DJ 2019 welcomes admitted Two-Year MBA students and their families to Johnson

By: Katelyn Godoy
Someone holding the Destination Johnson program

In April, Johnson welcomed 140 admitted students to campus for its annual Destination Johnson (DJ) event. Visiting students and their families spent the weekend learning about Johnson’s Two-Year MBA program, the school’s incredible academic and co-curricular opportunities, and resources available for Cornell MBA students.

More than 240 current students and their partners worked as volunteers to host, feed, inform, and entertain future members of our Johnson family throughout the weekend. From team building exercises to immersion information panels and social events, attendees saw our ambitious, diverse community come to life firsthand.

Stuffed teddy bear wearing a Cornell shirt
@Judi_Byers tweet from Apr 8, 2019: Getting ready for one of our most favorite and memorable milestones in the #MBA admissions process! Excited to welcome our #CornellMBA Two Year Class of 2021 to #DestinationJohnson 2019! 🐻❤️🙌🏼 #Cornell #Ithaca #ITH #bschool #welovethebear #oneteamonedream

Here’s a recap of some of the weekend’s highlights:

Dean Nelson and Judi Byers, admissions, welcome guests

DJ attendees gathered in the Statler Hall Auditorium for an official welcome by Judi Byers, executive director of admissions and financial aid, and Mark Nelson, the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of Johnson.

“Working in admissions, we consider events like Destination Johnson to be one of the most rewarding moments of the admissions process—a chance for us to celebrate with you, and in doing so, reflect on the many steps we’ve taken together throughout the admissions process.

“Together, you’ve shown us that you not only have the intellectual curiosity and resilience to be successful in our classrooms, but the self-awareness, motivation, and drive to become the very best version of yourself—and you will, here at Johnson.”

—Judi Byers, executive director of admissions and financial aid

Dean Nelson addresses DJ attendees
@CornellMBA_Adm tweet from Apr 12, 2019: Thanks Dean Nelson & @Judi_Byers for formally welcoming our Class of 2021 to #DestinationJohnson and sharing all of the exciting things happening at @Cornell! #CornellMBA

Dean Nelson expressed his excitement for the future and the next generation of Johnson students. “This is an amazing time in the life of Johnson,” he said.

Characterizing the Johnson community as one where people are “fiercely dedicated to one another,” Nelson described a number of opportunities that comprise the academic experience of a Cornell Johnson MBA student, such as the immersion curriculum. He also spoke at length about Johnson’s footprint in New York City with offerings on the Cornell Tech campus. From this, he sees Johnson “bringing together Ithaca and New York in ways we never could before.”

“What defines Johnson, and ripples out to define our college and define Cornell, is that people are remarkably driven but also remarkably supportive. They have each other’s backs as they’re driving each other forward at the same time.”

—Dean Mark Nelson

Keynote address from Bain & Company’s Hernan Saenz

Hernan J.F. Saenz, III, MBA/MILR ’98, head of the Global Performance Improvement Practice at Bain & Company, delivered DJ’s keynote address.

Hernan J.F. Saenz III stands on stage in front of projector screen
@cornellMBA tweet from Apr 12, 2019: Hernan J.F. Saenz III, MBA/MILR ’98, head of global performance improvement practice at Bain & Company, reflects on his business education: “You may think an MBA is only two years … I’m here to tell you that my MBA has been with me for 22 years.” #CornellMBA @BainAlerts

Saenz spent two-and-a-half years at Cornell, where he earned both an MBA from Johnson and a master’s degree from the ILR School. Following graduation, he went to work for Bain & Company. When he first joined the company in its Boston offices, Saenz says there were 45 hires and most of them were prior Bain employees or summer associates. Of the group, he was the first promoted manager and partner, which means, he said, “this place trained me really well.”

“When I came here, I ran into things I did not expect. I did not expect to still be friends with faculty that taught me more than 30 years ago. I did not expect such a selfless community.”

—Hernan Saenz

Saenz said he was also surprised by the many opportunities he had at Johnson to push himself to grow as a leader.  The same was true inside the classroom, said Saenz. “I was able to do consulting projects and even wrote a business plan that I could’ve funded, had I not decided to go to Bain. It’s that sort of incredibly practical training that has helped me find so much success,” he recounted.

Friendly advice from Student Council co-chairs

Student council co-chairs presenting on stage

Sabina Bellizzi, MBA ’20, and James Feld, MBA ’20, both student council co-chairs, addressed DJ attendees. They emphasized how you can be yourself at Johnson and offered words of advice to the incoming class: “Work hard, play harder!”

James and Sabina stand in front of a Johnson banner
@james_feld Instagram post: Had a great time welcoming admitted Johnson Class of 2021 students with @sabbellizzi at #destinationjohnson this weekend! We’re looking forward to seeing y’all in August! #cornellmba

ODI welcomes Consortium members and Forté fellows

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted a Consortium lunch and presentation for new members of Johnson’s Consortium family. The newest Forté Fellows also gathered for a welcome event.

