2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Rahul Goyal, Columbia Business School

Rahul Goyal

Columbia Business School

“An Indian – New Yorker obsessed with pizza, cricket, Bollywood, and Michigan sports.”

Hometown: I was born in Jaipur, India but grew up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Fun fact about yourself: I learned beatboxing from a friend in high school, practiced in hiding for 6 months before I could do it in front of anyone else, but have now performed with many artists in front of (relatively) big audiences.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (GO BLUE!) – B.A. in Economics and South Asian Studies.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Navigant Consulting, Inc. as a Senior Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Credit Suisse, New York (IB Summer Associate – Technology, Media, and Telecom Group)

Where will you be working after graduation? Credit Suisse, New York (IB Associate – Technology, Media, and Telecom Group)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • VP of Logistics, Peer Advisor Board
  • VP of International, Career Management Center Fellows Board
  • VP of Events, South Asian Business Association
  • VP of Careers, CBS Reflects Board

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute I’ve spent as a Peer Advisor (PA) and a member of the PA Board. Through these roles, I’ve had the opportunity to welcome our first years in the Fall and the J-Term to CBS and help them assimilate into the CBS culture. I’ve been a PA for two amazing clusters. I’ve seen the students come in as individuals, at the beginning of the week, but end the week as one cohesive unit.

I’ve also had a chance to work with the first-years after orientation to outline what they want out of their CBS experience and help them navigate the resources we have here to help them fulfill their goals. Through this experience, I’ve not only met a lot of first-years but have gotten to know my own classmates better too – it is almost as if I found a new cluster at CBS with all the PAs! Being part of the PA Board has been an amazing experience too because I’ve had the chance to work very closely with OSA (The Office of Student Affairs) to enhance our orientation programming so that we are providing the incoming students with a unique experience that helps them become part of the larger CBS community. Watching how hard OSA works to enhance the student experience at CBS and playing a role in it myself through being a PA has also given a much greater sense of belonging at CBS and made me very proud of being a student here!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I started out my career in management consulting back in 2012. We had a massive two-week training program for the entire new hire class where we went through a lot of technical and firm-specific training. At the time, I was arguably the least knowledgeable new hire in my entire class when it came to MS Excel and remember being called out for not knowing even the most basic Excel functions by a senior manager in front of my whole class. I was quite embarrassed at the time and really questioned whether I’d be able to survive in consulting.

However, after speaking to my career coach at the firm, I began seeking out Excel training programs to enhance my skills. Within a few months, I managed to get myself staffed on an engagement where I was required to build a pretty complicated financial model to justify an investment decision for a client. I found myself extremely overwhelmed during that engagement, but I never gave up. Under the mentorship of the director overseeing that project, I was able to build a model that the client found immensely beneficial – something I would have never imagined back in 2012. What made that experience come full circle was within a few years, I was actually back at the new hire training – but this time as an Excel instructor! I never quite forgot the feedback the senior manager had given me during my training, so I made sure that if I came across new hires who were struggling with some aspect of the job, I motivated them by sharing my growth story with them and worked with them to fill their skill gaps.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Other than Managerial Negotiations, I would say Personal Leadership and Success has been an amazing course I feel very grateful to have taken at CBS. The course allowed us to take some time to introspect on what we found meaningful in life and how we defined leadership and success. It gave us a toolkit to re-evaluate some of our personal and professional experiences through a unique lens and learn from them in a manner we may have never done before. The course also gave us tools to identify what makes us perform at our optimal level and how we can strive to be at that level regularly. Professor Wadhwa clearly put a lot of thought into drafting the course and every minute we spent in it was worth it!

Why did you choose this business school? While I was visiting schools and speaking to students and alumni about my goals and what I wanted from an MBA program, Columbia stood out to me as the place where I fit in best. It boasted an amazing balance of career, academic, and social opportunities with regular visits from great speakers and an extremely vibrant student community. I spoke to many members of our Hermes Society (a group of students who volunteer to speak to prospective and admitted candidates) and I found them so genuine and helpful that I knew CBS was where I wanted to attend business school. Since I was in New York, I also had the privilege of attending many CBS admissions events before I applied which helped me build a stronger connection with the community during my application period. Since it was my clear top choice, I applied in their Early Decision cycle and am very grateful that I’m here today.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Take some time to introspect and understand why you want to get your MBA and then let the admissions committee clearly know that. Talk to some current students and alumni, as well as visit the school to understand what CBS truly offers. Try to attend a class, participate in one of our Thursday night Socials, and sit in on a CBS Matters presentation to understand our school’s culture and ethos. All of this will help you understand if CBS is where you want to be and will help you submit an honest and passionate application.

