Is management an art or a science?
Technically, it is a bit of both. Like scientists, great managers learn through observation and trial-and-error, often accented with practice and coaching. Management is also an optic for viewing the world: a system or guideline for reading and applying data. That said, it is very much a “people business,” an apprentice trade where practitioners gradually master the soft skills need to convey vision, mitigate conflict, and rouse focus, trust, and enthusiasm.
BLENDING A QUANT’S IQ WITH A POET’S EQ
This fusion of management art and science is the cornerstone of the full-time MBA program at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. Think of Tepper as a program that integrates the academic rigor of Booth, the tech-driven mindset of Sloan, and the coaching culture of Kenan-Flagler. At the same time, students enjoy the perks of studying in a small community centered in one of America’s top universities that’s surrounded by a budding tech and startup hub in Pittsburgh.
At Tepper, data is destiny. This quantitative approach is the driving force behind how problem-solving and decision-making are taught. A pioneer in strategic analytics Tepper, not surprisingly, ranks among the top full-time MBA programs in information systems, manufacturing, and logistics. However, the program tempers its quant roots with its Accelerate Leadership program. Call it The Big Bang Theory meets Frasier. After completing a four-hour assessment that evaluates soft skills in nine dimensions, students write a personalized development plan that’s followed by required one-on-one coaching and communication workshops to ensure Tepper MBAs can read people just as well as ledgers.
Such a balanced approach attracted Danielle L. Vermeer, an incoming first-year who was previously a strategist at Boeing. “I was impressed by Tepper’s commitment to intensive leadership development coaching throughout the program, which is a distinct advantage over many other schools,” she notes. Vermeer’s classmate, Greg Price, a Boston native who loves dogs and Tom Brady, echoes her sentiments. “Tepper had checks in all the right boxes as far as a world class career services department, very engaged and accomplished alumni network, and a curriculum that dedicated time and resources to helping students develop the soft skills as well as the technical expertise.”
Over the years, Tepper has built its first year curriculum on what it calls “mini-semesters,” a series of four 6.5-week blocks where students focus on core management fundamentals. Overall, students complete 20 courses during this time (including five electives), which provide first years with a breadth of coursework that’s rare among top MBA programs. Such a structure is particularly helpful for a non-traditional career changer like Vermeer, who believes the mini-semester will “quickly fill the gaps in my general business knowledge.” However, the benefits stretch beyond academics. By completing these courses in unison, students also coalesce into a strong community early in their experience.
CLASS NOT AFRAID TO ADMIT THEY’RE BAD SINGERS AND SWIMMERS
According to Kate Barraclough, who heads Tepper’s MBA program, this year’s class will be the last to graduate from GSIA and Posner Hall, as the program slated to move to the 305,000 square foot Tepper Quadrangle in 2018. While Tepper has the reputation for being the quant school, the Class of 2018 is anything but tedious techies or fatigued financiers.
Stacey Mukasa, a turtle lover, enjoys being a mystery shopper…and swimming with sharks. Hopefully, she’ll cross paths with Price, also a Massachusetts native, who “can’t swim, and don’t care to learn because of Shark Week.” Dave Galiyas and Aparna Saravanan should perform a duet at karaoke night, as each takes pride in their, um, singing. “I believe the best way to relieve stress is by singing in a car, and scaring away traffic with (bad) singing,” Saravanan jokes. For David Edwards, Tepper is a homecoming; he grew up just a few blocks from campus. Whatever you do, grab onto Vermeer’s coattails. She describes herself as a “strategist, creative problem-solver, adaptive servant leader who thrives in fast-paced, mission-driven environments.”
Their accomplishments before Tepper are equally notable. Edwards has been heavily involved in the startup Octane Lending from its inception, which has raised $8 million in venture capital and remains free cash flow positive. Galiyas, a Notre Dame grad and surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy, took his gunfire support team from failing an assessment to ranking among the top ships in the Pacific Fleet. Claire Jacquillat created natural language processing tools that captured comments and provided real-time feedback during conference events. At Convergys, Ademola Adeogun led a 400 member team “to successfully launch, grow and achieve exceptional KPI performance for a Fortune top-10 tech company ahead of schedule!”
APPLICATIONS DOWN AS THE PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN RISES
This year’s 208 member class closely resembles previous ones. However, a few differences emerged. First, the number of applicants slipped from 1,698 to 1,615 in the past year, though the school’s acceptance rate continued to hover near 31%. Average GMATs also slid four points to 686, with average GPAs holding steady at 3.3. On a positive note, the percentage of women in the 2018 Class rose to 28%, the school’s best number in five years. The percentage of international students also held steady at 35%, with the group benefitting from the option to graduate early so they can receive an H1B visa sooner.
The program lives up to its reputation as a haven for undergraduate STEM majors. Engineers account for 28% of the class. Combined with information sciences (10%) and math and physical sciences majors (9%), nearly half of the class comes out of science and tech. Compared to five years ago, however, this actually represents a 10% drop. Business majors take up another 27% of the class, as economics (12%) and humanities and social sciences (9%) fill out the rest of the class. Like the 2017 Class, financial services takes up the largest bloc of students at 20%, 4% higher than the previous year. They are followed by manufacturing (14%), consulting (13%), technology and new media (13%), government (8%), consumer goods and retail (5%), and healthcare (5%).