Every business school has a reputation. Good or bad, MBA programs are often boiled down to one differentiator. At the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School, that identifier is analytical. That’s one reason why it is sometimes described as a “quant” school. The program even uses the “unabashedly analytical” as its trademark. After all, Simon was among the first MBA programs to infuse science, technology, and math across its curriculum – pioneering the STEM designation and earning P&Q’s MBA Program Of The Year for 2018.
This approach also attracts a certain type of student: forward-thinking, globally-minded professionals who don’t accept surface-level explanations and relish taking deep dives into the data. Among the Class of 2022, that includes Preshit Karandikar. Before business school, he worked as a consumer insights assistant manager for Sony Pictures Networks India. For him, the defining feature of the 21st century has been an “abundance of data.” To make a difference, he notes, he needs to be able to understand how to interpret data from every corner of an operation.
A WELL-ROUNDED GRADUATE
The same could be said for Herman Marais, a South African engineer and project manager. “As a STEM designated program, I was immediately drawn to the Simon MBA where I have found amazing tools and skills that are essential in using data as a key driver for strategy and operational decisions alike. Going into the working world during an era of Big Data means I will be able to test hypotheses and make crucial decisions, all backed up by solid evidence and analysis.”
This approach is amplified by Simon’s FACt model (Frame, Analyze, and Communicate) – a framework that enables MBAs to position solutions into actionable steps. In other words, Simon MBAs don’t just learn how to segment data and identify patterns and relationships. They’re also developing soft skills that enable them to build relationships and deepen their influence. That has come in handy in recruiting says Harold Alfredo Pietri Sierra, a former chief sales and marketing officer. He applied these soft skills during fall interviews with Microsoft, Salesforce, and JP Morgan – before ultimately accepting a summer internship offer from Amazon.
In the other words, Simon balances the technical with the personal in business – a formula that benefits MBA candidates whether they come from managing investments or selling ad space.
“Simon’s analytical bias was extremely appealing to me because I applied to business school from a “non-traditional” background,” explains Odochi Uwazurike – a religion and psychology major at Dartmouth who previously counseled young adults in a cancer center. “I felt this would be the perfect opportunity for me to learn about the finance and quantitative portions of business decision-making, which I had not experienced much of in my previous roles or education. I think merging this quantitative knowledge with my current experience will make me both a poet & a quant.”
NOT AFRAID TO LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND
This balance is only enriched by Simon’s small class, which yields a difference balance: heavy individual support coupled with a tight-knit community. “I know the importance of teamwork and surrounding yourself with individuals from different backgrounds, experiences, and points of view,” adds Alexandra Goldstein, who last taught English in the Czech Republic. “At Simon, diversity and teamwork are at the forefront of everything we do. It was important for me to go to a program that cultivates a space in which I am able to learn and grow from an incredibly diverse group of individuals. I know this will make me a more well-rounded team partner and individual.”
“Well-rounded” is one way to describe the Class of 2022. When Brittany Floyd wasn’t busy working as an American Airlines flight attendant, she was launching four different travel startups. Herman Marais was responsible for designing and building his company’s largest cryogenic tank. In Boston, Rasheeda Augustine managed sales and housekeeping for a 150-room Battery Wharf Hotel, while Mariana Reyes focused on health education as a nutritionist for underserved families in Dallas. Odochi Uwazurike has already been published in a peer-reviewed journal. By the same token, Taniya Singh automated a manual process at American Express, enabling the firm to re-coup data and revenue in 23 countries.
You can also think of the Class of 2022 as self-starters who aren’t afraid to take a leap of faith. Harold Alfredo Pietri Sierra left a crumbling Venezuela to start over in the United States. After college, Oliver Chen moved from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland, which required him to absorb a whole new set of cultural and business practices – not to mention mastering Mandarin. At 13, Katya Tymchenko left the Ukraine to study in the United States thanks to an anonymous scholarship.
“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,” she writes. “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).”
“FRIENDLY” AND “INSPIRING”
One of those countries was South Africa, where Tymchenko bungee jumped from one of the world’s tallest bridges. Growing up, Mariana Reyes competed in dragster racing. Brittany Floyd, a classically-trained singer, has performed in the Verona’s Roman Ampitheater. And Christian Stuewe – a top-performing account executive at Yelp – even enjoyed a short brush with celebrity: He was once gym partners with Anderson Cooper.