What is the biggest myth about your school? It would be that Columbia Business School is a finance school. We have so many students going into consulting, technology, general management, entrepreneurship, and media (amongst other industries) as well!

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I always knew networking was important, but I don’t think I truly realized how important it was until I started my MBA program. If I were to give 2017-Rahul a message, I’d tell him to not discount the importance of networking because a simple phone call or email can open a lot of doors that may appear closed. People are more willing to help than you might think – a lot of times you just have to ask!

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? I was always the person who wanted to do everything and be everywhere. One of the biggest things I’ve taken away from the last two years is the importance of prioritizing and learning to not sweat about the stuff that you might have missed out on. There will always be so much happening that you cannot participate in each and every activity at school and it is possible to get massive FOMO. Trying to be physically present everywhere at once makes it difficult to be mentally present anywhere at once, so focus on what is truly important to you so that you can prioritize and maximize your experience.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My MBA classmate who I admire the most is Cindy Qin. Cindy is one of the Co-Presidents of CWiB (Columbia Women in Business) and the Chief of Staff on the PA Board. I really admire her for her passion and commitment to the causes she is involved with. Having worked very closely with her in the PA program, her positivity and energy infuse every situation with such good vibes that every team she works on becomes a successful one. She is also a very giving person and an inspiring mentor for many first-year students, which I deeply respect.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My oldest sister, Pooja Goyal, would be the biggest influence for me attending business school. She has been my mentor throughout my life and she saw the business school dream for me well before I saw it for myself. Being a senior manager who hires and interacts with a lot of MBAs, she saw the value in me attaining an MBA and always motivated me to pursue this goal. She also gave me a lot of tough love when I would complain about balancing work with studying for the GMAT or working on my MBA applications! She has also sacrificed a lot to help me get where I am, and I can confidently say that without her support and guidance, I would not have been at CBS.

What is your favorite movie about business? One of the first business related films I watched was Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. I loved that film because it emphasized the importance of business ethics and depicted the very real consequences that a lack of ethics can have on one’s own life as well as the lives of those around them. We even had Andrew Fastow, the CFO of Enron at the time, come to CBS to talk about everything that happened at Enron during that time which took me back to the movie once again and reminded me of the very real repercussions of a lack of business ethics.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working on transitioning from Management Consulting to freelance photography.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? This is such a difficult question to answer! All the amazing opportunities I’ve had in business school so far, as well as the opportunities this network will grant me in the future, are quite difficult for me to quantify right now – I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to everything an MBA offers. Meaningful conversations with classmates that help you learn more about them and yourself are quite honestly, priceless.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Attending a Cricket World Cup and watching all four tennis grand slams (I’ve only done the US Open so far).

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like them to remember me as a courageous leader who stood for what was right and did everything in his power to help people fulfill their goals.

Hobbies? I love landscape photography and writing stories (fiction and non-fiction). I spend more time than I should on YouTube watching cricket highlights or snippets from late night talk shows. I also love going to the movies (am convinced I was part of the reason MoviePass suffered the way it did) and Broadway shows.

What made Rahul such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Rahul is one of the many CBS students that has managed to leave a legacy amongst the many different extracurricular activities he has participated in. As both the VP of Logistics for the Peer Advisor Executive Board and the VP of Careers for the CMC Fellows Executive Board, Rahul has worked to make improvements in two crucial areas of the student experience here at CBS. He has worked tirelessly alongside the Office of Student Affairs to improve both the Orientation and Peer Advisor program. His role on the PA Board is part of the engine that ensures both the PAs and first-year students have a smooth experience from beginning to end. Most impressively, he is making a large impact from behind the scenes as neither of his roles requires him to be front and center. This also translates into his career in banking, where he dedicates time to speak to the career and mentors other students.”

Scott Siegel Ortiz

Associate Director – Student Life and Engagement

Office of Student Affairs



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