2016 Best EMBAs: Tavares Brewington, Cornell University (Johnson)

Tavares Brewington Cornell

Tavares Brewington

Cornell University, Johnson Graduate School of Management

“Make sure you are prepared to stretch and step outside of your comfort zone. Acknowledge that you don’t know everything and be open to learning. That allows you to unlock the full value of your program.”

Age: 39

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Family Members: My fiancée and our two boys

Undergraduate School and Degree: College of the Holy Cross, BA in Psychology; Boston College, JD

Where are you currently working? Director, compliance officer at Biogen

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Board of Governors, National Bar Association; Executive Board member, Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am proud of being a member of the team that won the Cornell EMBA Shark Tank Competition. Over the course of approximately six months, we were tasked with creating and presenting a new business idea. After many hours of customer discovery, we were able to work through a number of not so good ideas and finally put a winning idea on the table.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I come from humble beginnings. My parents worked very hard, but they had very little formal education. Being the first in my family to finish college, I am proud of the depth and breadth of my professional experience, as well as the successes that I have had, to date, in my career. I have been fortunate to have over 10 years of achievement as a leader, legal advocate, and counsel in private, government, and nonprofit organizations. As well as extensive government, corporate law, and public relations experience stemming from numerous matters, handled as a senior in-house counsel for a Fortune 50 company, an Assistant United States Attorney, and an attorney at an AM Law 100 law firm. I am also extremely proud to call myself a graduate of Cornell’s Johnson School of Management.

Who is your favorite professor? David Juran. Professor Juran has a deep passion for the subject matter that he teaches. He also has a strong commitment to Cornell University and a great ability to connect with students.

Favorite MBA Courses? Business Strategy; Managing and Leading in Organizations; Leadership & High Performing Teams; and Innovation & New Venture Creation

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I was first drawn to the prestige of the program and the ability to learn from professors who are well regarded in their respective fields. I was also drawn to the residential nature of the program at the campus in Palisades. The format allows students to interact with professors outside of class and build strong relationships with classmates. This element makes the program very unique.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Business school provided the opportunity to interact with classmates from all over the U.S., as well as internationally. Our class contains students who are accomplished business leaders in many different industries. The program has truly been a unique opportunity to meet, learn from and build lasting relationships with amazing people.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? In addition to enhancing the human experience by bringing innovative products and services to market, a business — through dedicated leadership — can return maximum shareholder value and at the same time have a positive impact on the communities in which it operates.

What is your best advice for juggling work, family and education? It is important to keep things in perspective. For me, it all comes back to family. Communication is important. When you enter an EMBA program, you of course make personal sacrifices, but your family makes them as well. Keeping that in mind is extremely important.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when …” When I saw how much fun my business clients were having and I wanted to be in that club.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be …” Unsatisfied. By completing business school, I have taken a significant step toward achieving my long-term career goals.

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Kenneth Chenault, the CEO and chairman of American Express. Ken has broken down barriers as one of the few African-American CEOs of a Fortune 100 company. He also started his career as a lawyer and successfully transitioned into becoming a strong business leader.

What are your long-term professional goals? My goal is to become a key decision maker for a multinational corporation that creates innovative products and services. A part of this goal is to consistently challenge myself to be an influential part of building a diverse, innovative, and dynamic corporate culture.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I, first and foremost, would like to thank God for all of the opportunities and support that I have had over the years. I would also like to thank my family and my many mentors who keep me grounded and hold me accountable for approaching life and work according to my values.

Fun fact about yourself: After law school and passing the bar exam, I moved to Klagenfurt, Austria, where I played and coached American football

Favorite book: 1776 by David McCullough

Favorite movie: Forrest Gump

Favorite musical performer: Common

Favorite television show: “The Wire”

Favorite vacation spot: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Hobbies? Golf, fishing, and building LEGO sets with my 8-year-old.

What made Tavares such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“It is always helpful to have the legal perspective represented in the class, and Tavares provided that and more. With a legal career that has included work for a private firm, the Department of Justice, and a multi-national corporation, Tavares brings a broad perspective and a critical eye to his MBA pursuit.

“Tavares sees the MBA as a bridge to the next phase of his career, a senior management position that will take him beyond a pure legal focus. Because of this, he has used the MBA experience to broaden his skillset and go beyond his comfort zone. As a member of the winning team of our annual Shark Tank competition, he demonstrated his abilities to think strategically and creatively, while working in a collaborative team environment.

“Tavares entered the program with a clear goal and has used the program experience to work toward achieving it. At the same time, he prioritized his time well and stayed close to those people and organizations that are important to him, including his family and his work with the National Bar Association.”

Beta Mannix 

Associate Dean of Executive MBA Programs & Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Management

Cornell University, Johnson School of Management


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