2022 MBA To Watch: Jason Gurtata, Fordham University (Gabelli)

Jason Gurtata

Fordham University, Gabelli School of Business

“Determined, resilient and ambitious, but most importantly, better today than yesterday.”

Hometown: West Babylon, New York

Fun fact about yourself: I am a classically trained Hindustani music singer. I was taught how to sing and play the harmonium and piano at a very young age and have used singing as an artistic outlet throughout my life.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Stony Brook University, BS in Biology

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Beam Living, a Blackstone Portfolio Company; Product Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? BNY Mellon, New York

Where will you be working after graduation? BNY Mellon, Vice President, Business Process Improvement/Best Practices

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Student Advisory Council – President (May 2021 – May 2022)
  • Fordham Graduate Student Ambassador (August 2020 – May 2022)
  • South Asian Business Association – Co-President (August 2020 – May 2021)
  • Fordham Finance Society – Executive Board Member (January 2021 – May 2021)
  • Full-Time MBA Class of 2022 Student Representative (August 2020 – May 2021)
  • Leading People and Organizations Graduate Assistant (August 2020 – May 2021)
  • Humanistic Management Publication – Journal of Jesuit Business Education (March 2021)
  • Strive Higher Inc. – Volunteer (September 2020 – May 2022)
  • Alpha Sigma Nu Induction – Jesuit Honor Society (2022)
  • Phi Kappa Phi Induction – Fordham University Honor Society (2022)
  • CoreNet Global Scholarship Recipient (2021)
  • Hitachi Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Recipient (2022)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I believe that having a support system is incredibly important. Personally, my fiancé, friends, family, and mentors have been key drivers in significant aspects of my life. I owe many of them a debt of gratitude while pursuing my MBA. Given my emphasis on a support system, I wanted to find a way to give back and support a local community near Fordham University during the 2021 holiday season. My incredible team on the Student Advisory Council – alongside student-run organizations such as Fordham Tax and Accounting Society, Fordham Net Impact, Fordham DEI Council, Fordham BLX MBAA, Gabelli Pride and Fordham Management Consulting Association –helped raise over $1,000.00 to purchase gifts for children at the Bridge Haven Family Transitional Residence located in the Bronx, New York.

COVID-19 left many of these children without an abundance of support during the holiday season in the previous year; our network of student organizations felt a moral responsibility to make each of those children’s wishes come true. After partnering with Samaritan Daytop Village, the backbone of Bridge Haven, we are proud to announce that Fordham University will continue a positive relationship with this organization and will be able to raise money and fund gifts for children for many years to come. Although my time at Fordham University will come to an end in May 2022, the foundation of philanthropic efforts will continue to grow and expand as the future progresses.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Pursuing a new career in finance after focusing on an entirely different subject matter throughout college was a very tumultuous decision. Initially wanting to pursue a career in medicine, I graduated from Stony Brook University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. However, as my interests expanded, I wanted to branch out into a field that I had a passion for as well as to eventually pursue my MBA. I wanted to prove to myself that I could be an asset for a corporation, specifically one that allowed me to focus on financial technology and ultimately give me the experience I needed to be accepted into business school.

This was one of the most uneasy times in my life. I asked myself every day, “How can I do the absolute best today in order to have a positive impact on the business?” For five years, I continued to wonder if my experience would be enough to pursue my MBA. My colleagues at Apple and Beam Living were those with degrees in finance, marketing, and analytics. I had to work extremely hard to compete in the same space without having a formal degree in any of those areas. After over a year of diligent work as an Associate at Beam Living, I was promoted to Product Manager. That was the moment when I realized I was destined for more. I exceled at my role and inevitably made the decision to pursue my MBA. Although the promotion was a proud moment, the confidence that I gained in believing in myself was worth much more than any monetary value.

Why did you choose this business school? Fordham was my top choice when pursuing my MBA. Because I experienced a large class size during my undergraduate days, having a small class size and close-knit community for my graduate experience was a key feature.

