Washington, DC is the center of everything. It is the sentinel of American power and the curator of its history. Here, ideas and interests collide. Movements are flamed, favors are exchanged, and consensus is built. To put it another way: DC is where all the money is doled out.
You can call it the “Capital of the free world” or “Hollywood for ugly people.” Either way, the DMV – DC, Maryland, Virginia – is a popular destination for MBAs. Make no mistake: Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business enjoys home field advantage here, with connections in every corner of the DC ecosystem.
THE PLACE TO BE
There is something for everyone in the corridor. Looking to break into the public sector? You’ll find agencies from the EPA to the U.S. State Department. Fortune 500 might? There are 15 companies that fit that description across the DMV with combined revenue of $500 billion dollars. Think Fannie Mae, Capital One, Lockheed Martin, Marriott, and Booz Allen Hamilton. And every company imaginable – Microsoft, Amazon, Bain, JP Morgan, Deloitte – maintains a sizable footprint here.
Beyond its public and private might, the region boasts missions and embassies from 185 countries. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank make their home in DC – as do over 12,000 nonprofits like the Salvation Army and American Red Cross. And that doesn’t count the hundreds of trade groups messaging on behalf of bankers, farmers, universities, and energy producers. On top of that, DC has emerged as an entrepreneurial hub; its five fastest-growing startups have $856 million dollars in investment according to Growjo. The tech sector is particularly robust. Give the credit to world class educational institutions that churn out talent – not to mention support from venture capitalists and incubators like 1776 and Dcode.
These startups can tap into plenty of prospective consumers and industries in the region. That’s one reason why DC stood out to Mehmet Kaan Serdar, a cloud engineer at AIG who joined the Class of 2022 this fall.
“The connection to the tech companies was one of the highest priorities to me as these companies continue expanding their operations and build highly effective and creative teams with talent graduating from our program.”
COSMOPOLITAN, DIVERSE, VIBRANT
Good jobs. Influential networks. Infinite possibilities. Don’t forget, the region features four seasons (and relatively mild winters). From DC, students can quickly access the Atlantic Ocean beaches to the east, hop a train to major metros to the north, or scale the Blue Ridge Mountains to the south. Call DC the total package – and it is one reason why the Class of 2022 is braving a semester online to reap the benefits of a McDonough MBA.
“There are quite a lot of reasons that excite me about studying in D.C.,” explains Ashna Bindra, a senior software engineer. “The one major reason is the near-endless networking opportunities. D.C. is a career-oriented city. There are internships, jobs, and volunteer opportunities in almost any field we can think of. While there are myriad opportunities to pursue a future in D.C., it is also a great place to remember and appreciate the past. Awe-inspiring monuments, memorials, and museums abound in D.C. and would make my business school experience more exciting.”
The best parts of the DC experience? The Class of 2022 sums it up in a couple of words. For Sean Ginter, a U.S. Navy veteran and Amazon manager, it comes down to access – “access to global leaders and policy makers.” Along with access, the city also offers a high quality of life that further enriches the transformative nature of the MBA experience.
“It is a cosmopolitan, diverse, and vibrant city with amazing cultural offerings,” explains Sergio Antonio García Moreno, a supply chain manager from Mexico. “It is also a place where you can easily move around – walk, bike, metro –- and enjoy beautiful neighborhoods and great sights.”
It is also a place of intersection and convergence, a blending of beliefs and backgrounds that often produce unexpected connections and benefits. The McDonough MBA taps into this nexus, bringing business deeper into areas like public policy, international development, and social impact. This include dual degrees in partnership with the larger university’s Walsh School of Foreign Service or the McCourt School of Public Policy. Such synergies prepare MBAs to do more than make a profit after graduation. At Georgetown McDonough, they can access the resources that will enable them to make a difference according to Tory Paez, a 2020 grad and P&Q MBA To Watch.
“While completing my MBA, I interned with the United States Agency for International Development, where I explored sustainable development opportunities in Ecuador, a small mission of the organization. I also was able to complete an academic tutorial project with the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group to evaluate the economic fitness of Brazil and Mexico to forecast unique development paths and investment opportunities.”
Not surprisingly, the McDonough MBA is considered one of the most “global” MBA programs in the United States. Certainly, the curriculum is geared that way. After all, the Structure of Global Industries kicks off the core curriculum. At the same time, international travel, work, and study are weighed heavily in admissions. That’s because the school treats global business as a cornerstone. The school philosophy is that “the best way to learn about global business is to experience global business first-hand, explains Prashant Malaviya, senior associate dean for MBA programs, in a 2019 interview with P&Q. These opportunities – and the global mindset they instilled – are exactly what made the program so memorable for Tory Paez.
