Stern Students Speak

What's life like at NYU Stern? Find out from our students.

MBA Student Spotlight

James Hunter

Name: James Hunter
Graduation Year: 2022

Senior Manager of Global Brand Strategy, American Express                                                                                                                         

Why did you decided to get your MBA and why Stern?

I felt like I had a few gaps in my business knowledge, and I wanted to sharpen the skills that I had already acquired in the workplace. Additionally, I knew that I had several potential career interests that I wanted to freely explore, and an MBA program would provide me with the best opportunity to explore new interests while deepening my understanding of already established interests.
Stern was a no-brainer for me. I had already been working in New York City for a few years by the time I decided to embark on my MBA journey, and I had heard amazing things about the faculty, the students, and the opportunities at Stern. Knowing that a top tier MBA program with endless opportunities was right in my backyard was hard to pass up so it made all the sense in the world to attend.

What had the greatest influence on your development while at Stern?

Stern’s experiential education courses. They merge classroom learnings with real-world clients to address business problems that the clients are facing. I was fortunate enough to take two experiential education courses, Consulting Lab: Branding + Innovation and Fashion & Luxury Digital Solutions. Branding + Innovation had the greatest impact overall as it was the catalyst for a career pivot for me. I had the pleasure of learning from one of my favorite professors, Fran Gormley, as a student in the course and then as the Graduate Teaching Fellow (TF). I got to see how branding and innovation works from two totally different perspectives. As a student, my classmates and I worked on a complex sensory branding problem with our client, Mastercard, and were asked to present our recommendations to Mastercard’s CMO and his executive team, which was an experience like no other. As the TF, I had the unique privilege of seeing how clients engage branding professionals to help solve a unique problem, and then help translate that into a semester-long engagement that the students could then take on.

How did Stern help you prepare for your current role?

As briefly mentioned, Branding + Innovation was the catalyst for my career pivot. I recently moved into Global Brand Strategy for American Express, and it wouldn’t have been possible without Stern. The consulting lab provided me with new frameworks that I could take into the workplace, a well-rounded arsenal of consulting skills to deploy, and a new way to take somewhat abstract problems and develop concrete solutions. Overall, Stern provided me with the necessary tools I needed to make this pivot. I was able to learn how to strategically think through problems that may have long-term impact on our business, how to lead with my strengths and find complements for my weaknesses, and how to assess all opportunities to understand what has the most value for task at hand.

What do you value most from your time at Stern?

Simply put, the students. Stern is nothing without the students that make up the school. While I was able to learn a great deal from the professors, I believe that I learned equally as much, if not more, from the students. The constant opportunities to learn from my peers was invaluable, and I’m happy to say that I’ve made lifelong friends who challenge me to grow endlessly.

What advice would you give to future MBAs?

Pick a specialization for your career and pick one for yourself. You never know which may be your actual calling.