Allow Me to Introduce … Part 3

Hey readers! Have you heard of CORE Leader? Did you know a current Sternie amongst us is the CEO and founder of this company?

62% of the Stern student body come to school to work in finance, management consulting, or marketing (official Stern statistics here). The remaining 38% pursue non-traditional industries such as non-profit, entertainment, or technology. But there are the special and very talented few that become entrepreneurs during their time at Stern. I am lucky and honored to not only know one of them, but also to call him a dear friend: Chris Shaw.

Chris Shaw Core Leader

Chris is a current full-time MBA2 and a US Army veteran. During his time in the Army, he was stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina (just like me!) and is now CEO and founder of his own company.

Evelyn: Hi Chris! Thanks for sharing your story. Can you tell the readers a little about yourself and what you did before Stern?
Chris: I am from Old Chatham, NY, a small town near Albany and went to Cornell University for undergrad. Before Stern, I flew Kiowa Warrior Armed Reconnaissance helicopters in the US Army for eight years. I deployed to Afghanistan twice, where I mostly flew at night, staring into two round, green TV screens one inch from my eyes (AKA night vision) for about 1,000 hours of my life.

E: Wow! You’ve had an amazing military career. When did you realize you had the “entrepreneur bug”?
C: I actually wanted to start my own company before even applying to Stern. In fact, I didn’t know exactly what my business would be, but I knew that the skills from an MBA degree would help me reach that goal.

E: Can you tell the readers a little about your company, CORE Leader?
C: CORE Leader is a team building business. However, unlike most businesses in this category, we do not do “trust falls” or scavenger hunts. Instead, we teach a battle-tested form of dynamic problem solving and reinforce it with a mobile, military-style challenge course. Think “Tough Mudder” meets “Escape the Room”.

E: What are some of your favorite parts about being a CEO, founder, and entrepreneur?
C: I like that I can set my own priorities and focus entirely on what is important to me. I enjoy not only coming up with features of the brand and the product experience, but also testing out new ideas without seeking approval. Finally, I like the feeling of making a sale and knowing that I just made my business more valuable and financially stable.

E: I can only imagine how tough an entrepreneur’s journey is at the beginning. How has Stern supported you as an entrepreneur?
C: Stern has been instrumental to CORE’s success. Besides the knowledge I’ve gained through their classes, the Berkeley Center awarded me a $10,000 fellowship grant to support my work this summer. I couldn’t have asked for better support from the school.

E: What classes at Stern best prepared you for CORE Leader success?
C: I used lessons from every class I took at Stern while starting CORE. A few examples really stand out though. A combination of Accounting and Corporate Finance allowed me to put numbers to the business plan. Brand Strategy helped me understand my personal brand and how I could turn it into a highly differentiated business. Social Problem Based Entrepreneurship walked me through the development of a business plan, which resulted in a solid foundation for the getting the company off the ground.

E: If you had advice for an entrepreneur pursuing an MBA, what would you tell them?
C: Getting an MBA will definitely make you a better entrepreneur, no matter how deep your prior subject matter expertise in your venture’s industry. Every class you take will give you tools to make smarter business decisions as a founder.

E: Okay, time for my favorite part. Evelyn’s Quickfire Attack: KMC elevator or stairs?
C: Oh man. I’m the worst and I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but… sometimes I take the elevator to the 2nd floor!

E: If you want to catch up with a friend: Sosnoff or 4th Floor Starbucks Lounge? (if neither – list where)
C: I like to hang out in the lobby after classes to catch up with people.

E: Finally, what does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
C: Taking on all the risk and reaping the potential reward (or enduring the failure) of a new business. It is a hard path. It can be uncertain and lonely. If it is your calling – if, as Prof. Galloway says “you feel like you just have to do it” in spite of the inevitably bleak risk-adjusted reward possibility – then commit to it and go at it, full force. If you hesitate at all, you will find it very hard to do what it takes to really succeed.

Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Chris! Learn more about CORE Leader here.

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Allow Me to Introduce … Part 2

In honor of Veterans Day this November, I am proud to announce that the Military Veterans Club at Stern will be holding the first ever “NYU Stern Veterans Week” this year. We will have a variety of events for the Stern community such as an MBA veterans Q&A panel where Sternies can ask us about our military experiences, a bootcamp workout session, and a guest speaker event featuring a retired two-star general officer.

VeteransWeek2015

It was an easy decision that my second coffee chat in this blog should be with a fellow MBA veteran here at Stern. To give a fresh perspective to the Stern experience, I sat down with Todd Gardner from Lexington, North Carolina, US Army veteran, and full-time MBA1 student. Todd is currently recruiting for finance after spending the past seven years with the 3rd Special Forces Group out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina (Airborne!).

Evelyn: Hi Todd! Can you tell the readers how you and I first met?
Todd: We initially met at Stern’s Veterans Summit Day for prospective students in 2014. It was a fantastic event!

