Meet Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class Of 2020

Luis Carlos Sarmiento III  

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

I’m extremely competitive and goal-oriented. I take challenges head on and Johnson was next on my bucket list.”

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia

Fun Fact About Yourself: Played Soccer professionally for two years in Miami.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Miami, Management and Accounting

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: WE Family Offices, Financial Associate

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Graduating magna cum laude from the University of Miami and achieving my goal to be a professional athlete. I worked as a Financial Associate during regular work hours while participating in a professional soccer league after work.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Reliability. The entire community is closely knit and understands that one favorable outcome is in everyone’s best interest. After only a few conversations with Johnson students, you can see how they rely on each other in order to succeed.

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? My dad was a Johnson graduate in 1985 and it has been a lifelong dream of mine to get my MBA at Cornell. Ever since I can remember, the Cornell culture has been a big part of my family and upbringing. After my undergrad, I was determined to take every necessary step to make my MBA at Johnson goal into a reality.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school?

  1. Family Business Club: My end-goal has always been to work in the family business. We are a banking conglomerate in Colombia where my father is the CEO and my grandfather is the founder and head of the board. I was excited to speak with students who are in a similar position.
  2. Old Ezra: One of the oldest and most influential clubs at Johnson.
  3. LABA: I’m proud to be Colombian and the Latino culture is a big part of me. I’m eager to see how this organization interacts with the Latin American community.
  4. Soccer Club: Played professionally for two years in Miami, and would love to be part of the squad at Johnson, which recently won a national tournament.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Professional growth and learning are two driving factors. Although I learned a lot from working in the financial industry, my goal is to end up in a banking conglomerate and I felt an MBA could make me a better-rounded individual.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? An MBA has always been in my plans, however I truly want to earn the opportunity to make a difference in our family business. I believe the combination of an undergrad education, my work experience, and an MBA, will help me become a well-rounded individual and a true asset for our company.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I only applied to Johnson. I have known for a long time that Cornell was the place for me.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Cornell’s culture has been a big part of my family for many years. The fact that Johnson is an elite top 10 program in the country was a natural choice. I was looking for the next big challenge.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My aunt was kidnapped in Colombia when I was seven years old by “The FARC.” She was kept away from our family for 11 months. This was one of the most horrific and defining experiences of my life. At a very young age this embedded the value of family and ever since it has been the strongest driving factor in my life. It also helped me pinpoint what I want the future to look like and the fact I was going to work in the family business and hopefully be able to help make Colombia a safer and better place.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I’m still juggling between the options of going back to Colombia and working in the family business or working for a couple of years on Wall Street and then returning to Colombia.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Working for Grupo Aval in Bogota, Colombia.

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