Columbia Business School
“I adore working with talented people to solve tough problems, still developing the velvet touch.”
Hometown: Naples, Florida
Family Members: Spouse – Samantha, Daughter – Kate, Son – Jacob.
Fun fact about yourself: I was a competitive golfer as a kid and in college. I had two holes in one before the age of 16, but haven’t had one since.
Undergraduate School/Degree: B.S. in Economics – Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Where are you currently working? Accretion Ventures, Managing Member, Advising Early Stage FinTech Companies.
Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Recipient of the Nahum Melumad Memorial Prize – “the highest honor given to the member of the graduating class on the basis of outstanding scholarship and a significant impact on the Columbia community.” Achieved Dean’s List in all terms. Member of the FinTech Club, Venture Capital Club, Private Equity Club and Columbia Golfers Club.
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During the program, I was really focused on building professional connections with my incredible group of classmates and I was frequently distracted by unexpected work projects including an extremely-demanding transaction in Major League Baseball. Winning the Nahum Melumad Memorial Prize for outstanding scholarship and for positively impacting the Columbia community was a humbling honor and made my family very proud.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Within five months of graduating from college, my company was acquired and my office was destroyed on September 11th. Almost simultaneously I was a 9/11 survivor and a victim of M&A layoffs. I interviewed for more than twenty jobs but it was nearly impossible to find work in post-9/11 New York as a recent college graduate. I ultimately found a great job in Naples, Florida with an investment management company and established a successful career in Naples as an analyst for that company and then as Director of Investments for an UHNW family office. I am proud of the resiliency that I demonstrated from this trying experience.
What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Leader’s Voice with Professor Jeffrey Golde taught me how to harness my voice as a public speaker and a leader but, most importantly, to listen actively before speaking.
Why did you choose this executive MBA program? Columbia combines an Ivy League-level faculty with a world-class location in the “center of business.” For me it was Columbia Business School or bust. There was no second choice, literally.
What did you enjoy most about business school in general? My incredible group of classmates. They are from very diverse backgrounds and brought wide ranging experiences and impressive accomplishments into the classroom. They included a Harvard PhD who cofounded a FinTech company that sold recently to Goldman Sachs; an accomplished Wall Street trader that was a bona fide war hero having received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for service in the Middle East; an Emmy Award winning creative director in the television industry; and a model who gave birth AND launched a real estate technology startup during the program. Those are just a few of the amazing people that I met at Columbia Business School and I am fortunate to call them my friends.
What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Listen before you talk. I try to apply this lesson every day but keep finding that it is difficult to stay quiet and that listening well requires a lot of energy.
Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? In the middle of my Columbia EMBA program, I spent six months leading deal efforts on behalf of a family office head as he sought to become Chairman and Principal Owner of a Major League Baseball franchise. It was an around the clock effort and required spending a lot of time away from home. It gave me a lot of opportunities to apply lessons that I was learning in the classroom, but it was also a tough juggling act. I was often up into the early morning hours reviewing ever-evolving deal documents and frequently had to walk out of classrooms to place or take phone calls regarding the transaction. Ultimately, our success earned me the highest praise of my career.
What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That you need to drink lots of coffee to get through. This one might be understated. My coffee intake increased three times or more. And I am not alone. I know my classmates also consumed massive amounts of coffee during the program. I am overdue for java detox.
What was your biggest regret in business school? Everyone knows that family is most important, but when facing deadlines at work and in school, it’s often hard to put family first.
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire a lot of my classmates but Hossein Azari certainly stands out. He immigrated to this country, excelled at Harvard where he earned a Masters and a PhD, rose through the ranks at Google, started our Columbia EMBA program while co-founding a FinTech company that was sold to Goldman Sachs before we graduated. And I thought I was busy.
“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I knew I wanted to go to business school when I was in college. Though I studied business as a Wharton undergrad, I always knew that there was more to learn about being an effective business person particularly in the areas of communication, leadership and working well with teams.”
“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…less well aware of myself and others, far less well connected and far less prepared for the rest of my life and career. Columbia Business School taught me a lot of new skills, exposed me to talented and accomplished people but also made me aware of how much work I still need to do to learn to lead effectively and facilitate others in developing their talents.”
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to help talented groups build innovative and high performing companies that address real needs of customers particularly in the FinTech realm.
In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Always willing to lend a helping hand and doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Favorite book: My mind is still ringing from reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. A bit sensationalized at times, it is rich with insights from an analysis of human development, to demonstrations of technology and innovation trapping rather than liberating their supposed beneficiaries and examples of how mass populations can be moved by fiction. It also offers thoughts on the future of humankind. It’s a must read.
Favorite movie or television show: Shawshank Redemption – it highlights the value of patient persistence and that you can finish in front even when it appears you are always running from behind.
What are the top two items on your bucket list? Write and publish a book, watch a game in every Major League Baseball stadium.
What made Kyle such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?
“Kyle was an invaluable member of the class of 2018 because he demonstrated commitment and excellence in true EMBA fashion, while juggling family life, a long commute from Naples, Florida, and a tremendous career accomplishment. Kyle received the Melumad Award, the most prestigious graduation award, for his academic performance at the very top of his EMBA-NY Saturday class. He was an outspoken member of the class, but always with style and decorum. During his time as a student, his career took an exciting turn as led negotiations on behalf of his longtime employer, a Florida investor, to purchase the Miami Marlins with co-investor Derek Jeter. After the successful acquisition, Kyle realized it was time to use his MBA to fully utilize his talents in the next chapter of his career. Balancing all of these career highs and lows, along with parenting two children with his wife, Kyle never let his commitment to the MBA degree take a back seat.”
The EMBA Administration