“I completed an international exchange at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain for the fall semester of my second year,” she notes. “It was such a great opportunity to learn from a non-US perspective. I am traveling to Ghana for a required course called Global Business Experience, where all second-year MBA students travel to different cities around the globe for consulting engagements with local companies. Georgetown provided me with the opportunity to travel with the purpose to grow both professionally and personally.”
CENTRALIZING PROCUREMENT…FOR A COMPANY SERVING 367 MILLION PEOPLE
While COVID-19 has scaled back international travel across business schools, Sergio Antonio García Moreno, can’t wait to dig into McDonough’s international programming as a first-year.
“After working in the education, tourism and entertainment industries, I look forward to starting a career in international development. McDonough presents a unique platform for this path, thanks to its international spirit, its great relationship with the World Bank and other multilateral institutions, and the close links with Georgetown’s world-renowned Schools of Public Policy and Foreign Service.”
Moreno, for one, brings extensive international experience to the Class of 2022. Most recently, he was the deputy director in supply chain corporate strategy for Cinépolis – the world’s 2nd largest cinema chains with 738 locations and nearly 6,000 screens worldwide pre-COVID. Before business school, he led an initiative that centralized procurement and supply chain teams and functions across the globe. It was a program that required him to lead a team from countries as far-flung as India, Spain, Brazil, and the UAE.
“With the new global strategy, we achieved double-digit savings in bids and negotiations throughout the world and designed a Supplier Quality Management program that was implemented globally,” he writes.
BRINGING AMAZON TO NEW YORK CITY
Mehdi Fassihnia Dengo personifies a class accustomed to straddling different worlds. Before working as a knowledge analyst at McKinsey, she opened an avocado growing business in Costa Rica…despite no experience in agriculture. No pressure there, right? The same was true for Alina Rosenthal. Last year, she helped lead a team responsible for boosting membership in the Hilton Honors Loyalty Program to 100 million to celebrate the company’s 100 year anniversary.
“I launched three enrollment-focused sweepstakes, diligently optimized business-as-usual enrollment campaigns, and launched the first-ever Hilton Honors enrollment direct mail campaign. All this hard work, creativity, and teamwork resulted in achieving the 100 million member goal four months early.”
Then again, Sean Ginter’s big achievement can fit on one line: “Successfully launching the first Amazon Fulfillment Center in NYC.”
GInter wasn’t the only class member to create something big. Lucas Turner-Owens launched The Ujima Fund, which he describes as the “first democratically-managed impact investment fund in the country.” Featuring over 300 voting members, the fund has started by supporting Black-owned businesses in the Boston area. It was a process, he says that required heavy determination to push through what he calls “uncharted territory.”
“We were charting new ground in the impact investing space, so it was impossible to look for a precedent that would fully resemble our model,” he explains. “In this moment, I felt I might not be suited to the task but I persisted and persevered. Working with a team of lawyers at Morgan Lewis who were supporting The Boston Ujima Project pro-bono, we finally did launch the fund in late 2018 and raised over $2.5M in the time I was there.”
LEARNING LEADERSHIP…THROUGH THEATER
Over her career, Bridget Greaney has worked in television production for companies like Sony, NBC, HBO Sports, and CBS Films. Most recently, she helped launched an unnamed television show. In addition, she directed a five week run of an off-Broadway musical: Good Morning New York. These experiences, she says, has given her a unique perspective on fostering teamwork in diverse groups like business school classmates.
“My long-standing involvement in theater has fundamentally informed how I approach leadership, problem-solving, and collaboration. The arts have been in my life for over two decades – from dancing and acting, to producing, to directing…I strongly believe in collaboration between people of different backgrounds, expertise, and talents. The more work I do in theater, the more I learn about various facets of creativity and what an individual’s unique perspective can bring to the table.”
Speaking of the arts, Alina Rosenthal is a classically-trained violinist who started playing when she was three. Her classmate, Ashna Bindra, is a self-taught dancer who has choreographed several stage shows. Not to be outdone, Sean Ginter has already hit all seven continents…noting that Antarctica actually wasn’t his last. Even Ginter may not have pulled off Mehmet Kaan Serdar’s daily trick.
“I lived on the Asian side of Istanbul and my high school was on the European side of the same city, so I had to cross continents twice daily.”
* To read 11 in-depth profiles of McDonough first-years, go to page 3.
* To read our new interview with McDonough’s Prashant Malaviya, go to page 2.
* To see profile data on the Class of 2021, go to page 2.