2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Wallace Gundy, University of Rochester (Simon)

Wallace Gundy

University of Rochester, Simon Business School

“I strive to leave every place better than I found it because of my glass-half-full mentality.”

Hometown: Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Fun fact about yourself: When I was eight, my mom discovered I was marked as a male on my birth certificate! My family drove to Morristown, New Jersey’s City Hall to correct this error caused by my gender-ambiguous name. This was a good lesson for all of us about assumptions, and a good reminder to double-check that birth certificate before you leave the hospital with a newborn!

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Virginia, B.A. in English Language and Literature

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Portsmouth Abbey School (Portsmouth, Rhode Island); Director of Financial Aid and Associate Director of Admission, squash and lacrosse coach

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Fisher-Price/Mattel, East Aurora, New York

Where will you be working after graduation? Amazon, Retail Leadership Development Program, Seattle, Washington

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Community Work and Leadership Roles

President, Graduate Business Council
Student Member of the Dean’s Search Committee
Class Giving Committee
Admissions Ambassador

School Awards and Honors
Forte Fellowship
Mark S. Ain Entrepreneurship Merit Scholarship
Simon Community Builder

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Serving Simon students as the President of the Graduate Business Council has been my proudest extracurricular achievement at Simon. I had the opportunity to manage a council of nine elected classmates working to advance a mission that we created together: To elevate the experience of every student and ensure a lifelong relationship with Simon. Our community has been at the core of our efforts this year. Each week, we distribute a student newsletter promoting accomplishments and events; we host a coffee hour and encourage everyone to come together at KSS (Keeping Simon Social) at a local venue. We started a buddy program to match incoming first-years with second years in order to help them best get acclimated to student life. We formed the Simon Student Leadership Team, bringing together student leaders from each of the five Simon programs. We address issues that impact students across those programs. Early in the year, I saw a need to provide representation for our remarkable global community that comprises over 40% of our full-time MBAs and proposed the creation of a Vice President of the Global Student Experience. That position will be included in the upcoming council. I take great pride in serving as the President of the Graduate Business Council knowing that we have strengthened the community for all Simon students.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Looking back, my proudest achievement has been learning to productively blend my soft and hard skills developed in ten years of non-profit work. I look forward to adapting them to for-profit corporate America. My Fisher-Price summer internship was an exceptional stepping-stone. Amazon’s Retail Leadership Development Program is a goal-come-true allowing me to advance my management skills in two different roles while working in a space I love. Indeed, we do spend our lives “building our toolbox” and mine is much fuller as I leave Simon.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? (What did it reflect about your business school?)

Simon Stories is a traditional monthly event in which students, faculty, and staff share personal stories in a casual setting. Topics have included: a book that changed my life, what I’m most grateful for, favorite things to do in the winter, failure, and, how I came out. It’s a thought-provoking and powerful way to get to know your classmates and community members.

