Size, speed, and direction.
Mass in motion.
Momentum can be unstoppable. It alters precedents, levels hurdles, and defies odds. It boosts confidence, spurs growth, and delivers results. When it comes to momentum – be it scale or velocity – it would be hard to top Columbia Business School.
THE WORLD’S #1 PROGRAM
Over the past decade, you could describe CBS as an Ivy in name only, the #7 in the M7 – the safety net school. In the past two years, you can’t deny that Columbia Business School has been on a roll. It started with the 2022 Economist ranking. Here, CBS shot up to 4th, buoyed by high student survey ratings for the quality of its faculty culture, programming, and facilities. Even more, the ranking represented a serious improvement over its 15th-place finish just three years earlier. Despite this, Columbia’s resurgence wasn’t cemented until February, when The Financial Times ranked it as the #1 MBA program in the world.
It was easy to overlook Columbia Business School’s momentum in recent years. MBA programs rise and fall in the rankings. Sure, CBS ranked 2nd in the 2022 FT ranking, but some figured it was an anomaly. After all, rankings are like seesaws: add a little mass and force on one side and the other side soars. That ignores CBS’ consistent improvement since placing 9th just four years ago.
Big picture: the honor is simply the payoff of Columbia Business School’s inherent advantages and shrewd investments.
For one, the CBS ranked just below Stanford GSB and Harvard Business School in alumni pay, with grads pulling in $226,359 average bases within three years of graduation. For another, CBS finished 2nd only to Harvard for the volume and quality of faculty research according to The Financial Times. At the same time, the school kept pace with its M7 and European peers in areas ranging from alumni network and career services to career progress job placement.
A FORMULA FOR LONG-TERM EXCELLENCE
“A major factor in Columbia’s success this year seems linked to career mobility and outcomes,” explains Michael Malone, the school’s former head of admissions who now serves as a consultant with Fortuna Admissions, who also lauds the program ranking 1st for percentage of salary increase among M7 schools. “Combined with a strong post-graduation employment rate, these factors suggest that graduates are enjoying high-level returns on investment in an increasingly unpredictable market. Columbia has added to its traditional strengths in consulting and financial services by building stronger employment relationships in areas including e-commerce, fintech, and real estate. By diversifying career opportunities, Columbia can provide its graduates with what every MBA student wants most: choices.”
However, the real game-changer – the one that brings spirit to campus – can’t be measured in a traditional ranking. In 2022, Columbia Business School opened its $600 million dollar campus in Manhattanville – nine blocks north of its previous Morningside Heights home. Together, the Henry R. Kravis Hall and David Geffen Hall account for 492,000 square feet of space – or 293,000 more square feet than its previous home, Uris Hall. Think spacious and teched-out classrooms and offices – not to mention over two dozen interview rooms – mixed together to maximize interactions between faculty, students, employers, and guests. At the same time, CBS has committed to becoming a leader in climate change and sustainability, adding courses and partnerships in lieu of the Columbia Climate School opening its own nearby building in the coming years. Of course, there is CBS’ New York City digs, which put students in the center of the action in finance, media, arts and fashion, and technology. Every top company and industry is just a 30-minute cab or train ride away. At Columbia Business School, MBAs can tap into any area of expertise with roughly 50,000 alumni, nearly 2,000 graduate students, over 200 faculty members and over 100 clubs. That doesn’t count centers for entrepreneurship, real estate, social enterprise, and value investing – or programs geared towards family business, healthcare, media, and private equity.
That’s momentum. In Physics, the equation for momentum is p=mv. In MBA parlance, CBS’ momentum can be expressed using this formula: Long-Term Success = Wide Scale + Deep Resources + New York City + State-Of-The-Art Building + Cutting Edge Programming.
Alas, momentum is expected to be continuous. One of Columbia’s hidden strengths is the across-the-board excellence to sustain it. In a Princeton Review survey of MBA students and grads, CBS ranked 2nd for its Finance programming. When U.S. News surveyed business school deans and MBA directors, the school finished 4th for Finance. That doesn’t count being Top 5 for Real Estate, International Business, and Marketing and Top 10 for Analytics and Non-Profit programming. CBS even ranks as the second-best Executive MBA program. Call it a virtuous circle: one that draws talent, energy, and investment into its orbit as accelerant.
“CBS’ place in a global center for a range of industries has long attracted international students and premier faculty,” adds Malone. “With the highest percentage of international students of any top US business school, coupled with a near-perfect research ranking, it’s clear that Columbia continues to excel in its mission of attracting a diverse and international faculty and student body, support researching and teaching on global issues.”
