2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Dempsey J. Simonis, Wharton School

Dempsey J. Simonis

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

“Responsive, results-oriented, and open minded with a great sense of humor.”

Hometown: Queens, NY

Fun fact about yourself: I was an open side flanker for the University of Edinburgh women’s rugby team and the New York City Women’s Rugby Club Team.

Undergraduate School and Degree: The College of Wooster, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Columbia University, School of Engineering and Applied Science New York, NY Assistant Director, Annual Giving

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Deloitte Consulting, New York, NY Summer Associate – Strategy-Customer & Marketing

Where will you be working after graduation? Bristol Myers Squibb

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Joseph Wharton Fellowship (70% of tuition covered) in recognition of professional, academic, and personal achievement

Wharton MBA PUB: President

Dean’s MBA Advisory Council

African American MBA Association: Director of Academics

Wharton Hockey League: Vice President of DEI

Consulting Club

Fight Night Planning Committee

Ski and Snowboard Club

Student Life Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It was being the President of Wharton MBA Pub. My participation in clubs at Wharton has centered around connection and learning. I enjoyed bringing unusual groups together with a special emphasis on relationship-building within three main reasons students come to Wharton: career, travel, and networking.

As Wharton MBA PUB: President, I brought together various groups from peers to administrators every Thursday for a community-filled event with cross-school participation. Over 40 clubs participate in a variety of ways to host programming. This program supports all religions, races, and financial capabilities, not to mention drinkers and non-drinkers. As president of Wharton MBA PUB, my enjoyment came from managing several different workstreams, individuals (Finance, Marketing, Programming), and overall strategy. This year, the team reduced the price of PUBs for all students and created member types to include families, partners, spouses, and non-drinkers. This included the following:

* Reduced cost of memberships by 20-25% to increase accessibility to Pub

* Drew over 5,550 attendees through the first semester of school, creating spaces for people to gather/cross-pollinate across boundaries

* Featured 37 clubs as co-sponsors, giving them an outlet to the Wharton community

* Featured 7 Pubs with multiple sponsors, fostering collaboration and getting more people involved

* Welcomed 30+ prospective & admitted students to date, sharing the tradition of Pub before they become students

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I cultivated donor support for Columbia’s $5BN fundraising campaign. Working with alumni, I contributed to our annual Giving Day campaign’s success using a data-driven approach. I maximized the potential of my donor portfolio securing the highest number of donors on one day in my department, and I secured multiple large gifts. I led the initiative for the first needs-based $250K endowed scholarship initiated by an undergraduate senior class, supporting one student every year. During the pandemic, I was one of the most successful fundraisers, helping raise nearly $1MM in the first two quarters for student aid and diversity initiatives. Leading these projects, I aimed to create infrastructures that will develop a continuous cycle of giving and support. As I assume greater responsibility, I realize the importance of a strong foundation in managerial and organizational strategy. To be best positioned for helping future generations, I seek to enrich my competencies around corporate strategy and social responsibility professionally and personally.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose the Wharton School to invest in the people: my peers, their partners and children, and alumni and faculty. Each group has had a huge impact on my time at Wharton. The student body was a significant factor in creating a supportive and inspiring learning environment. I am a relationship-builder by trade and I have been able to leverage that to make the most of my experience.

The student body at the Wharton School is diverse and talented. It includes students from all over the world with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. This diversity is an asset in developing cultural competence, building a global network, and learning from different viewpoints. In addition, the student body at Wharton is known for its high caliber. Wharton attracts some of the brightest and most ambitious students from around the world who are driven to succeed in their careers. The student body at Wharton is actively involved in various extracurricular activities, including clubs, organizations, and initiatives. Overall, the student body at Wharton is a diverse, talented, and driven community of individuals who are passionate about business and their future careers.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? MGMT 802: Change, Innovation & Entrepreneurship with Prof. Ethan Mollick

I really enjoyed the simulation and the entrepreneurial nature of the course. The course is designed for students with a serious interest in entrepreneurship and being entrepreneurial. This course provided me with an advanced theoretical foundation and a set of practical tools for the management of startups and entrepreneurial teams in fast-changing and innovative environments. Every class session was built around an experience where I could put learning into practice, including an entrepreneurial simulation, role-playing exercises, and a variety of other games and simulations. I was constantly challenged to deal with entrepreneurial or innovative experiences, and eventually learned to navigate complex and changing environments on the fly, applying what I learned to a variety of scenarios. The course was challenging and required a desire to deal with ambiguous and shifting circumstances, where the meaning is not always clear upfront.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have had more professional experiences outside of my comfort zone. For example, when an opportunity was just outside my immediate skillset, I shied away out of fear of embarrassment and failure. I should have used that as a potential stretch or learning experience.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Wharton is a big quantitative finance school. I think we get exposure to students and faculty members with remarkable experience in finance; however, we have such a flexible and comprehensive curriculum that finance is just a piece of the puzzle that creates a well-rounded Wharton student who is a force in many industries.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? The way Philadelphia rallies around sports and how sporting events creates community at school.

What surprised you the most about business school? The diversity of people. We have a large international population and several students who have joined from exchange programs who have added value to the experience both inside and outside of the classroom.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I got into meditation and other mental health practices that helped me throughout my journey at school.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Stefany Sandoval ‘23

Aside from the fact that she has overcome an enormous amount of adversity both professionally and personally while at Wharton she co-founded and is the CEO of RST Associates, a workforce management solution for independent consultants. She has experienced the full breath of life and is still leveraging every opportunity at Wharton. Although we are attending school together, I do see her as a role model and someone whose values I would like to emulate.

Prior to RST, Stefany was a VP of DEI and the Chief of Staff for the Head of Human Resources at JPMorgan Chase. She brings a strong background in HR and talent strategy, learning and development, and DEI. She challenges herself in living between Philadelphia, PA and West New York, NJ with her husband, Edward and their dog, Oreo. Stefany graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A in Human Resources Management and Information Technology & Informatics (double major). I see these personal and relationship building skills in her interactions with our peers, faculty and staff.

These are some of the roles she holds at Wharton:

  • Wharton Entrepreneurship Club, Co-President
  • Wharton Hispanic American MBA Association, Director of Admissions
  • Association of Latino Professionals for America, NY Ventures Co-director (VC/Startup Ed.)

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

  • Promoting my first employee
  • Taking a company public

What made Dempsey such an invaluable member of the Class of 2023?

“Though the most visible role that Dempsey has played in building the Wharton community has been as the President of the Pub, she has been involved in many student organizations, fellowship roles, and community organizations in Philadelphia. Her sense of humor and positivity are contagious, and she makes community building across traditionally isolated communities seem somewhat effortless.

Dempsey has used her involvement in Hockey and Ski Club to push both organizations to be more inclusive and have a more diverse membership. She has personally encouraged more students to join these popular organizations who were otherwise hesitant.

Her leadership at Pub has seen improved communication with the Wharton Graduate Association, support for non-drinking memberships at Pub, new collaborations and co-sponsorships, and a more fiscally responsible and sustainable partnership with local vendors.

She has continued to build on her existing networks at Wharton, and connect them to each other. She serves on the alumni boards for her high school and her college, and is hoping to serve Wharton in a similar capacity.”

Ariyon Fountaine
Associate Director of Student Life



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