Men talking at the reception
Table set up with baskets of Cornell swag from ODI
@CornellMBA on Twitter: Starting off the weekend with some swag 😎
Five Consortium members pose for a photo
Attendees at the lunch hosted by The Consortium
@CornellMBA on Twitter: Johnson faculty, staff, and accepted students mingling after a meal at Taverna Banfi, hosted by @cgsm_mba 🍽

@CornellMBA_Adm on Twitter: We are so excited to welcome some of the @fortefoundation Fellows in the Class of 2021 to #DestinationJohnson! We hope that you are just as excited to join our #community of #talented, #driven, and #passionate women @Cornell! #CornellMBA #BossWoman #PowerUp #MoreWomenattheTop ❤️

Cassiope Sydoriak and Gina Stella give opening remarks
@CornellMBA on Twitter: Cassiope Sydoriak, #CornellMBA ’20, and Gina Stella, #CornellMBA ’20, two of Johnson’s @fortefoundation Fellow Ambassadors, kicking off the evening with some remarks. Welcome home from current women MBAs to incoming. We’re known as a real Forté to be reckoned with 💼 📊💻

Read more about ODI’s initiatives and partnerships:

Getting to know Ithaca and the community

Admitted students took tours of Sage Hall and the Cornell campus on a cloudy, yet warm day! Friday evening featured the Taste of Ithaca reception with a sampling of local foods and beverages in Sage Hall.

A group of students touring the Cornell campus
@CornellMBA on Twitter: Who says campus can’t look like a castle? Touring the place #CornellMBA students call home.
DJ attendees seated around dinner tables with Touchdown
@CornellMBA_Adm on Twitter: Taste of Ithaca to close out #DestinationJohnson day 1. Many of #Ithacas best local restaurants, wineries, and bakeries here in Sage Hall to taste test and pick favorites! And of course, lots of photos with #Touchdown! 🐻❤️#CornellMBA

Joint Ventures (JV), a group for families, partners, and spouses of MBA students, was present throughout DJ weekend. JV leaders spent time with incoming families by leading tours, answering questions, and providing a unique perspective. When you take on a two-year MBA journey, it’s a family decision.

Read more about JV and MBA families:

Building teams with LEGO

Laura Georgianna, executive director of Leadership Programs, gave the incoming class a taste of how Johnson builds high-performing teams in a hands-on leadership activity during Saturday’s session.

DJ attendees build with LEGO together
@ecdick on Twitter: #CornellMBA students team up to configure their @LEGO_Group designs and get a jump start on their #leadership curriculum this fall! The best part? All projects will be donated to @IthacaYMCA, #IthacaGIAC, and @IthacaNYSchools [BJM]!

@CornellMBA_Adm on Twitter: Watching #CornellMBA Class of 2021 in action this morning makes us think 2YR MBA Director @ecdick had it right last night: “There is truly only ONE Class of 2021: a group full of drive, passion, achievement, smarts, and oh so much to look forward to!” #DestinationJohnson

Read more about team-building and leadership at Johnson:

Ways to step outside the classroom

Current and admitted students packed the Dyson Atrium in Sage Hall for the Club and Housing Fair. Club representatives helped to show the breadth and depth of student organization options at Johnson. There are more than 70 student organizations for Johnson MBAs, each offering opportunities for leadership.

Overhead view of the Club Fair in a crowded Dyson Atrium
@CornellMBA on Twitter: So much talking, so many tables, so much talent 👏The Club and Housing Fair is officially underway #CornellMBA
Club members from the Sustainable Global Enterprise Club
@CornellSGE on Twitter: The BRM leaders representing #CornellMBA at the #DJ2019 club fair! Stop by to speak about Big Red Microenterprise or simply pick up some candy.

@CornellMBA_Adm on Twitter: There are lots of opportunities to get involved at Johnson! Our Club Fair is happening now at #DestinationJohnson! #CornellMBA

Six members of the Johnson Student Council

Members of the Johnson on Tap club

Representatives of the Out For Business Club

MBA women standing with chocolate covered strawberries

DJ guests walked to the Breazzano Family Center for Business Education for professional and industry club mixers. Groups represented included:

  • Consulting Club
  • Executive Management Association
  • Marketing Association
  • BR Tech Strategy
  • BR Venture Fund
  • Entrepreneurship Club
  • Family Business Club
  • High Tech Club
  • Energy Club
  • Healthcare Club
  • Human Capital Association
  • Sustainable Global Enterprise Club
  • Alternative, Private, & Hedged Assets Club
  • High-Yield & Restructuring Club
  • Investment Management Club
  • Old Ezra Finance Club

Read more about student organizations at Johnson:

Launching your career search with the CMC

Representatives from the Career Management Center (CMC) presented on resources available at the CMC, an overview of employment statistics, and a selection of internships that the Class of 2020 will be participating in this summer. During this session, students and alumni spoke about their experiences in consulting.

