2021 MBAs To Watch: Andy Tembon, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Andy Tembon

Southern Methodist University, Cox School of Business

An outgoing, funny, personable, dependable, caring friend.”

Hometown: London, England / Burke, Virginia

Fun fact about yourself: I have visited 43 Countries which is almost 20% of the world!

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Arizona- BA in Political Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? PayScale – Customer Success Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Goldman Sachs – Dallas, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? Goldman Sachs – Private Wealth Financial Advisor

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Rugby Club Captain, United Way Metropolitan Dallas- Homeless Outreach Support Program, SMU MBA Admissions Ambassador, Black graduate Student Association member, Marketing Club member.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I was part of a two-person group in a practicum course that had us analyze the stock market, pick a value stock, perform a deep dive analysis on the company and the valuations, and pitch the stock to a panel for the SMU school endowment to buy. Working long nights and weekends with my partner (big shout out to Marco Peña), we pitched the SMU endowment a stock they in turn purchased. Since our presentation, the stock has grown 28%! This was a great way to really get our hands dirty and put all the educational aspects of the class into real world application.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of securing my job at Goldman Sachs. I was very unsure of what I wanted to do as a career, and I knew pursuing my MBA would help me decide that. Although I had a lot of thoughts, my older brothers (Donald, George and Henry) gave me some good advice to never pigeonhole myself and keep all options open. I’m not much of a finance guy when it comes to excel tabs and doing calculations, but I was infatuated with the stock market, love interacting with different people from all walks of life, and really enjoy personal finance. After speaking with family, peers, SMU faculty and staff, and SMU alumni, I finally found my calling. I spoke with over to 35 financial advisors, which led me to realize being a financial advisor fit me like a glove. From there, I told myself if I am going to do this, I have to do this right and went straight for the cream of the crop. Four rounds of interviews later, I landed what is renowned as the best job on Wall Street, with the best firm on Wall Street.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose SMU for the family aspect feel. Out of the gate, there is a feeling of the next person has my back like I have the next person’s back. SMU Cox did a great job of meshing personalities that fit well together, interlocking different professional experiences as well as future aspirations. Most of our classes involved group work, which is a great representation of how the real world is, but my classmates, faculty, and staff were able and willing to help no matter what. That family ambiance of wanting to see students succeed at all costs is what made SMU such an easy choice.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Maribeth Kuenzi. She was very tactical in her teaching—having students not only understand the concepts she was teaching, but the ability to use them out in the real world. She taught her classes in a way that makes students able to see different angles, problem-solve in unique ways, and think in ways we have never done before. I really enjoyed her courses and her teaching style. As I always say…Shout out Maribeth!!!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The Boulevard. Pre-COVID, we used to get together as a business school and tailgate together before home football games. This tradition allowed us to get to know our classmates in a different setting. Most importantly, it allowed us to bond with the entire SMU Cox community (Professional MBA, One-year MBA, Alumni etc.). We even had some companies that were recruiting come and set up next to our tailgate, which was very unique and showed how much SMU wanted us to succeed no matter the setting.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would get to know the second-year class a little more. Networking is such a big dynamic while getting your MBA. Even though I connected with some second-year students during my first year, I would have liked to get to know more of them before they graduated to understand how they were able to navigate the tough waters when they were in my shoes a year ago.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Financial firms only recruit within their own state or region. It was always a myth that the bigger financial firms especially out of NYC only go to Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, NYU, etc. to recruit. This was far from the truth when I arrived here. Within our first days on campus, our Career Management Center team already had a very structured schedule of who was going to be on campus, when they would be here, and different contacts within the firm that we could reach out to and start networking with. Companies are looking for bright, ambitious, reliable candidates that will bring value to the company no matter what school they are from.

