Meet Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class Of 2020

Yewande Salau

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

Passionate about connecting people, ideas, and resources to create new opportunities and networks.”

Hometown: Rosedale, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I competed in a pentathlon and my specialty was the pole vault.

Undergraduate School and Major: Vanderbilt University, BS in Human and Organizational Development with a concentration in International Leadership and Development

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Prep for Prep, Middle School Post Placement Counselor

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment was at Prep for Prep. In this role, I worked to find discount test prep options for students who were struggling with entrance exams to New York City’s elite independent schools. Admission for students increased from 85 percent to 100 percent after the test prep program was instituted.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? My classmates are passionate. I have met people who want to solve problems in financial technology, healthcare, real estate, and banking. Their energy and passion come through in our conversations. We want to help each other succeed and reach our respective goals.

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? Informational interviews. The summer before applying to business school, I conducted informational interviews and discovered that Johnson students and alumni were working at companies making an impact in businesses ranging from technology to nonprofits. As a result of these conversations, I believed that Johnson would be a great place to realize my dreams. I wanted to have access to a network of people who are passionate about creating opportunities for diverse groups.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? The Human Capital Association. Connecting with other like-minded people who are passionate about human capital strategy in organizations is so exciting. I am also looking forward to participating in case competitions and believe those experiences may provide innovative solutions for challenges in organizations.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? At this point, I have been fortunate enough to work in retail, entrepreneurship, and education. With these experiences, I realized it is important to learn how to manage people and resources to be the best leader you can be in a given organization. The MBA is a great catalyst to help refine my management skills and redirect my career to lead “people strategy” and diversity and inclusion at leading organizations.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? After conducting informational interviews, I learned that the MBA experience provided skills, confidence, and a network. I see myself leading the people strategy for a major organization. In order to speak the language of the C-suite, it is important to have the frame of reference to align people strategy with the bottom line.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Ross, Fuqua, Wharton, Kellogg, Goizueta, Olin.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? There were three factors that I used to determine if a school would be a good fit: career placement, class size, and learning style. To research this, I attended career fairs and student visit weekends and read print and online material on the school’s website. It was also important to have a small, tight-knit community of students, and I was able to see this in action during the Johnson Means Business weekend and a school-sponsored admissions dinner in NYC. Interviewing alumni and students allowed me to learn more about Johnson’s strong core curriculum and immersion experience. I want the technical skills to set me apart from the rest during my summer internship and during my first few years out of school.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Having a younger brother on the autism spectrum has been a defining moment in my life. I constantly think about what will happen after he graduates from school. Organizations such as Tech Kids Unlimited and Lime Connect work with individuals coping with autism, but I think there is more that can be done. I’m passionate about how to bring opportunities to those who may be overlooked in a traditional recruiting sense, and I’m also interested in how to design work that adds value while creating opportunity for a diverse workforce.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? After I graduate, I hope to be in a human resources or general management leadership program at a technology or a consumer packaged goods organization. This would be a great way to learn as much as I can and apply the skills that I have gained from my business school training.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I hope to be a human resources manager in a technology or consumer packaged goods company, leading the people strategy. I am interested in including people from diverse and nontraditional backgrounds in the hiring process and business strategy in these types of organizations. It is with this inclusion that organizations can open themselves to new markets and customers.

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