Why did you choose this business school? Size was the deciding factor. I wanted access to professors and staff, a tightly knit class, experiential learning options, and opportunities for leadership. These are the learning avenues that I value and found at Simon. In a class of just over one hundred students, everyone knows everyone. Together, we built a vital, dynamic, talented business school network with worldwide representation. I have received a distinctive education at Simon where all of my needs and graduate school goals have been met ten-fold.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be three dimensional in your application. Let your personality shine through in your essays. The Simon admissions team has mastered the craft of assembling a dynamic class. We are not defined by GMAT scores alone. Simon students have a remarkable breadth and depth of personal and professional experiences, backgrounds, and interests. Convey who you are and how you will leave this school stronger than you found it. We are Simon strong!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would think more about my long-term goals prior to arriving on campus. I assumed business school would help me figure out what I might do next. Instead, it is important to have a good sense of your professional direction understanding it may change. Professional goals help you hit the ground running during the internship search which starts the moment you arrive.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire classmates who took the biggest chances in coming to business school. Raazgi Haidri took not one, but two. A former senior content and marketing manager for one of India’s top radio stations, she defines career switcher while applying many of the skills she learned at RED FM to the corporate world. Not only is Raazgi a career switcher, but she is also an adventurer. Her very first visit to the United States took her to student orientation and the start of the school year! At Simon, she was one of the kindest and most selfless souls I encountered. She threw herself into her academics, pursuing marketing and pricing while balancing several co-curricular activities including Vice President of Logistics & Operations for the Graduate Business Council. It takes true guts and grit to uproot your life in the way that Raazgi did. And, she did it flawlessly.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad promotes life’s adventures—choices we make that demand we grow personally and professionally. He was instrumental in helping me see that I was ready to be tested and stretched, once again, not knowing where it may lead. Graduate business school would do just that. A few years earlier, my life took an unexpected turn due to the sudden end of my brief marriage. My family, friends, and colleagues were responsive, supportive, and encouraging. After getting my footing and finding my grit, my dad reminded me that life’s biggest detours can lead to the greatest opportunities if you let it happen. I spent a year researching MBA programs, writing essays, perfecting applications, interviewing and visiting schools. He was always a phone call away ready to listen to what I saw and learned. As for my Simon “adventure”, I will always remember him for saying, “You have to do this!”

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. In my work, I want to advance a positive, productive, inclusive culture that supports my co-workers, serves our customers, and is recognized by our stakeholders.
  2. As a volunteer, I want to apply my experiences in businesses and schools to advance the missions of worthy nonprofit organizations that improve our world.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope to be remembered as a friend who acted on a personal belief that together we create healthy, productive communities by being engaged, inclusive, responsive, and kind.

Hobbies? Squash used to be my go-to sport. But Simon changed that, too. Thanks to the encouragement of a classmate, I picked up downhill skiing. I love it! I bought an old pair of boots and skis for $100, and have enjoyed testing out the bunny slopes on mountains in upstate New York and Vermont. Lucky for me, the Pacific Northwest has some great mountains, so the skis are going with me to Seattle.

What made Wallace such an invaluable member of the Class of 2020?

“Wallace has been an amazing addition to our MBA community over the past two years. Her prior educational experience in English Language and Literature and her work experience in Admissions and Financial Aid at an elite boarding school in New England provided a unique and diverse background that has added value to her classmate’s learning.

Wallace has held leadership roles in several other key organizations at Simon Business School including serving as a first-year cohort representative to the Graduate Business Council (GBC) and being elected as the President of the GBC for her second year. Wallace’s organizational abilities and her interpersonal skills are a special combination that has allowed her to maintain a strong rapport with the school’s senior administration and the students that she supports, while also significantly advancing projects to influence change. There are several important initiatives that Wallace has initiated that have helped to bring the Simon community together. She has been instrumental in developing a weekly KSS (Keep Simon Social) networking event that is open to the entire Simon community. Wallace also expanded the GBC membership to also include representatives from the Part-time, Executive, and Undergraduate programs to create an inclusive leadership structure within the business school student body. Additionally, she has created structure and processes that have expanded communication and transparency between the student groups and the administration, which has ultimately resulted in an increase in student satisfaction across the School.

During both her first and second year, Wallace has also served as an Admissions Ambassador, hosting prospective students during campus visits and participating in key recruiting events throughout the year.  She also regularly connects with prospective students through phone calls, email, and webinars when they have questions about the student experience.

Wallace is currently serving on the Dean’s Search Committee as the student representative and she is also active in the Simon Women in Business student organization. While it is hard to believe Wallace has any additional free time, she has also completed an International Immersion to South Africa as an MBA student.

As you can see, Wallace has worked tirelessly to create a legacy that will far out-live her MBA experience, and she has positively impacted the Simon Business School community.  She is extremely well-liked by fellow classmates because she is among the first to volunteer her time to support their personal or professional endeavors.”

Rebekah Lewin, MBA 2002
Assistant Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid


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