2019 Best EMBAs: Jeremy Schwartz, U.C.-Irvine (Merage)

Jeremy Schwartz

University of California Irvine, The Paul Merage School of Business

“Father, husband, recovering banker.”

Age:  33

Hometown: Tustin California

Family Members: Wife Abigail, Daughter Eliana, Dog Wally

Fun fact about myself: I’ve traveled the globe on a boat!

Undergraduate school and degree: UCLA double major business economics and political science

Where are you currently working? Executive Director of social enterprise at World Possible. World Possible is a social enterprise working to shrink the knowledge gap globally by offering Open Educational Resources (OER) so that anyone can access the best educational resources from the web anytime, anywhere, regardless of internet connection.

Extracurricular Activities: My work at my nonprofit World Possible dominates my time, where I get to live a job I love 24/7.

What academic or extracurriculum achievement are you most proud of during b school? In 2018, World Possible won a Bill and Melinda Gates’ Grand Challenge and $100,000 cash prize to scale our work

Professional career? I’ve been proud to build a social enterprise from nothing to a global organization with 14 staff and support from Dalio Philanthropies (Ray and Barbara), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Happel Foundation, and other international NGOs.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Joan Pearce, who taught a class on organizational behavior which was fast-paced, relevant, and exceptionally focused on real-time situations we experienced at our companies. She was also incredibly available as an advisor to further advise on confidential matters.

What was your favorite course and what did I learn about business? A Python and Machine Learning course taught by Dr. Fred Park. The course was an intensive five weeks of Python followed by machine learning applications that drive today’s companies like Netflix, Tesla, not to mention financial institutions. I appreciated that the Merage School would offer such a course to students who may not have a computer science background and tie it back to business. This helps me better understand technologies as we look to scale and grow our enterprise.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? UCI offers a wealth of resources beyond the classroom that I knew I could leverage while there, including building our early product prototypes at the Rapid Prototyping lab on campus, hiring a peer from the masters of accounting program, and taking classes in big data, programming, and deep learning as electives during my MBA experience. The close-knit nature of the EMBA program also gave exceptional access to professors outside of the classroom.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general?The diversity of my cohort at UCI was fantastic. We had a full range of perspectives while debating topics in organizational behavior or mock negotiations, which provided for a great learning experience in-and-out of the classroom. My peers were all tremendously supportive of one another and will be lifelong connections.

Give us a story about juggling work, family, and education? My wife and I were thrilled to welcome our first child into the world during my EMBA education. Eliana’s arrival rocked my world, but I had worked with the same small group for almost a year at my EMBA and I was able to lean on them to keep me progressing at school while relying on a great masters of finance intern we brought on at work to help get me through the time at work.

What advice would you give? The case for your employer sponsoring or accepting your participation in an executive MBA program shouldn’t end with the initial agreement. Continue to show value to your company and leverage that to take relevant elective courses at inconvenient times.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I was a borderline case between FEMBA and EMBA, but generally worried about an MBA program being a place where social events were valued over classroom and real-world learnings. The Executive program was exactly what I was looking for, despite being younger than average, with a real laser focus on advancing our careers.

What is my biggest regret in business school? I really don’t have any regrets from my time at UCI.

Which MBA classmate do you admire most? Debra Baetz, Orange County’s Director of Social Services. Debra has shown such a remarkable strength, powering through our EMBA program, while managing a staff of thousands solving some of Orange County’s most pressing issues. Debra tragically lost her husband during a program, and never skipped a beat, leading my small group though numerous projects while getting promoted to be the Director at Social Services.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when….I got a 770 on the GMAT exam.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Put $10 million in the bank and then go teach at an MBA program.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like them to remember me as someone who just grateful to be there with them.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • More kids
  • Run for office

What made Jeremy such an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?

“Jeremy made his classmates’ learning his top priority in my class. Jeremy took my managerial accounting class, “Driving Profitability,” along with his EMBA classmates. He had a stronger accounting background than most of the students in the class, and could easily have dominated any discussion, but he let his classmates take the lead. He stepped in when I asked him to, shared his expertise when it was important, and provided clear explanations when his classmates needed them. But what is much more impressive is that he let his classmates work towards solutions on their own, without stepping in, knowing that it was best for their learning. That level of modesty and restraint is extremely impressive. All of us want to answer questions when we know the answers. Jeremy held back, for his classmates’ benefit.  On both ends of the spectrum – holding back when it was needed and stepping in to explain or clarify when it was warranted – Jeremy contributed significantly to his classmates’ learning.”

Devin Shanthikumar

Associate Professor

Accounting Area Coordinator

Paul Merage School of Business

University of California, Irvine



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