Christopher Russow graduated from the Rady School of Management’s FlexMBA in 2014.
“I actually started in the FlexEvening program, and during my second year at Rady I ended up switching to the FlexWeekend program for greater flexibility,” he said. “This is a perfect example of why the Rady FlexMBA was perfect for me, as it gave me the flexibility to manage my career, my personal life and my pursuit of an MBA degree all at the same time.”
After graduating in 2014, Russow’s MBA experience helped give him the confidence to leave his previous job to go out on his own and pursue a career as an independent consultant. After consulting for a few years both domestically and in Europe, an opportunity came his way in 2017 to start a business with a former boss and mentor Sean Marsh, who is now his business partner.
“Our startup, Tangello, is disrupting the mortgage industry by creating a mortgage-less solution to affordably finance and buy a home that you love,” Russow said. “Starting your own business isn’t what it looks like on TV, and the skills I learned at Rady, as well as the support of the Rady School and my cohort, have really been invaluable.”
Outside of his current role with Tangello, Russow enjoys spending time with his wife Gabi, investing in real estate and other startups, and tinkering with classic German cars.
Why did you decide to come to the Rady School?
I had been thinking about getting my MBA for several years, and shortly after moving to San Diego to start a new job, the desire to get my MBA bubbled to the surface once again. I weighed the options available to me locally, as well as what I could commute to (either by car or plane) and decided that the Rady School of Management FlexMBA program was the right one for me.
The first thing I thought about was the fact that UC San Diego is part of the California Public School System, and as a lifelong supporter of public education, this was very important to me. Second, there are a bunch of great aspects to Rady’s program offering; the faculty are outstanding, the program is flexible and perfect for people who are working full-time, and it’s centered around entrepreneurship and the idea of cultivating startups and helping its alumni to enter the startup world. Finally, you just can’t beat the location, both of the school (you can see the ocean from campus) and of San Diego itself.
What was the most valuable thing you learned while at the Rady School?
It’s hard to really pick one thing as the “Most Valuable” thing that I learned while at Rady. I could talk about the Business Model Canvas, which is an incredible tool that anyone starting a company should utilize. I could also talk about the Lab to Market program, which isn’t really “one thing” but was a critical part of my Rady education. But even more than what I mentioned above, the thing that really stood out to me was the overall shift in the way that I evaluated business opportunities before my MBA and how I evaluate them now.
Before Rady, any time one of my friends mentioned their “new innovative startup idea” I would share in their excitement and enthusiasm, but not really understand if that idea had strong potential or how it could become a real business. After Rady, I feel like I can comfortably evaluate (on the back of a napkin sometimes) the potential of new business ideas and can quickly assess the value of those ideas in real time. This skill, of being able to evaluate opportunities, is what eventually drove me to start a company, based on what I felt was an incredible opportunity in a market I had a competitive advantage in.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Take your MBA program seriously. I know that should go without saying, but it’s easy to get caught up in work, life, etc. and let some of the deliverables from your MBA program fall by the wayside. The reality is that what you get out of your MBA program will be directly correlated with what you put into it. Attend events, lectures and social gatherings. Take classes that are outside of your comfort zone and that challenge you. The MBA experience is about filling any gaps in your skill-set, forging lifelong bonds with your cohort, and creating a solid foundation from which you can pursue your post-MBA goals, whatever they may be.