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In honor of our J-Termers, we’re highlighting one of our newest additions to the board, Garrett Suits Barnard. Garrett joins as an AVP of Social a member of Cluster X, Class of 2020. Before CBS, he grew up partly near San Francisco for 12 years and then his family moved to Syracuse, NY, when he spent his high school years. After that, Garrett was a collegiate athlete/ football player at Harvard University. Upon graduating in 2013, he went straight into tech, working for a small tech startup and then moving on to a number of roles at IBM, most recently working in product management on AI & also blockchain supply chain solutions.

1)What motivated you to attend CBS? How has your experience so far helped you achieve your personal vision & goals?

Upon moving to NYC, I began working for an accomplished entrepreneur who had graduated from CBS some years back. His influence in my day to day life really helped motivate me in getting my MBA. When I felt ready to apply, he graciously wrote me a letter of recommendation and was ecstatic that I accepted a spot at his alma mater.

As a J-termer, I am deep into my core classes. Not having any type of quantitative background, it’s been quite a learning curve.But this was part of the reasoning behind going back to get my MBA – to round out those areas of expertise that I’d need to be a successful professional. The other part of going back to school was to broaden my personal and professional networks. Having come out as gay to a handful of close friends and family over the years, though not entirely comfortable with letting everyone know at work or in general, this time I decided that I was going to live a bit differently at CBS and be open to everyone about who I am. So, on Day 2 of Orientation during our diversity talks, I let my whole cluster know that I was gay. I’m happy to say that it was the most nervous I’ve been, but also the most rewarding thing I think I could have done. In such a short time, I’ve made amazing friends who’ve accepted me for who I am and who I choose to love.

2)What do you love about being part of Cluster Q?

What I’ve enjoyed most about Cluster Q so far has been getting to know people from a number of different diverse backgrounds. Not having many LGBTQ+ friends beforehand, I feel like I’ve been immediately accepted into a very caring & fun group and I am excited to see what the future has in store for us! I’ve recently applied for and become one of the new Cluster Q Social AVPs. So, I’ll certainly have a hand in helping shape our social calendar. I plan on setting up more cross-grad school events, NYC outings, and smaller dinners & socials to get to know the rest of the group even better!

3)Why do you think more LGBTQ+ should apply to CBS (or business school in general)?

I was personally surprised at the lack of LGBTQ diversity in our J-Term program. I feel that the CBS community is very open and welcoming of all backgrounds and that the LGBTQ community could do wonders with more people applying and getting accepted! I’d love to see more tech-oriented people apply as well. Business school is not just for consultants and Wall Street – there are a number of diverse people across our class and I’m here to reiterate that there is no mold for you to fit to when applying to the program.

4)How would you describe the broader CBS community?

Only having been on campus for about 3 months now, I’m still getting acclimated. My goal is to get to know a handful of new people each week. With all of the socials, club events, & cluster events happening around campus and around NYC, I do feel like I have been able to notice more friendly faces in Uris Library and that’s really exciting for me! Spring break also helped facilitate getting to know our broader J-Term class.

5)If you were stranded on an island with 2 LGBTQ+ leaders, who would they be?

Gus Kenworthy (for the stories, duh) & Tim Cook (because Corporate America needs more openly gay CEOs!)

6)What advice do you have for applicants considering CBS?

I touched on this above, but if you are thinking of applying, just do it! There’s no one-size-fits-all applicant. Columbia Business School is becoming more diverse every year. Last year, I needed a little extra motivation from my family and peer networks because I didn’t think I was ready to apply. But it ended up working out – and I’m not sure I would have followed through in applying had it not been for the tremendous support of those close to me. It’s not an easy process, but it is one that can really change your life. And, I’m so glad I applied because the friendships I’ve already made will certainly last a long time and will span the globe, both personally and professionally. So, take the time to show the admissions team why you’re truly one of a kind as well!

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Starting off the 2018-19 academic year, we introduce Rob Zochowski, a member of EMBA-B Class of 2019. Rob works at Goldman Sachs Asset Management as an ETF and Mutual Fund Product Strategist and has been at Goldman in various roles for 6 years. Rob is originally from Chatham, NJ and attained his B.A. in Economics from Georgetown University.

1) What motivated you to attend CBS? How has your experience so far helped you achieve your personal vision & goals? 

Having worked for several years, I was looking to take my career to the next level of leadership and management responsibilities. When I looked at senior leaders in my organization, many of them had diverse career experience which often included an MBA or CFA designation. In addition, I also wanted to explore other career specialties in economic development and sustainability. CBS has a fantastic reputation for business and management education generally and also provides students exposure to Social Entrepreneurship through the Tamer Center. I undoubtedly made the right choice.

