2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Andrew Black, University of Rochester (Simon)

Andrew Black

University of Rochester, Simon Business School

“Creative, analytical, and empathetic leader who believes teamwork is the catalyst for success.”

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Fun fact about yourself: I played NCAA Division I hockey during my undergraduate studies.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Colgate University, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? M&T Bank | Segment Support Analyst (Commercial Planning & Analytics)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Microsoft | Product Marketing Manager – Azure AI (Cloud Marketing) | Redmond, WA (virtual)

Where will you be working after graduation? Microsoft | Product Marketing Manager (Cloud Marketing)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Fielding Leadership Fellow
    • Full tuition scholarship with stipend, awarded to top 3% of admitted students
  • Dean’s Leadership Award
    • 1 of 3 recipients, nominated by MBA peers & faculty based on leadership & community impact
  • Simon Volunteers | President
    • Create community engagement opportunities alongside leadership board
  • Forté Foundation | VP of Male Allyship
    • Lead Men as Allies initiatives in supporting female peers at Simon
  • Benet Career Peer
    • Dedicate 15+ hours/week towards peer career prep mentorship
  • Dean’s List
    • GPA of 3.7 or greater (all semesters)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the increased interest and engagement among my peers around gender equity. As VP of Male Allyship with the Forté Foundation, my goal is to engage my peers in a productive, ongoing conversation about gender issues in pursuit of us all becoming better male allies to our female peers. This year we have seen triple as many men attending allyship events versus the prior year, leading to comprehensive conversations around key issues such as the gender pay gap and inclusivity at work.

My classmate Adam and I lead Men as Allies (MaA) at Simon, where we have introduced five new events and counting over the last year. Together we have created the MaA mission statement, formalized communication channels, and encouraged participation across Simon. While the conversations tend to focus on gender equity, allyship is a dynamic term that extends to many forms of inequality. We have been fortunate to partner with organizations such as the Simon Black Student Alliance and Simon Spectrum (LGBTQ+) to explore what allyship means in the pursuit of social change. I am very proud of my peers at Simon who create dialogue and seek to continually learn. Seeing how far MaA has come over the last year is something I take a great deal of pride in, and this experience has encouraged me to continue advocating for gender equity beyond Simon.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Professionally, I am most proud of pivoting into Product Marketing in technology. My career path to date has been somewhat atypical, as I majored in Psychology during my undergraduate studies and most recently worked in Commercial Banking. The MBA offers an incredible opportunity to pivot to areas of interest and I am really proud of the time and effort I put into making the most of that opportunity. When I joined Simon last year, I made it an unwavering priority to land a top tier marketing internship in tech. Realizing that goal last November when I received my offer from Microsoft was one of the most rewarding feelings I have ever experienced.

Technical skills certainly matter, but I place a premium on soft skills like leadership, communication, and ability to navigate ambiguity. Now that I have accepted my return offer and successfully pivoted to be a Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft, my belief in further developing those skills has only been reaffirmed.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Simon Business School because of the unmatched inter-community support. “Pay it Forward” is an axiom that permeates the entire school, and it is one that I have witnessed first-hand. Support can take many different forms, but I find this most pervasive in the career search process. From the very first day I stepped on campus in 2020, second-year students were not only willing to help me in my career progression, but also invested themselves in my career search process as much as I did. That is a microcosm of Simon’s supportive community and a major driver of me wanting to mentor others, especially as a Benet Career Peer.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If there is one thing I would do differently it is taking time to put things into perspective. Between academics, recruiting, and extracurriculars, it is easy to get wrapped up in all that is going on. Our day-to-day stressors end up being very small in the grand scheme of our lives. Taking time to appreciate how fortunate I am is something I am actively working on. Attending a top business school tuition free is not something many people experience, and I would like to be more mindful of how incredible this opportunity has been.

