2020 MBAs To Watch: John Hall, Boston University (Questrom)

John Hall

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

“Outdoors enthusiast, software engineer, and passionate about all things technology.”

Hometown: Greenwich, Connecticut

Fun fact about yourself:

I went on a 91-day backpacking trip in the Utah desert where I hiked and slept in downwards of negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit weather.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Boston University, B.A. Computer Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Verizon Media, Software Engineer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Walt Disney Animation Studios, Burbank, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? To be determined

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: (Include school awards and honors)

  • Adam Smith Society, VP of Events
  • Coding Tutor
  • IBM Best of the Best Finalist

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  I am most proud of being a leader of my school’s chapter of the Adam Smith Society. Through the Adam Smith Society, I have been exposed to a wide variety of experts, leaders, and opinions that are relevant to business today. It has been rewarding to bring speakers to Questrom to talk about how we can use business and the free market to solve problems facing society.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While working on Verizon Media’s media syndication platform, I built a system that allowed non-technical people to easily onboard content with our platform. I am most proud of this because I believe in order for technology to reach its potential, it has to be easily understood by a wide audience. This system changed what used to be a complicated process reserved for software engineers into something that anyone with some domain knowledge could do. This drastically decreased the amount of time required to onboard content, and it increased our team’s ability to focus on more meaningful development work.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Finance Professor Lucy White was a key part of my learning in business school. I had very little finance experience before attending Questrom. Professor White’s teaching made finance not only extremely easy to grasp but also a fun experience. Her way of teaching cemented concepts that otherwise would have been difficult to maintain long-term.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite tradition is the yearly talent show. As a relatively small MBA program, most of us are very familiar with each other’s passions in work and school contexts. With this tradition, we have the opportunity to celebrate each other’s passions outside of those contexts. It also shows a tenant of Questrom’s culture: striving for greatness, while celebrating and helping everyone around you. The amount of cheering and clapping at the talent show could rival a BU Hockey game.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Boston University because of how transformative of an experience it was during my time as an undergraduate student studying Computer Science at BU. After transferring from a small Christian school outside of New York City, I was amazed by the passion I saw from everyone around me at BU. Questrom also provides unique opportunities through their collaborations with technology companies in Boston such as IBM, Wayfair, and Accenture Digital. These experiences reinforced my learning in the classroom and were pivotal to my preparation for my internship at Disney.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be genuine and do your research. Getting an MBA starts the moment you decide to apply, so you should manage your time in the same way as what you expect of yourself when you start school. Two years is an extremely short amount of time. The more you prepare beforehand, the more you will be able to accomplish while you are in school.

What is the biggest myth about your school? A misconception that I had about Questrom before attending is that everyone would be overly competitive. What I found is a lot of passionate people, driven to learn how to harness their passion to achieve their goals. Questrom MBAs want to win, but they also want to make their classmates and communities better in the process.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would participate in a case competition. I am currently working on a start-up idea that emerged from a case competition that some of my classmates participated in. It has been a valuable experience to work with them to make the vision into a working product, but I definitely wish I could have been a part of the case competition as well.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The person I admire most is Nari Malkhasyan. I am constantly surprised by everything she does for both Questrom and her community. She has redefined time management. Among other things, she is the head of the Graduate Council, she helps fundraise for Questrom’s Internship Fund, and she is an amazing teammate and leader. She has a strong drive to succeed in everything she does and the ability to make it happen. She is also a great person that genuinely cares about the people around her.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father was the most influential person in my decision to pursue an MBA. My father personifies the best qualities of leadership: vision, ethics, empathy, and a genuine desire to make his community – and the world – a better place. Like me, he started off as an engineer, and he has always told me how business school transformed his outlook on the world and helped him develop his leadership skills. Seeing his impact on the entire technology industry, which he attributes partially to his time in business school, motivated me to follow in that path.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Two items on my professional bucket list are leading a technology company and making the life-changing improvements of today’s technology more accessible to a broader community. Technological improvement and access are not assured, and the way in which we develop technology provides some of the biggest ethical questions of our generation. I would like to be at the center of that discussion and help guide our progress.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as someone whose contributions helped define some aspect of their MBA experience and as someone whose support made getting an MBA more memorable and fun.

Hobbies? I like anything outdoors and athletic. I enjoy going hiking with friends, running, slack-lining, hula hooping, and I recently started boxing. Last October, I ran The Cape Cod Marathon for the second time. My fiancé and I actually met on a hiking trip that I led for Boston University students while I was an undergrad at BU. I have also been working on a start-up idea with other Questrom students.

What made John such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“John’s performance of a glow-in-the-dark hula-hoop routine to the hit song Old Town Road at the annual student talent show brought down the house and is one of the most memorable, funny, and surprisingly skillful acts in Questrom history. John’s willingness to put himself out there to entertain and bring together the community is representative of how he has approached the MBA program. He cares about his peers’ and their experience, he enjoys learning and he thrives in a collaborative environment. As Associate Professor of Finance Lucy White says, John is “confident but modest; knowledgeable but very open to learning; and always cheerful, even at 8 am”. John is also goal-oriented and focused, as demonstrated by his ability to leverage his technical background and training in our MS in Digital Innovation dual degree program to earn an internship from Disney. Our program has benefited from John’s strong intellect and motivation to learn (he is a high honors student), his willingness to take chances (both on the stage and in his approach to school and career), and his sense of fun.”

Professor Barbara Bickart
Senior Associate Dean of MBA Programs


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