Mendoza School of Business

Meet Notre Dame Mendoza’s MBA Class of 2018

Published: November 4, 2016 / Author: Poets & Quants

Every business school tosses out terms like ethicsvaluescourage, and the greater good. No doubt, they test well with Millennials looking to make an impact. There are few MBA programs that, at their heart, train the mind and nurture the spirit. For students looking to connect social teaching with business practice, the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business is where they go to “ask more of business” — and themselves.

“You don’t go to Notre Dame to learn something,” observes former football coach Lou Holtz. “You go to Notre Dame to be somebody.” The Mendoza experience is centered on how to create and sustain a principled workplace. That starts with setting a high bar for the individual. At Mendoza, students commit — in thought, word, and deed — to personal excellence, personifying the qualities of integrity, accountability, and teamwork as an example for all. That mission is global in nature, demanding that graduates, like the apostles before them, fan out with a conviction to turn their values into action.


That’s what’s expected of the Class of 2018. It’s something that every Mendoza class embraces. Looking at this new crop of “Domers,” you could argue that a bias towards action, along with wide-ranging interests, define this class. Mumbai’s Amita Balasundaram, who studied biotechnology in college before becoming a brand manager, describes herself as a “marketer, a kick-boxer, a singer, a volunteer and a multi-linguist.” She’ll find plenty of competition for the title of “Renaissance person” in this class. Tom Jones, a South Bend native who went to West Point, considers himself to be a “jack of many trades, master of none (musician, engineer, athlete, helicopter pilot, former military officer, salesman).” You can make it a trio with Charles Jintao Jiang, a Chinese poetry connoisseur with a doctorate in chemistry who’s “a curious scientist, a practical dreamer; a photographer, a reader.” In terms of sheer personality, it’s hard to top Sir Martin Cortez, who’s thankful for his parents naming him “Sir” because it makes a great conversation starter. Not that he needs much help — “I make seemingly boring things like the power industry surprisingly sexy,” he jokes.

True to Notre Dame tradition, the class brings bona fide athletic credentials to the table. Mexico’s Jose L. Guadarrama has completed in two marathons and two Olympic triathlons. He should train with J. Walter Sterling, formerly a college philosophy instructor, who’s completed an ironman triathlon. However, the class also brings an artistic sensibility to South Bend. Balasundaram’s band finished second Zee Aspire, India’s answer to American Idol.  Move over Lin-Manuel Miranda: Jack Pelzer wrote a musical based on the life of…Brendan Fraser.

The 2018 Class also possesses a fascinating mix of professional backgrounds and achievements. Jiang was the lead inventor on a patented model that has improved the half-life of peptide drugs, enabling patients to inject them less frequently. Balasundaram managed an 8,000 partner program that earned her firm the Loyalty Summit’s moniker of best channel loyalty program of 2014 in India. Bradley Egbert, who thrives in “deep water and unknown territory,” used his analytics aptitude to reformulate traffic forecasting for the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, which collects over $1.7 billion dollars in tolls each year. At the same time, Cortez was intimately involved in a sell down that added $445 million dollars in cash flow so his firm could expand operations across Southeast Asia. When it comes to life-and-death responsibility, it would be hard to top Jones, who commanded a Kiowa Warrior Air Cav Helicopter Troop in what he calls in a war-torn hotspot in Afghanistan. “I was blessed to lead the best team in the world, populated with the best people in the world. We brought every “Alpha Trooper” home, never lost a bird, and supported the efforts of our beloved infantry brethren in a very big way,” he proudly says.

Such an expansive mix didn’t happen by accident. “The Notre Dame MBA Class of 2018 was selected, not just based on their career potential and academic prowess, but because they have far-reaching goals and aspirations beyond the acquisition of business knowledge and career advancement,” says Kristin McAndrew, director of graduate business programs.

Read the entire story on the Poets & Quants website

Individual profiles:

Amita Balasundaram / Mumbai, India

Sir Martin Cortez / Quezon City, Philippines

Bradley Egbert / Eugene, OR

Natasha Fritz / Chambersburg, PA

Jose L. Guadarrama / Toluca, Mexico

Charles Jintao Jiang / Xuchang, China

Tom Jones / South Bend, IN

Jack Pelzer / River Forest, IL

Navya Poovathingal Radhakrishnan / Bangalore, India

Walter C. Pruchnik, III / Windber, PA

J. Walter Sterling / Annapolis, MD