Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Seth Petty, Cornell University (Johnson)

Seth Petty

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

“A purpose-driven leader whose mission is to inspire others to see beyond their status quo.”

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have an extensive newspaper and historical Black press collection that I have been collecting for the past 15 years. My favorite item is an original 1968 edition of Jet magazine titled “King’s Legacy: Love!” — an issue covering the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after his untimely assassination.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan, Industrial and Operations Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Accenture, Health Care Management Consultant

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? Understanding that many programs are alike in terms of academics and career outcomes, I wanted my MBA experience to focus on strengthening my intangibles. A central component of my MBA selection was finding a place that would enable me to refine my leadership skills. The Leadership Skills Program, the Johnson Leadership Fellows, Leadership Expeditions, and the Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows program will provide me with a robust training ground to better myself as a leader. I am on a mission to change the world.

What excites you the most about living in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region? Growing up in the inner city, I never had easy access to state parks and trails. This issue has now been solved by moving to Ithaca. I am excited to explore the Cornell Botanic Gardens and visit the stunning views of Taughannock Falls State Park.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Cornell? I am truly excited to be a part of the Park Leadership Fellows cohort. I will have the opportunity to continue to develop my leadership with my peers, who will help me uncover blind spots. This is a journey that I am ready to start and know will result in growth. I am also excited to be a part of the Johnson Consortium. I hope to continue to pursue a leadership position and spread awareness about the great opportunity that Cornell has to offer for all underrepresented minorities such as myself.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment so far has been graduating from college as a Black engineer.

What do you hope to do after graduation at this point? My post-MBA goal will be to pursue a career in social impact through a marketing lens. I believe this path will allow me to inspire, empower, and encourage the next generation to challenge their status quo through impactful storytelling and brand activism.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Cornell’s MBA program?

Find Your “Why”: Cornell Johnson’s MBA program is designed to develop leaders and provide students with a helpful and supportive culture. With this understanding, I think it’s imperative that you first ask yourself why you want to pursue a Cornell Johnson MBA. The answer could be simple — transition careers, progress at your current company, or take a break from the rat race. Whatever your “why,” be able to craft your story effectively to allow the admissions team to understand what you will contribute to the Cornell Johnson community. Take time to build a sustainable relationship with someone on the admissions team.

Be Open and Take Advantage of Networking: You will quickly find that the path to MBA admissions is not linear, so be open to the process. Whether it’s attending informational sessions offered during the year, connecting with impressive alumni on LinkedIn, or applying for a standardized test waiver, leave no stone unturned when it comes to strengthening your application and learning as much as you can about the program.

Take a Deep Breath and Apply: If you have the conviction that this is your year to apply, don’t let anything stand in your way. Remember the university motto and Cornell University co-founder Ezra Cornell’s words: “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” If Cornell is the place that you want to be, they will be ready to welcome you. So take a deep breath and apply!


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