Ds Scholarship

Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Sydney McNeal, Columbia Business School

“A recovering child actor uses creative thinking to generate and implement new solutions to complex problems.”

hometown: Montclair, New Jersey

Fun fact about yourself: My first job after college was at an institution that focused on the successful reintegration of previously imprisoned individuals into society in Rabat, Morocco.

Undergraduate school and major: Boston College, Islamic Civilizations and Societies

Latest Job Title and Employer: Facebook, a high-value account manager

Which word best describes the Columbia Business School MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? invest. Every AO, current student, and experience I had contact with throughout the MBA application process made me feel like they were truly invested in my success and development. This willingness to invest time and energy in helping a complete stranger make her ambition a reality was really special.

Apart from your classmates and location, What was the major part of Columbia Business School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The dynamic nature of the core curricula was important in the decision-making process. It was important to me to know that the school is constantly evaluating the demands for new MBA graduates and adjusting the fundamentals to ensure graduates are prepared.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Columbia Business School? I am very excited to participate in the BBSA, Cluster Q, and CWiB communities because I am excited to increase representation of these groups on leadership teams across all industries.

What makes New York City a great place to get an MBA? It’s hard to compare the city’s diversity and proximity to major companies and leadership teams anywhere else.

Describe your biggest career achievement to date: I could pick one project or initiative, but honestly, my biggest accomplishment was working in financial analytics with a Liberal Arts degree. It took a lot of work and time to keep up with my colleagues who studied finance as undergraduates, and I am very proud to have been able to succeed in this role. This achievement taught me the value of adaptability and the very rewarding nature of taking on a challenge head-on.

How has COVID-19 changed your view of your career and life in general? The ways in which the pandemic has changed my view continues to emerge as the pandemic unfolds. To date, I have reinforced the importance of a work-life balance that prioritizes time with loved ones and focuses on projects that have a tangible and positive impact. I also realized the importance of having hobbies that force me to stop overthinking, if only for a few moments!

What prompted you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I realized that the delta between where I am in my career and where I want to be can be linked to the skills one learns in an MBA program. I wanted to augment my liberal arts education with the skills needed for the following chapters of my career. I hope to use the spirit of my college education and the tools from my MBA to open new ground for lesbian women of color in business.

What other MBA programs have you applied to? She applied to New York University, Wharton, Harvard, and Yale.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Columbia Business School’s MBA program? Once you have completed your research on CBS, reach out to the admissions authorities and learn about the AOs! Establishing a connection with admissions will help them get to know you outside of your application and help you learn things about the school that you may not be able to find anywhere else.


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