2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Claudia Gernegross, Columbia Business School

Claudia Gernegross

Columbia Business School

Age: 36

“A German in New York who is ambitious, family oriented, and adventurous.”

Hometown: New York City, NY

Family Members: My significant other was the one who convinced me to apply, and he has been a great support throughout the program; I am very close to my parents, sister, brother, and other family members in Germany. Family is important to me.

Fun fact about yourself: In high school, I competed as a professional group dancer on a European level.

Undergraduate School and Degree:


* University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany // BS, Business and Economics

* Six months scholarship at the University of Cordoba, Faculty of Economics and Business, Spain

Where are you currently working? I am an Associate Director at PATRIZIA. PATRIZIA is a USD 60-billion-dollar Real Assets investment manager. I am part of their Global Client Solutions Group based in New York. I am managing the firm’s institutional investor and consultant relationships and spearheading the capital-raising efforts in the region. Before building PATRIZIA’s North American presence, I worked for them in Europe. I effectively led the initiative to expand PATRIZIA’s strategic investor relations business into the Americas, EMEA, and APAC.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles: 

* Academic Honors: Dean’s List (Summer 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022)

* Professional Clubs: Real Estate Association; Columbia Women in Business

* Activities: Class Representative

* Volunteer: Fundraising Coordinator, PATRIZIA Foundation; DEI council member, PATRIZIA

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I made it on the Dean’s Honor List multiple times while juggling work, life, school, organizing social activities as a class representative, and not having English as my first language.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the diverse relationships I have built working across five continents. I love solving cross-functional and intercultural issues – and I will continue doing so to foster global collaboration in everything I do.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was our strategy professor, D. Daniel Keum (Associate Professor of Management). He was well-prepared, passionate about every little detail in the cases we examined, and had an extraordinarily effective, efficient, and fun way of teaching. He cares deeply about his students. He still emails our class to update us on the strategic evolution of the businesses we examined.  

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? CBS is one of the most reputable and known business schools globally. Besides, CBS is in the best city in the world and offered me a springboard to advance my career and expand my network globally. Top-notch professors taught me how to become a better person and leader. Being at the very center of business and the school’s diversity and collaborative culture were ultimately the critical factors in my decision to pursue the executive MBA at CBS.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Your values are the key to success. You must know your values to become a better leader. Knowing my values helped me make hard decisions faster and communicate my interests more precisely. I also identified other colleagues’ values to strengthen collaboration and gain power and influence.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education. I believe in work-life integration. I started filling out this questionnaire on an early flight to Boston. I flew to a Real Estate conference where I represented my firm, built new relationships, and acquired new clients. After 30 minutes, I used the remainder of my time to finish my slides for a school group project that was due. In the Uber to the conference, I called my parents as part of my weekly routine. I am finishing this questionnaire before my dinner with investors. Tomorrow morning, I will wake up early and exercise. Work-school-life integration, prioritization, discipline, and a night of healthy sleep are the key to success.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? If you are constantly trying to outgrow yourself, you will be fine. The executive program is rigorous and time-consuming. However, it is also rewarding and will be an unparalleled experience. Try to make as many new connections as possible. Take advantage of the phenomenal resources the school offers, including career management, industry-focused institutions, and the network. Make sure you join a club. Enjoy every moment because time will fly by quicker than expected.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I was not in school for the grades. The grades come by themselves. I was there to listen, learn, grow, and share my perspectives.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I did not manage to read all the great books we received – reading them is my resolution for the time after graduation.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Joseph Kleeman. Joey has been one of my learning team members. He supported me throughout the program and became a great friend. He is one of the most intellectual, hard-working, and kindest personalities I met at CBS. Joey takes the initiative, delivers high-quality results, and is a great team player. I am fascinated by how he juggled a rigorous business school program working at a trading firm across different time zones, being a husband and father of two toddlers, and attending most social networking events. He shows up. Everyone in our class knows Joey. He is one of the most caring people I know.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I chose the executive program to apply skills and tools to my job in real-time and enjoy a steady income. The executive program allowed me to learn from talented classmates whose industry experiences and passions differ from mine. Listening to and debating their perspectives was fascinating. Meeting those exceptional individuals in person was invaluable. Online classes are a good alternative, but they are not replacing human interaction, collaboration, and connection. You miss out on side conversations and social activities.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to become a global client-facing executive in the Real Assets industry, supercharging the sustainability revolution. I want to positively influence investments in diverse, affordable, and environmentally friendly communities by aligning long-term investor incentives with sustainability targets.

What made Claudia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Claudia has demonstrated keen leadership skills throughout her time in the EMBA-NY Saturday program and these skills along with her genuine desire to unite her classmates make her an invaluable part of the Columbia Business School community. Claudia served as the Cluster Representative for her class and during her tenure she organized countless events, ensuring an inclusive, positive environment for all. Expertly balancing her own work, personal, and academic commitments, Claudia enthusiastically created opportunities for her cohort to make connections outside of the classroom while also promoting academic excellence. Her leadership, willingness to volunteer, and ability to unite was noticed and appreciated by all.

Claudia’s classmates describe her as inclusive, kind-hearted, brilliant, approachable, always present, committed to their class, and a dedicated class representative. Through her impactful contributions and leadership, Claudia exemplifies the Columbia Business School spirit and for this reason she was selected to receive the Distinguished Service Award for the EMBA-NY Saturday Class of 2023.”

Susan West
Director, Academic & Student Affairs
Executive MBA Programs


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