Category: Student Spotlight

Simon Students Work with Consortium Counterparts on ‘MBA Students Care’ Campaign

Three Simon MBAs recently joined together with peers in other MBA programs to take action following recent horrific and tragic racial injustices. Brittany Floyd ’22 (MBA), Ahmyah Smith ’22 (MBA), and Cagney Spears ’21 (MBA), members of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, are working with students at other Consortium member schools on MBA Students Care: A June Fundraiser for Color of Change.

Cagney Spears '21 (MBA)

Cagney Spears ’21 (MBA)

Cagney is a Consortium liaison for Simon, and she recalled around a month ago, a peer liaison at Michigan Ross asked if any other students were interested in starting an initiative to take action. Cagney was one of the first students on the planning committee, which eventually chose Color of Change as the organization that would receive proceeds from the fundraiser.

Cagney explained the team picked Color of Change because it organizes efforts that are moving the needle for Black and Brown communities. She also noted that the planning committee liked the organization’s dedication to education—once you donate to Color of Change, you’re automatically added to its mailing list to build knowledge on a range of social justice causes.

Cagney was impressed by the incoming MBA students, who were extremely enthusiastic to help at the very start of their Simon experience. Brittany commented that “because of the time and the climate, it’s hard not to be involved if you’re aware.”

In 1968, Simon was the fourth school to join The Consortium, an organization committed to enhancing the diversity and inclusion of global business education and leadership by addressing the significant underrepresentation of Black, Native, and Latin Americans. Simon’s incoming MBA Class of 2022 has 33 students who are Consortium members—the largest cohort in school history.

Ahmyah Smith '22 (MBA)

Ahmyah Smith ’22 (MBA)

Having worked for nonprofits from a DEI lens, diversity was central for Ahmyah when considering MBA programs. She was looking for a place that not only encouraged students to be their authentic selves but that embraced each student’s uniqueness. “I appreciate Simon living it and not doing lip service,” she said.

Brittany felt that being involved in the fundraiser for Color of Change helped her really get acquainted with the culture at Simon. “I am so grateful to be in the Simon community. A friend told me that it’s collaborative and people watch out for you, and it’s true. Everyone is so open and willing to help. Although I was told about the culture here, having this crash course helped me realize it’s true, and it’s not something they just say to get you here,” she said with a laugh.

Similarly, the Simon students had nothing but positive things to say about working with their Consortium counterparts from other schools. The Consortium network is known for being tight knit, especially with members sharing the transformative OP conference before beginning their MBA programs. Even though this year’s OP was conducted virtually, the Class of 2022 is still closely connected. “We’ve all built bonds that will last past this moment,” Brittany said.

After the campaign launched June 3, many of the organizers stayed busy promoting it on social media and reaching out to contacts to spread the word, while several team members kept the group in the loop as the numbers rose. “We saw $1,500 and thought, ‘Oh that’s great—we’ll definitely get to $20,000 by the end of the month,’” Cagney said with a smile.

Little did they know it would only take roughly 18 hours for the campaign to reach its initial goal. The team reevaluated the next day and made the decision to set a new goal of $100,000.

Brittany Floyd '22 (MBA)

Brittany Floyd ’22 (MBA)

“It was an incredible, thrilling experience to watch us surpass the goal and also the commitment to do more and go higher,” Brittany said. “We have a dedication to the cause and it’s completely in line with why we are all in The Consortium.”

All three students noted that while the financial contributions are important, awareness and education is an equally significant goal of the campaign. Cagney emphasized that being an ally isn’t always about donating but can also include signing petitions and calling elected officials to demand justice. The team hopes the effort not only educates their networks but mobilizes them to create change.

The campaign currently sits north of $65,000—more than three times what the group initially hoped to donate to Color of Change (support the cause here). There are plans to leave the fundraiser open for a full month, and after they close it out on July 3, the team will take some time to rest and reevaluate what comes next. “We want to strategize how we keep the momentum going,” Ahmyah said.

With many Class of 2021 students embarking on their summer internships soon and classes resuming for everyone not long after that, Cagney noted there will be a great deal of brainstorming to come up with ideas that build on this effort that won’t be too taxing. “The past month has been exhausting—not only being a Black person in America, but on top of that, doing crowd-sourced non-profit work, which is something I’ve never experienced,” Cagney said.

