“They’re a finance school.”
That’s not hard to translate: niche and limited. It means you’re great in one area — but your graduates can only do one thing. And it’s a tag slapped on every urban MBA program on the Eastern seaboard, including New York University’s Stern School of Business.
And Stern will take the label, even if finance is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. After all, the school boasts the highest percentage of MBA graduates at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley according to GradReports (and second overall for bulge bracket placements in research conducted by Menlo Coaching). In the Class of 2020, 33.5% of grads entered the finance industry, ranking behind three East Coach programs (and .3 of a point above nearby Columbia Business School).
FAR MORE THAN FINANCE
The plus side: Stern graduates commanded the highest combined base and bonus — $175,157 — last year. To put that in perspective, Stern grads topped first-year earnings for MBAs at Stanford GSB and Harvard Business School by $4,100 and $8,500 respectively.
Despite Stern’s “finance school” reputation, just Citi ranked among last year’s far largest consumers of the school’s MBA talent. The rest included Amazon, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and Deloitte. Even more, the finance tag ignores the sheer scale of Stern. Ranked as the top research business school by the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), Stern employs over 400 full-time professors…not counting adjuncts available for more specialized fare. Between its undergraduate and graduate programs, Stern houses over 5,600 students. At the MBA level alone, students can choose from over 200 electives, 50 clubs, and 28 specializations.
Ask alumni and they’ll vouch for two things: Stern’s finance prowess and the wide range of opportunities available to students. Krithik Tirupapuliyur is a 2021 P&Q Best & Brightest MBA who joined McKinsey after graduation. As a student, he appreciated taking a class with Professor Aswath Damodaran — the “Dean of Valuation — and participating in a finance research project. At the same time, however, he still pursued his passions for healthcare and strategy. His classmate, Jeremy Russell, pursued finance and accepted a position at L. E. K. Consulting. He too appreciated the wealth of offerings at Stern.
“Stern certainly has great finance faculty members and does well in finance recruiting, but it has a lot of terrific professors in other fields as well,” he told P&Q. “Thanks to the various MBA programs, including the Part-time MBA and focused MBA programs, the School can and does offer a selection of courses, such as Sports Economics and Innovation in the Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology Industry, much broader than could otherwise be supported by a school with our relatively small full-time student body.”
NOT A “BUSINESS SCHOOL IN A BUBBLE”
The Class of 2023 feels much the same way about NYU Stern. Javier Araujo O’Neill, for one, worked for JP Morgan after earning degrees in economics and international real estate. Bringing a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation to Stern, he also relishes the bigger picture at the school.
“NYU, as a wider university, houses some of the most artistic and creative collectives in the world,” he writes. “I believe this “poet DNA” organically embeds itself into NYU Stern’s more quant, data-driven curriculum. Many aspects of business today tend to be mundane or outdated and require the type of creativity or out-of-the-box thinking that Stern provides its students to foster innovation. As I began to explore different MBA programs, I was keen on finding a school that challenges the status quo. Stern’s belief to embrace change, if not create it, immediately resonated with me.”
That transformative aspect was equally appealing to Sarah Mathison, a senior consultant from Mercer, who plans to move to giving advice to driving action. “New York City broadens your perspective and teaches you so much just by you choosing to exist in it — something I felt simply by sitting right by campus in Washington Square Park for 10 minutes in the days before I decided which MBA program to attend! For me, this is exactly what getting an MBA is all about: I was not just looking for a “business school in a bubble” experience, but a holistic life experience that challenges me to get out of my comfort zone every day in every way. Not to mention, as one of the densest centers of business, culture, and creativity in the world, I have no doubt NYC will bring lessons from the classroom to life the second I walk out of each lecture!”
BUSINESS IS NO LAUGHING MATTER
Certainly, the Class of 2023 brings plenty of lessons to the Kaufman Management Center…and not always from the avenues you’d expect. Take Lance Banks, a Yale-trained “and Texas-raised mollusk lover always down to watch a ‘90s big-budget music video.” In San Francisco, he partnered with Comedy Central to help “develop and launch” Clusterfest, an outdoor festival run by Superfly that brought together entertainers like Tiffany Haddish, Julio Torres, and Jaboukie Young-White. At NYU Stern, he plans to tap into the city’s entertainment ecosystem to grow as leader in the field.
“At this stage in my career, I decided that it would be beneficial to contextualize and build upon all the different hats I wore at Superfly, from corporate development to talent negotiation to partnership management. My favorite aspect of my work was being able to help shine light on up-and-coming artists so I’d love to continue to do that somewhere in the entertainment space.”
Speaking of high profile and high pressure, Dominic Kang worked on a $3.4 billion dollar deal…just six months into his career as a compliance manager. Here, he basically acted as air traffic control when it came to completing the documentation need to complete the transaction. Then again, Emily Kaelber describes her role in the U.S. Army as “lead[ing] an Unmanned Aircraft System (drone) organization in the Middle East. It was a role, she says, that showed her what I was capable of doing”…which eventually became becoming a program manager at Facebook. By the same token, Saskia van Rheenen made a global impact at Nike…in an employee captain role that started with 500 people.
“I collaborated with the HR and Finance Leadership team to design and implement a year-round employee engagement program that was based on feedback that I collected through employee surveys and focus groups. As a result of the program’s success in EMEA, our program ended up being adopted globally. The positive impact of my work on my peers’ experience at work was extremely rewarding, and my platform to speak up on behalf of my teammates in front of the Finance & Strategy leadership team made this one of my most responsible roles to date!”
COVID CHANGES THE CALCULUS
Tough times helped shape Gustavo Valverde Rezende into a formidable MBA candidate. As a company CFO during COVID, he managed to steer his company to its most profitable quarter ever…without shedding any jobs. However, this success, he says, was rooted less in financial gymnastics and more in fundamentals like communication and empathy — or Emotional Quotient (EQ).
“The pandemic made everyone understand why EQ is so relevant in business,” he writes. “Leading a then fast-growing company, I had to make tough decisions that had high impact on business and people. Being emotionally intelligent in that context meant taking into account all factors involved in a decision and acting timely and in a humanized way. In my company, we cut costs and complied with a non-negotiable no-layoffs policy, taking care of the bottom line and the people.”
Not only did COVID bring out the best in the class, but also gave students like Javier Araujo O’Neill time to reflect on their larger purpose. “As I sat at home, I thought about my next professional move and what the global economy would look like over the next 5-10 years and the only answer I came back with was “dominated by technology. As my curiosity continued to get the best of me, my introspection morphed into my desire to break into the technology sector and I found the MBA as the only viable option to make this career pivot.”
A FUN-LOVING CLASS
“Most of my work has focused on bringing large groups of people together,” adds Lance Banks. “With the pandemic and subsequent halt on all live events, it became clear that they should not be taken for granted. I also had time to grapple with the importance of touring revenue for developing artists and how it can make or break their ability to create. In response, I am thinking about where I can better focus my efforts in the industry so that balance can shift given the uncertainty of the future.”
Outside business school, Banks is a Beach House fanatic, as in the band that he has seen play live over 25 times. Dominic Kang is a one man band, able to play cello, piano, and drums. Lenny Kravitz plays four instruments — and blessed Javier Araujo O’Neill’s marriage too. And Sarah Mathison can seemingly do everything outdoors.
“After 28 years in Southern California thriving as a beach volleyball lover, amateur boogie boarder, sailing instructor, and general ocean fanatic, I am stuck with a perpetual pile of sand in my shoes.”
Next Page: Interview with Vice Dean JP Eggers
Page 3: Profiles of 8 Stern MBAs