KL: The first thing that comes to my mind about you, my friend, is that you’re a tried and true New Yorker.
MS: You could say that. I grew up in Manhattan, went to Cornell, and returned to the city for four years of work on Wall Street before HBS. I’ve only ever lived in an apartment.
KL: Suburbans everywhere are cringing. No yard, pets? Where do you play teeball, on top of an office building? Don’t even answer that. Yankees or Mets?
MS: Hey now. Going sledding in my backyard (aka Central Park) isn’t too shabby. I’m afraid to say I’m a big Yankee fan given our rivalry with this great city were are currently in, but I do look good in pinstripes.
KL: What is your favorite place on the island?
MS: The New York City Public Library in Bryant Park. I used to go there to research term papers in high school. When there were still such things as card catalogs, you would submit a book request and get a deli-style number. After a few minutes your number would pop up on the giant screen. It was like winning bingo. Nowadays I go for the architecture…I could wander around there and people watch for hours.
KL: When you came back to the Big Apple after college, you were in investment banking at Barclays.
MS: Actually, I started at Lehman Brothers. I’m one of the lucky ones to witness and survive the acquisition. I started on a Debt Capital Markets desk at Lehman and ended up moving into a business planning and strategy role during the height of the financial crisis to help one of the largest teams in the investment banking division evaluate its competitive position and growth prospects. I was in the right place at the right time, as I was also able to help develop an internal restructuring plan during Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy and reorganize and integrate Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital’s infrastructures. After I spent 3 years with this the team, my boss, the global COO, unexpectedly quit, and I was asked to take over until a replacement could be found. It was certainly a “learn as you go” / “think on your feet” kind of experience. I felt like Erik Peterson from the RC LEAD case – shocked and extremely young for the job. But I learned a ton and loved every minute of it.
KL: That must’ve made for quite a compelling business school application. Now that you’re at the Harvard School of Business and Pleasure, wow does Beantown stack up to the city that never sleeps?
MS: This town certainly sleeps – since when do bars close at 2am? But I do love the enthusiasm around Boston’s sports teams, the strong “where did I pahk my cah” accents, and the ubiquitous clam chowder. Living in such a young, vibrant city, it’s easy not to miss home too much.
KL: Sounds like you’re almost a convert. That said, if you were banned from the great northeast, let’s say for being too fabulous, where would you live?
MS: That’s easy. Spain, because I love the language, the culture, and the food. I lived in Barcelona for 6 months and never wanted to leave.
KL: I know firsthand that you’ve gotten on your fair share of vacations from Boston during your years at school. Which was your favorite trip?
MS: My favorite part about this school is that I have friends from around the world who are eager to show me their own hometowns. I have been hosted by classmates in many exotic, faraway places such as Turkey, London, Dubai, Kuwait, Canada, and Cape Cod. I’ve also enjoyed giving my friends a taste of New York.
KL: And for the time that you’re on campus, what has been your most interesting in-class experience?
MS: Last semester in Financial Management of Small Firms, we had a guest who went rogue, interrupting the professor and challenging student questions. It was a very peculiar experience which proved how much we rely on and strictly adhere to class norms and how blatant it is when those norms are broken down. By the end of the class, we knew we had witnessed greatness. And it was an experience we were unlikely to see again.
KL: That sounds both hilarious and terrifying. Let’s finish up with a fun one. What song best captures your time here at HBS?
MS: “Don’t Wake Me Up” by Chris Brown. Firstly, because I don’t want to wake up from this awesome dream called business school, and secondly because after EC ski weekend, I’m exhausted. Let me sleep.