2017 Best EMBAs: Geoffrey Pope, Columbia Business School

Geoffrey Pope

Columbia Business School

“I’m a fierce competitor, hard worker, and a genuine person passionate about helping others.”

Age: 32

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Fun fact about yourself: I was a member of the New York Giants my rookie season when we won Super Bowl 42.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Eastern Michigan University, BBA, Marketing

Where are you currently working? USI Insurance, Vice President

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I sit on the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Audit Committee, and I’m the Chairman of the Athletes Vs. Epilepsy Initiative, for the National Epilepsy Foundation. I also sit on the Board of Directors for PHL Diversity, which is a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of joining the Reentry Acceleration Program Curriculum Team, which I chose to do as an independent study. We developed an entrepreneurship curriculum for prisoner’s reentering society in an effort to reduce the recidivism rate, as well help them become successful despite the difficult task of trying to adjust to society.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As a former NFL player, I’m most proud of winning a Super Bowl ring my rookie season after going undrafted. As an insurance professional, brokering the insurance for two of the nation’s industry leaders has been a great accomplishment that I continue to build on.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Paul Johnson 

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Value Investing. The life lessons we learned outside of competitive advantages, ROIC, etc, were invaluable regarding our ability to make the right decision no matter how difficult the situation.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I chose CBS because of the academically rigorous program, strong network, and reputation.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I really enjoyed getting to know my classmates. We’ve developed strong relationships that will surely continue after graduation.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? During my first term, I was working on a big account at work. My son was sick, and I also had a big assignment due that weekend for one of my classes. I was able to change my meetings at work in order to stay home with my son for two days while he rested. During that time, I was able to finish the majority of my school assignment. I returned to work two days later, held my meetings, and finished the school assignment shortly after midnight. I managed to get a few hours of sleep, and I made my 5:45 a.m. train that Friday morning from Philadelphia to New York. During lunch I hopped on a work conference call, which ended with us winning that big account. Thinking outside the box is inevitable when you have young children; you work a demanding job, and you find yourself in the middle of a rigorous MBA program. But you find a way to get it done.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s executive MBA program? It’s a rigorous program. Set a schedule regarding family, career, and school, and try to stick to it. Lean on your learning team, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth about going back to school is that it’s too hard to readjust to a classroom setting after 10+ years, which I believe deters many people. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it didn’t take me or my classmates long to adjust to the long classes and rigorous workload.

What was your biggest regret in business school? As a commuter from Philadelphia, PA, my biggest regret was missing several events that took place during the week.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Crystal Thompson the most. Crystal was a member of my learning team. She received several leadership awards over the course of the program. She was a commuter, traveled often for work, and she never complained about the workload.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that I needed an elite business acumen to achieve my goals.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…in a similar role, but lacking the tools and insight needed to solve complex problems.”

What is your favorite company and what are they doing that makes them so special? Apple is my favorite company. While they might be suffering a “lull in innovation,” their ability to create so many captive customers across the world will carry them until they get back on track. Many companies dream of creating a similar competitive advantage, but very few can do it.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term goal is to continue working in insurance and eventually become an entrepreneur.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my grandmother for my success. At 95 years old, she exemplifies strength and courage.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as hard worker who’s not afraid to take calculated risks.

Favorite book: The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson

Favorite movie or television show: Tombstone

Favorite musical performer: Maxwell  

Favorite vacation spot: Jamaica

Hobbies? Reading, traveling, and spending time with my sons, which includes building LEGO forts and sporting events

What made Geoffrey such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Geoff brought not only a great attitude to the classroom, but an unusual perspective as well. Geoff is a devoted student, a committed friend, an active member of the business school community, and has a wicked sense of humor. He makes his presence known in the classroom and in the conference room. Besides, how many MBA students can flash a Super Bowl ring!”

Kelley Martin Blanco
Dean of Students
Executive MBA Program