This week, Giovanna Campagna (@giovanna_campagna), founder of CREO Consulting, showed us a day in the life as a Columbia MBA. A member of the Columbia Business School J-Term, she shared insights on how to apply to Columbia, how to time the MBA at the right point in your career, and how to leverage club life in your program to connect with industry leaders to collaborate and expand your network. She offers a ton of valuable information and whether or not you’re pursuing an MBA, you don’t want to miss her advice and join her for a day in NYC.
She started with an intro at her home, brought us uptown to campus, downtown to the awesome women’s coworking space The Wing and then back downtown while peppering some seriously valuable MBA Q&A along the way. Check out her takeover below!
Here are some of your questions answered by Giovanna on her takeover – be sure to reach out here or connect with her if you have more questions about life as a Columbia MBA and want to learn more!
What are your lessons learned in starting a fashion business?
- If you are selecting products to bet on or to launch, I would focus on the quality of the product rather than trend.
- The importance of a good brand story. I think people are drawn to CREO because it carved a niche as the place to go to for emerging designers from Latin America.
- Fashion communications has shifted from relying on traditional media (magazines, etc.) to leveraging social media. There is a large confluence happening with digital marketing and communications strategy as everything is becoming highly digitized.
Did you always know you wanted to go to Columbia? What other schools did you look at?
Yes. I only applied to Columbia and chose to apply for their J-Term admissions option. I submitted my application in September, 2017 during their rolling admissions period, and was accepted to begin in January, 2018 (a very quick turnaround!). Had it not worked out, I would have definitely reapplied as it was my top choice, and there is always a chance you will get in on the second try. It can actually go a long way with the admissions team as they like to see that an applicant is persistent and passionate about the school. I did look at other schools – NYU Stern, HBS, and Wharton in particular. But I had my heart set on Columbia because of the curriculum and focus on Luxury Retail, the location in New York, and the international student base.
How do you balance work and school?
You actually have a good amount of free time by your second semester of school so there is room to pursue other elements of your career. I think it is intentionally designed to allow you to have time to focus on these pursuits, may it be recruiting, interning, launching a new venture, or working on something you started previously. A lot of my classmates took on in-semester internships in their free time, and many of my classmates also started businesses while they were still in school.
Why did you get your MBA at this point in your career? How do you figure out the timing of when to start an MBA?
I actually took the GMAT nearly 5 years before I finally applied, as I was considering bschool earlier on in my career. However, I decided to postpone applying. I remember sitting down to write the Columbia essays that ask you to be very specific about your career goals, and I couldn’t genuinely articulate what I wanted to do. I realized if I really had no idea what I wanted to do, I probably wouldn’t get everything I could out of school. I’m so glad that I applied after I had more work experience, particularly in running a business. It made me realize what I was truly interested in, where the gaps in my knowledge were, and I think the experiences I was able to bring to the classroom made me a better student and contributor.
What do you wish you knew about bschool before starting?
I wish I knew how fast it would fly by! But luckily, I think I did take full advantage of my time of Columbia. I paused a few times through out and asked myself, “What would I regret not doing before I graduate?” The things I knew I would regret not doing enough of always came down to:
- Investing in friendships and making an effort to meet many different people
- Building relationships with the amazing professors
- Leveraging the doors that are open to you when you are a student. On more than one occasion I cold emailed CEOs and founders of interesting companies I wanted to learn more about, just saying that I was student at CBS researching their field. They were almost always open to speaking to me and each conversation was incredibly rewarding. Definitely take advantage of this!
Thanks so much to Giovanna for hosting our latest #MBAchicTakeover and for giving us such a great inside look at life as a Columbia MBA!
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Let us know you’re interested! Visit MBAchic.com/write and shoot us a note so we can get the ball rolling. Also FYI… guest posters have included their features within their resumes/CVs, and no guarantees, but… they went on to secure their top jobs in their industry post-MBA or in their next role post-publishing so… ????
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