The Gabelli School of Business is known for providing a pivotal aspect to its curriculum: Gabelli Launch. Gabelli Launch is an onboarding program that provides incoming students with unique workshops, exercises, lectures, projects, and networking opportunities prior to the commencement of the full-time MBA program. This distinctive aspect of Fordham allows students with a multitude of backgrounds to become familiar with the MBA experience, Fordham’s Jesuit Values and provides insight on what to expect while pursuing an MBA. After speaking with Brandon Adamson in 2020, I was convinced that I would gain the most knowledge and obtain a family that I could receive support from and give support to for the rest of my career. After experiencing what Fordham has given me over the last two years, I can proudly say that attending Fordham University was the best decision I could have made.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? It was Fordham University’s Diwali Festival, hosted by the South Asian Business Association (SABA). I had the pleasure of being Co-President of this incredible organization during my first year as an MBA candidate. However, the unprecedented times associated with COVID-19 left all student organizations to hold virtual events in 2020. As I stepped into the role of President of the Student Advisory Council, I left SABA in good hands with Arvind Eswaramoorthy and his team. With the influx of graduate business students joining Fordham during my second year, I was able to work with SABA to plan the annual Diwali Festival in 2021. This event shed light on the history of Diwali, provided students with food and entertainment, and shared the importance of this festival for those who live in India. The event was open to all graduate students and faculty and administration, many of whom attended and enjoyed the evening. The abundance of support from the school illustrates that Fordham puts emphasis on diversity, equality, and inclusion in conjunction with providing an immaculate educational experience. The Gabelli School of Business truly allows for people of all backgrounds to thrive and share their experiences with one another; I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this university.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? When I came to Fordham University, I felt that my background in biological sciences was going to be a deterrent when shifting gears and going into financial services. During my initial experiences with academic advising and mock interviews, I did not reflect upon the valuable skills I gained during my undergraduate studies. I felt this inhibited my ability to successfully demonstrate who I was and why I would be valuable to the financial industry. It took me quite some time to realize that all experiences, related to a field or not, are incredibly relevant when associating them with the correct context. I must give a large heartfelt thanks to Ellen Herman, my academic advisor, who gave me the tools I needed to successfully navigate Fordham University and obtain a summer internship and subsequent full time offer at BNY Mellon.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The largest myth about Fordham University is that it is similar to other business schools in the northeast and the larger part of the United States. After experiencing the full time MBA program and comparing it with others, I can proudly say that the Gabelli School of Business provides a unique MBA journey that is catered to each and every student. The decision to pursue my MBA at Fordham University has single-handedly been the greatest decision that I have ever made. It has allowed me to follow my dreams and illustrated that, with resilience and dedication, nothing can stop you from achieving success. If you want to be a part of an extraordinary institution and are willing to dedicate your time and energy into yourself, Fordham University will be the vehicle to transport you to your goals.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was most surprised by the benevolence exemplified by the faculty and administration throughout every aspect of the school. Respect is truly mutual at the Gabelli School of Business and the passion driving educators comes through at every moment, inside and outside of the classroom. Professors such as Sertan Kabadayi, Paul Johnson, Joseph Zirpolo, Brian Jacobs, and Miguel Alzola have left a life-long impression on me that I will not forget. Faculty members such as Linda Agnew and Robert Dineen have mindfully watched out for me and my cohort in ways that I cannot begin to describe. From my past experiences, I did not expect the level of care that I received from all members of the university; it has made my academic and professional journey far more enjoyable.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Due diligence was key. Prior to being accepted, I researched current students and alumni on their experiences at the university and began to paint a picture regarding how I would navigate the sea of the MBA journey. I took down notes of the aspects that influenced those students the most and furthered my research by exploring Fordham concentrations, extracurricular activities, graduate assistantships, volunteer work, and opportunities for success. I knew the timeline of the full-time program, what it would offer me as a student, but more importantly how I would give back and contribute to the school during my time as an MBA candidate.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate that I most admire is Anmol Takhtani. Anmol is tenacious, selfless, and incredibly focused. During my final round interview for BNY Mellon, Anmol was gracious enough to give me her time and helped coach me through potential interview questions. She is always considerate of others prior to being considerate of herself. Anmol is currently the Co-President of Fordham Finance Society, a staple organization within the Gabelli community. Anmol has spearheaded several remarkable events and continues to provide assistance to not just our classmates, but the entirety of the business school community at large. She is an invaluable asset to Fordham University, but more importantly, she is a wonderful colleague and friend.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? The one individual who influenced me the most is my fiancé, Manisha Bhojwani. For years after completing my undergraduate degree, I told myself that I would eventually pursue a graduate degree; however, year after year, it was easier to make excuses than to see myself back in a classroom. Manisha helped me change that mindset. Manisha is currently a Physician Associate and graduated from St. John’s University in 2015. As a clinician, she deals with uncertainty on a regular basis, but has learned how to isolate issues and find solutions. Manisha encouraged me throughout my application process and has been supportive of all my endeavors while I’ve been pursuing my MBA. She saw potential in me during moments when I doubted myself.

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

  1. After seeing the impact on children after working with Strive Higher, I’d like to help expand their programs to other cities as well as develop classes in finance, analytics, and basic coding to children and adolescents who are interested in learning but don’t have access to instructors.
  1. Become a CEO that embodies an ESG approach; we need to make the world a better place, I aspire to take my shot and do it the right way.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic created a great deal of ambiguity in lives across the world. Individuals from various jobs and industries had to manage and deal with an incredible number of hurdles just to be able to survive. As an MBA candidate beginning my journey primarily via Zoom, I realized that in order to be a good leader, it’s imperative to be able to change as times change. Similar to the pandemic, obstacles will continuously stand in your way in one form or another; the answer is not simply to give up, but to find innovative solutions to assist yourself and those in need. With the many issues that may arise in society, you’ll find an unknown set of solutions that must be unpuzzled. This pandemic made me realize that it is important to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Stagnancy does not lead to success and executive decisions must be made in real time in order to progress forward. I have done my best to be an outspoken leader within the Gabelli School of Business; my aspiration is to continue to be an outspoken leader as I progress with my career, much of which I learned through this pandemic at Fordham University.

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

“I had the pleasure of working with Jason Gurtata during his MBA study in pursuit of his career search.  Jason impressed me with several qualities that made him an ideal candidate for any career he chooses.  Jason impressed me with his ability to accurately discern his strengths and skill gaps, and the drive to close those gaps.  He is extremely attentive, detail-oriented and has a great bias towards action.

Jason is able to think strategically on how to approach issues, make informed decisions and take immediate action.  He can also recognize where improvements need to be made and address them thoroughly.  Jason is also an incredibly self-determined man who is extremely detail-oriented and complete in his follow-up to open items.

Jason has also shown tremendous leadership ability by directing his peers in club and organization activities.  He is also the first one to lend a hand to fellow students and makes himself available to his peers, faculty and staff.

Overall, Jason is an exemplary student and will be a high-potential employee who has achieved much so far and I believe will continue to advance far and fast.  I strongly recommend Jason in whatever field or job he sets his sights on.”

Kenneth Cavanagh 
Director of Career Advising, Graduate Programs 


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