The vision behind the Cornell MBA Fintech Intensive

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By Drew Pascarella, Lecturer of Finance

I am thrilled, proud, and humbled to lead Johnson’s inaugural Fintech Intensive!

As a career Wall Street executive, I have yet to participate in a startup experience. I was thrilled to be asked to lead one of Johnson’s latest innovations and excited to have the opportunity to build something new for an institution I could not be more proud of.

Like any good startup, our process began long before the launch. Back in August 2016, a full year before the opening of Cornell’s stunning new Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island, Johnson’s visionary leadership, including Dean Mark Nelson, Vishal Gaur, and Doug Stayman, convened a task force to analyze and make recommendations for new NYC-based curriculum. With a mandate from the university’s leadership that we think big and aim to lead, and after countless employer, alumni, student, faculty, and staff interviews, it became clear that Johnson’s new NYC-based curriculum should include fintech.

The big question:

How does a leading business school “teach” fintech?

To answer that question, we took another page from the startup playbook. We focused on the customer. The customer, in this case, was primarily defined as our fintech-related recruiters. We set out to understand what financial services firms and fintech startups alike want to see in a fintech-focused recruit. The answer quickly became clear.

In addition to the cross-disciplinary management skillset Johnson MBAs are known for, our customer wanted students who were fluent in the language of fintech, understood the drivers behind the disruption, and were able to hit the ground running in the fastest-moving industry in the world.

Our solution? Immerse our students in fintech in the form of an intensive, which is modeled after Johnson’s pioneering and highly successful immersion learning programs. We crafted a package of classes, stitched them together with the collaborative yarn that is so abundant at Johnson, and set an ambitious goal: Empower each fintech student to make a difference in the industry after just six weeks of instruction. Our program is new, bold, and unique, and was purpose-built with the customer in mind.

It would be impossible and foolhardy to build and deliver this intensive without creating close industry partnerships. To do so, we called upon our powerful alumni network. The response was, as usual, nothing short of inspiring.

EY, Citi Ventures, Wells Fargo, Capital One, Betterment, Sofi, Greendot, Anthemis, and Green Visor, to name a few, stepped up, provided leadership and guidance, and are over-delivering week in and week out.

I am proud of Johnson and its visionary deans. I am proud of our students, who bring passion, heart, and curiosity into the classroom and out to the fintech clients they are now consulting with. And I am humbled by our alumni network and corporate partners, who have gone above and beyond to make this intensive the best of its kind.

Link to learn more about the fintech intensive

About Drew Pascarella, Lecturer of Finance

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Drew currently leads Johnson’s Investment Banking Immersion and Fintech Intensive. He has taught core Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions for executive MBA programs, Investment Banking Essentials for undergraduates, and lectures in Finance. Prior to his arrival in 2012, Drew spent 15 years working at bulge bracket investment banks. He has advised clients on more than $35 billion of merger and acquisition transactions and led equity, convertible, and debt financing transactions totaling over $9 billion in proceeds.

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