The Leading Independent
Resource for Top-tier MBA
Home » Blog » Real Humans of MBA Students » Real Humans of SMU Cox’s MBA Class of 2024 » Page 4

Real Humans of SMU Cox’s MBA Class of 2024

Image for Real Humans of SMU Cox’s MBA Class of 2024

smu cox class of 2024Irén Manvelova, SMU Cox MBA Class of 2024

Age: 26
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Southern Methodist University (SMU), Class of 2018 – BBA in Finance and BA in Advertising with Strategic Brand Management
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3 Years, Citi, Finance

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I began my career at Citi as a Credit Portfolio Analyst within Risk Management and progressed to Assistant Vice President. My role at Citi has given me an expanded perspective of the multi-faceted implications of risk beyond financial markets. From the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflicts to cybersecurity and climate change, I gained first-hand experience of the impacts that unexpected societal, economic, and political events had on organizations’ decision-making processes.

I’m pursuing my MBA to obtain a comprehensive view of how companies operate, make decisions, and impact stakeholders, especially in today’s dynamic and highly publicized world. My MBA education will give me the challenges and opportunities to acquire the fundamentals for strategy development, creative problem-solving, and purposeful execution across issues that management teams face in an ambiguous world.

Why did you choose SMU Cox? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
As an SMU Cox alumna, I have personal experience in and appreciation of the strength of the Cox brand. Cox is located in the heart of Dallas and echoes the same level of high energy, optimism, and ambition as its hometown. Cox provides the perfect combination of a tight-knit community, rigorous education, widespread networking opportunities, and global exposure that will undoubtedly foster my growth.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
My undergraduate degrees in finance and advertising as well as my experience in banking allow me to seamlessly integrate my quantitative and analytical skills with creative execution. These skills are fundamental to purposeful and data-driven storytelling for group projects, cases, and practicums. As an SMU Cox alumna, I understand and live by the values and culture of SMU, strengthening the Cox community. As a professional with a finance background, I can help my peers navigate through a business education and share my own insights.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
When I was born, the White House sent me a birthday greeting card, signed by former President and First Lady, Bill and Hillary Clinton, to mark the occasion.

Post-MBA career interests:
Alternative assets, consulting

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Taking an introspective journey to discover my personal and professional goals and develop the main reasons behind my desire to go to business school. I enjoyed this time getting to know myself and validating my achievements and intentions to write the most compelling essays.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Don’t dwell on the essays and shorten the timeframe allotted to them. It’s important to note that MBA applications consist of various pieces that are equally important and require a significant amount of time and effort, so managing through that accordingly is key.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Waiting. Waiting for the invitation to interview with admissions and career management office, and then waiting for the final admissions decision. Although SMU Cox was efficient in its communication and the entire interview phase was smooth, I distracted myself after submitting my application by diving into my hobbies and interests.

What is your initial impression of the SMU Cox students/culture/community?
Cox students have a wide range of work and education experience yet come together easily to create a supportive bubble. They are very clear on their goals and hit the ground running on day one. The Cox community is incredibly approachable and helpful in terms of professional networking, classwork, and extracurricular engagement.

What is one thing you have learned about SMU Cox that has surprised you?
Despite the small size of the SMU Cox MBA program, its alumni network is robust and widely spread across industries, geographies, and leadership roles. What’s more, the alumni network is deeply involved and supportive.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Developing an entrepreneurial idea and business plan for the Unbridled Venture Project. This is a mandatory program that requires MBA students to create and present a business plan with a final project presentation to venture capitalists. The goal of the program is to pitch a new product/service in a new or existing venture and acquire funding to launch.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
The Global Leadership Program, which involves a trip abroad to better understand the intersection between business, regulation, and culture.

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.