Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Chris Cartwright, Cornell University (Johnson)

Chris Cartwright

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“Hesitant to stay in my comfort zone, with a bias towards action.”

Hometown: Nassau, The Bahamas

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m a pretty good conch diver! My grandparents live on the least populated island in The Bahamas (Mayaguana, pop: 200). I would go there every summer and hop on a boat with my uncles to dive for the Bahamian delicacy of conch.

Undergraduate School and Major: Jacksonville University – Accounting and Finance

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Macquarie Group – Executive – Financial Management Group

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Cornell’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? One key aspect that drew me to Cornell Johnson was the immersions. Specifically, the Sustainable Global Enterprise, which perfectly matches my career path. To date, I have worked in non-renewable commodity finance. Post MBA, I’m looking to transition into the sustainability space. The fact that Johnson has invested resources and faculty into developing programming geared toward this area was very convincing. Having communicated further with staff in the dedicated Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise convinced me Johnson was the right choice.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Cornell? I’m looking forward to joining the consulting and energy clubs. The consulting club provides a highly structured environment to develop a sophisticated skill set in the field. The ability to pair that with a specific industry focus is quite exciting. I’m also looking forward to going to a Cornell hockey game. I’ve never been to a hockey game and I hear you don’t have to know the rules to enjoy watching. It sounds like an entertaining time.

What excites you the most about living in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region? I’m excited to explore Ithaca and the surroundings. It’s so different from anywhere I’ve lived before and I’m looking forward to having a few adventures. Already, I get a sense that the small-town feel of Ithaca pushes your cohort to get to know each other very well. Beyond that, with four full seasons, I like the idea that you can go from a winery tour on a sunny day, to skiing in a matter of months.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Relatively early in my career, I took on management of relationships where we paid certain legal fees for our clients, in execution of certain contracts, and were reimbursed by the client later. After extensive research and investigation, I determined a $500k loss needed to be taken during the fiscal year. I look back on this as a large accomplishment not because of the dollar amount, but because of the process. During the investigation, I had to work with a cross-office group of people in areas such as legal, financial planning and analysis and product control. I had to convince multiple senior stakeholders that my analysis was valid, and how the material loss should be allocated. I also had to work with multiple upstream teams to formulate a solution to prevent recurrences. This iterative process, and bias towards long term solutions, has served me well over my career.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID-19 really drove home a point that most of us can appreciate. That is, seize the opportunity now, because even the best long-term plans can be thrown on their heads. In life, that can mean taking an awesome vacation. In your career, that can mean taking time out of the workforce to earn your MBA!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I reached a natural inflection point. I had grown quite a bit in my career, and the next step was to take on formal management roles. It was a good time to reflect on what I was truly interested in, and how I can reach my goals. The MBA was the most logical choice. After graduation, I hope to transition into consulting, with a focus on sustainability and social impact.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Anderson, Owen, Kelley, Mendoza

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Cornell’s MBA program? I would advise a prospective MBA candidate to refine and sell your differences, whether that be your different perspective or career background. A key value of the MBA is that you get to learn with, and from, an amazing group of people with different stories and backgrounds. Your story, and your perspective is unique. Therefore, you’re a value add to the program. I would encourage you to communicate this aspect to the Admissions Committee throughout the application process.