Meet NYU Stern’s MBA Class Of 2021

Tom Catalano

New York University, Stern School of Business

“Myers-Briggs INTJ (Architect), Also Go Irish!” 

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

Fun Fact About Yourself: I can navigate a 9,000-ton submarine using only the stars and a periscope.

Undergraduate School and Major: B.S. Mathematics, Business Concentration- University of Notre Dame

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Navy Submarine Officer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I joined my submarine crew at the end of a 54-month major shipyard period. Transitioning from a shipyard—where resources are plentiful, working hours are relatively consistent, and daily decisions do not have life-and-death consequences—to a deployed vessel is a daunting task for everyone on board. Through this transition, I was selected to overhaul the quality assurance program, designed to maintain the safety of the submarine and previously under-resourced; by the end of my tenure aboard, the program was thriving and praised by external auditing teams.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Focused. New York is a demanding city and an MBA at NYU Stern requires an added level of focus and planning to make it work.

What is the best part of coming to New York City to earn your MBA? Stern is in the center of the business capital of the world. On a Fortune 500 corporate visit during my first week of school over the summer, as part of Stern’s Fertitta Veterans program, the CEO happened to be in the New York office and went out of his way to meet the Stern students visiting his company.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Stern has a tremendous veteran support network. Veterans played a pivotal role in my transition into business school. I hope to maintain the network of vets I have met along the way and pay it forward to the next generation.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am really excited to join the NYU Triathlon Club; I have been racing triathlons for about 10 years.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “At the end of your career you decide to write a memoir, what would you title it?” I think my answer was about two sentences long….

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Though I enjoyed my time and experience in the military, I wanted to explore other career options. Business school offers an opportunity to build upon past skills with a focus on transitioning to a new sector.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Kellogg and Columbia

How did you determine your fit at various schools? My number one priority was to find a school that provides the best tools to prepare for a career in finance. I spent a lot of time talking with veteran MBA students at prospective schools to discern a fit for my career goals as well as cultural fit. Key factors were course content, network, location and recruiting.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? When I joined the Navy, I envisioned my service would be as an aviator. As it turned out, the Navy decided my skills were better suited to a submarine. Being selected as a Submarine Officer and my subsequent tour was a test of resilience and perseverance, and I came out of it a stronger and more capable person. Looking back, I am incredibly grateful for the experience.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In a leadership role in the finance industry. And of course, not far away from a boat or marina, ideally, with a closet full of Tommy Bahama short-sleeve button-downs.

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