Who’s your customer?
On the surface, the answer is easy enough to answer for business schools. The customer is the student, the professional who pays the tuition – and hopefully evolves into a deep-pocketed donor and brand evangelist. However, there is another consumer in the MBA mix. You won’t find their names on the billings or graduation programs. Make no mistake: Their voice very much matters.
A RECRUITER FAVORITE
They are the employers – the Bains, Googles, and JP Morgans who watch on the periphery. Each year, they interview thousands of MBA candidates from the top schools. They’ve seen it all…and they’re hard to fool. Over time, schools build track records at firms that reveal certain tendencies. From interviews to internships to employment, recruiters know which programs instill the best technical fundamentals and people skills. They’ve witnessed which hires contribute quickly, re-define roles, and earn senior roles. According to employers, few business schools churn out better graduates than Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
That was one takeaway from Bloomberg Businessweek’s vaunted corporate recruiter survey in 2018. A staple of BW’s annual MBA rankings, the survey was the collection of 3,698 responses from employers who recruit MBA graduates. Here, the McDonough School shined, notching the second-highest score from recruiters for having the Best-Trained MBAs. The program also ranked 3rd for the Most Innovative MBAs, finishing just behind Stanford GSB and Yale SOM. Georgetown McDonough also nabbed the 4th-best score for Brand Value, topping peer programs like MIT Sloan and Chicago Booth. In addition, employers vouched for McDonough’s international atmosphere, giving it the 4th-best score for Most Diverse. In a major surprise, Georgetown McDonough ranked 3rd for Entrepreneurship Training and 4th for Entrepreneurship overall.
An anomaly? Tell that to the Class of 2019, which enjoyed a record base of $124,119 – and a 15% starting pay increase since 2016. On top of that, McDonough graduates can expect a $54,700 jump in pay over the next five years of their careers according to 2019 Forbes data. Prashant Malaviya, senior associate dean for MBA programs at the McDonough School, credits the program’s career center for high employer satisfaction with graduates in areas like training and innovation.
PERSONAL ATTENTION THE KEY
“We have deliberately built an MBA Career Center that relies on certified career coaches who provide our students with individualized career planning throughout the program,” Malaviya explains in a 2019 Q&A with Poets&Quants. “In fact, our career curriculum begins in the summer before the start of the first year, allowing our students to prepare for the fall internship recruitment cycle well in advance of the deadlines they will encounter at the start of the year.”
That cycle has started anew with the Class of 2021. Thus far, the center has lived up to its reputation, says Lydia Kickham-Dawes, an operations analyst from Credit Suisse. “Georgetown’s Career Center is so hands-on and I knew that they’d prepare me well for the internship and full-time job process. It was obvious that the career center staff truly cares about McDonough students.”
This focus on preparation extends well into the programming, Malaviya notes, with the core curriculum aligned to the summer recruiting cycle of industries like finance. “This ensures that students are already well versed in the fundamentals of accounting and finance when the financial services firms are on campus for summer internship interviews, or in strategy and consulting when the consulting firms are on campus, and so on.”
NOURISHING THE MIND AND SPIRIT
When it comes to high marks from employers, Malaviya also touts the involvement and reach of Georgetown as a whole. “Georgetown University has an engaged alumni network that spans the globe, and many alumni are excited to work with our current students in their career search, from mentorship to participating in our Executive Challenge, to recruiting,” he adds. “Student clubs also are engaged in organizing career days on campus and traveling on career treks throughout the United States and across the world to network with alumni and executives by industry.”
Home to 200,000 alumni – and nestled in the hills overlooking the Potomac River – McDonough enjoys one of the best locations for a business school. Sure, recruiter enthusiasm attracted students like Deepak Mishra, a senior strategy consultant. However, Mishra adds, the location also enables the program to “cross-pollinate” business with broader perspectives like policy and diplomacy – all grounded in the Jesuit tradition that elevates moral and ethical considerations. Together, the program’s academic rigor, values-driven mindset, and DC location create a unique experience that expands the opportunities and deepens the spirit.