CBS has provided an incredible business background, enhancing both my leadership, strategy, and technical skills as well as exposing me to several opportunities in the social sector. As part of the Non-Profit Board Leadership Program, I had the opportunity to consult for the National MS Society in a semester-long project that was presented to the Society’s National Board of Directors. On my South Africa immersion experience, I had the opportunity to learn about the legacy of the apartheid system and provide business expertise to a new venture focusing on internet connectivity and access to co-working spaces in economically depressed areas. Lastly, I just had the opportunity to complete a trip to Mozambique where I worked with the World Wildlife Fund to facilitate a workshop on sustainable economic development in the country. As a follow-up, a fellow MBA student and I are drafting a pilot for natural gas distribution to replace charcoal as a primary cooking and heating fuel to promote forest conservation.

2) What do you love about being part of Cluster Q?

Cluster Q has helped me to get to know more full time MBAs and helped me to grow in my own confidence as an “out” business professional. Attending ROMBA last year at the urging of Cluster Q was one of the most powerful experiences. Standing among 1,500+ LBGTQIA MBA students and surrounded by professionals from 75+ of the most prestigious companies all recruiting diverse employees was an exceptionally poignant juxtaposition to the video shown of the first ROMBA conference in 1997 where just a handful of students and companies attended. It made me realize how far the community has come, how much gratitude I owe to the generation before us who stood up every day for representation and rights, and how much I need to keep doing to ensure equality of access and representation for the next generation.

3) Why do you think more LGBTQ+ should apply to CBS (or business school in general)?

When I first came out, I remember being concerned that there wasn’t a place for me in top companies or in the broader business world. That is not the case. Everyone has a seat at the table. That said, getting my MBA has provided me with a space to build my confidence, leadership, and capabilities. I am substantially more sure of myself than I was when I entered.

4) How would you describe the broader CBS community?

The broader CBS community has a culture of hard work, passion, and care for the world. I get so proud every time I walk across the main campus walk thinking of the legacy of men and women who have contributed to and built the university.

5) If you were stranded on an island with 2 LGBTQ+ leaders, who would they be?

Neil Patrick Harris and Tom Daley

6) What advice do you have for applicants considering CBS?

If you are thinking about it, go ahead and apply. You will not regret it.

MARCH 2017

This month, we are featuring one of our AVPs of Outreach, Dan Kempson!

1) What motivated you to attend CBS? How has your experience so far helped you achieve your personal vision & goals? 
I wanted to go to school in NYC - but of any school I visited, the LGBT community at CBS was the strongest and most integrated.

2) What do you love about being part of Cluster Q?
Of all my clubs, Cluster Q has the most varied mix of events, from social retreats to campus activism to career networking events to community outreach.

3) Why do you think more LGBTQ+ should apply to CBS (or business school in general)?
A company's success is predicated on variety and diversity of thought. Thought is influenced by education, background, and personage. CBS understands this, and truly champions a diverse student body as the key to our future success as business leaders.

4) How would you describe the broader CBS community?
Open, adventurous, and intellectually curious.

5) If you were stranded on an island with 2 LGBTQ+ leaders, who would they be?
RuPaul and Barney Frank.

6) What advice do you have for applicants considering CBS?
I think Admissions wants to know what you will BRING to CBS more than what you will get out of coming to CBS. Share your talents, share your uniqueness, share your experiences.

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FEBRUARY 2017

Learn more from one of Cluster Q's Co-Presidents of 2016-2017, Annie Kurdziel.  Prior to CBS, Annie served as the Director of Talent & Recruitment for Building Excellent Schools, a national nonprofit organization committed to improving the academic achievement of under-served students in the nation's urban centers.  Upon graduating from CBS, she will be joining McKinsey as a management consultant based out of its Chicago office.
 

1) What motivated you to attend CBS? How has your experience so far helped you achieve your personal vision & goals? 
I was motivated to go to business school because long-term I want to work in urban education and help create an equitable system for all students across the United States. Schools are organizations, and although they are not a business the lessons of leadership, finance, operations, etc. are just as applicable to a school district as they are to a for-profit business. CBS was a great fit because not only is it the 'very center of business' but also the very center of education reform in the United States. The connections that we have to Columbia University as a whole - with programs like the Center for Public Research and Leadership - and the city of New York have helped shaped my vision for what educational equity can look like in the US. Additionally, CBS creates strong, analytical thinkers. I look forward to continuing to build that skill set as a consultant immediately after school, and look forward to returning to education reform as a strong leader in the future.