The team plans to focus on this important diversity, equity, and inclusion work “back home” at Simon as well, with the full support and partnership of school leadership, including Dean Sevin Yeltekin. Cagney noted it was particularly meaningful to hear Dean Yeltekin say that the burden to solve systemic problems doesn’t fall on Black people. “It’s our job to provide feedback, but it’s not our job to fix it,” Cagney said.

“We are all thinking about it in the long term,” Brittany said. “We are committed to the long-term goal of making our world more equitable for people of color.”

Wallace Gundy, Benjamin Moskoff named to Poets & Quants’ 2020 List of Best & Brightest MBAs

Congratulations to Wallace Gundy and Benjamin Moskoff, who were named to Poets & Quants’ list of Best & Brightest MBAs in the Class of 2020! After graduation, Wallace is headed to Amazon in the Retail Leadership Development Program, and Benjamin will join Credit Suisse as an investment banking associate on the Consumer & Retail team.  

Here are excerpts from their longer bios:

Wallace Gundy '20 (MBA) will be working in Amazon's Retail Leadership Development Program after graduation.

Wallace Gundy ’20 (MBA) will be working in Amazon’s Retail Leadership Development Program after graduation.

Why did you choose this business school? Size was the deciding factor. I wanted access to professors and staff, a tightly knit class, experiential learning options, and opportunities for leadership. These are the learning avenues that I value and found at Simon. In a class of just over one hundred students, everyone knows everyone. Together, we built a vital, dynamic, talented business school network with worldwide representation. I have received a distinctive education at Simon where all of my needs and graduate school goals have been met ten-fold.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be three dimensional in your application. Let your personality shine through in your essays. The Simon admissions team has mastered the craft of assembling a dynamic class. We are not defined by GMAT scores alone. Simon students have a remarkable breadth and depth of personal and professional experiences, backgrounds, and interests. Convey who you are and how you will leave this school stronger than you found it. We are Simon strong!

 

Benjamin Moskoff '20 (MBA) will join Credit Suisse as an investment banking analyst on the Consumer & Retail team after graduation.

Benjamin Moskoff ’20 (MBA) will join Credit Suisse as an investment banking analyst on the Consumer & Retail team after graduation.

Why did you choose this business school? Simon has a phenomenal student culture and community. Daily life at the school is an integrative experience where students are intimately involved in the program and activities. Throughout my journey prior to joining Simon, I experienced the admissions staff, current students, and alumni to be warm and welcoming. This made me feel confident throughout the process and gave me the platform to be myself and bring my strengths and experiences to the table.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Know that you bring value to the program through your experiences. There will be plenty of students who come along with you who have such amazing stories and résumés. It can be easy to fall into the trap of not feeling good enough or, on the other hand, an overwhelming competitive urge. I advise students to be their genuine selves and reveal their strengths while being honest about their dreams and goals in life. Ultimately, when choosing a business school, there should be a mutual fit that will create an environment for you to thrive.

Student Reflection: Wakanda Meets Silicon Valley—A Journey to AfroTech

The following blog post was written by Juana Johnson ’21 (MBA) and was originally posted on the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship’s website

For the last four years, something very special has been happening in the San Francisco Bay area in early November. Around this time, upwards of 10,000 brown and black folks descend on the area to discuss all things engineering, technology, venture capitalism, entrepreneurship, and social reform. This gathering brings the best and brightest together with technology powerhouses like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft, with the collective mission of addressing pressing issues and offering solutions for minorities in these industries. Some have compared this event to a family reunion, a historically black college/university (HBCU) homecoming, and career conference all mixed up in one—but to the wider world it is known as AfroTech.

juana1AfroTech was curated by Morgan DeBaun, Aaron Samuels, Jeff Nelson, and Jonathan Jackson of the online platform Blavity. And now in its fourth year, the annual conference attracts founders and staffers of some of the fastest-growing tech startups that present the systems and strategies they use to grow their products and businesses.

