2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Sophia Cornew, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Sophia Cornew

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

A forever optimist on a mission to make healthcare awesome and always eager for adventure.”

Hometown: Portola Valley, California

Fun fact about yourself: I spent the summer after undergrad working on a horse farm in Argentina. I lived my best gaucho life, matte included.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bowdoin College, BA in Economics and Biology. Go U Bears!

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?  LifeCo, Inc., Business Strategy and Operations

After nearly three years at Bridgewater Associates, I spent the eight months prior to business school as the second employee of a healthcare technology startup doing a little bit of everything. I not only got exposure to the functional areas I’d then study at Tuck, but my experience helped orient me to the healthcare tech space and the problems I want to solve in the future. This allowed me to arrive at Tuck with a stronger sense of purpose and to better take advantage of everything Tuck has to offer. For anyone looking to switch careers or industries, I highly recommend seeking out direct experience in that space before starting b-school.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? I spent my summer on the Product Marketing team at Collective Health, a growth-stage healthcare technology company in San Francisco.

Where will you be working after graduation? Currently exploring various operating roles at early-stage healthcare technology startups in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Tuck Social Venture Fund Director (TSVF): TSVF is a student-led fund that makes investments in for-profit social impact companies. We operate the full lifecycle of a venture fund – from sourcing and diligence to investments and portfolio management. I’m particularly proud of our work launching the Consortium of Social Venture Funds this year, bringing together our peers at other business schools’ social impact funds.
  • Healthcare Center Fellow: I am one of a handful of second-year students selected to foster leadership and management solutions in healthcare. Through my fellowship, I have collaborated with the healthcare faculty, staff and other fellows to engage students at Tuck in topical healthcare issues, most recently leading a roundtable discussion about fertility planning and women’s careers.
  • Entrepreneurship Club Co-Chair: The club works closely with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Development Office to build community and support one another on our respective, individual paths. Whether you’re looking to found a company or help build the next great one, we celebrate and support all e-ship journeys at Tuck.
  • Alan Smith Visiting Executive Fellow: As a fellow with the Visiting Executive Program, I host senior executives who come to Tuck to share their experienced perspectives in our classes, as well as engage with students in small, intimate settings – be it office hours or dinner in town.
  • Women in Business Club: Women at Tuck represent almost half the class – our voices and experiences matter. The club brings together current male and female students and alumni to engage in the issues we face in our careers as well as foster a supportive community among women (and male allies) in business.
  • Tripod Hockey: It’s ridiculously fun to get out on the ice with your classmates and Tuck partners in full hockey gear. We’re all in it for the laughs that come from the inevitable stumbles and wipeouts on the ice—plus the chance to hoist the elusive Tripod Championship trophy!

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? For my Tuck First-Year Project, my MD/MBA classmate Brendin Beaulieu-Jones and I founded CareLink, a technology platform for high-risk patients being discharged from the Emergency Department. In a few short months, we went from sitting together in front of a big whiteboard wall asking ourselves “What problem do we want to solve?” to getting in the trenches of building a venture together along with our team. We sat in Dartmouth’s Emergency Department waiting room for hours interviewing patients. We profiled potential customers and identified their needs. We labored over determining the appropriate business model and, finally, pitched our venture to hundreds of people. While we ultimately decided not to pursue venture funding, I’m proud of what we built together.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? There’s a lot that I’m proud of in my career, but that’s because I’ve been lucky to have worked with talented people on problems I care about.

During my time at Bridgewater, I oversaw the physical construction of 150,000 square feet of new office space and the future home of 600 or so of my colleagues. Most of the burley construction managers on the project didn’t know what to make of me, a young woman half their age. I didn’t wait around for them to question my authority or abilities or even what I was doing in their construction office — I put on a hard hat and got to work. I asked for extra tours, helped install light fixtures, and threw sheetrock down the dumpster shoot. My genuine curiosity to learn about their craft helped me to understand the context necessary to do my job while simultaneously allowing me to build trust and credibility with my managers. The successful completion of that project was not only a big accomplishment in my professional career, it also taught me that human connection and trust can move mountains or, in this case, buildings.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? That’s hard! I’ve gotten to know many of my professors personally during my time at Tuck and can confidently say they are an extraordinary group. Professor Emily Blanchard, who teaches our core macroeconomics class GEM or Global Economics for Managers, is definitely one of my favorite professors. Beyond being a talented professor, Professor Blanchard inspires us all as future business leaders to thoughtfully consider the underlying economics of the decisions and investments we will make. Her classes are fast-paced and dynamic, routinely calling upon the experiences of our classmates and tying in current events to her lectures. In particular, I remember one lecture that she gave on the balance of trade and tariff policy choices—it was blizzarding out at 8:30 in the morning but she made the Georgiopoulos classroom electric!

Why did you choose this business school? When considering MBA programs, I think it is important to first reflect on what conditions and environments enable you to best learn.

