Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Darren Deng, Cornell University (Johnson)

Darren Deng

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

“I run businesses and marathons.”

Hometown: Beijing, China

Fun Fact About Yourself: I run more miles than I drive every week.

Undergraduate School and Major: Brandeis University, Film and Business

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Hutong Marathon Sports, Head of Innovation and Strategy

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? Cornell Johnson’s MBA program has one of the most collaborative cultures among business schools, which I learned about and experienced first-hand as I talked to the alumni, students, and admission officers during my application process. I believe in the value of collaboration, which I think is the whole point of business, bringing resources and people together and allocating them in the most economical way. After all, no business deal can be done by one person alone, and there is always more than one party on a business contract.

What excites you the most about living in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region? I’ve heard so much praise about the beautiful surroundings and nature in Ithaca. I’m already learning about hiking and shopping for hiking and camping gear, and I can’t wait to explore the woods and lakes around the town. It’s so nice to be able to take a break from the cities and connect with nature closely.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Cornell? Cornell has tons of clubs and activities to choose from, and many of them seem exciting to me. I learned about the Cornell Chinese Drama Society during the student sendoff in Shanghai and am very interested in it. I took classes in film and acting in college but never had a chance to do it after graduation. I will talk to the club after the semester starts and try out for some auditions. Who knows? Maybe I still remember a thing or two about acting and will become a part-time actor after some time.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I managed to “run” a 15,000-person marathon — the 2023 Longfeng Twin-City Marathon in Hubei, China — as the event’s chief planner, not a runner. I had to coordinate between two cities’ different departments to make sure we had everything in place. The time spent on communication work was intense, and I barely slept for one month. Eventually, my team and I pulled it off.  It was the first cross-province marathon in China as the route involved running from the Hubei province in China to the Hunan province. It became one of the most iconic marathon events in China this year, and it was reported by almost every mainstream media in China, including CCTV, China Central Television.

What do you hope to do after graduation at this point? I plan to go into consulting and help businesses solve challenges.

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

I recommend spending time pondering why you want an MBA. What makes you want to spend two years in an MBA program? What is it that you hope to get out of the program and experience? If you are not sure, do tons of research and talk with alumni. If you are aware of the value behind an MBA program, you will have the heart and motivation to do everything needed to apply for the program.

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