Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University
“Infinitely curious and impact-driven with the desire to empower others and drive change.”
Hometown: Szczerców, Poland
Fun Fact About Yourself: About twice a year, I become passionate about a new hobby. The Broadway musical Hamilton inspired me to learn cursive writing and collect fountain pens. A Carnegie Hall concert ignited a desire to take piano lessons. Living by myself made me explore the science behind cooking, and recently, a need for a wallet turned me into a leather craftsman. Who knows what is next? But I sure can’t wait!
Undergraduate School and Major: BS in Mathematical Business Economics with a minor in Accounting from Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Northwell Health, Project Manager focused on process automation and data analytics applications to enhance strategic planning and decision making
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? Immersions were one of the most appealing aspects of the program that drew me to Johnson. They are unique to Johnson and integrate what you learn in class with hands-on experience in an industry of your choosing. Before starting my MBA, I had only worked in one industry, so I wanted a program that would expose me to another business field as part of the practicum. When speaking with current students, they emphasized how insightful the immersions were for them. As a result, I thought one of Johnson’s immersions would greatly enrich my MBA experience.
What course, club or activity excites you the most at Cornell? I think it may be weird coming from an Eastern European, but I am very excited to join the Latin American Business Association. There are two reasons. First, for the past two years, I have been heavily exposed to Latin American culture through my closest friends. Second, my interviewer was from Costa Rica and was part of the club. When I came to visit the campus, she invited me to a Thanksgiving party organized by the club, where I received a heart-warming reception from the club’s members and had a ton of fun. I daresay that they were a factor in my decision to choose Johnson. The community is amazing, and I can’t wait to join, polish my Spanish and learn more about Latin America.
What excites you the most about living in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region? I am from a small town in Poland and I moved to Long Island, New York, for my undergraduate degree. It was a huge change, and I loved it. In recent years, I see that I have gained more appreciation for the time I spend outdoors with my friends. New York is much more than just New York City. I have been exploring the outskirts for great hiking and camping areas for a while now. After some time, you learn that nature and the views get better as you move north. I’m earnest when I say that Ithaca is in the sweet spot in terms of its proximity to New York City and the best nature that New York has to offer. I can’t wait to explore the lakes and hiking trails.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During the pandemic, my health system struggled to manage a massive surge in clinical study proposals and COVID-19 data access requests. The leadership approached me to help find a solution. I developed a program that enabled efficient request management and assisted in designing a streamlined process. It was an intricate project, but the efficiency and simplicity of the final product were better than expected. The leadership gained confidence in their decision-making. At the same time, the Northwell scientists gained access to COVID-19 data in a structured and efficient way, producing over 520 publications by the end of 2020. I am proud that I was able to contribute to Northwell’s efforts to combat COVID-19.
What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you enjoyed and would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? There are two books that I highly recommend to anyone interested in business. The first is The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger. The book has valuable insights into career progression and struggles that many of us will face. One story that stuck with me was when Iger described experiencing his first panic attack amid the board’s indecisiveness on whether to make him CEO. It illustrates well how some decisions outside our power can have life-changing consequences. And it also makes you realize that if you aim for the very top, you will be in a similar situation at some point. The second is Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss. The lessons from this book on negotiation helped me renegotiate my salary, resulting in a 37% increase. If you wish to be better equipped for the next time your negotiation skills are tested, I highly recommend reading this book. I have turned to this book for advice multiple times, and it has yet to fail me.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I have always been interested in business, so I knew I would pursue an MBA at some point in my career. Despite that, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my MBA until the end of 2020. I knew that I didn’t want to pursue investment banking and that I was interested in entrepreneurship. However as an international student, it was not the best choice. I also thought about a tech career, but my Northwell experience turned my attention to consulting. At Northwell, I focused on identifying process inefficiencies and proposing new solutions. As time went by, I became known for my problem-solving skills. As a result, leadership pulled me into projects focused on revamping old processes, designing new ones and automating inefficient ones. I enjoyed this work and realized that a consulting career would give me more opportunities to dissect all kinds of business problems across different industries. In college, I decided to major in economics to delay specializing and keep a generalist mindset focused on the big picture. I believe strategy consulting will leverage that mentality while helping me identify my future focus area.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Sloan School of Management (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Fuqua School of Business (Duke University); Darden School of Business (University of Virginia)
What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Cornell’s MBA program?
First, understand that it is OK to be stressed out. It just means you are outside your comfort zone and about to do something great.
Two, take the time to reflect and really get to know yourself and your aspirations. One of the biggest challenges in MBA applications is conveying a compelling and cohesive story throughout the process. Your ability to portray yourself as a hero or heroine in a captivating tale culminating in your decision to pursue an MBA is more pivotal than your individual accomplishments. Storytelling never stops. Upon admission, it continues as an integral part of the recruiting process.
Three, talk to alumni and current students to learn unique things about the school. Remember that starting sooner is better than later.
And four, engage with the school through its webinars and in-person events. If your story is top-notch but your reasons for coming to Johnson are not genuine, you will hurt your chances. Engage, engage, engage. You will see the difference in your ability to sell yourself as a top candidate in the interview and the application.
DON’T MISS: MEET CORNELL JOHNSON’S MBA CLASS OF 2024
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