Meet Georgetown McDonough’s MBA Class Of 2020

Georgetown University MSB faculty and students (Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff/Georgetown University)


What’s new for the Class of 2020? According to Prashant Malaviya, senior associate dean for MBA programs, McDonough has recently installed an MBA Executive Challenge. The challenge, he says, is the final exam for the MBA Leadership Communication core course. He calls it the second-most exciting day of the school day (behind graduation, of course). It is a time when the McDonough community – students, faculty, alumni, and staff – come together as a “One McDonough” community to fulfill what he calls an “intense yet rewarding” mission.

“The entire first-year class participates in a day-long competition where executive-level alumni from across all of Georgetown McDonough’s degree programs role-play and serve as judges as student teams present three cases,” Malaviya tells P&Q in a statement. “Aside from executing on all they have learned in their coursework, students have an opportunity to engage with alumni throughout the day, and equally important, alumni interact with students and one another. For the first time this year, our second-year students volunteered to be Leadership Fellows, serving as mentors and coaches to the student teams.”

The MBA Executive Challenge is just one of several new initiatives that the Class of 2020 will eventually enjoy. Malaviya also points to the MBA Certificate in Consumer Analytics and Insights, which was launched last spring. This series of courses, he writes, will feature hands-on consumer analytics projects and events. In the process, students will partner with experts and executives to turn data into strategic insights that’ll drive their decision-making. The school has also opened up the Flex MBA so first and second years now have the flexibility to take hybrid and Saturday electives. At the same time, he notes, McDonough has developed a Managing the Enterprise course for 2nd-year students to complement their Ethical Leadership course. The course centers on people, namely how to hire, develop, motivate, and manage high performers.

Prashant Malaviya

“A distinguishing aspect of the course is a partnership with a high-profile enterprise in the greater Washington area that serves the community,” he explains. “Students will explore a range of issues facing managers at this enterprise, working together on a live case. In mid-October, our second-years will participate in the Corporate Challenge, where they showcase their work on the case to one another and senior executives from our partner organization.”


This new programming doesn’t take away from the stalwarts. For Malaviya, perhaps the most underrated part of the McDonough MBA is the wealth of Career Treks, where students partner with alumni to organize week-long journeys to network, visit sites, and explore job opportunities in various regions and industries. “In recent years, we have been focused on adding more global destinations, and students recently have traveled to Israel, Mexico, China, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates,” Malaviya adds.

Treks are just one part of McDonough global portfolio. Several first years, for example, cite the program’s Global Business Experience as one of the program’s strongest features. In this mandatory course, students spend a semester working on a project with firms like Dell, 3M, Citibank, and L’Oréal in nations like China, Germany, Brazil, and the UAE. From there, they head overseas to experience the country they’ve studied and make recommendations to senior executives at their host companies.

It was an opportunity that was too good to pass up for Sania Mohammed, who has already lived in Kuwait, China, and the United States, to pass up. “I’ve learned that the business world is so much smaller than it sometimes seems, and being able to work with and communicate effectively across borders is a valuable asset. The program’s mandatory Global Business Experience stood out to me as an ideal means for developing these skills while also making a real contribution to an international business.”


This global pull was equally strong for Daniela Rodriguez. “I have always enjoyed traveling and learning from new cultures, and a business school that mixes this passion with business was instantly a good fit for me,” she shares. “In the past, I have had the opportunity to do business in countries different than mine. Those types of experiences open your mind and inevitably lead to personal growth. Moreover, I believe that the Global Business Experience provides the space to collaborate with classmates, professors, and companies, applying the concepts learned in the classroom in a real environment. This hands-on approach really appealed to me.”

How serious is McDonough about international business? The first course in the core curriculum is Structure of Global Industries (SGI). However, the coursework and activities devoted to international business is hardly window dressing. Instead, the program has what Catherine Johnson calls a “Global Mindset” – one that truly taps into the complexities and opportunities of an interconnected world where a Brazilian drought can spike coffee prices or EU regulations can shift competitive dynamics in the American tech market.

McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University: Washington D.C., Architect: Goody Clancy

“I really value the emphasis that McDonough places on the global mindset of the MBA program through the Global Business Experience and student-initiated treks to destinations worldwide, international diversity within each cohort of students, and opportunities to concentrate academically on international business through the International Business Diplomacy Certificate,” Johnson says. “I am very excited to be pursuing my MBA at a school with a diverse student population and to learn about business in a global context.”


McDonough also benefits from one of the best locations for business students anywhere: Washington D.C. Sure, New York City can tout the Wall Street and the Bay Area is flush with Silicon Valley bullion. When push comes to shove, business ultimately kowtows to Congress. Think of DC as America’s true crossroads, an intersection of government, business, and international relations – where policy is made and winners and losers are chosen. From Fortune 500 firms to trade associations to non-profits, the top organizations are represented in Washington D.C. in form or another. On top of that, the Beltway has emerged as a tech and startup epicenter. From speaking engagements to embassy cocktails, there are always places to network, learn, and find work in the nation’s capital.

“The Washington DC location was the key factor that influenced my decision,” says Fernando Barbosa.  “Because top businesses and policymakers surround Georgetown, I will have access to business leaders in both the public and private sectors, which is tremendous to my future goals. The DC location even influences the curriculum and study centers and allows me to participate in local events such as the Amazon AWS Global Summit.”

Make no mistake: McDonough factors heavily into the DC mix, adds Prashant Malaviya. “People often tend to think of DC’s policy community as something separate from business and more focused on government and politics. However, that’s not the reality. By embracing the intersection of business and policy, we are educating our students to lead within the full context of the complex world around them. For example, a professor who teaches about mergers and acquisitions helps students navigate the Department of Justice policies related to a successful plan. A class focused on supply chains also addresses living wage policies around the world. Cases on Brexit demonstrate how policy greatly impacts the business community. So, we seek to teach our students to examine policy in the context of their business goals.”

These goals are varied for the Class of 2020. Varun Premkumar, for one, plans to “go on an epic surf trip” before starting a career in consulting. Tory Paez is weighing whether to enter nonprofit consulting, international development, or social entrepreneurship. For now, Loretta Richardson, a former corporate responsibility officer at UBS Bank, has her heart set on being a senior brand manager or marketing director. However, she is careful to keep her mother’s advice in mind as she embarks on her MBA journey. It’s great advice for the 271 members of the Class of 2020 to follow.

“My mother always taught me that while having goals are fantastic, don’t get so focused on them that you lose sight of all the possibilities –– they are limitless.”

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 Last Employer
Fernando C. Barbosa Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro FAPES
Michael Cox Brooklyn, NY Syracuse University New York City Mayor’s Office
Luis Eduardo Font Valencia, Venezuela University of Alabama at Birmingham Cummins, Inc.
Catherine Johnson Indianapolis, IN Georgetown University Oracle
Akash Kang Delhi, India University of Manchester Goldman Sachs
Sania Mohammed Hawalli, Kuwait Northeastern University Weber Shandwick
Tory Paez Cleveland, OH Miami University (Ohio) U.S. Peace Corps
Varun Premkumar Richmond, VA Virginia Commonwealth University U.S. Marine Corps
Loretta Richardson Los Angeles, CA USC Munchkin, Inc.
Daniela Rodriguez Bogotá, Colombia Universidad de Los Andes Accenture