Cornell Executive MBA Americas program, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University
“Forward-thinking leader focused on people development and addressing today’s challenges with unique solutions.”
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Family Members: Mother, Father, and Sister
Fun fact about yourself: I completed a short stint as a professional DJ while in college as an undergrad. It was my first foray into the business world with customer assurance (playlist selection), capital investment (audio equipment), and negotiations with friends and family for my service (getting as close to $0 charge for services)!
Undergraduate School and Degree:
B.S. in Electrical Engineering – California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
B.A. in Sociology – University of California, Irvine
M.S. in Petroleum Engineering – University of Southern California
Where are you currently working?
Marathon Petroleum – Operations Management and Business Development
Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles:
Member of Marathon Petroleum’s Community Action Team
Alumni of University of Utah’s Strategic Leadership Program
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As a part of the Cornell Executive MBA Americas program, my colleague and I collaborated on a new venture project to develop an innovative field medical device. The concept was based on my electrical engineering expertise and my colleague’s military and biotechnology experience. We reviewed medical journals, interviewed subject matter experts, and completed discussions with industry entrepreneurs. The project required us to think outside the box and collaborate on an original idea. We received a favorable response from mentors, advisors, and stakeholders during the research phase.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I had an opportunity to work on and improve upon a novel technology. The company wanted the technology to be scaled across several facilities, which required significant upfront capital. The company was concerned because a lot of time and funding had already been allocated. I used this as my motivation to understand the root cause of failure. After countless hours working with a cross-functional team of technical specialists, we identified the problems and came up with solutions. The results of this effort provided me an opportunity to work directly with the manufacturer and present my findings at several conferences. The results of this effort provided a long-lasting confidence boost very early in my career.
Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? The Cornell Executive MBA Americas program is focused on developing future leaders by offering a diverse business curriculum delivered in a dynamic setting. While researching business schools, I focused on the school’s approach in delivering the education along with a collaborative atmosphere. Johnson stood out among competitors and provided an enriching academic environment. They expect students to perform at a high-caliber throughout the program and reward them with award-winning faculty and a superb alumni network. The live videoconferencing classes and in-person residential boardroom is the only one of its kind and allows students to simultaneously collaborate with colleagues in all of the cohorts. Johnson simply offered what other business schools could not, which is why I made the decision to attend without any hesitation.
What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The immersion with the faculty and students from all boardrooms at the residential sessions was a truly remarkable experience. Aside from the networking, we were able to partake in business simulations, new venture pitches, and collaborate on addressing real-world challenges with viable solutions. Each residential session offered its own unique learning and networking experience.
What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The most important lesson for me was an increased confidence to effectively deconstruct a complex problem and generate well-developed solutions.
Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? I had accepted a promotion that required me to move across the country. In addition to the logistics of the move, I was also dealing with the reality of leaving behind my family and close friends who had been a part of my life every step of the way. It was difficult to move and manage the emotional repercussions, along with maintaining the high-intensity demands of the course load. I was able to balance all of this thanks to my Los Angeles colleagues and the administrators at Johnson who supported me throughout the experience.
What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? The primary driver for success is to gain the support of those around you and be transparent about the challenges that may occur during the program. There will be a reprioritization of personal and professional obligations due to the time commitment this program requires. It is also imperative to join the program if you are willing to put in the effort to understand and apply the knowledge that is acquired. Avoid the temptation to procrastinate which will only lead to an impact on your understanding and the quality of your deliverables.
What is the biggest myth about going back to school? School will not merely fit or “plug” right into an established routine. Pursuing an MBA or any graduate degree is a disruption that requires an acceptance of temporarily reprioritizing numerous obligations. The program also has a continuous learning curve that steepens at different intervals based on the curriculum. Applying “bare minimum” effort will be a waste of your investment if you’re not prepared to apply a full effort to the courses and collaborate with the team.
What was your biggest regret in business school? After taking a course during the final residential session with Professor Risa Mish, I was disappointed when I realized that I couldn’t take any more courses with her. I admired the way she was able to deconstruct the curriculum’s concepts and clearly articulate the subject matter. This method inspired “creative groupthink” and was truly motivational.
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The Team Los Angeles Executive MBA cohort consists of five wonderful personalities. Without their support, it would have been difficult to traverse some of the more complex subjects and points of the program where personal and professional obligations. They were selfless, motivating, and represent Cornell Johnson’s best. They are my family. A special thanks to Corey Webeck, Jamie Qazi, Carlos Menjivar, Michael Strenk, and Michael Watson. #La’Vanity.
“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I saw the extent of the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis and the profound impact it had on friends, family, and the global economy. This event inspired me to seek a clear understanding of the business and economic forces that led to this definitive moment in world history.”
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term professional goal is to capitalize on the education received at Johnson and tackle business challenges facing the energy industry. As we address the nexus of clean energy technology and the ongoing debate around society’s carbon footprint, it is imperative to understand their impact on the environment, expectations for energy constructs, and society’s expectations related to corporate responsibility.
In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to think of me as a humble, empathic, and driven individual who finds happiness in their success. My goal is to build a lifetime relationship with those at Cornell Johnson who laid the foundation for my success in the program.
What are the top two items on your bucket list? I look forward to witnessing the success of my sister, a trauma surgeon, who has an unparalleled passion to help people. Finally, I would like to establish a philanthropic organization focused on developing STEM skills and education within underprivileged areas.
What made Yoga such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?
“Yoga has prioritized education throughout his career to facilitate personal growth and advancement. Prior to pursuing an MBA, he completed two undergraduate degrees, in sociology and electrical engineering, and a master’s degree in petroleum engineering. This interesting combination of skills has allowed him to take on increasing levels of responsibility in professional roles that require both interpersonal and technical acumen. He is a successful leader in the oil and gas industry, and a respected member of the Executive MBA Americas Class of 2020. Teamwork is integral to success in the Americas program, and Yoga and his Los Angeles colleagues have epitomized the values of a high performing team. They have worked hard, checked their egos at the door, built a lifelong support network, and fully engaged in a highly rewarding experience. During the latter stages of the program, Yoga demonstrated his aptitude for change and growth as he accepted a new role with a different company, which required him to leave his familiar Southern California surroundings for the Coal Belt. While investing in his career, he took advantage of the flexibility of the program by attending weekend classes with his classmates in Washington, D.C., while staying closely connected to his teammates in LA. Yoga has fully embraced the Executive MBA Americas experience and he’s a terrific representative of the Cornell community. He meets with and mentors applicants who participate in program information sessions and is already paying it forward by supporting the next generation of students in the program. With the MBA adding to his already impressive credentials, Yoga is well-positioned to take on additional leadership roles and continue making a strong impact now and into the future.”
Senior Director of Admissions & Marketing
Cornell Executive MBA Americas
Cornell Executive MBA Americas