2015 Best EMBA: Karl Blunden

Karl Blunden

Karl Blunden


Columbia Business School

When it came time to pick a business school, Karl Blunden didn’t have to look far for a recommendation. His wife had earned an MBA from Columbia Business School in 2012. Despite a grueling schedule that included working as a vice president in credit research for Goldman Sachs, Blunden became one of the most visible members of his class. He coordinated CBSMatters, a student forum for sharing ideas. He served as the class’ academic representative and won the Nahum Melumad Memorial Prize for outstanding scholarship. Even more, his classmates elected him to receive the Executive MBA Distinguished Service Award and deliver the graduation speech.

Age: 30

Location: New York, NY (Hometown: Boksburg, South Africa)

Family Members: Wife (Hayley Blunden); sister (Megan Blunden), brother (Garth Blunden), parents (Thomas and Gill Blunden, both veterinarians in South Africa)

Undergraduate School: University of Virginia

Undergraduate Degree: B.A. in Economics and History

Where are you currently working? Goldman Sachs; Vice President: Credit Research

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I experienced the strong community at Columbia as a member of the Columbia Business School Better Halves Club (while my wife attended Columbia’s full-time MBA program).”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…regretful that I missed an opportunity to have a great time while challenging myself.”

What are your long-term professional goals? They are constantly evolving, although I am fairly sure they will involve investing…with a global tilt.

Favorite Courses: Entrepreneurial Finance and The Leader’s Voice

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? As a student, I am most proud of my contributions to the community as a coordinator of CBSMatters. CBSMatters is a regular forum in which students share what matters to them – personally or professionally – through a presentation to the class followed by a Q&A session. Professionally, I am proud of taking over the lead of a research team focused on companies in the basic materials and industrial sectors while also balancing my second year of MBA coursework.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? My MBA experience would not have been the same without the support of the George Doty Fellowship program or my colleagues at Goldman Sachs, who provided me with the flexibility required to get involved in the Columbia Business School community. I also owe a lot to my family in South Africa, as well as the Paul Mellon Scholarship Program at Choate Rosemary Hall and the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at the University of Virginia, who together allowed me to come to America to continue my education.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I found that the program offered a unique combination of attributes: (1) a Saturday-only format, (2) a global curriculum, (3) the integration of theory and practice, and (4) a close-knit student community.

What did you enjoy most about the executive MBA program? I enjoyed interacting with fellow students outside of class – after class on Saturdays, on informal trips, and during our organized international seminars.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? A week-long seminar in Munich.

Fun fact about yourself: I recently became an American citizen

Favorite book: It’s tough to choose between a few by JM Coetzee and VS Naipaul

Favorite musical performer: For studying, electronica, for hanging out, my friends’ Spotify playlists.

Favorite television show: Game of Thrones

Favorite vacation spot: Kruger National Park

What are your hobbies? Tennis, golf, travel, hiking

Twitter Handle: @SKBlunden

What made Karl such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015 for your executive MBA program?

“Karl was one of the most involved students in the class of 2015, chosen to win the Distinguished Service Award by his class and also chosen to be the class speaker at graduation. He not only excelled academically, winning the highest award for academic achievement, but was also a dedicated member of student government. Despite all of his laudatory achievements, Karl is an incredibly humble individual, never forgetting to acknowledge his teammates, professors, colleagues and family.”


Karl was always ready to help, offering advice to first year students on electives and working with faculty and the administration on a variety of concerns as they came up. Karl embodied true caring and curiosity about the community around him. He spearheaded his class’s adoption of CBS Matters, an opportunity for students to share with others the ideas that matter most to them, building a rich awareness of the diversity of thought and interest in the group and solidifying lifelong relationships in the class. His thoughtful feedback and earnest dedication to his classmates are hallmarks of his leadership for the 2015 cohort.”


Emily French Thomas, Director, Academic and Student Affairs, Executive MBA Programs

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