Every city leaves an impression. Los Angeles? Think glitz and glamour. With Paris, romance and fine dining come to mind. Of course, London is associated with history and culture. When many picture New York City, they sense energy and excitement – an unforgettable journey capped off by knowing they possess the grit to make it in the big city.
This sense of adventure doesn’t come from all the Friends re-runs looping worldwide. For generations, people have arrived in the Big Apple looking to hit it big. When you’re young in the city, the world is filled with possibilities: the late nights, rooftop parties, and cool people. In between, you bounce between heartbreaks ad defeats, ultimately shedding who you are and embracing who you can be. Here, you’ll find everything you’ve wanted – every background, industry, and aspiration – and the chance to reinvent or redeem yourself. That’s what also makes New York City such a great place to study. Your learning only starts in class. It’s where you live and what you choose that truly shapes you.
LIVING THE LIFE
Just ask Phan Hoang, a U.S. Air Force veteran and ’22 graduate of New York University’s Stern School of Business. He notes the city boasts 64 Fortune 500 headquarters – not to mention another million businesses. Better still, Hoang calculates that it can take him 15 minutes to get to any major location from a $2.75 train ride. Near campus, Hoang adds, he can grab lunch from a food truck, sit down for a coffee chat with an employer, meet with his study group, and grab dinner with friends – all within a 15-minute walk from campus. And it’s not just Stern students who can easily move around NYU’s Washington Square campus. As a student, Hoang would spend classes interacting with guest speakers like Mandell Crawley, Morgan Stanley’s Chief Human Resources Officer, who gave his class a bird’s eye view on how the firm was addressing DEI in its ranks.
“If I wanted to explore the world of finance, Stern’s MBA and undergraduate programs have a robust alumni network already established,” Hoang explains. “Consulting? Most of the top firms are headquartered here, which may explain why consulting is one of the three largest employers of Stern grads in the 2021 Employment Report. Recently, major tech firms such as Google, Amazon, and Apple [have been] gobbling up real estate in the city with startups popping up in droves. These offices, which were already close by our campus, allowed me to see in person what the work culture was like in my search for my next career. It also definitely helped that the alumni were easily accessible and happily gave me unofficial tours.”
Access is an advantage. So too is the city’s sense of adventure. After all, Hoang points out, “Where do you live” is the perfect icebreaker with employers and strangers alike. Even more, New York City has always been a playground for MBAs looking for a “robust social life” to complement their academic demands – especially at Stern.
“Each year, we’re able to enjoy a private tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” Hoang adds. “These are guided by the curators themselves ending with a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline from the rooftop. We’ve also listened to the New York Philharmonic play at the Lincoln Center and caught shows on and off Broadway. We’ve even done food tours of the different ethnic neighborhoods (Korean BBQ in Ktown is my favorite). Another time, MBA students from Wharton, CBS, Yale SOM, MIT Sloan, and HBS came down to network in the city. We were able to socialize all weekend before parting ways after a brunch. As much as we’d like, you don’t [take] those same trips to Boston or Philadelphia.”
BRINGING THE MACH E TO LIFE
That’s also one reason why many top MBA candidates came to NYU this fall. Joe Geoghegan, a “globetrotting” entrepreneur from Kentucky, describes New York City as an “everything-hub.” Not only is the city connected to every industry globally, he observes, but the area’s diversity “brings people and opportunities that you cannot find anywhere else.” The city connects people and opportunities together in unexpected ways too. Mariam Doudi hopes to transition from the automotive to the entertainment industry. For her, the best part of New York has been the discoveries. Not only does she intend to network with entertainment leaders as a Stern MBA, but also complete in-semester internships, attend film festivals, and ever serve as a set extra.
Indeed, possibilities abound in NYC, which is one reason why Albert Williams Jr. considers it to be the center of the universe. Still, there is one aspect that sets the city apart, he adds. “Aside from the unparalleled opportunities that the city can offer in the form of proximity to corporate headquarters and access to countless industry leaders, there is a certain je ne sais quoi that really separates it from any other place in the world. The unforgiving speed at which the city moves truly helps in developing one’s adaptability, resilience, and determination — intangibles that will prove invaluable as change is made inside and outside of the classroom.”
Phan Hoang characterizes New York personalities as “ambitious, hungry, and energetic, but also very supportive and social.” You’ll find plenty of these people around the Kaufman Center. Before Mariam Doudi was bit by the entertainment bug, she served as an analyst for the Ford Motor Company. In this role, she ran the financials for the Mach E, which she specifies was “Ford’s first all-electric product” and “a luxury vehicle modeled after Ford’s famous Mustang.” Beyond budgeting, Doudi also shouldered the responsibility of keeping the project on schedule.
“I collaborated with Ford’s joint venture team in China to fix part sourcing issues, brainstormed with the design and marketing teams to create the illuminated pony badge, and partnered with engineers in negotiating additional funds for parts when necessary.,” Doudi explains “This project not only offered me the chance to assist in the development of the Mach E, but also helped build my leadership, time management, and analytical skills.”
