The Leading Independent
Resource for Top-tier MBA
Home » Blog » Real Humans of MBA Students » Real Humans of MBA Class of 2023 » Real Humans of Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class of 2023 » Page 3

Real Humans of Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class of 2023

Image for Real Humans of Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class of 2023

johnson mba classBeto Duron, Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class of 2023

Age: 29
Hometown: El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
Undergraduate Institution and Major: The University of Texas at El Paso, Accounting
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): I spent six years working in the financial services sector. I started my career as an investment banker in New York City with RBC Capital Markets. I then spent almost three years as part of the investment team at WP Global Partners (a lower middle-market private equity firm). 

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
After six years working in financial services, I realized I was not passionate about what I was doing. During my time in private equity, I had the opportunity to invest in several agriculture companies, which ultimately led me to discover my passion of helping solve the challenges associated with feeding the world. Additionally, through my participation as a board observer to several of our portfolio companies, I saw first-hand the value an MBA provides as I noticed several differences between executives that had an MBA and those who didn’t. As I intend to pivot into a completely different industry and take on more mid and upper-level management roles, I see the MBA as the perfect catalyst to get me there and develop into a leader that can drive beneficial change.

Why did you choose Cornell? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I chose Cornell Johnson for two reasons, the tight-knit community, and the opportunities available outside of Johnson in the overall Cornell ecosystem. I wanted to attend a program with a small class size and preferably in a place outside a large metropolitan area. I think these two things help build long lasting relationships with your classmates as opposed to a program with a big class size and located in a metropolitan area. I plan to work in the agriculture industry post-MBA. At Johnson you are allowed to take several electives outside of the business school and I plan to take most of mine at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). I believe that learning about the industry, through a non-business lens, will allow me to contribute in more meaningful ways to future opportunities. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
I have been fortunate enough to have worked in a wide range of transactions while at banking and private equity. I believe this allows me to provide my classmates insights as to how investors, and more broadly Wall Street, tend to think about business topics differently than other stakeholders.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I am very passionate about growing my own food. I started and have developed a 500 sq feet urban food forest back home in Texas that produces a wide variety of delicious fruit and vegetables that we share with the neighborhood every season. 

Post-MBA career interests:
I want to pivot into general management / leadership development programs within food production and agriculture. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Take the time to network and speak with multiple students and professors. This was tremendously helpful during the essay writing and interview process.

– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have applied in round one as opposed to round two. This would have given me more time to prepare for school, find housing, network with future classmates/faculty, etc. 

– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GMAT – I believe the test is different for everyone depending on their current situation. I was working 80-hour weeks during the time I studied for the test making it one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. 

What is your initial impression of Cornell’s students/culture/community?
The culture at Cornell encourages students to get involved during our time here. This is refreshing as everyone contributes to improving the program for future generations. Additionally, the openness with faculty, staff with students helps enhance everyone’s experience on multiple levels (educational, social and professional). 

What is one thing you have learned about Cornell Johnson that has surprised you?
Cornell is a very hilly campus! I enjoy riding my bike to school, but sometimes getting around campus is challenging given the number of hills. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
In a way, the pandemic made it easier to apply and interview with a wide range of business schools. I would argue that the only downside was not having the opportunity to visit Ithaca and Cornell before attending. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am most anxious about successfully transitioning my mindset from working full-time to being a student full-time. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am most excited about starting the SGE Intensive (formally known as the Sustainability Immersion). The SGE Intensive offered at Johnson is unique and no other business school has such a program. I am looking forward to diving into the intersection between business and sustainability. 

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.