And how does the Class of 2022 feel about their peers thus far? Brittany Floyd admires how they are “able to roll up their sleeves and get things done.” In contrast, Odochi Uwazurike points to “friendly” being the first word to come to mind about his classmates. For Oliver Chen, the class, as a whole, is “inspiring.”
“I admire their curiosity, drive, and commitment to making an impact on the communities they serve. It has been a privilege engaging with students representing over 19 countries who all bring a plethora experiences and perspectives that shape a truly unique student body. Seeing my classmates take on challenges in and outside the classroom with grit and determination drives me to continuously improve and bring my best every day.”
One of the biggest challenges, says Katya Tymchenko, was facing down the ripple effect of COVID-19. Banding together, first-years did more than make the best of an awkward situation, she adds. “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.”
APPLICATIONS UP 30%
Despite COVID-19, the 2019-2020 application cycle will be remembered fondly at Simon. Applications jumped from 899 to 1,173 over the previous year, with class size rising from 107 to 126 students to match. All the while, the school’s acceptance rate actually slipped two points to 27%. At the same time, the class’ average undergraduate GPA was nearly identical to the previous year at 3.44. However, there was one major difference in the class profile. Average GMAT dropped from 665 to 644 (though median GMAT held steady at 680).
The class composition also shifted slightly. The class remained 42% women. However, the percentage of underrepresented minorities climbed from 24% to 32%. While the pandemic restricted travel, Simon’s international population only slid two points to 37%. Overall, the class includes students from 19 countries. In addition, these students have worked at some of the world’s top firms: Google, JP Morgan, Deloitte, KPMG, PepsiCo, and Adobe.
While Simon boasts a quant reputation, the largest percentage of the Class of 2022 actually hails from the liberal arts. 32% of the class majored in Humanities and Social Sciences. Another 29% hold undergraduate degrees in Business-related fields. Combined, Engineering (15%) and Math and Science (13%) make up 28% of the class, with Economics rounding out the remaining 11%. As professionals, the class features an even 21% split between Consultants and Financiers. Another 16% worked in the Government and Non-Profit sector. The remainder of the class is split up between Health Care, Technology, Manufacturing, and Entertainment and Sports.
As a whole, 85% of the Class of 2022 received scholarships from Simon, with support ranging from $10,000 to a full ride.
Q&A WITH REBEKAH LEWIN, SENIOR ASSISTANT DEAN
Generous scholarship support is just one underpublicized benefit of the Simon MBA. Another is Simon’s pricing programming, which many consider to be the best in world. Earlier this year, P&Q posed several questions to Rebekah Lewin, the senior assistant dean of admissions and programs (and a 2002 MBA alum). From new developments to the benefits of studying in upstate New York, here are Lewin’s thoughts on the best of Simon.
P&Q: What are the most exciting new developments at your program?
RL: “We are very pleased to report that NYSED has approved Simon’s request to require an internship for our Full-Time MBA students in the class of 2022 and beyond. This required summer internship will be a non-credit course that students will complete as part of their degree. It builds on the consistently strong career outcomes we see in our Full-Time MBA students and is an important stepping stone to post-MBA employment, giving students an opportunity to practice the skills they’ve learned in the MBA degree program in a real business setting. It also provides an opportunity for them to explore an alternative post-MBA career path; build their resume; and connect and network with a company where they could potentially accept a full-time offer after graduation.
For incoming students who are already in the workforce, the required internship means they can continue to grow their work experience while in the program. In the midst of a competitive recruiting landscape, we’re growing our domestic and international enrollments. That’s a testament that we’re offering something of value overall and this piece is an important signal of our commitment to growing ever better.
Making the internship part of the required curriculum is also a boon for international students – who make up 39% of Simon’s graduating class for 2021 – as it will allow flexibility regarding when incoming international students may enter the U.S. and still qualify for paid off-campus employment. Normally one academic year (or 9 months) is required before paid off-campus employment that is attained through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) can be utilized. The internship requirement removes the minimum amount of time required to study before CPT may be used, so students who begin their MBA with remote study and arrive in Rochester throughout the fall semester will be eligible for a summer internship through CPT. This benefits our students because it emphasizes to corporate partners that our students enter the workforce prepared to make an impact from Day 1. It also shows students that we understand the hiring needs and processes of our corporate partners, and that we’re prepared to move students through the hiring funnel. It also provides valuable hands-on work experience.”
Next Page: In-depth profiles of members of the Class of 2022