Eli’s Journey to Columbia B-School and His Passion for Being at the Very Center of Business
Learn how real students and recent grads have navigated their way through the business school admissions process and b-school itself with our What is Business School Really Like? series.
Meet Eli, a first-year MBA student at Columbia Business School with unique international experience.
Eli, thank you for sharing your story with us!
We’d like to get to know you! Please share three unexpected or unique facts about yourself.
Can you share a bit about your international pre-MBA work experience, including your military service?
Eli: At one of Israel’s largest banks, Bank Leumi, I worked in both Portfolio Strategy and Alternative Investments. There I was responsible for asset allocation on the one hand and bringing private investment funds to a platform for our clients. In terms of military service, I served as an infantryman in the Golani Brigade of the IDF (Israel Defense Force).
What inspired you to pursue an MBA? How did you choose which programs to apply to?
Eli: I wanted to build on my quantitative/qualitative skills at the highest level to build meaningful connections with tomorrow’s business leaders and to step out of my comfort zone in an environment that tolerates failure.
I understood early on that academics across top programs is essentially identical (with rare exceptions). I visited nearly 10 schools across the country to determine which cultures and locations would best suit my needs. Columbia had an incredible balance of high achieving but friendly culture and being at the “very center of business.”
How has Columbia’s location in New York City enriched your b-school experience?
Eli: People love to visit and live in NYC. Our location affords us access to amazing local companies and to the highest quality guest speakers and faculty.
The VC and Startup ecosystem in NYC is robust and growing every year. CBS, being the premier business school in New York, is perfectly situated to enable students to meet industry leaders in the capital of the business world. Beyond the location, the top-notch education will provide me with the skills to move from putting funds on platform for clients, to working for a fund or innovative startup in the future.
Did you encounter any bumps along the road to admission? How did you deal with the issues?
Eli: Crafting a narrative that made sense for both myself and admissions professionals was particularly challenging as I have a “nontraditional” background. Thankfully, I had an amazing Accepted consultant help me distill my experiences into terms that made business school a no-brainer for me, from an admissions perspective.
Can you describe the process that you and your Accepted admissions consultant went through together? How did she help you to present your past experiences and your future plans in a way that showed clearly that getting an MBA from Columbia Business School was the best way for you to connect the two?
Eli: Natalie was instrumental in helping me craft an authentic narrative that tied together my past and future aspirations in a way that aligned with Columbia’s core mission: the opportunity for students to shape their careers at the very center of business.
How did you prepare for your interviews? Were you ever asked a question during an interview that took you completely by surprise?
Eli: My interviews were all highly behavioral. I was surprised that I was never truly surprised by an interview question. The most challenging question I was ever asked was: “What is the weakest part of your application?” This is very different than the typical “What is your greatest weakness question?” in that you typically put only what you consider strengths into your application. You don’t have the luxury of coming up with a previous response.
What extracurricular activities did you participate in prior to starting business school? What activities are you currently involved in?
Eli: Beyond work, my free time was spent with my wife/friends. I didn’t have the desire to do anything else. We would do some volunteer work with Meals on Wheels, walk around the city, eat at great restaurants, and just enjoy each other’s company. Now that my wife works longer hours than I fill with classes, I play on the CBS rugby team, volunteer with Read Ahead (a mentorship program for elementary school students), and attend events, professional and recreational, with my friends at CBS.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Eli: A typical day consists of classes, homework, coffee chats, and perhaps listening to interesting speakers or going out with classmates.
Check out our Columbia Business School application essay tips:
What are your favorite classes so far, and why?
Eli: In Strategy Formulation with Professor Dan Wang, I learned how to think about business strategy through the lens of quantitative and qualitative analysis. When I think of the value I hope to glean from my MBA education, understanding how to chart the strategic trajectory of a business is at the very top.
What classes are you most looking forward to taking in the future?
Eli: I’m very excited to take Organizational Change with Professor Todd Jick. The course is focused on how to be a change agent in an organization. Professor Jick is also known to be an incredible educator.
What do you like the most about your MBA program? What do you wish was different?
Eli: I love the comradery, quality of my peers, and location.
What do I wish was different? The facilities. I wish Uris Hall wasn’t so oppressively designed. Sometimes I swear I can feel the walls closing in on me.
What are your post-MBA plans or goals?
Eli: Coming from Alternatives prior to my MBA, post-MBA I hope to join a VC firm or late-stage startup. I hope to be able to make a difference on a large scale at any organization I join.
Do you have questions for Eli? Questions for us? Do you want to be featured in our next What is Business School Really Like? post? Know someone else who you’d love to see featured? Are there questions you’d like us to ask our students in this series? LET US KNOW!
You can learn more about Eli by connecting with him on LinkedIn.
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