Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Josue Gonzalez, New York University (Stern)

Josue Gonzalez

New York University, Stern School of Business

“Army veteran, proud New Yorker, eager to make a lasting social impact.”

Hometown: Queens, New York

Fun Fact About Yourself: Last year, I convinced my family to do the Coney Island Polar Bear plunge with me. Afterward, Telemundo asked me for a soundbite on what draws people to continuing the annual tradition of taking a plunge in the bay on New Year’s Day.

Undergraduate School and Major:

United States Military Academy at West Point

B.S. in Defense and Strategic Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: 

U.S. Army

Military Intelligence Company Commander

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? I chose to attend Stern primarily because of its location in the heart of New York City and its focus on IQ + EQ. Stern capitalizes on its location by offering its students opportunities to become immersed in and learn from NYC-based businesses. The school’s Stern Solutions experiential learning opportunities and Stern Consulting Corps empower MBA students to solve complex business problems during the semester with esteemed Stern professors’ help.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at NYU Stern? What makes you most nervous? I am most excited about joining the Sternie community. Stern’s vast alumni network in NYC has already opened many doors for me. I am most nervous about being a valued contributor considering most of my classmates are incredibly accomplished. Several have years of experience working for prominent firms.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? The Military Veterans Club. Both former and current veterans at Stern were welcoming even before I was officially accepted. I am excited to have a community of people I can lean on and who have a better understanding of what it is like to transition from the military to business.

What word best describes the NYU Stern classmates you’ve met so far? Why? Trailblazers. My classmates come from all walks of life, but they have one thing in common: they have been agents of change in their previous companies and organizations. Sternies are not afraid to chart their own path, and that mentality is apparent in the conversations we have on a daily basis.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In my last job as a military intelligence company commander, I led a team of 130 soldiers during a training exercise. My company outperformed other intelligence companies in the Army that had gone through the same training exercise. During the 14-day training exercise, our success set new metrics for other intelligence companies in the Army to be graded against.

In preparation for that validating exercise in Louisiana’s swamps, I developed new systems, implemented a culture change within the company, and redesigned the company’s structure to be more decentralized. During the training exercise, we were able to validate a data collection platform in a short period in part because of the new decentralized company structure that allowed my soldiers to be more effective by working in small, symbiotic virtual teams. We also utilized a new virtual cloud system. My company was the first to successfully implement that type of system in a tactical environment during this validating training exercise. I am proud of what my company accomplished because that training exercise was the culminating event of several lines of effort that took months to develop and refine. My company’s accomplishments contributed significantly to my brigade’s overall success during that training exercise.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After serving in the military for eight years, I decided it was time to take the skills I had learned leading teams of soldiers and use those skills to optimize civilian organizations. As a military officer, I enjoyed figuring out ways to help teams accomplish specific objectives. Although there are valuable lessons drawn from the military context, managing a civilian organization is a bit different. Getting an MBA is the first step in bridging the gap between my military experience and my goal of managing and optimizing organizations in the corporate world through personnel and group management.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Columbia Business School, Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Management, Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The standard “Tell me about yourself” was the most challenging question to answer. Where do you start with a question like that? What aspect of your life do you focus on? For me, there was the additional challenge of removing military jargon from my vocabulary. After almost a decade of being indoctrinated to speak a certain way and to use specific terminology, it was challenging to break myself of certain speech habits.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? It was important to me to attend a school located in an urban area, primarily because of the increased opportunities to network with a broader range of companies and with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Returning to NYC was particularly appealing because I know the area and my family is here.

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? Among the first things I did when deciding to apply to business school was reflect on my weaknesses. I commissioned into the military immediately after college, so I had no experience working in a civilian organization. I decided to intern with Amazon as a manager in their operations department while I transitioned out of the military through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program. That experience gave me a glimpse into the cultural and structural difference of working for a civilian organization. It also helped me better explain during the application process how my military experience taught me skills that are transferable to a corporate organization.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I was a newly-trained intelligence officer during my first deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan. No training could genuinely prepare me for the challenges of serving as an intelligence officer in that environment, where I was expected to interface with various stakeholders to accomplish mission objectives and help keep US Soldiers safe. I learned to be resilient in almost any stressful situation during that deployment and how to effectively analyze what sometimes felt like an insurmountable amount of data.

On the aircraft back to the US, I reflected on how fulfilling and effective it was to use data to drive strategic change. My time in the military as an intelligence officer has prepared me to tackle business school because I now have a robust foundation of essential skills, including problem-solving, data analysis, and resiliency.

What is your favorite Company, and what could business students learn from them? Besides the United States Army, the company I admire the most is Amazon. Amazon’s ability to implement an expeditious operation tempo, continuously innovate and expand, and empower its employees through a commitment to 14 leadership principles is impressive.


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