Joss Baumann

Joss Baumann
Class Year
Paris, France
Areas of Interest
Financial Services
Previous Education
BA in Geography, University of Picardy Jules Verne

What brought you to business school? Why did you choose Columbia Business School?

I have an atypical background in the sense that I majored in the humanities at university but have been working in Financial Services for the past 10 years. I picked up a lot on the job, but I always felt that I was missing the strong business-knowledge foundation that a lot of my colleagues possessed, so business school was something I always felt would be tremendously beneficial. I had been considering it for many years before applying, but I felt this was the right time in my career to do an executive program. I had enough managerial experience that concepts I learned could be reflected upon with tangible examples and even applied right away at work.

I chose CBS because of the strong emphasis the school made on students participating in the life of the program and becoming a part of a vibrant community, and the fact it perfectly fit my schedule. I have multiple colleagues who have gone through the program and they all couldn’t recommend it enough, which really cemented the idea in my mind that if it was worth doing, it was worth doing right, and that was at Columbia.

What was your first impression as a student?

How uniquely talented everyone was, from the students to the professors. It was such a diverse pool of individuals, knowledge, and backgrounds that we all collectively benefited from right from the beginning. Everyone has such humbling accomplishments and experiences — really a community I’m glad and proud to be a part of.

How do you balance between work, school, and your personal life?

From the beginning, it’s important to realize this is not an experience you undertake by yourself. Giving 100% across the board is incredibly challenging, and definitely unsustainable in the long term. Knowing that classmates and coworkers can help is essential in being able to juggle through all my responsibilities, while understanding that I’m counted on to help when necessary as well. This said, I always try to carve out time early in the week to take on school readings and submissions to avoid surprises closer to deadlines. This has worked well so far.

What’s your favorite part of the EMBA experience so far?

I honestly love everything. I love being able to find relatable life experiences with such diverse classmates. I love being challenged academically in ways I definitely had not anticipated. I love covering a concept during class and then immediately being able to benefit from it in my personal or professional life.

What was the most challenging part of the program?

Definitely learning to let go, understanding that there is so much going on and that it’s impossible to attend everything that the school or classmates offer and organize. And that’s a good thing! Nothing can prepare you for the amount of work involved so being able to make time for the things we’re truly interested in, and can actually benefit from, results in more meaningful and engaging experiences, with a lot less “mental noise” to distract us. That definitely took some time getting used to; FOMO is very present early on!

How have your professional skills translated into success at business school?

There are a lot of group projects at CBS, and while far from being the most technical person on my learning team, I believe I managed to strongly contribute by being the person that kept the group organized, motivated, and on-track, something that I have to do regularly at work.

Which faculty member(s) and/or courses influenced you the most, and how?

Seeing the passion and commitment that Paul Ingram put into adapting his Leadership and Organizational Change class to the online environment during our only fully-remote term (due to Covid-19) was astonishing. It’s a very interactive class and Professor Ingram went above and beyond in keeping us engaged, and we had guests dialing from all parts of the globe! Coming into Columbia Business School, I definitely wanted to focus on my soft-skills and it’s something that Leadership and Organizational Change delivered on from the first class, dismantling long-held assumptions and beliefs and giving us all a new perspective on so many different topics.

What are your long-term career goals?

Close to a year into the program, it feels like the options are limitless. I had a generic idea of what I wanted to do in the long-term prior to starting business school, but it now feels like I’ve learned so many new things, and been exposed to so many new concepts, that I was just limiting myself previously! Columbia has already opened doors to so many of my classmates and has instilled confidence and resilience in all of us. I’m curious to see how far my expectations can be pushed by the end of the program!

What’s your top advice for new students?

Feel empowered to contribute; you were selected to be a part of this program because the admissions committee saw something unique in you. Just be out there and be yourself. You’ll be surprised how much perspective you can bring to the class.

What will you take with you from Columbia Business School?

Confidence, perspective, and a deeper understanding of a wide range of topics, but most importantly, a lifelong group of friends.