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Stern Somebody Presents: Henry Mumford

The Oppy staff is proud to continue a feature called “Stern Somebody,” telling the stories of remarkable classmates and how they became the exceptional people they are today.

Henry Mumford is an MBA2 at NYU Stern. He graduated from Harvard in 2013 with a degree in economics and a solid education in lacrosse and a cappella. Prior to coming to Stern, he worked in finance and media. He now lives on Long Island with his wife and dog. He interned at BCG over the summer and will be going back full time after graduation.

 I knew the name “Henry Mumford” long before I ever met him. Anyone who is slightly involved with the Management Consulting Association (MCA) will have noticed the active engagement from Henry over the Microsoft Teams channel or Gmail. As a club president, I admired and could relate to that dedication. As a student who is attempting consulting recruitment, I wondered what I could learn from him and his story. Therefore, I was thrilled to discover that he was in my cohort for Leadership Fellows this year. It immediately became my goal to share his story with the Stern community, and he so kindly obliged.

Some answers have been edited for clarity.

Henry, it is such a pleasure to interview you and to present you as our first “Stern Somebody” of this academic year! How is the year starting for you? And can you clarify, your name is not Christopher? Or you’re cool enough to have a pseudonym?

Thanks, Deirdre! The year has certainly been a blur so far – it’s hard to believe it’s only September. MCA has hit the ground running and I’m really proud of what the board and broader MCA community have done so far.

And yes, I go by Henry, but you may see “Christopher Mumford” in Slack or Teams or Gmail. All I can say is, name your children what you want to call them. None of this middle name nonsense.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of what you’re currently achieving, let’s start with the background story. What did you do before Stern?

Most recently, I spent five years at iHeartMedia supporting the senior executive team and doing some business development/strategy work for one of the business units. I think of that time as my “MBA part 1.” It was an incredible crash course in the fundamentals of being part of a big company, and how the world works. My parents aren’t in business, so I had a lot to learn!

You pivoted from investment banking to strategy and operations in media at two big firms BEFORE you started at Stern. Most students come for their MBA to get into those fields. What were some of the pros and cons of the industries you worked in?

I’d say that one of the lessons from Stern I wish I had learned earlier is the importance of industry selection and being deliberate about your career strategy. At Barclays, I was in equity derivatives, and then I jumped to a company that was primarily a broadcast radio company. Not exactly hot spots for growth! The fact of the matter is that the industry you are in matters a lot for the lessons you learn and the environment you’ll spend time in (credit to Marciano for hammering that home in Advanced Strategy).

The flipside of that is that I had an opportunity to ‘fight above my weight class,’ so to speak, particularly when I was at iHeartMedia. I had exposure to things I had no business being a part of early on. My boss used to say that I had a decade of experience in three years.

 What brought you to Stern?

I knew I was getting a great education at iHeart, but it was only one specific education. I had picked up a lot of things on the fly at iHeart, and I felt that an MBA would help me solidify and diversify those lessons. Stern was a great way to do that while maintaining some balance – I didn’t want my wife to have to uproot her entire life.

What were some of the ways that the pandemic impacted your life?

It certainly accelerated the move to Long Island! In all seriousness, I think it made the first year of business school a lot easier for me. Everyone I spoke to told me that the hardest part of getting your MBA is balancing your relationships with the new routine at school. I didn’t have that issue. Of course, my challenge this year is making sure that I engage enough with my classmates and get as much out of the MBA as I can socially.  

How did you become so heavily involved with consulting?

One of my mentors used to talk about ‘muscle building reps,’ and I think that’s what MCA is: a chance to practice and develop my leadership skills in a way that really matters for the Stern community. I initially just planned to case a ton of MBA1s, and give back that way, but I realized that I came to Stern to learn how to have an impact at scale. Taking on a leadership role in MCA fits into that broader career narrative nicely. 

I am trying to take that same approach for other components of my MBA too. Finding ways to engage with the community in a way that makes Stern better is rewarding for me. That’s why I am involved with SternWorks! Consulting is great for some people, but if we can find a way to encourage more diversity of career outcomes Stern will be better for it.

Lastly – MCA is also a great way for me to work with my classmates and get to know them better.  It’s a lot easier to tell my wife that I need to go to the city for MCA stuff than to tell her I want to go to Beer Blast!

Yay for Beer Blast being a possibility again! How has your time at Stern “changed you,” if at all?

Don’t jinx it (not sure when this is going to print)! I feel ready to take on the world again. It’s kind of like when I was 22, except instead of having a naive cockiness, I now feel a cautious confidence. I’m a little more self aware, and (using an orchestra as a metaphor) I know that I have to figure out how to be a conductor instead of just the first seat violin. Of course, I’m sure 40-year-old me will look back and think, “Wow, that guy was naive.”

What’s next for you – professionally and personally?

I’m going back to BCG, which is nice to have in the bag. I think my next big development area is figuring out how to balance personal and professional life better. I will be very disappointed if I figure out how to be a good CEO or partner or leader, without also being a good husband.  

I couldn’t agree more with that mindset. What are your long-term goals?

I realized at iHeart that you don’t have to be in the public sector to have an impact. Strong leadership of private companies matters, both at a macro level (investing in the right technologies) and a micro level (creating a place where employees can thrive and be happy when they go home to their families).

It sounds weird to say, but a few years ago I attended the funeral of an old lacrosse coach of mine. The place was packed – I didn’t even get in the door – because he was such a positive force in the life of every single person he interacted with. That is my real long term goal – a packed funeral, in part because of the impact I was able to have on my community through my business endeavors.  

That’s a nice, happy thought for this Monday morning! But joking aside, a loved life is a full one. What are your biggest plans and dreams for your last year at Stern?

My goal is to look back at this year and know that I didn’t leave anything on the table. I think fear of regret is an underappreciated motivator (not sure that’s really a healthy way to look at things, but it works for me).

Tactically, that means I’d like to see MCA succeed, SternWorks continue on an upward trajectory, and the golf club do almost anything (it’s a low bar).

Enough professional talk, what are some of your other passions?

I’m wildly addicted to golf. I try to channel that into some philanthropic work through First Tee of Met NY. I also have a puppy that I need to spend more time training (less time golfing). 

Can you train my pup too while you’re at it? We haven’t made it too far past “sit” and “paw.” How do you want to make the world a better place?

Make business a positive force in the world. I really enjoyed Professional Responsibility – in a lot of ways it captured what I came to Stern to think about.

Tell a fun fact about yourself. Bonus points if it’s ridiculous or funny.

I sang a cappella in college!

Thank you so much Henry for taking time out of your schedule to chat.

If you see Christopher “Henry” Mumford on campus, be sure to say hi! He may case with you, or at least sing you a lyric or two. Don’t ask to see his golf swing though.

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