2020 MBAs To Watch: Christopher Thurau, Fordham University (Gabelli)

Christopher Thurau

Fordham University, Gabelli School of Business

“Hard-working. Motivated. Resourceful. Thoughtful. Deliberate. Resilient. Reliable.”

Hometown: East Meadow, New York

Fun fact about yourself: I have traveled to over 20 countries

Undergraduate School and Degree: American University, School of International Service, B.A. in International Studies

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Nathan Associates, Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? IBM, Senior Financial Analyst

Where will you be working after graduation? IBM, Finance Leadership Development Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Co-President, Fordham Net Impact Graduate Chapter; Graduate Assistant working with the Fordham Social Innovation Collaboratory

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As a Graduate Assistant in my first year, I led a group of undergraduate students in the Fordham Social Innovation Collaboratory working on a pro-bono consulting project for a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in the Bronx. The CDFI aims to reach unbanked and underbanked populations in New York City, and the students conducted research and analysis to help the CDFI better reach its target population. I mentored the student project leader and guided the students in their research. At the end of the year, the students presented their research to senior leadership at the CDFI.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While at Nathan Associates, I served as co-chair of the firm’s young professionals group. During my term, I formed a team to revamp an inefficient business process dealing with knowledge management of “past performance references” used for RFP submissions. The team’s efforts were quite successful, cataloging references for 41 projects. The improved business process was used throughout the company thereafter. The achievement helped solve a real pain point that my fellow young professionals were dealing with.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. David Gaustchi. I took his Innovation in Business and Energy class. He is extremely knowledgeable and really wants his students to gain a deep understanding of a topic he cares much about. What I loved most is he always stressed the importance of context and history when understanding a topic. It wasn’t enough to know the facts and figures of the status quo. It helped me realize that one of the keys to innovation and affecting real change, is a deep understanding of the history of the problem you are looking to solve.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? For several years now, the MBA capstone project is a real-world consulting project that ends in a trip to Fordham’s campus in London. We are teamed up with real companies to help solve a business problem. At the end of the trip, we present our findings to the company executives. We spent a week in London hearing from different business leaders, touring cultural sites, and visiting innovative offices such as Bloomberg’s London office. The trip reflects GSB’s global reach and its focus on getting its students real-world, practical experience.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted to be at a school that is focused on the future. To me that meant a focus on emerging technologies and concern about social impact and sustainability. I was researching blockchain around the same time I was applying to business school, and Fordham was the only school I could find where MBAs can receive a concentration in Blockchain. We have great classes on the subject taught by great professors including Benjamin Cole and Paul Johnson. Not only are the MBA program’s extracurriculars trying to bring exposure to emerging tech, such as AR/VR, but there are many events focused on social impact and sustainability, such as impact investing, the annual SASB conference, and innovation summits. Finally, I wanted to be in the heart of New York City and at a school with a large alumni network. Fordham checked all the boxes.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program?  Book an appointment to visit the campus and take a tour of the school. Talk to alumni and someone on the admissions team. Then apply early and use the insights you gained from your campus tour and conversations. Learning as much about the school first-hand is the best way to increase your odds.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think Fordham has always been known for its strength in the field of Finance. While it is still a solid school for Finance, the MBA program is solid all-around, as exemplified by its plethora of concentration offerings and extracurriculars.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have tried to network more early-on in my first semester. There is so much going on and there is an adjustment period. Before you know it, the semester is half over. The internship search is the most arduous and stressful part of the MBA experience. The earlier you start the better.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My friend Sarah DeVita is an extremely smart and hard-working classmate. She came to business school with a specific goal to career switch into the healthcare industry. I saw how hard she has worked at it over the last year-and-a-half, and now has a job lined up in her chosen field. Plus, she ran the New York City marathon, which I could never do.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My former supervisor at my first job after undergrad. We spoke often about career trajectories and what skills are most valuable in any role and organization. Our conversations would always come back to how an MBA is such a valuable degree no matter what field or industry you end up in. So I knew I wanted to eventually get an MBA, even five years before I left the workforce to pursue one.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? First, I like teaching and mentoring; I want to be a leader who helps peers or subordinates grow and move into leadership positions themselves. I like when I can help others to succeed. Second, I would love to help build a company from the ground up.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I take pride in the things I do, and really care that what I do has a positive impact

Hobbies? Travel, history, sports, strategy games

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

“Chris Thurau is the current co-President of the Graduate Net Impact Club. He has been instrumental in building the club into one of the most successful and premier graduate clubs on campus.

The Graduate Net Impact Club’s mission is to promote Socially Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable practices in business. These are two core focuses of the Gabelli School of Business and Chris has been a major contributor in advancing the school in these areas.

Chris has contributed not only as a student, but as a leader. He has planned and promoted corporate visits to foundations and companies such as the Clinton Foundation and Estee Lauder, and is currently working on hosting the NYC Net Impact Summit in April. “

Lonnie Kussin
Assistant Dean, Advising
Office of Graduate Advising
Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University


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