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Real Humans of Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class of 2022

Marty Lee, Johnson MBA Class of 2022

Age: 31
Hometown: Toronto Ontario
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Elmira College, Accounting and Economics
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): I spent three years at Deloitte in their Audit & Assurance practice obtaining my CPA. After that, I took on a role running Finance at a business unit that was recently acquired by Constellation Software (Canada’s largest software company). In this role, I was fortunate enough to help establish a Merger & Acquisition team at the business unit. After that, I ran finance at a software startup based out of Toronto.

Why business school? Why now?
My role at Constellation Software opened my eyes to the world of investment banking.  I loved the excitement and the nature of the work. As I transitioned to the software startup, I got broader exposure to investment banking activities such as capital markets. This furthered my drive to go back to school, get my MBA, and transition into the industry full-time.

Why Cornell Johnson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
As I was considering which Business School was the right fit for me, I took every opportunity I could to connect directly with the school and with students. I placed a lot of value on hearing directly from students who were in the program. After talking to a few second-year students and sitting in on a class I had an opportunity to see firsthand the tight-knit community culture at Johnson. I had spent my whole life playing sports and my interactions with Johnson made me feel like I was part of a team rather than just an individual. That has always been an environment that I thrive in and I was excited at an opportunity to experience that for two years in Ithaca.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
Prior to beginning my professional career, I had an opportunity to be a professional hockey player for three years.  Through that experience, I learned invaluable lessons about what it takes to be a part of a team both as a teammate and as a leader. Having learned to harness these learnings and apply them in a corporate setting for the past few years allows me to contribute in many ways to the Class of 2022 and life at Johnson.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? 
As I submitted my application to Johnson, my wife and I were expecting our first child.  Fast forward a year, and my wife and I are in Ithaca with our daughter. The Joint Ventures group at Johnson has been fantastic in terms of engaging all family members into life in Ithaca.

Post-MBA career interests?
Post MBA I am looking to transition into Investment Banking.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
During my application process, I took the “Back of the Resume” video as an amazing opportunity to let the admissions staff get to know me. I thought my essays were well done, but it is hard to convey something you are passionate about and your personality in 500 words.  I strongly suggest getting creative and utilizing that part of the application to highlight who you really are.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would have spent less time thinking about what the admissions team wants to hear and more time focusing on my story and why an MBA makes sense for me. I think a lot of applicants have this vision of the perfect candidate in their head and stress about how their profile stacks up. Being at Johnson I can see firsthand the extremely diverse class we have and the wide range of background and experience.  I would emphasize focusing on your own story and not worry about other applicants.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I took the approach of completing my application over the course of a month.  My first draft essay to the essay I submitted was drastically different.  I thought it was extremely beneficial to take a day or two and revisit the essay and see if it still made sense and if it was conveying my story.  I would have loved to skip that time commitment to the application if I could have, but I truly think it made my application that much better.  What really got me through that process was talking through the application with my family and wife.  Getting their perspectives about me and being able to ask them to read my essays and see if they made sense kept me motivated and helped strengthen my responses.

What is your initial impression of Cornell Johnson’s students/culture/community?
My initial impression of Johnson’s students/culture/community is that it is exactly as advertised. The experiences with the school and community through the recruitment process were dead-on in terms of how things are as a full-time student. I have had an amazing time bonding with my fellow first years, and love working with my Core group.  I also cannot believe the effort that second years put in helping us through the process and with recruiting.  It is truly something special.

One thing you have learned about Cornell Johnson that has surprised you?
One thing that I learned that surprised me is specific to investment banking, but just how well-respected Johnson is on Wall Street.  Through the recruiting process, I knew that the immersion program was an amazing opportunity to prepare you for life on the job, but in the past couple weeks, there have been numerous articles that have come out highlighting the strength of the Johnson program in terms of preparing bankers for life on Wall Street.  It is nice to see this third-party unbiased feedback on the strength of the program.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? 
2020 has been a year of adjusting to virtual events.  I was anxious about how business school would be in a virtual/hybrid environment.  What I can say though is that Johnson has done a fantastic job to date in terms of making this a very smooth process.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am most excited about getting to meet my classmates.  The people that I have gotten to know so far all have incredible stories and everyone comes to conversations with a wide degree of perspectives.  It is amazing to get to know people and learn about each person’s perspective on a situation.  I find myself becoming a more well-rounded person through each interaction that I have.

Posted in: Real Humans of MBA Class of 2022, Real Humans of MBA Students

Schools: Cornell / Johnson

About the Author


Christina Griffith  

Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.

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