2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Khalil Zueh Romain, New York University (Stern)

Khalil Zueh Romain

New York University, Stern School of Business

“Black and Latino son of immigrants who contributes to a community legacy of excellence.”

Hometown: Randolph, NJ

Fun fact about yourself: I have completed the P’hall Challenge at Brick Lane Curry House and finished a bowl of what is widely considered to be the spiciest curry in the world.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Columbia University, B.A. in Political Science (International Relations subfield) and a Special Concentration in Sustainable Development

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Search Manager at FiveFifty Digital Marketing in Denver, CO

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? The Danaher Corporation, specifically with the Hach Company in Loveland, CO

Where will you be working after graduation? Consultant at the Chartis Group in New York City

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Fellow, Consortium for Graduate Study in Management
  • NYU Stern Leadership Fellow
  • LAUNCH Orientation Leader
  • Graduate Fellow
  • Co-President of the Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students
  • VP of Community for Student Government
  • VP of Corporate Relations for the Graduate Marketing Association
  • VP of Club Partnerships for the CannaBusiness Club
  • Co-Host, Stern Chats Podcast
  • COVID-19 Community Fund Committee
  • Distinguished Teacher Award Selection Committee

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am especially proud of my role as Co-President of the Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students (AHBBS). Playing some small part in fostering an inclusive club that can support the growth and development of our community has been tremendously rewarding. This year’s flagship virtual event in November was an especially exciting high-point: a sustainability-themed case competition, which we hosted in partnership with Amazon. Twenty teams of MBAs competed over the course of two weeks. Transitioning the case competition experience into a virtual format came with challenges, but I was excited to see the core elements translated just fine: team members became closer friends as they worked together, the participants enjoyed a fun and engaging touchpoint with a popular on-campus recruiter, and the final results blew me away. It was a wonderful platform to showcase the ambition, talent, and ingenuity of our community.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Prior to business school, I worked for FiveFifty Digital Marketing, a boutique agency in Denver. One of my last projects before coming to graduate school was internal, and it involved leading a full website redesign. That kind of undertaking involves a lot of stakeholders with a lot of different opinions, so I had to be very intentional about inviting and organizing contributions in a way that would allow me to continue moving the project forward. After years of serving our clients, it was extremely exciting to turn my attention inwards and leverage my skillset to strengthen my employer’s digital brand. I really loved my time at FiveFifty, so I was thrilled when we finished the new website and everyone adored the final product. It was the perfect way to end my time there.

Why did you choose this business school? For me, NYU Stern’s greatest differentiating factor has always been the community. When I visited prospective MBA programs, I was extremely sensitive to whether or not I felt like I “fit in.” Every single Sternie who was kind enough to make time to chat with me – which, to be clear, was everyone I contacted – immediately struck me as someone I would love to have in my class, on my team in the office, or even just join me for a drink. The conversations were effortless, and I found myself genuinely having a good time getting to know these folks. When I combined the quality of my cultural fit with the benefit of a smaller class size compared to other programs I was considering, it just felt right. I was confident that I would leave my MBA experience at Stern with an incredible, active network of lifelong friends.

What surprised you the most about business school? So much of the most valuable parts of this experience are owned mostly or entirely by the students. This is, for me, why finding the right community is so crucial. This obviously pertains to the social scene/networking, but it also extends to so much of what defines your experience in the classroom and during recruiting. Yes, the university itself is critically important on the institutional level, but a ton of the best resources and support comes from the student body itself. I benefitted so much from the wisdom of the MBA2s when I was an MBA1, and I now spend an outsized amount of my time trying to pay it forward to the year of MBAs who have come after me.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I was incredibly intentional about reaching out specifically to individuals who were exactly where I wanted to be. That meant rather than reach out blindly, I put in a lot of work up front to think about what my goals for business school were. That included listing out which opportunities here at Stern I was most passionate about seizing. For example, I came into Stern aware that Leadership Fellows and the Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students were two experiences that would be really important to me. I then put in the work to connect directly with students who were, at that time, in those programs. As a result, when I wrote or spoke about why I knew NYU Stern was the right fit for me, I could speak much more intelligently and authentically about how I planned to be active on campus.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Dana Hill is a classmate I have come to know well over my time at business school. She is brilliant, direct, organized, kind, and incredibly generous with her time. As one of our VPs of Admission for the Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students, she has helped run some of our most crucial programming for applicants coming from underrepresented backgrounds. Dana and I met right before school began, and I vividly remember our early conversations about the goals we had for our time at Stern. It has been really inspiring to watch her hit one goal after the other, and then immediately turn and look for opportunities to lift others up.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father is the person who most inspired me to pursue business. My entire life, he has championed the notion that one should chase passion, and that money will then follow. His approach to his career has thus inspired my own ongoing reflections and introspection about what issues and challenges I feel so passionate about that I am willing to devote my working life to tackling them. It was that train of thought that finally helped me conclude that I was ready to switch functions and industries; that, in turn, became a significant motivator for coming to business school.

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

  1. Live and work abroad, specifically in Latin American and/or the Caribbean
  2. Work at the intersection of new technology and oncology

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? To me, the pandemic has been a harsh and brutal reminder that life is short. We spend such a massively large portion of our time dedicated to professional endeavors, so I have come to appreciate I really need to feel that my work is in service to something in which I can believe. This means that my career can — and probably should — evolve and change as I continuously move towards making a bigger and better impact on the people around me and the issues about which I truly care.

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

“Khalil is the co-president of the Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students (AHBBS), the VP of Corporate Relations for Student Government and the Graduate Management Association (GMA), as well as the VP of Club Partnerships for Cannabusiness. He is an extremely active member of the Stern community. Some points to highlight include:

  • Khalil is a Fellow of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management where he received a full tuition merit-based scholarship to attend NYU Stern.
  • Khalil is passionate about student-success and is always looking to better a group or community. He works closely with the Office of Career Development to provide career development opportunities for students. Throughout each interaction, Khalil is genuine, optimistic, and thoughtful with his suggestions. With a positive personality and an untiring work ethic, Khalil has left a lasting mark at Stern.
  • As co-president of AHBBS, Khalil collaborated with Stern’s Technology Association to host a Tech Industry Insights & Recruitment Strategy discussion. The event helped members of both clubs learn about what to expect during the tech recruitment process and to look for when evaluating company culture. Khalil’s natural ability to collaborate with others to creatively solve problems is invaluable.”

Fatim Lelenta
Associate Director, Career Coach
NYU Stern School of Business

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