA programs, NYU Stern has experienced a deep shift in graduate hiring since the economic collapse. Over the past decade, the percentage of Stern graduates choosing finance has plummeted from 37% to 23%. In finance’s place, consulting has risen from 14% to 26%. Likewise, that percentage moving into technology has doubled over the past year alone, with the program adding a Fintech specialization and beefing up West Coast treks to match. For Eggers, technology is becoming an increasingly foundational to the Stern sensibility.

“Technology, already one of the hidden strengths of the school, has become even more visible,” he explains. “We launched the new Focused MBA program in Technology & Entrepreneurship in May 2018 (Andre Koo Tech MBA), and Technology has become the #3 employer of Stern MBA graduates (behind Finance and Consulting), with Amazon as #1 for the Class of 2017.  This means more courses (across all programs) in technology, fintech, analytics, and entrepreneurship, and more technology companies on campus for projects and recruiting. Whatever your career aspirations, technology and exposure to technology are central to everyone’s success.”


Sternies in Washington Square Park

This increased focus on tech also caught the eye of Kelly Kennedy, a William R. Berkley Scholarship recipient who graduated with a math and computer sciences degree from Purdue this past spring. “Being able to take courses that will give me a strong business foundation, as well as courses that explore the way different business scenarios exist within the technology industry, was something that really drew my attention to Stern.  Also, I was impressed by the wide variety of tech-focused extracurricular opportunities that have been growing or recently created such as the W. R. Berkley Innovation Labs, the Fubon Center for Technology, Business and Innovation, and the Stern Technology Association.”

Such tech resources will soon be supplemented with a new program that will tap into NYU’s leadership outside the business school. “Stern is about to launch the first cohort of early-stage science and deep technology startups in its Creative Destruction Lab—NYC, the first-of-its-kind in the U.S.,” adds Eggers. “The nine-month program links expert entrepreneurs with venture founders, and integrates the technical and scientific strength of NYU as a world-class research university in medicine, analytics, and other domains with an experiential and educational opportunity for Stern MBA students to see the venture development process close up. The first venture cohort arrives in the fall of 2018.”

Such developments come on the heels of Raghu Sundaram’s elevation to dean in January. An advocate for experiential learning, he was one of the minds behind another innovation: Stern Solutions. Drawing on the horde of industries, job functions, and partnership opportunities in New York City, Stern Solutions pairs up 3-5 Stern students with a faculty member to partner with employers to tackle significant issues in their organizations. Such hands-on work – electives that can be completed for credit – enables students to apply what they’ve learned in real time, serving as a mini internship to boost the real world experience on their resumes. Among MBA students, Stern Solutions have been a home run. In the 2017-2018 year, according to the school, 565 students completed projects involving 80 industry partners – with past partners including big names like HBO and MasterCard.


“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,” Sundaram explains in a 2017 interview with P&Q. “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.”

While the Class of 2020 may seem mid-size with 375 members, it is actually burrowed into a far larger business program. Counting undergrad, graduate, and executive students, the program features nearly 5,300 students and 330 professors. In the MBA program alone, there are 200 electives and 25 specializations – including rare options like Law & Business, Luxury Marketing, Social Innovation and Impact, and Entertainment, Media and Technology. In fact, students can complete up to three specializations to go along with their General Management MBA.

Such breadth of specializations, coupled with Stern’s traditional excellence in areas like finance, marketing, and international business, was a major factor for Obukwelu. “As a career switcher, I felt that the opportunity to specialize in something that directly spoke to my career aspirations would better position me for success after school.”

Sternies waiting for a cab.

For Phillips, that passion is entertainment. He found the volume and deepness of opportunities to be exclusive to NYU. “Stern offers so many incredible opportunities to learn more about the entertainment industry and I am really looking forward to taking advantage of activities with the Entertainment, Media and Tech Program and the Entertainment, Media and Sports Association student organization. From the experiential learning trip in May to the Cannes Film Festival to career programming with media companies like Time Warner here in New York, there is a lot to look forward to.”


Along with its surplus of options, Stern is best-known for its IQ+EQ philosophy. In the MBA program, talent and credentials are only part of the equation. Beyond those, the Stern community is seeking emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-control, empathy, warmth, openness, and generosity. It is something the program measures closely in admissions, be it an EQ endorsement letter or “Pick Six” picture captions that capture each applicant’s personality.

Francis Varrichio, a 2018 grad and P&Q Best & Brightest MBA, appreciated the approach during recruiting. It signaled to him the value of the “whole person” at Stern and how “personality and heart” matter as much as academics, resume, and technical skills.

This IQ+EQ philosophy also resonated with the 2018 Class as they were weighing their options.

“In my five years as a consultant,” Schnurman explains, “I’ve seen the impact of uncomfortable situations, and realized that integrity and empathy are key to being both a successful businesswoman and person.”

Abdisubhan noticed the difference when he attended the Discover Stern Fall Diversity Weekend. “My interactions with the students were more genuine, candid, engaging and frankly, enjoyable. I had an “ah ha” moment and realized that this was clearly EQ at work. It was evident that the students clearly adhered to the school’s mantra: As NYU emphasizes, it’s more than just IQ; it’s IQ + EQ. I am excited to live by this standard.”


NYU’s Stern School of Business

What’s ahead for the Class of 2020? Schnurman, for one, has already devised a FOMO agenda that’d make any self-starting New Yorker proud. “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.”

Her plans after graduation are equally impressive. “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.”

In contrast, Kennedy is holding back and keeping an open mind, knowing there will be plenty of opportunities to come during her two years. “I would like to be in a role that allows me to combine both my technical and business knowledge while working on key opportunities or challenges that the business is facing. Being able to gain leadership experience and having substantial accountability in my role are two key factors that I will consider when recruiting.”

What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates. 


Student Hometown Alma Mater Employer
Sami Abdisubhan Old Bridge, NJ Georgetown University Decision Lens
Rodrigo Acuna Cervantes Mexico City, Mexico Universidad Iberoamericana Morgan Stanley
Jeff Battipaglia Yardley, PA U.S. Naval Academy U.S. Marine Corps
Kelly Kennedy Valparaiso, IN Purdue University Salesforce
Nica Langinger Los Angeles, CA Stanford University Snapchat
Nnamdi C. Obukwelu Brockton, MA Harvard College Hedgeye Risk Management
Patrick Phillips Carlisle, PA University of Southern California U.S. Army
Alice Schnurman New York City, NY University of Pennsylvania SSA & Company
Miguel van Zeller Porto, Portugal Universidade Catolica Portuguesa McKinsey & Company
Arati Venkatram Mumbai, India University of Mumbai Deloitte