I have found that I’m best able to learn, experiment, fail, and explore in tight-knit communities like Tuck. I like to joke that no one ends up in Hanover by accident, that this is a place where everyone says “YES!” in all caps. Everyone is all in. There is a joy and an energy that runs through this place – students talking excitedly about a lecture on their way out of the classroom, laughing and making jokes in the hallways, and greeting each other in Stell Hall. We all make a real effort to become a genuine part of each other’s lives and it is palpable on campus. When I visited, I just knew Tuck was meant to be my home.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I’d encourage you to not only reflect on why you want to pursue an MBA, but why a Tuck MBA specifically. Take the time to get to know Tuck – trust me, it’s worth it! This is a special place that invests heavily in getting to know you as a candidate and how you’d contribute to the community. Talk to students and alumni who can share their experience and help you imagine your own Tuck journey. Visit Hanover on a self-initiated interview, if you can, and grab a coffee at JOE.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? Time flies. You’ll hear it a million times, yet it’s hard to appreciate just how quickly two years go by until you’re in it. I’ve had to learn how to create stillness within our fast-paced life here, how to slow down and appreciate the richness of the Tuck experience. There’s a part of me that is grateful for the fleeting nature of business school, though, and how it forces us to be more intentional and deliberate in our time together.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have enormous respect and admiration for our veteran and active-duty classmates. Prior to business school, I’d had very little contact with our military. Through my friendships with people like Andrew Fennel and Travis Cyphers, I’ve learned and grown in my appreciation of their service to our country and have found similarities between our careers (flying helicopters in Iraq aside) that I wouldn’t have expected. From their funny SafeRide emails and tidbits about Tuck “civilian life” to their unique contributions to our class discussions, I so appreciate getting to learn alongside classmates like Andrew and Travis. I deeply value our friendship, and look forward to being a part of each other’s lives beyond our time together at Tuck.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I spent most of college preparing for medical school and a career as a physician. But as I came to experience many of the structural problems facing our healthcare system first-hand, my conviction for practicing medicine waned. A physician mentor, Dr. Minnie Sarwal, encouraged me to “go see about the business side of things.” She pushed me to see problems and inefficiencies in healthcare as opportunities. “Someone needs to fix it, why not you?”

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean?  Tuck classes all have goofy acronyms – Leading Individuals and Teams (LIT), Leadership out of the Box (LOB), Capital Markets (CapMar), Global Economics for Managers (GEM) – the list goes on and on.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…climbing mountains!”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? Totally worth it. I’ll use the DCF Professor Sundaram taught us in our valuations course to explain:

Net Present Value (of Tuck education) = Cash flows discounted over a given time period.

Cash Flow: Everything I’ve learned in the past two years + my forever relationships with these extraordinary people.

Time Horizon: Forever. Tuck is for life. This community grows and stays with you long after our time on campus. Alumni are an engaged and active part of what makes Tuck what it is.

Discount Rate: 5%? Sure, let’s “just go with it” as Professor Sundaram would say.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Road trip across the country in my ’95 red Volvo after business school. Unclear if my beloved car will make, but we’re going to try!
  • Visit every National Park. Next up is Glacier National Park.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? That I was authentic, gave it my all, and that we were always in it together.


  • Take me to the mountains on foot, bike or skis!
  • Cooking spicy foods for my friends. Did someone say chilaquiles?
  • Playing volleyball
  • Reading anything I can get my hands on
  • Lots and lots of traveling. All I need is a backpack and my passport!

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

“Sophia personifies “wise leadership,” the quality we strive most to instill in Tuck students. I have worked with Sophia in many settings, as her Professor in the Entrepreneurial Thinking elective, an Advisor and Investment Committee member of the Tuck Social Venture Fund, and co-curricular with the student-led Entrepreneurship Club. Her thoughtful, collaborative nature balances well with her quick smarts, wit, and natural leadership qualities. This pairing gains her tremendous respect and trust from her peers, as well as the Tuck administration.

For example, Sophia has shown tremendous discernment in screening deals for the Tuck Social Venture Fund, willing to raise critical questions about the viability of a venture, even when she represents an unpopular view. In another example, I’ve seen her thoughtful persuasiveness used to create positive outcomes for her community. She and another club leader started a peer-to-peer mentoring program for students looking to pursue entrepreneurial careers, an initiative born out of her desire to pass along the learnings from her internship search. Lastly, through Sophia’s experience starting a company at Tuck and ultimately choosing not to pursue it, her intelligence, judgment, leadership skills and collaborative nature all shone through in flying colors. Sophia has excelled in all of these real-world experiential learning opportunities; I am positive she will go on to make a tremendously positive impact on the world after Tuck.”

Daniella Reichstetter

Adjunct Professor and Executive Director, Tuck Center for Entrepreneurship



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