Meet Columbia Business School’s MBA Class Of 2020

Nathan Pilkenton

Columbia Business School

“Former consultant from Portland, OR who loves golf, basketball, choral singing, and bagels.”

Hometown: Portland, OR

Fun Fact About Yourself: I drove a 1996 Volvo station wagon for the last 8 years – until I got rid of it when I moved to New York!

Undergraduate School and Major: Davidson College, Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: McKinsey & Company, Engagement Manager

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Leading a team of two for four weeks as a second-year analyst – not only was it a personal challenge which I was able to overcome, but as a team we helped our client succeed with some of their most pressing priorities.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Engaging – they have been interesting and smart people who are easy and fun to spend time around.

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? The location in NYC, for three reasons: 1) It was important to me to be closer to employers throughout the year; 2) It would make it easier to visit friends and family from other cities, or have them come visit me; and 3) I thought it would be a great life experience to spend two years of my twenties living in New York City, and hopefully make some lasting memories.

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

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I knew I wanted to get an MBA eventually, but I felt like if I wanted to take advantage of the full-time experience, I should do it before my life got too settled.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I was lucky to be a beneficiary of the generous scholarship program at Columbia, which makes it easy to see the ROI.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard, Stanford, Booth, and Yale

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I’ve worked with people who went to many different business schools during my time at McKinsey, so I was able to chat with them to learn more about the culture of each school. I also was able to form a mental picture based on the personalities of people I know from each school.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I think there are several, which all shaped me in small ways. One was deciding to audition for the choir my freshman year of college – that opened up all kinds of friendships and experiences which never would have happened otherwise, and which contributed a lot to my personal growth.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Find a job in brand marketing, preferably in CPG or tech, or perhaps in the sports industry.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Leading a marketing team somewhere, or having started my own business.

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