Meet The NYU Stern EMBA Class Of 2021

For many, business school is an intermission, a break between acts, a time to reflect, experiment, and recharge. Of course, executive MBAs don’t have the luxury of taking a breath. In their industries, they rank among the best at what they do. In their companies, they are the clutch performers with the know-how, connections, and grit to make things happen. They are the culture setters and catalysts, the rising stars who can take charge and elevate those around them.

These HighPos may not be CEOs, but their peers look to them nonetheless. Chances are, they don’t need to take two years off to find themselves. They already know who they are and where they’re going. They’re just stopping off in business school for directions. That’s what you’ll find with the Class of 2021 from NYU Stern’s Executive MBA Program. For them, business school isn’t a time for pub crawls and ski trips. After all, they’re balancing families, reports, clients, budgets, and deadlines outside the classroom. Instead, it is a place to gain an edge by exploring new ideas and rounding out their skills.


Astu Patel, a Product Delivery & Integration Director from American Express, boils down the benefits of an EMBA program at Stern to three elements: diverse content, viewpoints and individuals. “I feel like my world has suddenly gotten so much broader and I enjoy having dedicated time to soak it all in,” she tells P&Q. “From accounting to the P’s of marketing, there is so much to learn. Immersing myself in constructive debates in the classroom and pulling from the wealth of experience and opinions that my cohort has to offer has been an enjoyable growing experience.”

Her classmate, Jed Morris, points to his peer network as the best part of an EMBA program. A U.S. Air Force finance manager, he jokes that he helps manage acquisition programs that “spend more money in one year than Walmart reported in revenue over the past three years.” Thus far, he has been stunned by the “level of knowledge, experience, and capability” of his classmates, which exceeds anything he had encountered before in his career.

“Having the amazing opportunity to learn business concepts sitting next to doctors, scientists, congressional staffers, consultants, investment bankers, activists, and entrepreneurs has greatly opened my eyes to the immense possibilities before us,” he observes. “The learning environment at Stern is second to none.”


That’s not to say the MBA experience – even at the executive level – is all academic. In fact, the Class of 2021 has quickly come together despite the heavy demands on their time adds Ramesh Vaddi, a Director and Business Partner at Cognizant who earned the firm’s Customer Service Excellence Award in 2017. “The bonding we have built within the first few months is just phenomenal. There is so much learning from the diverse backgrounds that each one of us comes from, and we also have respect and are culturally aligned… and yes, we do have lots of fun together (Golf outing, Halloween party, holiday brunch).”

Members of the 2021 DC cohort gathered

Admittedly, the “learning curve can be intense” – in the words of Priya Jayanthi, a Credit Suisse Assistant V.P. in data analytics who is also a professionally-trained Indian classical dancer. That’s why it takes a special type of professor to teach EMBAs. The Stern EMBA roster features a mix of practitioners and researchers with exhaustive industry knowledge and master teachers who understand the nuances of adult learning. What’s more, Stern’s locations in New York City and Washington, DC enable these hand-picked professors to bring in first-class guest speakers.

“The professors and the administration have been incredibly supportive when it comes to helping me and the full cohort navigate this new chapter of our lives,” explains Jessie Spielvogel, a journalist-turned-marketer. “Many of us have been out of school for 10+ years and they have been so wonderful to work with.”


The class certainly boasts a wide range of backgrounds. Take Marc Schlesinger, who describes himself as “a lawyer, musician and diehard Mets fan (i.e., Pitch Perfect meets Marshall from How I Met Your Mother meets Mr. Met).” By day, Schlesinger serves as a Senior Litigation Association at Vedder Price, which ranks as a “Top Tier” firm in banking and finance according to U.S. News. Outside the office, Schlesinger follows a different passion.

“I write my own music, recorded an album years ago, and surprised my wife with an original song at our wedding.”

Schlesinger isn’t the only musician in the class. Matthew Meade creates “up-tempo music to inspire through music.” That’s not the only way he uses his talent to help others. He is also an author.

“My life purpose has always been to inspire,” he explains. “I grew up with my mom in a family of five brothers and two sisters and times were tough financially. As a result, I reflected on all of the key principles throughout my life that propelled me to become a business professional and EMBA student. The result of that reflection became a book I authored called Wisdom on the Way to Wall Street, which highlights the 22 life principles I applied in hopes that they too will influence and impact younger generations.”