What surprised you the most about business school? The intensity of the first semester. I knew that coming back to school would be an adjustment from my professional life, but there is a lot of acclimation that happens quickly in business school. This is true in terms of learning to strike a balance between many competing priorities. The more intentional you can be with your time, the more efficient you will be in maximizing it.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I am a bit of an outlier in that my application period lasted around 20 days. When the pandemic happened, I decided to apply to business school a year earlier than planned. With that being said, I believe taking time to ask thoughtful questions during the interview with Admissions helped differentiate me from other applicants. The Simon Admissions team speaks with a lot of applicants; the more you can ask specific and authentic questions, the better the conversation outcomes will be and the more likely you are to connect with the individual you are speaking with. I tried to ask questions rooted in research and genuine curiosity and I feel that was an asset in the application process.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire most is Molly Dehn. At Simon, Molly serves as VP of Student Leadership with the Graduate Business Council and VP of Partnerships with Simon Woman in Business (SWiB), a Diversity Club focused on empowering women both personally and professionally. The reason I admire Molly most is her willingness to roll up her sleeves and problem solve when the solution is unclear. I would liken this skill to grit: the capacity to demonstrate perseverance and passion in pursuit of goals. Molly is someone who asks critical questions and aptly applies structure when problem-solving. I have been fortunate to work with her on numerous projects and she is consistently willing to productively work towards solutions, even if the subject is beyond her area of expertise. Her drive to get the most out of teams through grit and empathetic leadership is something I greatly admire.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Before joining Simon, I worked at M&T Bank in Commercial Planning and Analytics. My manager at the time, Isaac Goodling, was someone who I came to really respect and learn a lot from, especially in regard to leadership. Isaac graduated from Simon Business School in 2016 and always spoke very highly of his time at Simon as well as the value of an MBA degree. Seeing Isaac embody many of the characteristics of leaders that I admire contributed to my strong interest in following a similar early career path.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Become CEO of a Fortune 500 Company: I hold no single professional goal higher. This is a goal I am consistently making incremental progress towards every day. I view this as an iterative process in which I can continuously push myself towards my goal with the help of others.
  2. Oversee the launch of a new tech product: This is an essential stepping-stone for goal #1 on my bucket list. I feel this experience will help me understand the weight and responsibility of significant company investments in key strategic decisions.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? More than anything, the pandemic has provided perspective. Earlier, I mentioned how easy it can be to get wrapped up in the competing priorities of business school, and I find that to be a microcosm of life. Yes, I am a very career- and goal-oriented person, but I never want to lose sight of the things in my life that matter most, namely friends and family. Therefore, the pandemic has encouraged me to take inventory more frequently on how fortunate I am. Not many can foresee something like a global pandemic, and I want to be sure when I look back on my career that my professional life never took precedence over the relationships of those closest to me.

What made Andrew such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“When I am asked for a letter of reference, I consider two things I believe to be critical to career success: a person’s curiosity and drive to learn, and their capacity to act with thoughtfulness and sensitivity toward other people. Andrew possesses these qualities to an extraordinary degree. I am confident he is just the kind of MBA you seek to recognize. He represents what we consider to be the ideal Simon student, headed for a successful career wherever he chooses to pursue it.

Andrew was my student throughout the 2020-2021 academic year in the Simon School’s required communication course sequence: MGC 401 Professional Communication and MGC 402 Interpersonal Persuasion. He was a standout in both. Andrew is the rare student in an analytics-driven program who engages as fully with his communication studies as he does his quantitative coursework. At a time when most students exercised the option to attend classes on Zoom due to the pandemic, he was physically present for every class, participated actively in all class discussions and brought original thinking to the conceptual material. He explained his decision to attend in person as simply what he felt was necessary to gain the most from the learning experience in a communication course.

While the record of his “A” grades attest to Andrew’s academic performance, his other stand out quality is his obvious commitment to building strong working relationships with peers. Andrew’s experience as a Division I scholarship athlete was visible time and again in his ability to work with a team and play a leading role in bringing their efforts to a successful conclusion. Fiercely competitive, he also knew when to step back in order that others’ ability could shine and be recognized. I’ve watched him curb his own desire to express a point of view to give time to other students to express theirs. He is quick to acknowledge the validity of others’ perspectives and to build on them in articulating his own. As an audience member to his peers’ presentations Andrew consistently provided constructive, actionable feedback and also asked probing questions that allowed speakers to further showcase their knowledge and ideas. This respectful demeanor and capacity for supporting the growth of others has earned Andrew the appreciation of both his faculty and contemporaries.

In summary, I believe Andrew is an excellent candidate for Poets & Quants’ Best & Brightest list, both academically and personally, and I heartily recommend him as such.”

Carol C. Shuherk
Clinical Associate Professor of Management Communication

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