Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Jason Cincotta, Columbia Business School

“Knowledge junkie who’s passionate about cities.”

Hometown: Boston, MA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I got into real estate development because a multifamily investment we had under contract burned down before we could close the purchase. I somehow convinced the bank to bet on us to build an even bigger building than they had written a mortgage on, and we closed the acquisition with a construction loan in place.

Undergraduate School and Major: Pomona College, Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Principal, The Cincotta Co.

What word best describes the Columbia Business School MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? They’re the most enthusiastic and friendly bunch. New York City generally and Columbia specifically seems to attract outgoing people who are deeply passionate about something. At the same time, everyone is so genuinely interested in what makes you tick and your life experience—it’s a special place.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Columbia Business School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The adjunct professors. I’d read multiple profs’ books before I even realized they taught at the school. Now if I can only register for their classes at some point… Obviously it’s way easier to get the hot electives in your second year.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Columbia Business School? CBS Real Estate Association, natch.

What makes New York City such a great place to earn an MBA? I mean, it’s the center of the business world, right? I’m biased because I think it’s just generally the center of the world.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Leading the team that built a AAA Four Diamond hotel in Florida—The Sarasota Modern. It took years off my life, but hospitality real estate projects are so rewarding because they’re both a building and a business rolled into one. They challenge you on the investment and project management side as well as the operational and business planning side.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? It made me want to go bigger. Career-wise, cities and real estate are clearly facing major disruption, and I want to make sure that I have the chance to work on whatever comes next. I’m eager to make this into an opportunity to solve—or at least ameliorate—some of the biggest challenges facing our cities: housing access, affordability, and gentrification. With permanent changes in land use and demand drivers, private developers, nonprofits, and the public sector have an unprecedented opportunity to address these issues.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? The pandemic: hospitality and residential real estate will never be the same. Consider business travel. What does that look like in the new normal? How do hoteliers react? Where should we invest? How do we make lemonade of the lemons—our labor challenges and permanently shifted demand drivers? Getting the chance to spend a couple years in New York City with some of the smartest people asking these questions was too good to pass up. As far as after graduation, I’m not sure exactly what role I’ll play, and I’m trying to figure it out.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? HBS, Stanford, Yale

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Columbia Business School’s MBA program? Tell your story. I’ve met so many interesting people from a variety of backgrounds here, so it’s clear there’s not just one type. Non-traditional applicants make the best classmates in my opinion, and it’s clear the admissions office values them.

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