Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Joe Geoghegan, New York University (Stern)

Joe Geoghegan

New York University, Stern School of Business

“Globetrotting Kentuckian who believes challenges, like ultramarathons, are best tackled with intuition, grit, and espresso.”

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

Fun Fact About Yourself: 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.

Undergraduate School and Major: American University, Washington, DC. B.A., International Environmental Politics; B.A., Language and Area Study: Spanish/Latin America

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Divergent Solar, Founding Member & Solar Broker

What excites you the most about living in New York City and how do you see it enhancing your learning experience? After three years in Shanghai, relocating to Austin felt like moving to summer camp, so I am excited to be back in the city! Big-city love aside, New York is an everything-hub and that’s where I see its greatest opportunities. Though the city may not host headquarters for as many energy companies as Houston or tech companies as Silicon Valley, as the global hub for finance, New York is connected in every industry worldwide and this diversity brings people and opportunities that you cannot find anywhere else.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of NYU Stern’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I have often found myself getting bored with routine. In one of my earliest conversations with a Stern student, I asked him what he thought set Stern apart and he pointed me to the Change: Studio Program. From the moment I opened the YouTube teaser, I was hooked. Stern was teaching MBAs to embrace and drive change by learning to “thrive in ambiguity,” embrace lifestyle design principles, and promote inclusive leadership. The entire program is based on cutting-edge ideas being applied through on-the-ground experience that a program could only execute in New York City. I knew I had found a program with a philosophical approach to the MBA degree to match and challenge my own.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at NYU Stern? If I am being honest, Stern Adventures is the club that captures my imagination. While a lot can be accomplished in the classroom or the boardroom, I know from personal experience that the deepest bonds in business and in life are forged on the trail, the slopes, or around a campfire.

What does EQ (Emotional Intelligence) mean to you and when have you seen its value in your career? Stern’s focus on EQ is a big draw for me. In my career, I’ve worked extensively in sales, political advocacy, and education. In these areas, our challenges are human rather than technical, and EQ was critically important for approaching them as people, not puzzles. Developing an emotional connection or an intuitive mutual recognition with a prospect, legislator, or student – or even a co-worker – is far more critical to surmounting challenges at the highest level than are issues of technical know-how. Stern’s EQ-forward program represents a broadening recognition of that fact and the necessity of EQ skills for rising executives.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Let me preface my answer by saying that after working in more than a dozen roles across more than half a dozen industries, my greatest accomplishment is the sheer breadth of experiences I have had, the opportunity to be mentored by amazing leaders, and the joy of working with a wider array of talented people than I once knew existed.

If I had to pick a specific professional accomplishment, it would come from my work in public policy for Greater Louisville Inc. — Louisville’s Chamber of Commerce — on legislative efforts to pass Class D felony expungement and the enabling legislation for Public Benefit Corporations in Kentucky. In both cases, I worked with the member businesses that had an interest in the issue to spearhead work on the legislation. I was incredibly lucky to have a boss that gave a 25-year-old me excellent direction but a long leash. I surveyed our member businesses, crafted talking points, and took key supporters on a state-wide campaign to solicit support from all the pertinent interest groups and legislators. Aligning support, we solidified sponsors and co-sponsors and, ultimately, both items were passed the following legislative session. The sense of accomplishment from policy is compounded by the fact that it is long-lasting. Rather than fade over time, its impact has grown.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? 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.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I recently finished listening to the 66-hour audiobook for Robert Caro’s The Power Broker. The exhaustive biography follows the half-century career of the man who has most shaped the built environment of New York City without ever holding elected office. New York history aside, the book is a master class in how to recognize and exploit opportunities and power in all its forms (i.e. wealth, influence, coercion) while providing the necessary focus on the immense danger of pursuing these kinds of power for their own sake.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Columbia, McCombs

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into NYU Stern’s MBA program? Finding the right program is a two-way street. When deciding which program is the best fit, talk to a lot of people and ask a ton of questions. When you apply, be unapologetically and authentically yourself so you know they like you for you. While my background was a head-scratcher for some admissions offices, I found kindred spirits in the students and administrators at Stern.


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