2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Sarah Ladyman, Rutgers Business School

Sarah Ladyman

Rutgers Business School

“A dedicated and driven collaborator whos always up for a challenge.

Hometown: Princeton, NJ

Fun fact about yourself: Spent my early career working in camera crews for theatrical-release movies.

Undergraduate School and Degree: NYU Tisch School of the Arts, BFA, Film and Television Production

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Fusion Academy, Upper West Side, Teacher of Arts and Humanities

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Sandoz, A Novartis Division, Princeton, NJ

Where will you be working after graduation? I’ll be working in a commercial finance role.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I had the privilege to serve as president of the RBS Student Government Association (SGA). The SGA oversees all MBA club activities, funding, and events. The SGA team planned our own events: We organized a student-alumni networking event, a fun night out at Top Golf Edison, and NJ Devil’s game. I’m so proud of the work we have accomplished by transitioning from online to in-person events.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As president of the SGA, I led our team as we held the first in-person networking event between students and alumni in two and half years. We invited current MBA students and RBS alumni for a cocktail hour at the Hyatt House in Jersey City in coordination with the Office of Alumni and Corporate Engagement. It was a fantastic night of socializing – full-time, part-time, and executive MBA students – met one another and networked with some of the most distinguished RBS alumni. We had the perfect weather, and the view of Manhattan was magical.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Having had two careers before business school, both in film and television production and education, a range of achievements come to mind. But I’d have to pick my mentorship outcomes as a high-school teacher. Seeing seniors graduate filled me with pride as their champion. I worked with a student population that faced significant challenges; graduating high school and attending college were not givens. Seeing them cross the finish line after all the hard work we had done together and seeing them launch into their young adult lives was a gratifying experience.

Why did you choose this business school? I’m a New Jersey native, so I was eager for a change after ten years of working in NYC. I wanted a school in the NYC Metropolitan area with world-class professors and a global perspective. Rutgers has all three, but the breadth and depth of experience the professors bring to the classroom has been the best part of the MBA.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Farrokh Langdana. I was aware of his work before the MBA. Not only is he an accomplished economist and author, but he’s also a fantastic teacher. Langdana knows macroeconomics so well, he doesn’t need slides or lecture notes, just a dry-erase marker and a whiteboard. He weaves anecdotes from history and lessons on leadership into the lectures, always with a touch of humor. Langdana effortlessly includes the human condition in the lessons; he breathes emotion, feeling, and moral conflict into macroeconomic theory. And he deeply cares for his students.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Financial Modeling for Corporate and Project Finance with Professor Ken Freeman. I was looking to develop my Excel skillset and his class did not disappoint. Not only did we learn how to link all three financial statements, and build a DCF and a debt schedule, but we learned Excel shortcuts that made us more efficient analysts. It was the most challenging class I took in the program, but I highly recommend it to anyone looking to strengthen their analytical hard skills.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Other than the Alumni Networking event, the Rutgers Women in Business x Prudential Mentoring Circle event was a favorite. Once per semester, women from Prudential come to RBS to mentor women in the MBA program. The mentors were eager to share advice on job hunting, negotiating, and work-life balance, whether virtual or in-person. The event reflects the ongoing relationship RBS has with local employers, and the willingness of Rutgers alumni to give back.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing youd do differently and why? Although I did participate in one case competition virtually, I would have wanted to compete in a case competition in a different city in person. Traveling for case competitions presents an opportunity to represent RBS and show all our program offers.

What is the biggest myth about your school? One myth about RBS is that our program is primarily supply-chain oriented. While our supply chain program is fantastic and one of the best in the nation, RBS offers other concentrations. You can try a few classes in each concentration if you don’t know exactly what you want to do. I started in marketing and ended up concentrating in finance!

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Newark is undergoing a transformation, with businesses like Prudential and Mars-Wrigley investing in the city to promote growth while helping locals and professionals thrive. Also, there has been growth in small businesses. Since I started the MBA program, new breweries and coffee shops have opened their doors.

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me most was how packed my schedule was. I always thought I was good at time management, but business school required another level of organization. There isn’t enough time to do everything that is being asked of you – including the coursework, recruiting, club leadership, and socializing. Business school brings a whole new meaning to the word “busy.” After the first semester, you have a bit of leeway to figure out what is most important and a better idea of how to work quickly and efficiently, but time management is a challenge up until the end of the program.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I have an unusual background for business school: I began my career in film and television production and then had a second career as an educator. Through my application essay, I told the story of my career and identified the unique skills I had acquired thus far. I emphasized that I have a different way of thinking: I can view the world creatively and identify problems and solutions quickly. Being an educator taught me the basics of consulting, sales, and project management – teachers must have it all! Using the essay portion to tell your story in your own way can be the most valuable part of any MBA application.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I most admire is Anushree Raina. Anushree already had an MS in Architecture and a successful career in the architecture field before business school. She has much experience and knowledge to offer, which is evident when working in a group with her. She makes insightful comments and questions in class that make for a better learning experience for everyone involved. Additionally, Anushree has excellent leadership and project management skills. She served as president of the Rutgers Women in Business club and did a fantastic job collaborating with Prudential for the Mentoring Circle events. Anushree has excellent research, writing, and presentation skills and is always keen to do her best. She’s also a ton of fun to be around.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? 

1. Having been an educator, I think I’d like to be back in the classroom in the future. I’d love to teach at the college level. I love helping students develop critical skills for their personal and professional development, especially writing and public speaking. There’s no better feeling than when a former student thanks you for helping them be their best. I love seeing my students succeed!

2. I’d like to be a part of a team responsible for a product launch. Whether that be a physical or digital product, I love the idea of bringing a project to completion and working with other passionate people in a team.

What made Sarah such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023? 

“In my experience, Sarah is the kind of student that only comes around once every few years.  She is someone who is inquisitive and genuinely wants to understand what is being taught at a very deep level. For Sarah, not having a finance background was a benefit because there are no preconceived notions, and you start with a clean slate.

Very early on in our Financial Modeling class, at the beginning of building our financial model, Sarah insinuated that she “did not know” what our end goal was. I tried explaining that it was a process, and the key was understanding each individual step, but the staircase would appear later. While she accepted my explanation, I could tell that it was with a hint of skepticism. It was obvious that she really wanted to grasp the model building process at a deep level, and I knew that the magic would come later.

Fast forward, Sarah made the entire class better because the questions that she asked were so thought-provoking and insightful that it really made her classmates think AND it helped to further their understanding of the material. Not only that, but she was also a major contributor to class discussions, and we ended up having many conversations about current events which tied into our lessons and solidified the collective understanding of the class.

Sarah took her Financial Modeling experience and parlayed that into our Advanced Financial Modeling class where she didn’t skip a beat and was a star right from the start. She was one of the top performers in the class and her transformation through the two courses, from start to finish, was nothing short of remarkable. Sarah’s outside-of-the-box thinking coupled with her intense desire to deeply understand the subject matter is not only a breath of fresh air, but it will make her a tremendous asset to whomever is lucky enough to be her future employer. She has incredible upside potential, and I am very excited to see the impact that she makes in the world of finance.”

Ken Freeman, CFA
Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, Finance and Economics


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