Category: Alumni Spotlight

Class of 2020 MBA Spotlight: Ankita Bendre and Marvin Lalin

Next up in our Class of 2020 Spotlight series are Ankita Bendre and Marvin Lalin, MBA graduates in the Class of 2020:

Ankita Bendre ’20 (MBA)

Where are you headed after graduation?Ankita Bendre_6792
I’m headed to Microsoft as a business program manager.

What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite classes were Advanced Marketing Strategy with Prof. Mitch Lovett and Pricing Policies with Prof. Greg Schaffer. I loved the Advanced Marketing class as it was a stimulation course where we were running a company and had to apply everything that we have learnt so far—from our MBA classes to our prior experiences. I took this class online as it was offered during the COVID pandemic, but still Prof. Lovett and his TA Neal Burns made the class extremely engaging. Pricing Policies was another class that I really enjoyed because I was learning something totally new and found it very interesting.

If you could use three words to describe your MBA experience, what would they be?
Growth, fun, and educational.

What have you learned that will help you most in your new role?
I think I have learnt how to effectively work with people from various backgrounds and working styles, and I have the tools that would make me a better leader. I have also gained immense patience and understanding of how to prioritize multiple projects/requests.

What is your favorite Simon memory?
I have many. But If I have to pick one, I think it would be my international immersion trip to Israel.

What advice do you have for prospective Simon students?
Know your story—each and every experience that you had before coming to business school is valuable, and those experiences will help craft your unique story. At Simon, everyone feels part of a community, and this feeling of belonging makes everyone at Simon so collaborative, loving, and invested in your journey.


Marvin Lalin ’20 (MBA)

Marvin.LalinWhere are you headed after graduation?
After graduation, I will be in Richmond, VA, working for Harris Williams as an investment banking M&A associate.

What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite course at Simon was the International Finance Global Immersion taught by the illustrious Dean Gregory Bauer. I enjoyed the opportunity to travel to Switzerland and explore European business and culture at the heart of one of the financial capitals of the world. Additionally, the opportunity to learn about the risks and rewards that firms face when operating in international financial markets was extremely valuable.

If you could use three words to describe your MBA experience, what would they be?
Transformative, inclusive, and collaborative.

What have you learned that will help you most in your new role?
Simon’s strong quantitative program has allowed me to develop my financial modeling and data analytics skills. These skills coupled with project management and clear communication are essential for a successful career in investment banking.

What is your favorite Simon memory?
My favorite Simon memory was when the Simon National Black MBA Association was able to host a leadership and diversity fireside chat that featured the Mayor of Rochester, Lovely Warren.

What advice do you have for prospective Simon students?
My advice to prospective Simon Students is to be intentional about the meaningful relationships you establish throughout your recruitment process. Additionally, it is important to understand why you want to pursue your MBA and if it makes sense for you at this point in time.

Class of 2020 MBA Spotlight: Daniel Bowater and Crystal Thompson

In the coming weeks, we will be highlighting a few members of our graduating class so prospective students can “meet” them and get a sense of where some of our recent graduates are heading.

We wish the very best of luck to all our graduates—the newest members of our alumni network. Don’t forget to keep in touch with your Simon family!

Daniel Bowater ’20 (MBA)

Daniel_BowaterWhere are you headed after graduation?
After graduation I will be heading to Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri, where I will join the Accelerated Leadership Program.

What was your favorite class and why?
Advanced Marketing Strategy was my favorite class at Simon and one of my last. It was a simulation-based class that incorporated marketing, operations, strategy, and finance. A great class to wrap up various topics I learned during my MBA.

If you could use three words to describe your MBA experience, what would they be?
Transformative, challenging, and amazing!

What have you learned that will help you most in your new role?
Skills I’ve learned at Simon that will help me in my new role are problem solving frameworks, data and financial analysis, and how to give impactful presentations.

What is your favorite Simon memory?
My favorite Simon memory is the entrepreneurship immersion to Israel! We worked with an Israeli startup and developed a US go-to-market strategy. During the trip we also visited Tel-Aviv, the Dead Sea, and Jerusalem, among other places.

What advice do you have for prospective Simon students?
Get out of your comfort zone, try new things, spend time with different people, be open and receptive to feedback, and be confident—you belong!


Crystal Thompson ’20 (MBA)

crystal thompsonWhere are you headed after graduation?
I’m joining Target Corporation in Minneapolis as a senior brand manager of financial products. 

What was your favorite class and why?
Advanced Marketing Strategy. This class was challenging, competitive and fun! The ability to run a company via the simulation allowed me to see all roles at work (e.g., finance, marketing, R&D, etc.).

If you could use three words to describe your MBA experience, what would they be?
Empowering, fun, and rewarding.

What have you learned that will help you most in your new role?
Exhaust all resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

What is your favorite Simon memory?
Experiencing the South Africa immersion with my classmates.

What advice do you have for prospective Simon students?
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and try new things outside of your comfort zone.

URMC, Simon Alumni Contribute to Pandemic Response

At Simon Business School we always consider ourselves fortunate to be part of the University of Rochester, but in this moment it has been incredible to watch the partnership and leadership demonstrated by our U of R community.

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), along with researchers and faculty at the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry, is on the forefront of the local and national COVID-19 response. URMC is participating in an NIH-sponsored clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of an antiviral drug in hospitalized adults diagnosed with COVID-19. Faculty members, along with the Medical Center’s Vaccine Trials and Evaluation Unit (VTEU), will lead the Rochester study involving COVID-19 patients at Strong Memorial Hospital. One of only nine VTEU sites in the US, Rochester’s unit conducts clinical trials of vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics for known and emergent infectious threats.

