“Humble and ambitious. Determined to leverage business with purpose for good.”
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Fun Fact About Yourself: I lived in France from age two to four. I actually had to relearn English and attended a French American school in NYC for a couple of years after returning back to the states.
Undergraduate School and Major: CUNY Baruch College, Business Communications
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Major League Baseball, Sponsorship Sales Coordinator
Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Having a strong sense of community is something very important to me and McCombs’ genuine community feel was critical in my decision. The collaborative and inviting culture was clear from the start. When I connected with current students and alumni, all of them shared with me experiences of support received when the rigors of academics and life became challenging. When factoring in the team-orientated curriculum, the abundance of student organizations, accessibility of professors and alumni, and academically-challenging yet cohesive environment, I knew McCombs was the perfect fit for me.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? Graduate Women in Business (GWiB). I was fortunate to be raised in a family of women in business. My mom was a long-time small-business owner, and a cousin of mine was a finance executive for several years before starting her own digital media company. Growing up, I observed and listened to the challenges that they endured simply for being women in business. As a black man in America and in business school, I understand what it means to be part of the minority. Allyship is critical to continued progress and in changing the status quo. I plan to learn, listen and help amplify GWiB’s mission to improve visibility and opportunity for women in business.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My greatest accomplishment of my career thus far comes from an experience outside of my direct work. When my grandmother passed away in 2013, I visited Haiti and I learned my uncle had taken in 86 recently orphaned boys devastated by the 2010 earthquake. Seeing their dire circumstances, I knew I needed to help. Upon returning to New York, I established a clothing drive at a school where I had previously coached basketball and launched an online fundraiser. These efforts wound up raising a combined $3,000 in capital and goods to aid the orphanage while simultaneously creating opportunities for the boys to build relationships stateside.
Ultimately, the funds raised through this initiative provided critical support and school supplies for the teachers who educate the orphaned boys. I continue to remain in contact with many of the boys and try to visit when possible. This project gave me a vision to leverage my passion for business to create lasting impact in communities that need it most.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I was at the point in my career where I felt that I needed to diversify my skillset and become more dynamic. In this rapidly evolving business environment, refining my business acumen in conceptual leadership along with the application of broad business concepts will enable me to make effective decisions, optimizing outcomes for all parties involved.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to USC, Cornell, UVA and Northwestern.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “Describe your leadership style?” I think this one slightly took be aback. I had to quickly collect my thoughts and provide thoughtful examples.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I determined my fit by first having a comprehensive understanding of what I wanted to gain out of my MBA experience. This included: academic rigor, culture, diversity, location, post-graduate opportunities, and student life. With a complete understanding of what I was looking for in a program, I was able to narrow options based on my consideration set.
I began researching programs by checking their respective webpages and focusing on how they marketed themselves. What was their vision and mission statement? Does this align with who I am? What are the metrics and messaging that they choose to highlight? Additionally, I leveraged my network to connect with alumni and current students to learn about their experiences at each school. I focused on connecting with alumni and students who shared similar career interests in order to gain insight about how their school of choice prepared them for their target career. McCombs added great value by providing applicants with an alumni directory that could be sorted by employers and industries. Ultimately, McCombs seemed like a perfect fit early on in the process and wound up checking every box that was important to me.
What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? As a Consortium Fellow, our McCombs cohort virtually met for a few weeks for professional development and networking sessions as we prepared for The Consortium’s yearly Orientation Program (OP) Conference. This career forum provided us with the opportunity to network and engage with corporate sponsors prior to business school.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? As a first-generation son of immigrants, I am lucky to come from a supportive family; education has always been important in my household. While my parents always had the best intentions, they lacked an understanding about the intricacies of higher education in the United States— It was up to me to figure out everything on my own. As a teen, I emulated what I saw from many in my central Brooklyn, NY community – sports were paramount to achievement. I took this approach until age 20, when I hit rock bottom with nothing to show for it.
After realizing that my “athlete-first, student-second” mentality wouldn’t work, I stepped away from school, reassessed my goals, and created a plan to finish school and carve out a career in sports. After four years of working multiple jobs, I re-enrolled in school, driven to succeed in the classroom. Soon thereafter, I secured a dream internship with Major League Baseball (MLB). While in school, I was essentially working a full-time position with MLB during my senior year and graduated from my undergraduate program with honors. A promotion at MLB to full-time quickly followed. While I learned many hard lessons along the way, this series of defining experiences affirmed that I can persevere and achieve any goal I set for myself.
What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I don’t believe I have a favorite company, but I think that many would agree that we view companies in a much different light than we did just several months ago. Now more than ever, businesses are challenged with adapting quickly and effectively to change. I’ve seen several examples of companies thoughtfully responding in light of global pandemic and the social justice movement that resonates with me.