Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University
“Pragmatic, solutions-oriented professional, exporting the Ghanaian sunshine through my personality and smile-first attitude.”
Hometown: Accra, Ghana
Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve traveled to 14 countries in the last three years.
Undergraduate School and Major: University of British Columbia (UBC) | Major: Economics
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Raymond James Bank, Associate, Corporate Banking
Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Cornell’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The tailored investment banking immersion program made Johnson my definite first choice. The investment banking immersion is led by Senior Lecturer Drew Pascarella and gives students real-world experience working about near-real-life investment banking transactions in class. As someone looking to work in investment banking post-MBA, I found the program structure to be the requisite training ground for would be investment bankers. At the end of the program, it provides experience presenting to clients on conducting transactions across all the major investment banking product groups including mergers and acquisitions, equity capital markets, and leveraged finance. The reputation of the program is evident in the strong placements of Cornell graduates across the “bulge bracket” and in elite independent banks.
What course, club or activity excites you the most at Cornell? I am excited about the opportunity to partake in the international study trips. As an avid traveler myself, having visited 14 countries in the last three years, I am particularly looking forward to the course Experience in International Management with Professor Wesley Sine. It is a perfect blend of two of my favorite interests: getting to experience a new culture through an immersive learning experience and studying about the Colombian microeconomy.
What excites you the most about living in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region? Having lived in Vancouver, British Columbia for six years before my move to Toronto, I am excited to move back into a city known for its vibrant natural landscape. I’m looking forward to visiting the many waterfalls, swimming in the lakes, hiking and trying out all the wineries in the area.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As the sole associate in the corporate loans division at Raymond James Bank Canada for most of 2021, I helped the group achieve a record year in terms of growth as the bank was able to commit over half a billion dollars into credit investments. This provided needed capital solutions to support the growth of some of Canada’s largest companies as they capitalized on the economic recovery following the pandemic. In recognition of my contributions to the bank, I was named associate of the quarter for the entire bank in the first quarter of 2022.
What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you enjoyed and would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I recently finished reading Race Against the Machine by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. The book offers an insightful narrative into the relationship between technological innovation and labor employment. As professionals coming back to school to reskill ourselves for the labor market, it is important to have a long-term view and understand what the future of employment could look like, given the rate of technological innovation we have seen in the last 50 years. It is an undeniable reality that as societies benefit from technological progress. However, there is an unfortunate but necessary redundancy that results in certain segments of the job market. Still, it also comes with massive productivity gains in other sectors of the job market. Think what computers and Excel did for the finance industry. Be practical and choose careers that have a symbiotic relationship with technological progress.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation?
After a successful stint working in corporate banking and corporate credit ratings in Toronto (Canada’s financial center) and having earned my CFA charter in the last three years, I felt adequately equipped to challenge myself working at the epicenter of world finance in New York. It has been a dream of mine to work on Wall Street as my father did for much of his career at Chase Manhattan.
Immediately upon graduation, I am looking to work in investment banking, helping corporations achieve their strategic business ambitions in an ever-changing global economic and business environment.
In the longer term, I see a real opportunity to drive development initiatives in my home country (Ghana) and much of West Africa via innovative capital market solutions created and structured for the African economic experience.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? London Business School; NYU Stern School of Business (New York University); Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto)
What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Cornell’s MBA program? The Cornell community is a receptive one, and I highly recommend connecting with Admissions Ambassadors or students who have completed immersions to learn more about the student experience and to get a sense of the student culture. Reach out to club presidents and other leaders to get more insights you don’t see in a typical brochure.
It is often the case that you have friends and colleagues review your essays and other application submissions. While I recommend being receptive to constructive criticism, it is important you do not lose your own voice as you go through all your iterations. Ultimately, you know your story best, and it is important your experiences are not crowded out by the suggestions of those helping you to craft your MBA application.
At Cornell, mentorship and “paying it forward” is encouraged. I would recommend highlighting times you have demonstrated these values as you go through your application.
To summarize: Know you story; tell your story; be incisive about the elements of your experience; and do your firsthand research, learning directly from people who have successfully been through the program. Be sure to let the admissions team know in your essays and/or your interview that you took the time to connect with people in the Cornell community.
DON’T MISS: MEET CORNELL JOHNSON’S MBA CLASS OF 2024
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