2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Earl Roach III, Cornell University (Johnson)

Earl Roach III

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

Advocate for equitable opportunities and resources through positivity, courage, and service.”               

Hometown: Piscataway, New Jersey

Fun fact about yourself: Skydived in Tuscany, Italy for my 21st birthday.

Undergraduate School and Degree: New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business; Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Organizational Behavior

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Technology Consultant at Deloitte

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Microsoft; Seattle, Washington

Where will you be working after graduation? CEO/Co-Founder; Pürro

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Entrepreneurship Club (eClub)
  • Vice-President Black Graduate Business Association (BGBA)
  • Johnson Leadership Fellow (JLF)
  • Roy H. Park Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Grew eClub membership by 25 percent and increased the visibility of entrepreneurial resources at Cornell. I’m proud of this accomplishment because Cornell has so much to offer to aspiring entrepreneurs and I wanted to raise awareness for future classes and prospective students.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? After working for Teach for America, I became a tutor. I discovered that some students in affluent communities pay as much as $300 per SAT Boot Camp and $50-75 per hour for one-on-one tutoring sessions. Many students in my church community could not afford these services. As a result, in January of 2014, I developed a curriculum and started an annual two-day SAT seminar to prepare underrepresented high school students for the exam. The test score improvement for Boot Camp participants was striking. Those who took part in the Boot Camp and had one-on-one sessions average a 250- to 300-point jump in their SAT scores. My work as a tutor and manager of the SAT seminars for students has been one of the proudest moments of my career to date.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Shawn Mankad, assistant professor of Operations, Technology, and Information Management, because he allowed my start-up team to work on our own business venture in the Digital Technology Immersion practicum instead of working on a project for an external corporate client. This allowed me to chart my own path at Johnson.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Advanced Data Analytics Applications and Methods with Shawn Mankad has taught me the skills I need to interpret and make decisions based on large data sets.   

Why did you choose this business school? Three reasons: the community, the investment in technology curriculum, and the breadth and depth of Cornell University. I only applied to business schools with class sizes of less than 300 because I wanted a different experience than my undergrad. When I visited, I felt at home and was surprised by how much students and alumni were willing to help me determine the best school for me. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I was attracted to Johnson’s Digital Technology Immersion curriculum and the Cornell Tech campus. It showed me that the administration was staying on top of rapid business changes, identifying needs in the curriculum, and allowing students to help shape its newest immersion (digital technology). Cornell is also home to a top engineering school, law school, veterinary school, and the world’s best hospitality school (which is a part of the SC Johnson College of Business). I wanted to be at a school where I could learn from some of the smartest people in their fields.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Highlight your propensity to be a leader. There are endless opportunities to be a leader at Johnson and the admissions team wants to know how you can contribute to the school.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Many applicants I talk to ask if tech companies visit campus. While there are companies that visit (e.g. Amazon, Google, IBM), there are also notable companies that don’t because we’re far from the headquarters or they don’t engage in on-campus MBA recruiting. This taught me the importance of hustling as I recruited for product manager and product marketing manager internships. Ultimately, I landed a summer internship at Microsoft.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? Life is a continual learning process, so don’t try to fit all your learning into two years. Instead, take time to build relationships and challenge yourself to grow.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Shannon Boyle. Her fortitude to excel in the MBA program, her consulting internship, and her on-campus leadership roles, all while she was pregnant during our first semester and raising her child during the rest of our time here.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Before business school, I believed many myths about entrepreneurship (e.g. don’t share your idea because others may steal it), and thought I was five years away from my own venture. Through extensive self-reflection and endless brainstorming with my co-founding team, I realized that the MBA was the perfect time to launch a business. Never again will I be at an institution of brilliant thought leaders and be able to use “Hi, I’m a Cornell Graduate Student inquiring about….”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mother is a serial entrepreneur; always testing new ideas in search of the right business model. We share the same spirit and business school has allowed me to take it to the next level.

What is your favorite movie about business? Office Space. Make sure you give people back their stapler!

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? GND, Grade Non-Disclosure.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…an education consultant or manager of innovation at a charter school.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I gave up nearly $400,000 in two years’ worth of compensation by deciding to be an entrepreneur. Business school was worth much more because, without it, I wouldn’t have met my co-founders or taken a leap of faith in pursuing my own venture.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and hike Machu Picchu.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Even when faced with fear and doubt, I want to serve as a reminder to always bet on yourself while making difficult decisions.

Hobbies? Running half-marathons (personal record 2 hours 5 min); DJ-ing MBA parties.

What made Earl such an invaluable member of the Class of 2019?

“Earl is an exceptional student—he cares deeply about education, is a natural entrepreneur, and brings a focused determination to all that he does. I was excited to support him in his desire to use Pürro, his tech startup, as his team’s client for our Digital Technology Immersion practicum semester-long project. While I typically have students work on projects for external firms, I was impressed with Earl’s vision, ideas, and leadership. His team put together an outstanding project that enhanced the educational experience for everyone involved. I feel lucky to have had such a stellar student in my courses.”

Shawn Mankad

Assistant Professor of Operations, Technology, and Information Management




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