FROM BROADCASTING TO BUSINESS SCHOOL
You can see that same momentum in the MBAs enrolled in the Class of 2024: accomplished upstarts who’ve already left their marks in media, education, aviation, and events. Not only that, but they are committed to their missions and versatile enough to tackle them on multiple fronts. Take Chris Scanzoni. He describes himself as a “tree-hugging, gay, vegan former Naval Officer, driven to lead economy-wide decarbonization and promote regenerative capitalism.” Over his nine years of service, his roles have included being a Tactical Information Operations Officer with the Navy SEALS and a Cryptological Warfare Officer with the U.S. Navy. For Scanzoni, CBS represents an opportunity to become a change-maker in the environmental community.
“The world is burning, the solutions are time-bound, and we need a new generation of leaders prepared to tackle this generational crisis. Columbia University – home to the Columbia Climate School, Center on Global Energy Policy, and the Earth Institute – is cultivating a world-leading community of climate-minded scholars, researchers, and decision-makers,” he tells P&Q. “Accordingly, CBS is pivoting to integrate principles of sustainable enterprise into all aspects of its curriculum. My experience at CBS will provide me with the critical professional networks, scientific and technical understanding, and resources necessary to make immediate impact within the climate space.”
True to its New York City roots, the Class of 2024 also features several prominent media professionals. Before CBS, Alana Blaylock worked as a producer for Apple. Her claim to fame, she says, was producing the MSNBC documentary, “Caught on Camera: Race and Justice.” Inspired by police-involved deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the series shared the profound impact that such events played on the lives of their loved ones. Now, Blaylock is looking to step beyond the camera to become more “well-rounded” in the business side of her field.
“NYC serves as one of the most prominent entertainment centers in America,” she writes. “Given this, there was no better place to pursue a career in Media Tech. The courses at Columbia focusing on show business, such as Media Strategy Consulting Projects, and courses analyzing the internet landscape, such as Internet Wars, caught my attention because entertainment is constantly evolving. For the past few years, streaming has been altering the way people consume content. With its trek options, conferences, and panels, and the Media Management Association, CBS offers an array of opportunities to meet with potential future employers and classmates with similar interests. Given that Columbia operates strongly in my career area, applying there was a no brainer.”
In contrast, Hayley Mason – a singer and instrumentalist in her spare time – was most recently a local CBS reporter and fill-in anchor in Atlanta. Over her career, she has covered events such as the Vanderbilt football rape and Ahmaud Arbery murder trials. Such cases, she says, produced results such as repealing Georgia’s Citizen Arrest law. They also provided Mason with a platform to shine.
“I was nominated for a Southeast Emmy Award for my years of work on the Ahmaud Arbery story and subsequent trials. I’ve also earned 4 prior Emmy Awards and two Edward R. Murrow Awards in journalism, along with multiple other national honors for my reporting over the last decade. I’m incredibly grateful that viewers trusted me to be a daily source of information for their communities as I worked…I see my MBA pivot as another leap of faith forward.”
Looking for a great story? Kat Elliott-Moskwa once cooked an eight-course meal with Anthony Bourdain. Professionally, she made her name as an arts specialist. Trained at Brown University, she plans to remain in the arts, but move into strategy – a passion that was stoked when you helped Sotheby’s prints department moved to an online auction estimate platform. For her, Columbia’s NYC locale serves as the perfect place to stay connected to the arts while exposing herself to a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“I wanted to immerse myself in the epicenter of the global art world and strengthen the relationships that I had already cultivated, CBS therefore was my immediate first choice. Aside from classmates and location, which truly is hard to brush aside, I was drawn to The Chazen Institute and their Global Immersion program. I hope to capitalize on the access to world class executives through the Executives in Residences Program as well as the Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization, which will provide a great introduction to the NYC startup ecosystem.”
Michael Fagan joined CBS after serving as a middle school science teacher, where he also worked on the district’s anti-racist programming for peer teachers. During COVID, Laura Hyland, a senior operations manager at IMG who once competed in the 2012 Olympic trials, organized one of London’ first events after the lockdown was lifted. At Aspire To Her, Jordan DeTar produced a professional development program that has been used by over 8,000 women. At the same time, Zoya Agarwal made history as a pilot.
“I am already at the pinnacle of my aviation career, commandeering the largest twin jetliner in the world and being a pioneer, the youngest woman commander on the Boeing 777, to commanding the record-breaking flight over the North Pole with an all women crew!”
For Hamid Baraywal, a native of Afghanistan, business school is a dream come true. Just two years ago, he was completing his CBS application as his government was collapsing. Thus far, the MBA program has been a blessing to him.
“As I always say, CBS has picked the best of the best from all around the world,” Baraywal says. “It is very amazing that one meets people from different countries with almost every single background one can think of. These classmates have great leadership skills and bring a diverse set of skills and experience that they received from developed, developing, and underdeveloped societies.”
Go to Next Page for In-Depth Profiles of the Class of 2024.