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Real Humans of Rochester Simon’s MBA Class of 2022

Kristen Alcazaren, Simon MBA Class of 2022

Age:  28
Hometown: Buffalo, New York 
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University at Buffalo, Industrial & Systems Engineering
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry):  5 years at a Fortune 300 within the Manufacturing & Chemical Industry as a Process Improvement Engineer

Why business school? Why now? 
I decided to go to business school because I would like to eventually enter politics. Currently, I have my social values aligned, but to make intelligent decisions in regards to businesses, I need to learn the intricacies of how businesses can be both equitable and profitable. I firmly believe that our current political climate can be changed to allow more bi-partisan cooperation through a more fact-driven decision-making process. Simon’s diverse community is allowing me to gain further insight into other’s experiences, as well as laying the groundwork for the business world.

Why Rochester Simon? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
One of the most important factors for me in choosing a business school was being part of a cohesive and cooperative community with intimate cohorts. As a Top 30 Business School, Simon not only has that community aspect I want, but they also have a STEM-designated MBA program and a Pricing concentration track. As an engineer pivoting into consulting, I wanted a school with quantitative strength and Simon is a stronghold in the qualitative and quantitative realm.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
What makes me MVP is my team captain spirit. I firmly believe that each player has a strength to share and as a diverse, hardworking unit, the team will accomplish the impossible. In undergrad, I was the coxswain for the Men’s Club Crew team and learned how to be a successful leader within a male-dominated community. I was able to accomplish this because they provided me insight into the values, goals, and aspirations that men have. I have been able to take these lessons into my professional career where I managed the implementation of an asset tracking program. For this project to be successful, I understood that I needed to demonstrate the specific benefits that would benefit whoever was my audience. For example, if I was presenting to the C-suite I would discuss the cost savings and revenue streams of the project, whereas, with the manufacturing floor, I would express the inventory management and time-saving benefits of the project. This capability of learning each group’s needs and wants to bring unity and success to a project is the value I bring to Simon.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? 
I am the world’s biggest Buffalo Bills fan and having lived in Chicago for the past five years, I am ecstatic to be back in Bills territory!

Post-MBA career interests? 
I aspire to be a Strategy and Growth consultant with a focus on emerging markets. I want to use my privilege and business acumen to develop sustainable and equitable solutions to business challenges.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Visit the school! I was fortunate enough to be invited to Experience Simon Weekend and it was an excellent way to not only see the beautiful campus but also fully immerse myself in the true Simon culture. Although COVID has shaken things up, Simon is still hosting virtual events that showcase the best that Simon has to offer. I have been fortunate enough to be able to participate in these recruiting events and I am excited to meet the incoming class!

–One thing you would change or do differently?   
When I was in the middle of Simon’s admission process, the company I worked for went through a merger, my position was eliminated, and I was cordially let go. I was devastated and questioned my capabilities. If I could do the process over again, I would not have questioned myself and been ashamed. All my experience running lean events, coding optimization programs, organizing charity events, implementing a tracking program – all of the skills I had learned – could never be taken away from me. Simon recognizes the values I bring to the table and I am honored to be able to forge my path forward with Simon.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Standardized tests will forever be the bane of my existence and they seemed particularly challenging when working full-time. To address this, though, I turned to two main tools: the Manhattan Prep GMAT/GRE mobile app and the Brain Focus mobile app. Manhattan Prep was an excellent on-the-go tool in which you could practice all sections of the exam on your phone with detailed feedback. The best tool I found is Brain Focus which is an app that splits up your study/work time into four 25 minute sessions with five-minute breaks in between each and after the fourth session, you get a 20-minute break. This has become an invaluable tool that I still use during B-School!

What is your initial impression of Rochester Simon’s students/culture/community?
I probably say at least once a week that I am so happy that I chose Simon to be the community I develop and flourish in. I am most proud that Simon has taken two recent main events seriously: the COVID-19 crisis and the reignition of the Black Lives Matter Movements. In regards to COVID, they have been able to safely remain open in a seamless hybrid capacity; leaving it up to the students if we’d like to join in person or online. In regards to the injustices faced by our Black families and friends, Simon has kept in continuous contact with students to not only educate us in regards to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity but also provided outlets and safe spaces to speak and heal from these tragedies. This continuous strive for equality and support is what makes me most proud to attend Simon.

One thing you have learned about Rochester Simon that has surprised you? 
The biggest thing that surprised me is how beautiful the campus is. The Genesee River runs along one side of campus and has a captivating view of the downtown Rochester cityscape. I live close enough to campus that I can bike to school along the bike path. Riding through nature is very therapeutic after a hard day’s work!

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? 
Recruiting is probably the most daunting adventure for first years. Simon, however, is top-notch at preparing us for our careers. As soon as you accept your offer, Simon’s Bennet Career Center will begin working with you to prepare your resume, define your pitch, perform mock interviews – all to prepare us for pre-MBA conferences. During school, the career support continues with alumni panels, Career Action Teams, casing prep and so much more. I am confident that the Class of 2022 will have a successful recruiting season.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am most excited about forging new friendships and partnerships with my peers. The deciding factor for me to join Simon was meeting my potential classmates and being truly inspired by their passions and expansive knowledge. At Simon, we are a team and together we reach new heights.

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

Schools: Rochester / Simon

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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