We encourage you to follow the @urmc_heroes Instagram account to stay up to date on everything our UR Heroes are doing for our community.

In addition to our University colleagues and friends at URMC, several Simon Business School alumni are lending their expertise to the COVID-19 response in their industries.

  • James Cuthbert ’09 (MBA), senior vice president of brand marketing & strategy for BET, shared the network is launching a series of initiatives with the goal of helping Black communities hardest hit by the virus, including “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort,” a special hosted by Kelly Rowland, Terrance J, and Regina Hall that will air on April 22.
  • Melanie Huet ’03 (MBA), executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Serta Simmons Bedding, shared that Serta donated 10,000 mattresses to New York City hospitals to aid in the fight against COVID-19.
  • Gary Lewin ’02 (MBA), senior buyer, ExOps, at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, shared that the company recently launched a COVID-19 antibody test to market, and testing kits should be available within the month.
  • Jonathan Muniz ’17 (MBA), senior manager of digital product management at CVS Health, noted his company is working to help communities during the pandemic in several ways, including:
    •  – Delivering bonuses to employees who are required to work on-site during the coronavirus pandemic
    •  – Opening three rapid drive-thru testing locations in Georgia, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in collaboration with federal and state officials, which can detect positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in as little as thirteen minutes
    •  – Announcing that Aetna would waive costs to patients for hospital admissions related to COVID-19
    •  – Announcing free Rx Delivery during the epidemic to encourage people to stay home
  • Brianne Wojtesta ’15 (MBA) is chief of planning for Harborview Medical Center’s COVID-19 response in Seattle, WA. It is the region’s only Level 1 trauma center, which serves Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho.

We’ll continue to provide updates on the amazing work our University colleagues and our #SimonStrong alumni are doing to help keep our communities safe during this challenging time. In the meantime, we send our very best wishes for your health and safety.

If beginning business school later this year is one of your goals, please check out our MBA and MS COVID-19 application related FAQs for the most up-to-date information, flexibility on requirements, and more. To show our support, your $90 application fee is waived when you apply for Fall 2020 entry. Simply choose the fee waiver option on the payment screen when you’re ready to submit and we’ll take care of the rest.

Alumni Answers: Jin Xu ’13, MS in Finance

The following is a Q&A with Jin Xu, a 2013 graduate of Simon’s MS in Finance program and market risk modeler at Freddie Mac. We caught up with Jin on a recent trip back to Rochester during which she spent time mentoring current Simon students.

Jin.XuTell us a little about you and your career since you left Simon.
About six years ago, I finished my internship as a risk analyst for a commodity trading desk at Washington Gas here in DC as I was completing my last semester of studying remotely. I graduated from Simon with an MS in Finance degree in 2013 and went on to my first full-time position in Chicago as a credit risk modeler at Northern Trust. I then came back to DC for a model validator position at E-Trade, and now I’m working as a market risk modeler at Freddie Mac, focusing on the prepayment modeling in the mortgage industry.

How did you know Simon was right for you?
As an international student with a general business management background, I was looking for a program that could not only further my study in the field of finance but could also equip me with advanced and tangible quantitative skillsets so that I would be better prepared for a job market that’s moving towards the direction of big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

Who impacted you the most while you were at Simon and why?
Professor John B. Long, who taught the Futures, Options, and Derivatives Markets class, and Assistant Professor Diana Knyazeva, who taught the Financial Institutions class, helped tremendously with my academic studying at the time and, in particular, ignited my interest and passion in the field of risk management, which is the career path I’ve been traveling on for the past six years.

Fill in the blank: While you are in Rochester, you absolutely have to ____________.
Practice networking. The reason I mentioned “to practice networking” instead of “to network” is because networking, just as everything else, really is a learning process. The earlier you start practicing by reaching out to and communicating with alums and hiring companies, the better prepared you are when the real deal comes along. Networking is such an essential skill in the work place that you will not only need it to land a job, but you’ll also need it to advance your career while at your job.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m a big fan of playing sports and working out. I play basketball, tennis, and golf regularly. This past summer, I went to a few 5K/10K runs organized by my company. I’m also a member of the board for our community’s homeowners’ association and volunteer my time to help manage the matters of the community from operational, financial, and social perspectives.

What would you say was your most memorable Simon experience?
I often talk to Wendy Clay, executive director of the Benet CMC, about my very first on-site interview experience in the US and how nervous I was throughout that entire process. I still vividly remember the time when I received the phone call one afternoon from Wendy telling me about this interview opportunity with Barclays Investment Bank and how it was set up with the help of an alum’s wife. I remember how I was still nervously asking Wendy about potential interview questions on the bus from Rochester to NYC the night before the interview. Even though I didn’t get that job in the end (a classmate of mine actually did), it was great comfort and encouragement to know that as a student at Simon, you’ll always have access to all the resources and help you need to succeed when the right opportunity comes along.

What is your advice for prospective students? Or what was the best piece of advice you received?
Stay very close to the Benet CMC and try to participate in every event they organize, if possible. The Benet CMC is going to be one of the most important “windows” students have opening towards the real outside world. Whether it’s alums coming back to share their experiences or programs organized to take students on corporate treks—every opportunity is valuable because they are part of the real world experience you gain at Simon. To this day I’m benefiting from things I’ve learned at the seminars the career center organized back when I was at Simon. Stay active and stay outside of your comfort zone with the Benet CMC’s guidance.