Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Katya Tymchenko, University of Rochester (Simon)

Katya Tymchenko

University of Rochester, Simon Business School

“Adventurous globe-trotter focused on personal growth and the development of others.”

Hometown: Kyiv, Ukraine

Fun Fact About Yourself: I bungee jumped from one of the highest bridges in the world while studying abroad in South Africa.

Undergraduate School and Major: Gordon College, Psychology major, Business Administration minor

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Second Wind, Co-founder

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:  I started my career as an admissions coordinator for EF Education First in Boston. Over eight years and six promotions, I worked my way up to Digital Marketing Director at EF’s headquarters in Zurich, where I managed an international team of nine people.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The class of 2022 is resilient. We started our MBA journeys during a pandemic. From orientation and conferences to pitches and case studies, we’ve had to do most of our work and networking online. My class has demonstrated that community can still be built through a virtual world, even though we’d prefer to create memories in-person. As an international student who started taking classes in a different time zone, I’m impressed with how the entire class has come together to support one another, commit time to volunteer in the greater community, and exhibit an attitude that demonstrates nothing is impossible.

Rochester Simon is known for being “unabashedly analytical.” Why does the program’s focus on quantitative analysis and decision-making appeal to you? How do you intend to leverage this approach as a student and professional? My marketing skills and international background have certainly created a strong foundation for leadership. In order to spearhead change with a more critical and strategic lens, I need to strengthen my analytical skills. My next career move will be directly related to my knowledge of data, corporate finance, global economics, and brand strategy. With our rapidly evolving environment, I believe that Simon’s STEM-focused program is what will equip me to deal with global crises and thrive through organizational change.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Having spent many years of my life moving and learning new cultures around the world, I needed a place that was going to both challenge me and provide the resources to thrive. Simon’s STEM-MBA program played a critical role in helping me decide where I wanted to invest the next phase of my life. The school’s dedication to analytical research and data-driven decision-making indicated how it viewed innovation, problem-solving, and leadership. As a Ukrainian student, the STEM-MBA program was a game-changer – the additional two years of work experience post-graduation signify the support of international students and diversity in leadership.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Currently, I’m on the board of SWIB (Simon Women in Business) as a 1st year representative. I absolutely love being a part of this team because we get to shine a light on women who are making unique differences in their careers, families, and communities. I’m also part of the Simon Marketing Association (SMA), Simon Volunteers, Net Impact, and try to attend as many coffee chats with alumni, our dean Sevin Yeltekin, and many more exceptional speakers that Simon invites. Of course, this is all virtual, but we have made it work!

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “What is your back-up plan should your short-term goal not be immediately available?” I’m someone who always likes to have a back-up plan. The admissions process, for me, took place this past spring when Covid-19 was in full swing. I wasn’t even sure whether international students would be able to travel, when embassies would open to issue visas, and what remote learning would look like if I got to that point. Needless to say, 2020 has been an incredibly chaotic year, and we’ve all had to adjust to identifying numerous back-up plans, contingent upon many interdependent global aspects – political, economic, and environmental. I’m very grateful that I was able to execute Plan A – getting into Simon Business School – but I have also strengthened my resilience and ability to stay flexible when the world is far from predictable.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? It was a very intentional decision to go back to school eleven years after my undergraduate degree. I’ve had the privilege to work for an international company in various roles, leading cross-functional teams and doing what I love: marketing for social causes. As someone who strives to be a stronger leader, I knew that it was time to take my skills to the next level by challenging myself with a rigorous, analytical, and strategic immersive experience. The best leaders of today have a wider and more diverse network. They tell better stories with data and they know which questions are important to ask in order to make smart decisions. Therefore, getting my MBA at this point in my career was non-negotiable.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern), Kenan-Flagler Business School (UNC), Graziadio Business School (Pepperdine), Marshall Business School (USC)

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I identified my top 10 schools, prioritizing culture, academics, and rankings. Poets&Quants was an invaluable resource for me, from videos on interviewing with admissions to articles on leadership, female representation and support, diversity, and even how each school was handling the pandemic. I spent countless hours studying school websites, focusing on their values, clubs, career prospects, and their overall vision. Finally, I spoke to students from each school, who graciously took the time to answers my questions–these conversations were key to getting a deeper understanding of a school’s culture (How did they speak of other students? What did they get excited about? What did they like about the city they were living in?). Overall, the process of determining my fit at each school was a very introspective one that, ultimately, guided me to the perfect place for me.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? This goes way back, but when I was 13, I was offered a full scholarship by an anonymous sponsor to attend high school in the U.S. While I didn’t know what lay ahead, I knew that I didn’t want to stay in a post-Soviet country with few opportunities. Leaving family and friends at such a young age has taught me the power of community, the art of independence, and helped me develop courage to face new challenges throughout my life.  Since then, I’ve moved six more times to four different countries and have built lifelong friendships on every continent (minus Antarctica…I haven’t made it there yet!).

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Ultimately, I plan on leading the marketing department of an international company committed to making positive social change. I don’t know where I’ll be geographically, but I do know that my Simon family will always be a part of my inner circle.


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