This revolutionary experience for black techies fosters conversations ranging from how to raise venture funding to how to conduct user design workshops and growth hacking best practices. The conference also includes three full days of speakers and showcases of the latest technologies from the hottest startups in the country. Even more, top black early stage startups have the opportunity to pitch their ideas and compete for the highly coveted AfroTech Cup and win $10,000 in prize money.

When I arrived in Oakland for the conference, I had a sense that I was about to bear witness to a one-of-a-kind experience, and it did not disappoint. With well-known celebrities like media personality Charlamagne tha God, political strategist Angela Rye, and comedian and venture capitalist Hannibal Buress participating in fireside chats, I knew this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill career conference. For first time attendees like myself, the schedule of 60 breakout sessions and 100 corporate sponsor presentations could be overwhelming, but the conference offered three career tracks (leadership, entrepreneurship, and engineering/design) for attendees to focus their experience. During my time, I was able to attend breakout sessions ranging in topic focus from “Utilizing Technology to Protect Bodily Autonomy” hosted by Planned Parenthood to “From Seed to Series A” led by VC firm Precursor Ventures.

Mandela SH Dixon, CEO of Founder Gym, spoke extensively about the overarching topic of the conference: the issue of funding disparities for companies founded by people of color. In fact, the funding landscape for minority and women-owned startups continues to be a dismal one, with just 1 percent of venture-backed founders being black and 1.8 percent being Latino. Women-founded startups receive only 9 percent of investments, while the largest portion of startup funding still goes to white (77.1 percent) and Asian founders (17.7 percent) regardless of gender. Dixon offered tips on how to secure the money needed to launch a business when personal finances are the main concern. She offered that “Success is in the follow through,” and that even in the face of racial and gender-specific barriers, the most successful founders of color are those who have found a way to stand out.

The career expo floor was filled to capacity with recruiters, hiring managers, and eager job seekers looking to change the composition of Silicon Valley. The most successful applicants secured on-the-spot interviews and job offers or invitations to company networking receptions held at night. But the networking didn’t stop there—it continued on with marquee night events hosted by Apple, Twitter, Adobe, and Kapor Capital.

I left the conference with new professional connections, potential business collaborators, and a renewed sense of purpose to do my part in changing the narrative for underrepresented minority groups in pursuit of futures in tech entrepreneurship. I know now that what happens at AfroTech is one-of-a-kind, and everyone who believes in supporting the collective power of entrepreneurs of color should be in attendance. Support from the Ain Center has been instrumental, and I hope to continue to share my AfroTech experience and lead a trip to next year’s conference for University of Rochester students will the same goals in mind.

If you’re interested in participating in the conference next year, head over to AfroTech StartUp Database to be considered for speaking engagements, pitch competitions, and angel investments from the AfroTech network.

New on Simon Bizcast: The Consortium at Simon and MBA Class of 2019 Employment Outcomes

SimonBizcast_podcast_logo_MR1_LightIf you’re looking to learn more about the Simon MBA program, check out the latest episodes of Simon Bizcast! 

On this week’s episodeRebekah Lewin, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid, is joined by Angela Petrucco, assistant dean of career management and corporate engagement, to discuss career outcomes for Simon’s MBA Class of 2019. In addition, Angela provides some insight into in-progress results for the Class of 2020, how the internship search is going for the MBA Class of 2021, and her best advice for what prospective or admitted students can do before beginning the MBA to position themselves for career success.

In another recent episodeJulie Sadwick, senior associate director of admissions, sits down for a discussion with several MBA students who are members of The Consortium. The group reflects on the application process, the moment they received their Simon acceptance, their experience at The Consortium’s Orientation Program (OP), what they like most about Rochester, and more!

Panelists include:
Moderator: Chey Savoy ’21 (MBA)
Juceliz Batista ’21 (MBA)
Kitenge Ngongo ’21 (MBA)
Crystal Thompson ’20 (MBA)

It’s not too late to become a member of The Consortium for 2020—contact us at admissions@simon.rochester.edu to learn more.

Check out past episodes of Simon Bizcast on our website, and stay up to date on new episodes by subscribing: search for “Simon Bizcast” in iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify.

Happy listening!