Quinci Martin, (’21) Nuclear Officer at Defense Threat Reduction Agency, poses a question in class


On Wall Street, Meade is a Vice President at JP Morgan Chase. His biggest achievement? “I had the opportunity to work on a global team that created an automation solution that transformed a business process across the Risk organization within JP Morgan,” he reminisces. “As with any transformation, there were challenges. Being able to lead the team through adversity and in the end celebrate the finished product that made a long-lasting impact on the company was a journey I’ll always remember.”

Geraldine Ramos has worked for top retail brands like DFS, Gap, and Coach over a 16-year marketing career. During that time, she operated out of locations as different as San Francisco and Hong Kong. Now a Senior Brand Manager at American Eagle Outfitters, Ramos is still struck by the impact she has had at one accessories firm.

“I managed our top travel retail account and my main responsibility was business development and launching new stores or markets from project conception to opening day,” Ramos writes. “I still see these stores today as I travel around Asia and it’s amazing to know that I played a key role bringing the brand to life.”


Overall, the NYU Stern EMBA Class of 2021 consists of 178 students in the New York and DC locations (Both sites’ cohorts arriving in August, with an additional one starting in January in New York). Nearly a quarter of the students already hold advanced academic degrees. In addition, 36% of the class is female, with international students and underrepresented minorities accounting for 29% and 15% of the class respectively. Notably, the class features students from 32 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Germany, Iran, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Liberia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

Class of 2021 orientation in August

On average, the class members are 36 years old and possess 12 years of work experience – including seven years of management experience. The largest segment of the class – 24% – work in Financial Services. Consultants hold 12% of the seats, followed by students who work in Government, Military, and Nonprofits (9%), Health Care Services (8%), Technology (7%), Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology (7%), Consumer Goods (5%), Entertainment and Media (5%), Real Estate (3%), and Marketing and Advertising (3%).

By offering two locations, NYU Stern increases the options and flexibility to EMBA students. Still, both cohorts work closely together. For one, they share a joint one-year residency in August to launch the program. Over two years, the DC contingent also spends two weekends in New York City for joint classes. At the same time, both cohorts complete core courses in year one and electives in year two. Each is required to complete a Global Study Tour, service projects that have taken place in nations like China, India, and Greece. In addition, both locations share the same graduation stage – and can take part in additional EMBA courses once they earn their degrees.

NYU Stern Vice Dean Robert Salomon

That said, they differ in key areas. In New York, classes meet every other weekend on Saturday and Sunday. In contrast, the DC cohort meets once-a-month on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Bigger still, New York EMBAs can choose up to 3 specializations from a menu of 12. In DC, there are 4 tracks, with students able to choose 2.


In recent months, the school has been working to bolster its programming. That’s just one of the developments to expect in the coming year. In January, Poets & Quants reached out to Robert Salomon, Vice Dean of Executive Programs at NYU Stern, to learn more about makes the Stern EMBA program so unique. Here are his responses…

P&Q: What are the most exciting new developments at your program?

RS: “There have been quite a few exciting new developments for NYU Stern’s Executive MBA Program. In August 2018, Stern extended its New York City-based EMBA program to downtown Washington, D.C. and enrolled its first cohort in the District. Last August, with the new incoming Class of 2021, we now have two DC cohorts running concurrently.

With the addition of EMBA DC to our longstanding EMBA NY program, students gain double the networking potential. Both DC and New York students attend their inaugural residency together. Additionally, DC students join their New York colleagues at Stern’s Greenwich Village campus two more times during the course of the two-year program, allowing for even more collaboration to take place. This August 2020, we will also have the first joint graduation here in New York City for the NY and DC programs. It will be an exciting celebration and milestone!

Some of the latest updates are happening in the curriculum, which we continuously refresh to stay relevant and on the cutting edge of today’s business needs. We have new courses being added on diversity, inclusion, belonging, and equity; sustainability; and Artificial Intelligence and the future of work.”

To read in-depth profiles of Class of 2021 students, go to the next page. 

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