“The school is renowned for its commitment to principled leadership and the student body truly embodies this value,” writes Summi Sinha, a 2019 P&Q MBA To Watch. “The school provides amazing opportunities for holistic learning. In the first semester itself, along with a challenging core curriculum, the school provides opportunities such as the highly selective Impact Consulting Program so students can gain hands-on experience in different business areas with a strong focus on leadership development. The second year of the program has a compulsory global business project and travel component which is an incredible opportunity to not only travel to an international destination but also gain experience in diverse business and cultural practices. Finally, the location of the school in Washington, D.C. was a huge draw for me. The location of the school brings together the best of both worlds: a quaint and beautiful Georgetown neighborhood with close access to the business hub, which has offices of many Fortune 500 firms.”
A WELL-TRAVELED AND SOPHISTICATED CLASS
The Class of 2021 could be best described as cosmopolitan, a collection of 275 individuals whose resumes boast demanding roles in an array of regions. Samuel Boafo-Arko, for example, enjoyed a stint in Ghana’s Ministry of Finance before becoming a Hoya. Orlando native Daniel Hill immediately set off for China after graduating from Georgetown, spending his “entire 20’s learning how to be an adult in a foreign country.” Eventually, he found himself leading the onboarding of 10,000 employees at the Shanghai Disney Resort. Katherine Jo also headed to China after graduating from Emory. Eventually, she became the bureau chief for ALM Media – and the youngest-ever editor of China Law & Practice (a periodical, she adds, that is part of the collection at the Georgetown Law library).
“What I loved most about my job was that I was always learning,” Jo explains. “I was unraveling the intricacies of China’s business environment to provide premium subscription content, while simultaneously leading the APAC initiatives of a US media firm that was operating in highly competitive and nuanced regional markets. In other words, as the bureau chief of my publication, I was responsible for presenting solutions and strategies—both at the micro and macro level—constantly.”
Jo wasn’t alone in wielding influence in complex environments. Before joining the Class of 2021, Ali Toal was a legislative correspondent for Senator Chuck Grassley and a legislative aide to Senator Cory Gardner over a six-year span. In these roles, she focused heavily on healthcare policy, she says, in areas ranging “from addiction, recovery and mental health services to drug pricing and public health crises.” While achievements in government can sometimes be difficult to “translate,” Toal says, she points to helping to save a rural hospital as her biggest moment in public service.
“When I was working for Senator Gardner, the CEO of a rural hospital in Colorado called our office in hysterics because the financial situation of the hospital was so dire that she was sure they would have to close. After doing additional digging, we realized that the hospital was eligible to change its designation and receive higher reimbursements from the government in order to stay open. I did all the advocacy work of communicating with the administration on behalf of this hospital and ultimately, we were able to persuade CMS to change their designation. This hospital that was all but destined to close is still open.”
AN AWARD-WINNING STARTUP
Business school should be familiar turf for Danya Sherman. As an undergraduate at George Washington University, she completed five MBA courses. They quickly paid off. Her startup, KnoNap, took home 1st place in the Northern Virginia’s Chamber of Commerce 2019 i-List Awards, which “recognizes the most innovative companies that have demonstrated measurable impact in the Greater Washington region.” Her product has been labeled as the “napkin that knows”— a cocktail napkin that can detect specific drugs to guard against potential sexual assault. Not surprisingly, Sherman’s solution is earning accolades far beyond the beltway too.
“A recent defining moment for me followed my pitch of KnoNap to Armando Perez (aka Pitbull) in front of an audience of over 500 individuals at the 2019 eMerge America’s Competition’s final round. Not only was I the sole female founder within the top five finalists, I was also awarded first place out of the 102 competing companies. This experience further validated the merits of my company’s mission.”
The class also features several innovation-minded intrapreneurs. Santiago Mayoral managed his company’s IPO, enabling it to double in size in six years and emerge as one of the largest hotel chains in Mexico. At Credit Suisse, Lydia Kickham-Dawes developed the training program for the company’s whole loans division. Similarly, Deepak Mishra created a resume-screening app using artificial intelligence, while Sorin Ovreiu was tapped by J.P. Morgan Chase to recruit MBAs and undergraduates. When you go to Under Armour, think of Jennifer Wolock, who was previously a senior merchandiser for the firm.
“When I started at Under Armour, the company only had four full-price brand retail stores. I joined the merchandising team, which was responsible for these stores and helped that store count more than quadruple over my tenor at the company. Contributing to this rapid growth and understanding how to implement scalable processes was one of the best learning experiences of my career.”
To access 12 in-depth profiles of the Class of 2020, go to Page 3.
To read an exclusive Q&A with Prashant Malaviya, senior associate dean for MBA programs, go to page 2-3.