Meet NYU Stern’s MBA Class Of 2021

Cortne Edmonds

New York University, Stern School of Business

An adaptable, internationally-minded optimist, driving toward opportunity and results.”

Hometown: New York, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was briefly detained at the airport in Nepal! Apparently, I was out of visa pages in my passport. Needless to say, I got a new passport with extra pages right after that trip.

Undergraduate School and Major: Georgetown University, Georgetown College, Chinese Major, and Government Minor

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: TransPerfect, Department Manager

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I moved to Japan to manage a newly-acquired business and turn it around into a profitable and growing production hub. Within three years, I grew the team to over 50 employees, grew revenue by 100%, and went from one of the least profitable hubs to one of the most profitable production centers globally. Moreover, I developed my ability to lead teams and manage change in a culture entirely different from the one where I grew up.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Every person that I’ve met has an intimidating intelligence backed by undeniable humility. I feel that the juxtaposition of how humble everyone is with how smart and accomplished they are is one of the special aspects of the Stern community and I’m grateful to be a part of it.

What is the best part of coming to New York City to earn your MBA? New York City is a global hub and center for many industries, which allows for exposure and practical experience to deepen the classroom aspect of our studies. As an additional value-add for me, New York City is home and after three years away, it feels like a homecoming and I’m lucky that I can earn my MBA at an amazing institution in my own backyard.

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’s core value of IQ+EQ (Intelligence Quotient + Emotional Quotient) was the defining factor for me. I wanted a top-tier business education where I would be learning from the curriculum, professors and my classmates. In order to get that experience, I knew that I needed an environment where people were not only intelligent in an academic sense but also had the interpersonal skills to connect and relate their experiences and personality in an effective way. The fact that Stern had IQ+EQ as a core value and emphasized showing the whole person in the application made me feel that there was a perfect match in values and the kind of community I wanted.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m looking forward to the “Doing Business in…” program for its international context and the intensive classroom experience. I’m also very excited for the Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students (AHBBS). After experiencing the generous support that many in AHBBS gave to me throughout the application process and beyond, I’m committed to support and encourage future applicants in the same way.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “Why Stern?” was the most challenging question because it meant being self-aware enough to effectively take my emotional, gut feelings about why I felt that Stern was perfect and craft a clear, tangible response that would make sense to the admissions office.

It was a great exercise because it helped me to understand what was important to me in selecting a school program and I’ve found that it’s been helpful as I consider the kind of cultures and values I’m looking for in where I work post-MBA.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? While in Japan, I was running a production hub, which felt very much like running my own business. Often times, I felt that I was making decisions without an understanding of business fundamentals that could back up my practical experience. An MBA after years of work felt like perfect timing for me to become fluent in the language of business and bring my own perspective from my unique career experiences to the classroom to share with others.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Georgetown University McDonough School of Business and Harvard Business School

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized three factors: geography, exposure to global perspectives, and a strong community ethos.

My initial research started with contacting those in my personal network who had MBAs to see why they choose the school that they went to and hear their experience in their programs. Through those conversations, they connected me to current and former students from their respective schools to get additional perspectives.

Once I had a narrowed down list, I reviewed the schools’ websites and compared their core values to my list of key factors. If there was strong alignment between the two, I knew I was on the right path to finding the right program for me.

After that, I reached out to various admissions offices to schedule chats about the different programs, which meant a lot of 5 AM calls because I was in Japan throughout the application process.

Finally, attending the Diversity Weekend to meet prospective classmates and current students really crystallized my thoughts on where I ultimately wanted to get my MBA.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? At 23 years old and after just two years at TransPerfect, I was offered an opportunity to become a manager of one of the language production teams, reporting into the Vice President of Global Production. It was going to be a challenge with a steep learning curve, and I was scared to say yes. Because I was scared, I knew I had to do it and it is one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made.

This experience allowed me to be aware of my feelings, to have that human experience of fear and self-doubt, and then to say yes to the opportunity at hand.

So when I felt that same fear when I had the chance to move to Japan, I said yes. And again, when I felt that same fear when I was accepted to business school, the decision I needed to make was obvious! I said yes!

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I see myself as a leader in innovative business strategies and transformations framed around leadership and change management. I also aspire to mentor individuals on leveraging fear and self-doubt into something powerful that drives one’s story further. And I expect to double the number of countries I’ve visited from 18 to 36!

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