Like many MBA students, Charlie Mangiardi (Stern, ’17) came to business school to develop his quantitative and analytical skillset, and pushed himself to take classes and gain experiences that would develop these skills. But in addition to developing these skills, Charlie faced many other challenges and growth moments while at Stern, which he was able to tackle with his own confidence and diligence and through the support of his peers and wife. During our interview, Charlie talked about some of these challenges, and how navigating these challenges has helped him learn and grow and given him the confidence to enter the world of consulting after graduation.
MBASchooled: What is your favorite memory of business school?
Charlie: It’s really hard to pick just one, but – perhaps because it’s recent – I’d have to go with my Stern Signature Project trip to Hawassa, Ethiopia at the end of my second year. I came to business school to develop a set of quantitative analytical skills that I could blend with my prior experience in education and nonprofits, with the hope of returning to an impact-oriented career before too long. After two years of exploring and confirming that this pathway was indeed what I wanted to pursue, getting the chance to apply much of what I learned on a consulting project for a rapidly growing city, and spending time there with amazing classmates, was really the icing on the cake for my entire business school experience. Not to mention, I love Ethiopian food!
MBASchooled: What will you miss most about your MBA experience?
Charlie: The range of experiences that my classmates came into Stern with really made for incredibly enriching conversations – in class, in study lounges, and at parties. I got to go to school with a lot of fascinating and accomplished people with diverse perspectives and insights into some of the most pressing issues facing businesses and governments. More than anything, I’ll miss the range of interests and motivations that get thrown together in business school.
MBASchooled: What are you most proud of from your MBA experience?
Charlie: After interning at Citi last summer, I was fortunate to receive an offer to return there full-time and enter their Management Associate Program after graduation, which provides a fast-track to a long-term, prosperous career there. I’d grown interested in financial services and retail banking during my first year, and had an incredibly positive experience at Citi last summer; I got to work on great projects alongside really great people, and found the culture and environment to be one I’d have proudly called home. As I was weighing my offer in the fall, though, I was also watching with alarm as our country’s public sphere continued a deterioration that had me really questioning whether I could move away from an impact focused career, especially for the long-term commitment I’d have owed to Citi. This was probably the biggest crossroads I’ll ever have to face in my working life, and I ultimately chose to turn down the offer without an alternative in place.
In the end, it took me another five months (and a lot of stress) before I received offers that aligned with my newly clarified career goals and values; I’m happy to say I’ll be joining Huron Consulting’s higher education practice in June. What I’m proudest of from my time in school is my decision to turn down a great offer with a great company, which seemed irrational to some, to pursue the right path for me as an individual.
MBASchooled: What’s the most important lesson you learned in business school?
Charlie: To stop doubting myself (which is easier said than done). As I said in my last post for MBASchooled, I came into school really unconfident in my ability to match the quantitative talents and experiences of my peers, and that was exacerbated in some ways when my resume didn’t get me the interview invitations I’d hoped for; I think that lack of confidence even came across during some interviews for internships that I did get early on. If I could tell my 2015 self one thing, it’d be that the admissions office knows what it’s doing; I ultimately made the Dean’s list and earned an academic scholarship during my first year in school, and learned that I had other experiences that complemented those of my classmates (and made for the great conversations mentioned above). Ultimately what I’ve learned is to stop questioning whether I belong somewhere once I’ve made it there, and instead focus on pushing myself to be better.
MBASchooled: What part of you has undergone the most transformation while in business school?
Charlie: I’m not sure I’d call it a full transformation since I’ve always sought to ground my work in data, but I’m certainly much better equipped to do so after focusing on quantitative coursework during my time here. My biggest prior exposure to statistics consisted of Baseball-Reference and FiveThirtyEight, and my knowledge of finance centered on my personal credit card (which I now realize I barely understood). I’ve now run large data analyses for multibillion dollar companies, and feel much more empowered to leverage and learn from statistics and financial markets moving forward.
MBASchooled: Who is someone who has had a positive influence on you while in business school?
Charlie: Besides my wife, I’d say my peers in the Stern Social Enterprise Association. My friends in SEA really helped push me to be a better student and helped me learn about a range of impact-oriented career pathways, and most importantly kept me grounded in my own goals and values while making the really difficult decision on my job offer. They’re also just incredibly accomplished people and are fascinating to speak with; I can’t imagine my Stern experience without them.
MBASchooled: Is there anything that you haven’t gotten to do that you wish you had done?
Charlie: I don’t believe in regrets, but it’s easy to say I’d wish I’d traveled more! Besides Ethiopia, I also got to go to India this past winter; those trips alone make me more well-traveled than I’d dreamed of being when I was younger. But I do look enviously at some of my classmates who have gotten to visit even more (sometimes a lot more) countries over the past two years!
MBASchooled: Where do you hope to be in five years?
Charlie: In a leadership role, helping to improve access to quality education that empowers all individuals to reach their potential.