Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University
“I’m a fiercely multi-faceted, yet consistently passionate individual that expresses curiosity through experience and experimentation.”
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Fun Fact About Yourself: I was honored to be my class speaker at my undergraduate graduation – giving a speech to thousands of onlookers was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Undergraduate School and Major: Hamilton College – Government & Economics/Minor in French
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Deloitte – Strategy & Analytics Consultant
Aside from your classmates, 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? In order for me to take the next step in my career, it was paramount that I selected a program that could offer a world-class education across multiple disciplines, and one which elegantly balances hard-skills and soft skills. I chose Cornell because of the unique academic experience I can curate around my focus areas of digital technology, finance and organizational transformation. Cornell Tech’s technology-focused New York City campus, where the Johnson Cornell Tech MBA program is housed, was an especially alluring value proposition given its pioneering curriculum focused on subjects such as cloud development and artificial intelligence.
What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Johnson is full of integrators, which creates a truly collaborative environment. Regardless of the task or subject matter, my classmates are willing and eager to support each other as we strive to accomplish our goals.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? I am thoroughly excited to join the High-Tech Club. I am eager to be surrounded by other technophiles who are similarly enthralled by all the innovation and world-changing discoveries that are being made in the technology industry.
What was your initial impression of Cornell Johnson? How did it evolve as the recruiting process continued? As a highly analytical thinker, I was surprised by how enamored I was with the program after visiting campus. Even after meeting amazing students from other schools, the warmth and energy I felt from the current students on campus was unmatched. I am a firm believer in listening to your heart, so ultimately I chose the place that felt most like home.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The four years I spent at Deloitte were full of great outcomes for the clients we were serving. However, I felt most accomplished when I was able to integrate my personal passion for poetry and spoken word into my role at the company. At one point, a partner discovered my artistic talents and asked if I could perform a poem on diversity and inclusion at an upcoming leadership meeting. Initially, I was frustrated by being asked to expend emotional energy to serve as the token employee, unironically speaking about diversity to a mostly white audience. However, I realized that the opportunity was a platform to evocatively launch a meaningful conversation. I agreed and performed “Counter Parts”, a poem about how black professionals must walk a tightrope, moderating how genuine emotions of conviviality, anger, sadness, and frustration are expressed to avoid making others feel uncomfortable.
I was surprised to find that other leaders across the firm were interested in creating a similar experience for their teams. During my last year at the firm, I performed my poetry in conference rooms and auditoriums for hundreds of fellow Deloitters on the subject of diversity, inclusion, team culture, and leadership, helping our company’s leaders empathize and improve the experience of diverse employees. Although this may seem like an unconventional “accomplishment”, I take pride in the fact that I helped decision-makers think differently about how they choose to lead.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Although my liberal arts undergraduate education provided me with a variety of eclectic courses, I was unable to develop certain fundamental business skills. I saw the MBA as an opportunity to develop those skills in a structured environment, accelerate my career progression, and spend concerted time focused on my career. When Deloitte agreed to financially sponsor me, it became a relatively easy decision.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Columbia (CBS), Carnegie Mellon (Tepper), NYU (Stern), UVA (Darden)
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “What do you plan to contribute to campus when you arrive?” It forced me to think about the MBA as less of an educational curriculum and more of a collaborative learning experience that I could help shape.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? Prior to applying to business schools, I put in the “thought work” to develop an ordered list of priorities. I categorized these priorities into social fit, educational characteristics, and professional development opportunities. As I visited schools, I was able to figure out which categories were most important to me, and used them to validate the intuitive feelings I had about each school.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Before business school, I worked for four years as a consultant at Deloitte within the robotic and intelligent automation space. Our teams leverage analytics and process engineering to manage development teams and create custom automation tools such as chatbots, robotic processing automations, and machine learning algorithms. One of my most memorable experiences was when my implementation team managed the creation, configuration, and maintenance of a virtual machine infrastructure housing dozens of automations that addressed data quality issues, monitored the enterprise’s technical architecture and supported large-scale data entry. It was exhilarating watching automations and humans cooperate to efficiently conduct business!
The experience showed me the extent to which technology can reshape the way we work. In the short-term, I would like to build upon this experience and develop the foundational hard and soft skills to become a leader who will disrupt the business sector through the emergence of digital labor technology. The experience also made clear that in order for me to assume leadership roles in future experiences, I need to round out my professional skillset. Armed with this experience, passion and a clear vision for my professional future, I can precisely customize my MBA experience and will be mentally prepared for the rigor and challenges that await.
What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? Aside from Deloitte and my alma matter, I am very intrigued by Microsoft. It is an innovative company that has remained on the forefront of technological innovation for over 30 years. Its business model is elegantly simplistic and yet its products are extremely ubiquitous. I also appreciate their mission “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more” which is exemplified by their reasonable pricing, supply chain practices and philanthropic endeavors.
DON’T MISS: MEET CORNELL JOHNSON’S MBA CLASS OF 2022