LEAVING A CAREER BEHIND…FOR A TIME
For Cesar Cepeda, NYU Stern is a homecoming. He left the city to study Chemistry at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2008, eventually rising to be a Naval Operations Officer. During a 2017 deployment in South America, Cepeda’s big moment came when he served as a Spanish language go-between during interactions between doctors and patients. “Being able to play a part in bringing life-saving care to over 18,000 people in Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia, while also connecting deeper with my Latin American roots, is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had,” he writes.
The Class of 2024 has notched a number of achievements on their way to NYU Stern. Albert Williams Jr. beefed up a high school financial literacy program from 10 students to 100. As a product manager at RoadSync, Deshani Gunathilake oversaw the development and rollout of a direct pay system for truck drivers. At the same time, Jason Ruifeng Zuo led a PR team that tripled the number of media mentions for his firm. When he worked at Louisville’s Chamber of Commerce, Joe Geoghegan worked on public policy. This included conducting member surveys, developing talking points, and managing state-wide legislative campaigns. And then he left, adopting the ‘life is an adventure’ mindset so prevalent among New York Millennials.
“At 26, I quit my job and traveled with a long-time friend the 7,000 miles from Louisville, Kentucky to Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina — all without taking a flight,” he tells P&Q.
READYING FOR THE FUTURE
His classmate, Pierra White, pursued a different type of adventure – one that she hopes reverberates in years to come. “My biggest accomplishment to date was the purchase of my first investment property during the pandemic, making me the first in my family to own property,” she explains. “This was extremely important to me because this was not common in the community where I grew up in. Owning property is a way to build generational wealth (something I wasn’t born into), so it was an exciting step for me to start this journey for my future family.”
The property was also the start of White’s larger goal of using her Stern MBA to become a successful entrepreneur. “I want to help bridge both the gender and racial gap within the real estate investing community. After obtaining an MBA, I want to create a real estate crowdfunding business which caters specifically to minority investors to help foster generational wealth within marginalized communities…I will [also] gain the opportunity to investigate the roles and perspectives of developer, owner, investor, financier, operator, and user.”
For Joe Geoghegan, the MBA was a means to position himself for a position that fits his wanderlust spirit. “I have spent the majority of my career working across industries and countries, taking on a job with one or two big projects before moving on to the next one. I love solving problems and have loved the new people, new places, and new challenges. After turning 30 and returning to the US with my fiancé, this lifestyle lacked a certain structure and trajectory. The impetus for pursuing my MBA was to formalize what I already enjoy by building on those talents and experiences, and likely transitioning to management consulting.”
A CLASS PROFILE
In terms of admissions data, the incoming first-years represent a Jekyll and Hyde class. Like many incoming classes this fall, Stern experienced a decline in applications, which translated to a dip in acceptance letters and the number of students. Overall, the Class of 2024 boasts 324 MBA students, down from 360 the year before. That said, the class also produced several highs. For one, the new crop of Sternies averaged 733 on their GMATs. This is not only 4 points higher than the previous year, but also 4 points better than Columbia Business School, Stern’s in-city rival. The 733 average also topped Northwestern Kellogg and Chicago Booth by 4 points, while matching Wharton’s average. In total, NYU Stern admitted 27% of its applicants.
As a whole, Stern GMAT scores ranged from 700-760 in the 80% range, with the low being 640 and the high hitting 800. When it came to GREs, first-years averaged 163 on Quant and 162 for Verbal. Here, the low scores were 153 and 150 for Quant and Verbal respectively, as the highest score reached 170 on both. Overall, 49.4% of incoming MBAs took the GMAT, while 21.3% chose the GRE. Another 10.3% of the class was able to secure a test waiver. By the same token, the class averaged a 3.62 undergrad GPA, up from 3.59 last year. 3.09 was the lowest GPA accepted by the school during the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.
Stern also hit another high-water mark with women, who comprise 45% of the class (up 4 points from the previous year). International students make up 44% of the class, a 12-point improvement from the Class of 2023. At the same time, military veterans and LGBT students account for 11% and 9% of the class respectively. Overall, the class includes students from 41 countries who range in age from 23-42.
Academically, the class skews towards business to a certain degree. 27% of the class majored in Business as undergrads, a number that doesn’t include another 15% group that studied Economics. STEM majors account for 25% of the class, followed by Social Sciences (21%) and the Humanities and the Arts (12%). Each of these percentages is within 1 point of the previous year’s number. Professionally, the largest segment of the class – 24% — last worked in Financial Services. Consultants hold a 12% share of the seats, as both Government and Consumer Products professional each make up 8%. The remainder of the class has worked in Technology, Non-Profits, Entertainment, Healthcare, Real Estate, Advertising, Law, Manufacturing, and Energy.
Next Page: Exclusive Interview with Vice Dean JP Eggers.
Page 3: Profiles of 10 Stern First-Year MBAs.
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