E: As military vets, our backgrounds are usually quite different than some of our classmates’. What did you do before Stern?
T: Prior to coming to Stern, I was working in the Army as a Special Forces Engineer, also known as a Green Beret. Some highlights of my job were going on three deployments to Afghanistan, becoming the team expert on everything related to explosives, working with some of the most talented and driven individuals I’ve ever met, and frequently jumping out of airplanes and helicopters. Okay, I’m lying about that last one – I always mildly hated it. But other than that, it was truly a dream job.

E: Like many of the blog readers, you were probably considering a few different MBA programs when applying. When did you realize that Stern was the right choice for you?
T: I first visited Stern through the previously mentioned Veteran Summit Day, “A Day in the Life” at Stern organized by the current MBA veterans. The more that I interacted with everyone in the Stern community, the more I realized that Stern really believed in admitting well-rounded students. Stern checked all of the boxes for things I really valued in a business school experience.

E: I know you’re only into your first semester, but what is your favorite class at Stern so far?
T: Foundations of Finance, with Professor Silber, has been my most enjoyable (and probably toughest) class so far. It’s challenging, but interesting, and I think that he’s an outstanding and extremely engaging professor.

E: Now on to the really important questions … Where is your favorite place to grab lunch around Stern?
T: Coming from the South, I was extremely hesitant to move to NYC because of the depressing lack of Chick-fil-A’s in the city. As it turns out, the only one in the entire city is only two blocks away. So yeah, I guess that’s my favorite. (Editor’s note: As of Oct 3, the Chick-fil-A flagship in NYC opened in Midtown. See you in line, Todd!)

E: Complete this sentence “When I have 30 minutes free on campus I like to …”
T: You can usually find me in the school lobby, where it’s nice to run into friends and catch up for a bit between classes.

E: Quick fire question time! KMC elevator or stairs?
T: Stairs, but my cutoff is the 5th floor. If I’m going to the 6th floor or higher, I’m definitely riding the elevator.

E: If you want to catch up with a friend: Sosnoff or 4th Floor Starbucks Lounge? (if neither – list where)
T: Neither. Other people like grabbing coffee, I prefer to grab a beer. Luckily there are a few solid watering holes around Stern that have been great to catch up with friends as well as get some studying done.

E: With Veterans Day coming up, what does being a veteran at Stern mean to you?
T: It means two things to me. First, it’s being a part of a very tight-knit community that is extremely supportive and very diverse. The Stern veterans have such varied background and are some of the most well-rounded people I’ve met. It’s an honor to be a part of the Stern vets community. Second, many of my classmates had never personally known any military veterans, so it has been fun getting to share my military stories and experiences with them. 

Thanks for sharing your story, Todd! And Happy Veterans Day, everyone!

Hello, My Name is …

Hey everyone! Evelyn here, reporting from East Village, NYC! The weather is a brisk 30*F, with wind chills of — oh, sorry, not that kind of report!

This is my first post for the Stern Blog and I am so excited to “meet” everyone! I hope that my point of view may help some of you as you progress in your MBA journey.

Since this is my first post, I wanted to introduce myself properly, share my background, and explain why I came to Stern.

I grew up right outside of Boston, MA. After high school, I decided to attend West Point, which is a 4-year service academy where graduates go straight into the military as Army officers. I spent 5 years in the Army as a communications technology officer. In layman’s terms, my soldiers and I were responsible for making sure everyone we worked with had stable internet and phone connections whether training in the backwoods of North Carolina (Airborne!) or at war in Afghanistan.

When I wasn’t dealing with servers, routers, and parachutes, I was always keeping up with pop culture. Movies, TV shows, celebrity he said/she said headlines, and more. As my military contract was coming to an end, I did some major self-reflection on what I’m truly passionate about in life, what I spend my free time pursuing, and trying to see if there was a business function tied to that industry. Here was the following criteria that I gave myself when selecting an MBA program:

 – Does this MBA program have a strong entertainment-friendly curriculum? (Check! Stern has one of the top Entertainment MBA programs in the country)

  – After 5 years between Texas, Afghanistan, and North Carolina, is this MBA program closer to my family? (Check! NYC – Boston is just a 4 hour bus ride)

 – Is the location somewhere I can see myself having a healthy lively social life? (Check! New York City … Need I explain further?)

 – Do I like the Stern culture? (Check! I visited the campus a few months before my application deadline and fell in love with the friendly study body)

This is not and should not be a universal check list for every MBA applicant. I encourage all of you to make your own personal checklist of priorities and how each and every MBA program measures up against it.

I do not believe in blindly applying to MBA programs just because they top the US News & World Report rankings that year. There is no shoo-in pre-MBA career field, no magic GPA or GMAT score, and no perfect answer to what you want to do after your MBA. Once you figure out what inspires you, then and only then, should you research what schools are a good fit for those goals (and hopefully Stern ends up on that list!)

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! Stern gives us the entire week off for Thanksgiving (+10 points for NYU) so I will be home in Boston enjoying my mom’s Chinese food. Have a great break!