Meet Columbia Business School’s MBA Class Of 2021

MBAs hang loose on “The Curl”

P&Q: What is the most underrated part of your program that you wish prospective students knew more about?

AC: “The January intake! Columbia Business School’s January intake is an amazing opportunity to earn an MBA in just 16 months. I wish more candidates knew how special the J-term truly is. The J-term is ideal for students who are company-sponsored, are in a family business, are entrepreneurial or don’t need the formal summer internship to find a role post-MBA.

Given our home in New York City, Columbia’s location is ideal for students who are also interested in pursuing a school-year internship which can be an interesting aspect to the J-term model. Our students are doers who recognize that there is opportunity at every turn. And the J-term offers this opportunity to students who want to put their academic learnings into practice during a school-year internship.”

P&Q: What quality best describes the Class of 2021? How does that fit with the culture of Columbia Business School?

Uris Hall

AC: “Motivated and Engaged. With just three months as Dean under his belt, Dean Maglaras is a highly-motivated, engaged, and energetic leader, who is already implementing exciting changes at CBS. For example, Dean Maglaras recently named star marketing professor Gita Johar the new Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. He has also communicated to our students that one of his top priorities as Dean is to “Sharpen our curriculum and experiential learning opportunities to better prepare students for careers in the digital future across industries.” Our highly motivated and engaged students, and the community are eager to see what else Dean Maglaras has in mind and what innovations come next!”

P&Q: Your location enables you to draw some impressive adjuncts. Who are some of your star adjunct faculty and how does their teaching benefit your students?

AC: “Students are truly able to benefit from the intellectual capital that resides in New York City. What I think is even more powerful and impactful for our students than the adjunct faculty alone, is the unparalleled thought leadership brought in coordination with Columbia Business School’s tenured faculty. Take the Media & Technology Program, as an example. Professor Miklos Sarvary’s research focuses on media and information marketing and he serves as the faculty lead. Jonathan Knee, co-director of the Media & Technology Program, is a Senior Advisor at Evercore Partners and teaches the Media Mergers & Acquisitions class. He also co-teaches the course, Media Industries: Public Policy and Business Strategy, with Columbia Law School professor, Tim Wu. Professors Sarvary and Knee, a formidable duo, lead an esteemed group of faculty to deliver the most cutting-edge information to our students.”


Indeed, the Columbia faculty roll is loaded with esteemed names like Bruce Greenwald (Finance), Charles Calomiris (Finance), Adam Galinsky (Management), and Sheena Lyengar (Management). That doesn’t count adjuncts like Neal Masia (Chief Economist of Pfizer), Craig Hatkoff (Co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, and Owen Davis (Managing Director of NYC Seed). On top of that, the school boasts a robust roster of two dozen executives-in-residences, whose ranks include former CEOs at Macy’s and Wyeth, along with the current senior managing director of Evercore.

“I ended up choosing the CBS program based on the strength of the academics,” writes Katy Obr. “I decided to get an MBA to gain general management skills, and I liked the idea of starting with a solid foundation with the core curriculum, then branching out into more specialized electives. I was looking to go somewhere that combined theory and practice and would allow me to learn from professors who are themselves leaders in various different industries. Much of the CBS learning experience is from fellow classmates, and I was sold after I visited a class on campus. The caliber of the class discussion was exceptional.”

Columbia Business School classroom

On top of that, the program boasts over 100 clubs, covering everything FinTech and equity research to micro-brewing and sailing. In addition, the program offers over 200 electives on nearly every topic. One of the most popular electives has become Bridging the American Divide, says Ashley Allen. “This course examines the political landscape in the U.S. through the lenses of class, race, geography and political affiliation. It culminates with a five-day trip to Youngstown, Ohio in which students engage with union leaders, local politicians, community activists, and non-profit organizations who are fighting for their community’s survival. I enjoyed this class the most because I was able to engage with others (students and local Ohioans) who view the world differently than me, challenge the perspective of others, and gain a context for different views I may have previously dismissed.”


Many business schools advertise treks to New York City as a means to network with the Fortune 500. Columbia Business School, however, promotes itself as being at “the center of business” – and that’s hardly hyperbole. Nearly every Fortune 500 company – let alone industry – is just a cab ride away from campus. Better yet, New York’s startup scene is exploding. The city is currently home to over 9,000 startups and 100 incubators, with investors plunking down $13 billion dollars in 2018 to fund promising ventures. The tech sector alone accounts for over 333,000 jobs. Make no mistake: Columbia MBAs fully capitalize on these opportunities as students.

Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library

“CBS encourages students to take in-semester internships after completing the CORE curriculum and enables students to do so by offering unique block scheduling to make the balance possible while still being a full-time student,” explains Courtney Johnson. “I found this to be a unique advantage in comparison to other top programs. In-semester internships enable students to get a variety of experiences throughout the two-year MBA program and also provide the ability to work with organizations that cannot afford to hire MBAs full-time such as social enterprises or early-stage start-ups.

Beyond business, the Class of 2021 is just looking forward to living in New York City and its “unique vibe” and “stimulation” in the words of Anna Tsilidou. More than that, says Joy Payton-Stevens, the “city that never sleeps” includes something for just about everyone. “I am surrounded by all different types of people, many different activities, lots of great food, and access to varied businesses and industry leaders.”

This environment, adds Jessica Rosner, forces people to stretch themselves and bring out their best. That sense of possibility makes the Columbia Business School experience all the more transformative.

“The energy of New York City is like no other place. Being immersed in this type of environment, with people who are constantly improving and growing, also makes you want to do the same. There are no limits to who you can be or what you can achieve.”

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.


MBA Student Hometown Alma Mater Last Employer
Christian De Allie Brooklyn, NY Cornell University Praava Health
Christopher De Allie Brooklyn, NY Cornell University Columbia University
Kristin Jantzie Lacombe, Canada Penn State University The Rockettes
Courtney Johnson Blue Bell, PA University of Maryland U.S. Department of State
Tony Lashley Silver Spring, MD University of Chicago Blonded
Katy Obr Paris, France Yale University SLAM Films
Joy Payton-Stevens Cleveland, OH University of Southern California Seattle Symphony
Jessica Rosner Merrick, NY Hofstra Honors College A Charmed Life at Home
Anna Tsilidou Alexandroupolis, Greece University of Macedonia McKinsey & Company
Malida Tadesse North Potomac, MD Columbia University Bandwidth and Cloud Services Group
Lonnie Wishom Antioch, CA Weber State University Tata Consultancy Services

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.