“Wine-lover, avid runner, Italian-American New Yorker; inquisitive, eager, focused, and fun-loving.”
Hometown: Bethpage, NY and Washington, D.C.
Fun Fact About Yourself: I can butcher whole fish and a beef ribeye roll. I also moved 9 times—and worked in 14 different restaurants—across the East Coast in my 6 years in restaurant operations.
Undergraduate School and Major: Georgetown University – Psychology major with a minor in Philosophy
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Assistant General Manager with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises
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? There are really two key factors that made attending Notre Dame a no-brainer decision for me. One is the University’s strong alumni network. I am looking forward not only to the opportunity to connect with industry-leading alumni, but also to eventually becoming a resource for future Domers. The fact that the University’s alumni engagement level is so high speaks to the dynamic campus experience generations past, present, and future can bond over. I was also intrigued by Mendoza’s dual MBA/MSBA degree program. The prospect of earning two degrees at once—especially one in Business Analytics—increased the value proposition of attending Mendoza. As the world becomes more data driven, it is increasingly important to be a competent consumer of analytics, as well as somebody skilled at communicating data insights.
What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Mendoza MBAs are “other-oriented.” There is a strong programmatic focus on practicing business for the common good—and my peers embody this mission, both in their past experiences and future ambitions. There are great University opportunities to become involved in the South Bend community, as well as Business on the Front Lines, which place Notre Dame students across the globe to combat challenging problems affecting other parts of the world.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? Academically speaking, I am most excited to become involved with Mendoza’s Business Analytics Club. It seems like a great opportunity to connect with second-year MBA students—Notre Dame’s strong network was a major component of why I picked this school. I can learn about internships, career opportunities, and relevant skills from my peers, who were in my shoes only one year ago. And it goes without saying that (fingers crossed) I cannot wait for the Notre Dame football season to begin! This will be another great opportunity to bond with classmates and alumni, hopefully over many Irish victories. Also, coming from an undergraduate background where there was not quite as dynamic—or successful—of a sports culture and community on campus, I am excited to have more to root for.
Mendoza is known as a purpose-driven MBA program that asks students to “Ask More of Business.” What is your mission and how will Mendoza help you realize it? I have always found it important to manage—and appreciate—people as unique individuals, replete with complexities, personal challenges, and shortcomings. There is no blanket approach—and any attempt to create one stifles individuality. I definitely want to further develop my management style at Mendoza in such a manner that not only am I able to effectively oversee and analyze business operations, but also help my colleagues grow in the pursuit of business that betters the world.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My proudest accomplishment was being a part of the opening team for The Honor Bar at Palm Beach Grill. This ended up being the first profitable opening in Hillstone’s history. My regional warned us that opening a restaurant was “90 days of sheer terror.” In the end, it was worth it. It was exciting to be a part of the team that created and implemented operating systems and set new standards. We designed menus and picked décor, hired and trained dozens of new staff members, and balanced creating a new concept with maintaining an established brand. There was a ton of adversity along the way—a few months before opening, a hurricane hit South Florida and forced us to shut down for over a week. Additionally, one of the kitchen hoods collapsed—fortunately, harming nobody—causing construction setbacks. Operational flexibility and thinking on-the-fly was important throughout the whole process. There, however, was no better feeling than seating our first guests, seeing the food go out, and creating positive hospitality experiences.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? While I have acquired a ton of hands-on business operations experience managing restaurants, I am interested in acquiring a more formal business education background—especially given the fact that my undergraduate degree is in Psychology and Philosophy. I want to become more informed about best practices and cutting-edge business theories. Additionally, I believe that an MBA education, coupled with my food and beverage operations experience, will enable me to pursue more analytics-based, big-picture-focused roles with some of my target companies.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? My Mendoza interview featured a case interview question. Not coming from a consulting or business school background, I had never answered one of these before! Fortunately, my interviewer tailored it to my experience with the wine industry, asking me about a hypothetical international wine importing company being established in South Bend. This ended up being a great opportunity to think about a problem and apply my prior experiences, business intuition, and analytical toolkit to attempt to create a solution. I am definitely excited about learning more about case studies and preparing to solve real-world problems in the business world.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? The two best ways, I found, to determine fit centered around talking to current students and visiting the Universities in-person. If first- and second-year MBAs are excited to connect, odds are that alumni will be too. Travelling to campus gives you another opportunity to engage with students, both around the community and in classrooms. Additionally, the more schools you visit—and the more students you speak to—the more you are able refine and articulate your interests and career goals. I gravitated towards programs not in major cities—I wanted a close-knit MBA community, not a cohort that already had established connections in a big city and went back into their bubbles once the weekend hit. Additionally, I wanted a small program, where I would be able to know everybody in my graduating class. School culture was extremely important, as were unique academic concentrations or programs, such as Mendoza’s dual MBA/MSBA degree. Looking at schools’ career services figures on internship and job placement statistics were extremely telling in terms of where students ended up working and in what industry. You want to pick a school that typically recruits into industries or companies that you are interested in.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? One of my proudest accomplishments was successfully transitioning from being a front-of-house manager to back-of-house, or kitchen manager, with Hillstone Restaurants. I learned some awesome—and handy—skills, such as fileting whole fish and plating dishes for service, as well as how to analyze vendor order guides and manage labor to the dollar and minute. This novel restaurant experience catalyzed an interest in supply chain operations. Having functioned throughout my restaurant career in a variety of hands-on roles across the industry supply chain, I am really excited to learn more about supply chain operations and pursue an analytics-based career in the food and beverage industry.
DON’T MISS: MEET NOTRE DAME MENDOA’S CLASS OF 2022