MBAs sit on a panel at the front of the room
@Judi_Byers tweet from April 13, 2019: Thank you to our #CornellMBA alums, Olga and David, and students, Peter and Emily, for sharing their #consulting experience, favorite classes and best #career and #internship advice with our Class of 2021 students!
David Capaldi speaks to DJ attendees
@CornellMBA_Adm on Twitter: Our advisers in our CMC have industry experience and have been on the other side of recruiting- with companies like @Google, @McKinsey, @jpmorgan, @RBC, and others on their resumes, we are grateful to have them available to our #CornellMBA students! #DestinationJohnson

Read more about Cornell MBA careers:

Highlighting Johnson’s strengths and unique offerings

“Johnson highlights” sessions featured panels on entrepreneurship at Cornell, the Johnson NYC curriculum, and women’s careers in business. These discussions on specialized topics emphasized Johnson’s unique offerings and differentiators while outlining some incredible opportunities for incoming MBAs.

Entrepreneurship panel

Donnie Hampton talks to students
@CornellMBA on Twitter: Donnie Hampton, #CornellMBA ’19, co-founder of Purro, Inc., encourages the Class of 2021 to engage with advisors and mentors at Johnson to launch a business venture. Hampton and other MBA students shared their startup journeys in the Entrepreneurship at Johnson session.

Read more about entrepreneurship at Johnson and Cornell:

NYC curriculum panel

Vishal Gaur talks to prospective MBAs from the front of the room
@ecdick on Twitter: The #Johnson #NYC Curriculum is 🔥🔥🔥! Associate Dean @vgaur01 describes the content and goals of our #fintech and #digital #marketing intensives to the #CornellMBA #Classof2021 🌆

Read more about Johnson and NYC:

Women’s career panel

Genna Hartung speaks on a panel
@CornellMBA on Twitter: Genna Hartung ’13, MBA ’20, offers her perspective on the high-achieving women at Johnson, reflecting a culture that empowers female leaders. In fact, women hold major club positions across the board. Hartung was among the speakers at this afternoon’s Women Career Panel.

Read more about Johnson’s women in business:

Immersion showcase

One of the hallmarks of a Johnson education is its immersion curriculum. Admitted students heard from a panel of representatives from each immersion: investment research and asset management, digital technology, investment banking, corporate finance, semester in strategic operations, strategic product and marketing, and sustainable global enterprise.

Read more about Johnson’s immersions:

Students sit on a panel discussing Immersions
@CornellMBA on Twitter: Immersions such as the Digital Technology Immersion give MBAs a hands-on experience in a specific industry while gaining coaching from world-class faculty. DJ attendees are learning about Immersions from the faculty lead, current #CornellMBA students, and alums.
MBA alumni and students speaking on a panel about the SGE immersion
@CornellMBA on Twitter: Bart Bromberger, #Cornell MBA ’12 and Sr. Mgr, Finance & Ops @patagonia talks @CornellSGE immersion at #DJ2019: “If you’re open to exploration and want a diversity of experiences, the SGE Immersion is an amazing opportunity and something that I still draw from to this day.”

Insightful lunch, M[BA]sh, and Sunday brunch—DJ covered it all

Saturday’s lunch featured a buffet meal and topic tables, which brought great conversation among attendees. DJ attendees gathered for drinks, dancing, and celebration on Saturday night at Duffield Hall. The event was complete with a band and DJ. In true Johnson spirit, the M[BA]sh showed incoming MBAS how your classmates can easily become your friends—live band, DJ (disc jockey!), and all.

Vishal Gaur addresses DJ attendees eating lunch
@Judi_Byers on Twitter: Our Associate Dean @vgaur01 taking a moment to recognize and thank all of our wonderful #CornellMBA alumni who are back on campus for our #Immersion Showcase at #DestinationJohnson 2019! 🐻❤️ #grateful
MBA students who are in a band entertain the crowd
Three band members smiling
A girl plays a keyboard with #CornellMBA in the background
@ecdick on Twitter: The party’s getting underway! Celebrating a truly special #DestinationJohnson weekend with the Wicked Naturalists, our talented 2nd year MBA band, and the one, the only #CornellMBA #Classof2021 🎸🎉🍾

The weekend concluded with a brunch hosted by the Women’s Management Council (WMC). WMC president Caitlin Namnoum, MBA ’20, introduced alumna Kate Rubenstein, MBA ’05, managing director for portfolio operations at The Blackstone Group, and Risa Mish, professor of practice of management.

Risa Mish and Kate Rubenstein
Caitlin Namnoum welcomes Kate and Risa
Women seated around tables eating brunch
Risa and Kate laughing together on stage

@ecdick on Twitter: Capping off an incredible #DestinationJohnson weekend with warm, wise words from the #Women’s Management Council president Caitlin Namnoum, faculty @risamish, and ’05 #CornellMBA alumna @Kateru00 #belonging #accountability #gratitude #community

MBAs dressed in Cornell swag holding the #CornellMBA sign
@ecdick on Twitter: #Gratitude is a hallmark of the #CornellMBA #community, so… to the 241 volunteers; the 70 faculty, staff, and #alumni; the team at @HandJHosp; the @CornellMBA_Adm, @ODI_Johnson, @CornellMBA_CMC, & #Leadership Programs teams – THANK YOU! #DJ2019 was one for the record books 👏🏻👏🏻

Learn more about the Two-Year MBA