2020 MBAs To Watch: Steve Tuekam, MIT (Sloan)

Steve Tuekam

MIT, Sloan School of Management

With the right dosage of faith and grit, adversity is my ultimate growth hack.”

Hometown: New York City, NY

Fun fact about yourself: This one is quite embarrassing. I’m a germophobe and whenever someone touches my phone, I feel the urge to… “Purell” it.

Undergraduate School and Degree: UTT, M.Eng. in MIS

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? GroupM (WPP), Head of an internal consulting team covering North America

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? J.P. Morgan Healthcare Investment Banking, NY

Where will you be working after graduation? J.P. Morgan Healthcare IB, NY

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Co-President of the Investment Banking Club; Co-Chair of 2020 Class Gift Committee; Member of the Finance Track Student Advisory Board; Teaching Assistant for Corporate Financial Strategy; Core Fellow (Mentor of a seven 1st year MBAs students); Admissions Ambassador (Point of contact for prospective and admitted students; coffee chat host).

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As a second-year MBA, I worked for the Innovation Lab of one of the largest industrial conglomerates in Latin America. With my team, we helped them define a new strategy to become financially viable, as well as a valuation methodology to assess new projects. The initiative led to a few presentations to CEOs within the conglomerate, as well as a presentation of our findings by our project sponsor to a board of directors.

Applying what I had been learning in the classroom in this billion-dollar company, and seeing an almost immediate impact was an excellent embodiment of MIT’s motto: mens et manus, which translates from Latin to mind and hand.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my last role pre-MBA, I was given the incredible opportunity to recruit and manage a team of junior business analysts. Two years later, when I decided to kick off my MBA journey, we had grown to a team of four consultants, and I was proud to know I’ve had the privilege to work with the best people on the floor. Moreover, I had seen them grow and gain confidence in tackling more complex projects – and I knew they were ready to thrive without me.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is a tough question since I spent two years fighting with the administration to take more classes than allowed because there are so many great professors and courses available at MIT. This said, two professors I’m extremely grateful for are: Adrien Verdelhan – who passionately taught me the rudiments of Finance during my core semester (Fall 18), and contributed to my successful IB recruiting; and Nathaniel Gregory – my M&A professor and a real inspiration through his career, generosity and work ethic.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? MBA students love traveling and I had my share of globetrotting as well. In addition, an MIT Sloan tradition is the “C-function”, a mostly culturally-themed show with food, drinks, dances and an after-party. It’s a fun way to travel the world without leaving Cambridge, celebrate our differences, and better connect with each other.

Why did you choose this business school? As an engineering major in college, I’ve always seen MIT as the best university in the world. When I started my MBA journey and set my eyes on a career in Finance, I was impressed by the quality of the MIT Finance faculty as well as the career opportunities for graduates. I then visited the campus and was reinforced in my choice by 2 important factors:

  • The students are basically a bunch of smart, yet unassuming kids with an unexpectable dose of humility and kindness.
  • The learning ecosystem is literally the best in the country. MIT is essentially the best gift you can treat yourself with if you have a growth mindset, between the immense course catalog with cross-registration opportunities in various schools; the leading healthcare and tech companies as neighbors; and the vibrant entrepreneurship community where your friends live and breathe innovation on a daily basis.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be honest about yourself, what you want, and then take the time to visit the school to understand what it means to study at MIT. If you like what you see and feel alive in this community, just tell your story and make sure you cross your t’s and dot your i’s with the rest of your application.

What is the biggest myth about your school? A fairly strong myth is that MIT Sloan grads are a bunch of nerds going into Tech. In reality, the Tech industry isn’t the biggest recruiter on campus (spoiler alert: it is consulting – 31%), and the ratio of students going into Tech is in line with our peer MBA programs.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? One of the biggest challenges in Business School is balancing priorities. As tempting as it is to think I could have done anything differently, I realize I’ve tried to make the best decisions I could, based on the information I had at every turn. And I’m satisfied with the outcome.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? You are asking a mother to pick a favorite child here. That said, one of the first students to have made a lasting impression on me is Lily Cheng Zeidler. She not only has an impressive work experience and a few ventures under her belt. More important she has a deep sense of purpose and impact in everything she does. Her humility, casualness, and intellectual curiosity represent what I love most about MIT.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue an MBA? From a young age, my parents instilled a culture of excellence in my siblings and me. They planted the seed for an MBA when I finished college and watered it over the years. So, when I saw a couple of friends get a transformative experience in business school, I figured it could help me accelerate my growth and refine my communication and leadership skills.​

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? John Maxwell once said something quite beautiful about the way leaders should look at the world: wake up every day asking yourself who you can help today. So, I’d love to build a relationship with mentees that will grow to become absolute “rockstars” in their fields or companies. Secondly, I want to be conversational in Spanish and Mandarin.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Obsessed about growing and learning, always keen to help others.

Hobbies? Running (including 2 NYC Marathons while in Business School), Hiking, Eating/Cooking, Globe-trotting.


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