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Real Humans of Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class of 2022

Monica Duffy, Johnson MBA Class of 2022

Age: 28
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Denver, BSBA in Marketing
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): I spent six years working at Wells Fargo in Energy Finance. I started as an analyst in the Corporate & Investment Banking Energy Group underwriting loans for oil & gas companies based in Denver. Most recently, I was a Vice President in the Energy Division of Strategic Capital, which is the principal investment group of Wells Fargo. In this group, we executed on private investments (common and preferred equity, as well as subordinated debt) in the broader energy space.

Why business school? Why now? 
As mentioned previously, I spent the last six years in energy finance – primarily focused on traditional energy and fossil fuels. Though the product is currently vital to our basic needs, I’ve had an insider’s look into an industry that is ultimately environmentally destructive. I intend to utilize my MBA experience at Cornell Johnson to pivot to a career that will make a net positive impact on the world. I knew that business school would open doors and enable me to change my career trajectory without sacrificing career progress.

Why Cornell Johnson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I was initially excited about Johnson because of the invigorating culture, distinctive faculty, academic programs, and stunning location in Ithaca, NY. Furthermore, I was offered the Roy H. Park Fellowship, which is a robust leadership development program, in addition to the MBA curriculum. This unique fellowship solidified my decision to come to Cornell Johnson as it provided an additional opportunity to cultivate leadership skills that will be vital to professional success and personal fulfillment.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
My most valuable contribution to the Class of 2022 is my passion for making the world a better place. This will be an intention and theme in all my contributions at Johnson and beyond.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? 
I am an avid skier! Skiing is my happy place. I lived in Colorado for almost eight years and was in the mountains every weekend throughout the ski season. My goal is to explore mountains around the world. The next location on my bucket list is the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan.

Post-MBA career interests? 
I am interested in pivoting my career to an environmentally and/or socially-minded path. Right now, I am exploring careers in Strategy Consulting and Impact Investing. To aid in this exploration, I became a member of the Consulting Club, as well as the Sustainable Global Enterprise Club.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Take the time to visit each school. Campus culture varies across MBA programs and it’s important to make sure you have an accurate feel for each program. All applicants have unique needs and priorities. It’s critical to find the right fit for you.

–One thing you would change or do differently?             
Start the process early. Many MBA programs offer introductory events that I wish I had taken advantage of. Johnson offers Johnson Women in Business (JWIB), which is an annual female student hosting event for prospective applicants. Many of my friends attribute this weekend as one of the primary reasons they decided on Johnson!

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Unequivocally – the GMAT! I spent way too much time focusing on the GMAT. Although it is an important part of the application process, it is not the only thing that matters. Set a goal, but allow yourself to be flexible. This mindset helped me power through and recognize when it was time to move on to other areas of the application process.

What is your initial impression of Cornell Johnson’s students/culture/community?
I am incredibly impressed by the community at Johnson. It is unique to find a culture that invokes such camaraderie and acceptance in the world of highly regarded business schools. I genuinely feel that the people I have met are kind, motivated and incredibly smart individuals, with no air of pretentiousness. Overall, I’m thrilled to have chosen Johnson and I have felt welcomed and supported since day one.

One thing you have learned about Cornell Johnson that has surprised you? 
I am amazed by the tremendous support system in place at Johnson. Everyone – from peers to second years, to staff and faculty – is cheering you on the entire way. This was especially noticeable during my first semester while operating in a hybrid (in-person/virtual) environment during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? 
Making sure I fit everything in! It is a challenge to juggle networking, recruiting, and studying. There are so many activities, clubs, and opportunities I want to take advantage of while at Johnson.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Participating in the Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion in my second semester. Johnson emphasizes the importance of sustainability – evidenced by offering this immersion. I know that this experience will be crucial for my post-MBA endeavors. I’m excited for all it has to offer!

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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