Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Sanjana Belani, Cornell University (Johnson)

Sanjana Belani

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“Passionate about learning; avid reader; fast walker; dessert lover; global traveler.”

Hometown: Kolkata, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: Born and raised in India, I grew up accustomed to hot weather but have somehow spent almost the last decade living in places known for their harsh winters (Ann Arbor, Michigan; Chicago; and now Ithaca).

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan, mechanical engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: MRI Software, lease analyst and account lead

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 pay-it-forward culture is very prevalent at Johnson. Everyone I interacted with — current students, alumni, the admissions committee — was extremely supportive and helpful throughout the application process. Attending Destination Johnson in Ithaca and experiencing first-hand how invested Cornell is in its community was phenomenal. I was accepted to other business schools, but I made up my mind after attending Destination Johnson. I thrive in environments where I feel included and supported, and Cornell was the perfect fit.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Cornell?  I am eager to join BR Consulting, the nonprofit student-run consulting firm, and engage in experiential learning by with real clients on strategic issues. As someone who is passionate about giving back to the local community, I hope to help organizations within Tompkins County by developing data-driven recommendations to address complex business problems.

What excites you the most about living in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region? After living in the city these past few years, I am looking forward to being amidst nature and exploring the Finger Lakes region. I enjoy being outdoors and am excited to explore the plethora of outdoor activities offered in the region, namely hiking and sailing. I have always been intrigued to try skiing — I plan to give it a go this upcoming winter. As a wine enthusiast, I also look forward to visiting the wineries with my classmates.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I collaborated with my company’s senior leadership and software development teams to streamline the lease accounting process for one of our biggest clients, a Fortune 100 insurance company. We developed a solution that streamlined the client company’s reporting process for $400 million in lease assets and significantly reduced their manual input.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you enjoyed and would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? The What’s News podcast produced by The Wall Street Journal has been helpful in familiarizing myself with business news from around the world. The episodes are relatively short (10 to 12 minutes) and easy to digest. I enjoy listening to them while working out or commuting. I recommend it to prospective MBAs who are eager to learn what’s happening in the world from a business standpoint.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I realized my industry (real estate technology) was fairly niche, and I didn’t want to be pigeonholed. As someone who enjoys being challenged and solving problems, I find the never-ending learning curve offered by consulting very appealing. Post-MBA, I’m hoping to pivot to a strategy consulting role. I plan to leverage my engineering education, experience in the real estate technology space and business acumen gained through the MBA to help businesses solve challenging problems.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Tuck School of Business (Dartmouth College); Fuqua School of Business (Duke University); Yale School of Management (Yale University); Booth School of Business (University of Chicago); Marshall School of Business (University of Southern California)

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Cornell’s MBA program? Be your authentic self and know your story. Have answers prepared to the following questions: (a) Why an MBA? (b) Why now? (c) Why Cornell Johnson? Speak with current students and alumni to gauge whether the school is a good fit for you and vice versa. The admissions process is extremely holistic, and Johnson does a great job in digging deep and getting to know you beyond your test scores. Spend time on your application and proofread everything!


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