2023 MBA To Watch: Robert “Bob” Reed, Cornell University (Johnson)

Robert “Bob” Reed

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

“I’m a pretty outgoing and energetic guy — kind of a social butterfly.”

Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Fun fact about yourself: I love skydiving!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Michigan State University Eli Broad College of Business, marketing

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was actually on active duty, as an Army infantry officer just a couple hours north of Cornell.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? DePuy Synthes, the orthopedics division of Johnson & Johnson, in Warsaw, Indiana

Where will you be working after graduation? I’m going back to Johnson & Johnson as a marketing manager in their leadership development program.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Association of Veterans president
  • Johnson Leadership Fellow
  • Marketing and general management career work group leader
  • Diversity Council
  • Course assistant in three courses
  • Student body representative on the dean’s search board

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In academics, I would say being a course assistant. The invite from professors really means a lot me, and it’s a great chance to interact with students in their first year of school. On the extracurricular side, it was definitely the veteran connections we built and strengthened throughout Cornell.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I was selected to lead an air assault demonstration for the benefit of the president.

Why did you choose this business school? The high level of support I received from not just the students, but also the faculty, staff and administration, for veterans transitioning to business school.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Bill Schmidt, who taught data analytics, for a kind act that I think exemplifies the culture our program and the great relationships students have with our professors. When my daughter was born, we had been in the hospital for over a week, and Bill knew I was exhausted. He lives just a half-mile away from the hospital and opened up his home to me so I could take a break, eat, and do some needed laundry. I’ll never forget that.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? It was an elective over in our School of Integrative Plant Science. It was a hemp processing lab where I got the chance to embrace my fulfillment with science in addition to business.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Our Johnson Outdoor Event —JOE! Back in August, I co-hosted the event with my friend Mia, where a group of students, staff and faculty got to welcome our first-year students to Johnson.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Learn to say no to some fun opportunities sooner. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to outpace yourself with all the academic and extracurricular clubs and activities.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think that because it’s an Ivy League school, potential applicants may assume the culture is cold or competitive. But Cornell and our MBA program have such strong cultures of camaraderie and connectivity that I’m sad to leave.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? The abundance of outdoor scenery and activities! We have gorgeous waterfalls, beautiful hiking trails and of course Cayuga Lake.

What surprised you the most about business school? It was easily I fit into the student lifestyle again. I joined the Army when I was 17, and before business school, I spent the previous decade on active duty. Despite all that, the program was actually a perfect way to pivot. It feels amazing to be a student again!

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? My wife and I came and visited twice to get a feel for everything. After those visits, we agreed it would be our next adventure. I think that mutual fit for the student and the school really reassured me that Cornell was truly the best fit for me and my family.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Tommy Ott, hands down. He’s a close friend of mine, another veteran and student/father — very humble and seriously the most genuine, nice guy you could ever meet!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Take an assignment abroad with my family and ring the New York Stock Exchange bell. The first is an awesome chance to grow your global frame of reference, and the second would just be fun!

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

“Bob is one of many military veterans whom we have the honor of working with across our college. He is one of our Nolan Veteran Scholars. This is a special honor. Cornell Trustee Emeritus Peter Nolan ’80, MBA ’82, and his wife, Stephanie Nolan ’84, have given nearly $2 million to help the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management support U.S. military veterans seeking an MBA. The Nolan Scholarship allows us to identify and reward outstanding Veterans who, we believe, will be an asset to Johnson. Bob is certainly an asset. He has taken a leadership role within the veteran community as president of the Johnson Association of Veterans (AoV). I have seen firsthand how Bob leads this group, through his interactions with alumni and university leaders. Beyond his impact in the Johnson MBA community, Bob and other Johnson veterans have built relationships across the University including with the undergraduate veterans and Cornell’s ROTC branches. In addition to leading the Johnson AoV and serving as a course assistant for several courses, I called on Bob to serve on the Johnson School Dean’s Search Committee. On that committee Bob is a student representative assisting in selecting the Johnson School’s next dean.”

Andrew Karolyi
Charles Field Knight Dean
Cornell SC Johnson College of Business


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