Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Lanier Mason, Columbia Business School

Lanier Mason

Columbia Business School

“A long-suffering mystic, turned nationally-recognized CPA from local Bible study teacher, pursuing global justice.”

Hometown: Hempstead, NY

Fun Fact about Yourself: My first time on a plane was a 16-hour flight to Shanghai my freshman year of undergrad.

Undergraduate School and Major: Molloy University (f.k.a. Molloy College), Accounting

Most recent employer and job title: Audit Manager (Financial Services Office) at EY

What has been your first impression of the Columbia Business School MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best CBS story so far. Six years ago, I attended the annual Elevate conference hosted by the Black Business Student Association (BBSA) as a professional interested in hearing conversations with business leaders. Fast forward to the same event this year, I had the opportunity to attend as a recent admit to Columbia. As I walked through the brand-new hallways of the Manhattanville campus, headed from one session to the next, someone gently reached for the BBSA anniversary pin fastened to my lapel and adjusted it upright. After, he stepped back slightly to check that his adjustment was accurate. That someone was a member of the Class of 2024 and newly-minted co-president of the BBSA, Wilson Darko. I did not get to introduce myself to him as a member of the incoming Class of 2025 yet, but he demonstrated that he was willing to make sure that I made my best first impression (however, he left one on me instead). I am confident that the willingness to provide support and graceful correction, as Wilson did at that moment, is uniquely Columbia.

What makes New York City such a great place to earn an MBA? The MBA journey is all about energy – it is palpable in every room and visible in every candidate. New York City is the embodiment of energy and movement. Earning an MBA in New York City keeps pace with the tenacity it takes to reshape your career.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Columbia Business School’s MBA curriculum programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? There is a rich history here. At the core, delivering and identifying value is what Columbia has always done. For example, The Heilbrunn Center for Graham & Dodd Investing, home of the Value Investing Program, has a legacy of contribution to global finance. Similarly, The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise will continue to influence investing for social and environmental impact. What I appreciated most was how they painted the spectrum of the use of capital to achieve good in the world –philanthropy, sustainable investing, and everything in between. It aligned perfectly with how I endeavor to contribute to societal issues as a business leader. This combination of traditional value investing with a clear lens for social enterprise exists in harmony unmatched by other business schools. Therefore, the choice was clear.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In 2021, the Black CPA Centennial, a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first Black CPA in the United States, recognized me as one of forty outstanding Black CPAs with the 40 Under 40 Black CPA Awards. National recognition of this kind from peer organizations like the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) is one of the proudest moments of my professional career.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Columbia Business School? I am most excited about the community of the Consortium of Graduate Study in Management (Consortium) fellows. The Class of 2025 is only the second Consortium class to enroll. The first, the Class of 2024, helped lead the BBSA through a historic milestone known as 100/50: Embracing our Legacy (referencing two distinct anniversaries – the 50th year of the BBSA and the 100th anniversary of the first known Black student at the Business School, Theodora Rutherford). Now, there are Consortium fellows in the first- and second-year classes. How will we contribute to the next 50 years? There is a pressure that comes with that question – the type that makes diamonds. I cannot wait to see our community shine.

What do you hope to do after graduation? There is power in the impact you can see in physical space. Therefore, I hope to join an organization building an investment portfolio that prioritizes social returns in education, employment, housing, and healthcare while achieving competitive financial returns.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to other member schools of the Consortium such as Dartmouth, Stanford, and UC Berkeley.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Columbia Business School’s MBA program? I would encourage applicants to reflect on how they want to contribute on campus. Think about what part of your personal and professional journey will amplify the experiences of others. When you find the story that is uniquely yours, that is your best path to admission.


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