What surprised you the most about business school? My personal growth most surprised me. Coming into business school, I thought this would be similar to college. It was a whole different ball game, but in a good way. I started to see a change in my business skills, interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities, and an overall different way of thinking. I knew coming to business school I would be furthering my education, but I was shocked at how much I grew as an individual.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose?  I leveraged my uniqueness when applying to SMU. I was not born in the USA; I went to an all-boys military academy (Fork Union Military Academy) for 6 years and had traveled and seen other cultures around the world. Being able to convey being different and looking at the world from a different view allowed me to gain an edge during the application process and showed SMU Cox that I wasn’t a “regular” candidate. I could bring something unique and diverse to the table.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It’s hard to choose just one but I would have to say Sabrina Nayeb. Sabrina embodies the word business, but makes it look easy! While being in school full- time, she has businesses in the DFW area that are thriving at an alarming rate. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind or be the first to come up with a unique idea. She is kind, funny, generous, sociable and the true definition of GIRL BOSS!

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? Not going to lie, it was tough. Being in lockdown, trying to stay safe, monitoring the pandemic, and continuing school was a hard task! SMU did a great job adapting to make the switch seamless, but it was hard not only on the students but the faculty and staff as well. This was a good lesson for myself and my classmates to show how quick things can change and the ability to adapt quickly and continue moving forward.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Definitely my parents (Mercy and Andy Sr.). Both of my parents are from West Africa and didn’t have much growing up, but they have worked EXTREMELY hard over the years to become successful in life. I was able to see first-hand all the hard work they put in and a common denominator (in my family at least) was to always further your education. All the materialistic things in the world can be taken from you one day, but nobody can ever take your education away from you. Doing business is a something everyone is going to encounter so why not be the best at it, they asked. My parents really showed me the benefits of “school after school “and it became a standard in our family to learn about business, work to be the best at it, and thrive in your respective careers.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?  My top two items on my professional bucket list are the following: 1) Work and live in another country for at least 2 years in order to continue to expand my cultural awareness; and 2) Work tremendously hard and become successful so that I can retire early and spend more time with my family.

What made Andy such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021? 

“I am pleased to recommend Andy Tembon for consideration as a Poets & Quants MBA Best & Brightest 2021 honoree. Andy started with Cox in fall 2019 and is currently an active student in the Cox’s School’s Two-Year MBA program. He will be graduating this May and beginning his post-MBA career at Goldman Sachs in their Consumer and Investment Management Division. I have the unique perspective of having worked with Andy throughout his admissions process, as well as the later segment of his career coaching experience at Cox. We first met in Seattle when he was applying to MBA programs. He immediately stood out from other candidates with his passion for developing sincere connections and uplifting those around him. Throughout his employment history and engagement in college, Andy showcased this innate ability to build relationships among peers and colleagues. At the onset of his college career, he took initiative to launch an on-campus event management organization to enhance student connectivity within a large public institution. During his pre-MBA career, Andy continued to utilize his emotional intelligence to focus on developing thoughtful client solutions and increasing retention. At SMU Cox, Andy has continued to build community by serving within multiple social and industry clubs, including Black Graduate Student Association, Marketing Club, and captaining our Rugby Club. He has been active as an MBA Admissions Ambassador by hosting applicants and connecting with newly admitted candidates.

When I transitioned to the role of an MBA career coach, Andy once again stepped up to volunteer his time to support our new first year MBA cohort this past fall through virtual coffee chats and recruiting interview exercises. The advice he shared in his experience navigating a career pivot into private wealth management, as well as adjusting to virtual networking, was integral to our student success during this ongoing pandemic. Outside of Cox, Andy dedicates time to United Way Metropolitan Dallas, where he contributes in outreach and support of our local homeless population. Andy has been an asset to the Cox community and the community beyond campus. His ability to remain true to himself and share his contagious enthusiasm with those around him has undoubtedly enhanced our culture. What sets Andy apart is his authenticity and drive to empower those around him to achieve success.”

Briann Stegall
Associate Director, SMU Cox MBA Career Programs





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