2) What do you love about being part of Cluster Q?
The people. The current students, alums, and network of Allies has helped make CBS a supportive environment before I even started at CBS.

3) Why do you think more LGBTQ+ should apply to CBS (or business school in general)?
Our world needs strong leaders who can change multiple aspects of our world. Business is one of the key drivers in society and the more we have strong LGBTQ leaders shaping that aspect of our world, the more I believe we can drive positive business change.

4) Who inspires you, and why?
My family. My mother - she's the hardest working, and most empathetic woman I know. My father - his faith and patience are unparalleled. My Aunts and Uncles - they support all of their nieces and nephews, and keep our family having fun (and my NYC uncles especially for feeding me). My cousins - I don't have brothers, but I always feel like I have people to look up to as advisors and friends because of them. My in-laws - I didn't know I could love new people so quickly because of their generosity and zest for life. My wife - she exemplifies what it means to live selflessly and is completely my better half.

5) What makes you happy?
Puppies, ice cream, silly YouTube videos and dancing. Lots of dancing.

6) What are you reading (other than cases and textbooks)?
Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett

7) How would you describe the broader CBS community?
Collaborative - everyone wants others to succeed.

8) What advice do you have for applicants considering CBS?
Come to campus. See a CBS Matters. Trust your gut.

JANUARY 2017

This month, we feature our VP of Careers, Lev Eldemir!  He was also actively involved as part of the ROMBA 2016 Conference Student Leadership Team. 

1) What motivated you to attend CBS? How has your experience so far helped you achieve your personal vision & goals? 
Community. The CBS community is extremely inclusive & supportive, and I consistently rely on both my LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ networks to help me think through my personal and career goals.

2) What do you love about being part of Cluster Q?
I've made some of my best friends at Columbia through Cluster Q!

3) Why do you think more LGBTQ+ should apply to CBS (or business school in general)?
The LGBTQ+ community has a very diverse perspective and that is something we need in senior management! This not only will drive change in industries a student cares about, but will also drive social change. Business plays such an important role in shaping the social environment in America and we thus need LGBTQ+ leaders in these roles!

4) What makes you happy?
Yoga, volleyball, and fun with my Qs!

5) What or who inspires you?
Generally, resilience - people who face adversity and failure, but can continue to push through any challenge.

6) How would you describe the broader CBS community?
Diverse, innovative, talented, supportive, fun.

7) What advice do you have for applicants considering CBS?
Don't be discouraged at all if you are waitlisted. Make sure to continue to show your interest and be proactive about working closely with Admissions to identify any areas of weakness in your application and a plan of action to strengthen your candidacy! I personally was waitlisted and I've seen a ton of current students also come off the waitlist.

DECEMBER 2016

As we kickoff our Spotlight On: Cluster Q activities today, we are excited to introduce Weiqing Shi, a first-year MBA (CBS ’18) from Shanghai and proud member of Cluster Q!

Prior to CBS, he worked for over 3 years at The Parthenon Group, advising corporate and private equity clients focused in the education space.Learn more about Weiqing below!

1) What motivated you to attend CBS? How has your experience so far helped you achieve your personal vision & goals? 
What motivated me to come to CBS is switching into consumer-facing industries as well as gaining international exposure which I think is valuable not only to my career but also to my life experience. 
So far, the core curriculum at CBS has been inspiring and has definitely helped me get more prepared for the future challenges. I never thought I would be interested in corporate finance, but it is now one of my favorite courses!

2) What do you love about being part of Cluster Q?
All of the support and friends I get from it! Everyone is so nice.

3) Why do you think more LGBTQ+ should apply to CBS (or business school in general)?
I think the visibility of the community in every aspect of life (not only the business arena but also many others) is very important for the next generation to build up their confidence and self-assurance.

4) Who inspires you, and why?
A partner at a consulting firm in Shanghai when I was recruiting at undergrad. He was representing the firm’s LGBT initiative which was not common in China. I still remember how excited I was at the moment seeing that someone from our community was out there being successful and confidently talking about his identity – this goes back to why I think more LGBTQ+ should apply to business schools and be there, been seen.

5) What makes you happy?
Weekend in bed reading or going brunch with friends.

6) What are you reading (other than cases and textbooks)?
Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China.

7) How would you describe the broader CBS community?
Connected and passionate. I also want to point out that CBS is definitely not a “finance school” (even though we are strong in finance). There’s a wide spectrum of background and interest among students and you can always find someone to talk to about your career, whether to learn from their past experience or to live through the recruitment hand-in-hand.

8) What advice do you have for applicants considering CBS?
Reach out to us and chat! It is definitely the best way for you to learn more about the school.