2017 MBAs To Watch: Stephann Balthazar, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Stephann Balthazar

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“A talented problem solver and motivated team player with demonstrated capability to lead and lead by following.”

Age: 34

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Fun fact about yourself: I delivered the game ball on the field of Brewers Stadium while riding a Harley three times.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Maryland, College Park, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Senior Project Engineer (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Johnson & Johnson Procurement Leadership Development Program (Raritan, New Jersey)

Where will you be working after graduation? AT&T Leadership Development Program (location TBD)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellowship
  • Alan and Zee Bell Graduate Fellowship
  • Management Leaders of Tomorrow Fellow
  • Consortium Liaison to the Tepper School
  • Operations Management Club VP of Corporate Relations
  • Graduate Business Association Technology Committee Member
  • Black Business Association VP of Alumni Relations
  • Admissions Volunteer
  • Volunteer for the Tepper Women in Business Conference, Diversity Weekend, and Welcome Weekend

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As VP of the Operations Management Club, I suggested the creation of our first newsletter series, and then I delivered it. Operations is a nebulous term that many find hard to understand, so I envisioned that the newsletter would serve to educate members about current job opportunities, case competitions, industry news, new trends and technologies, and even touch on some diversity aspects such as highlighting women trailblazers in industries historically dominated by men. I wanted to add sex appeal to the focus area by showing that many of the top companies are gravitating towards and hiring more MBAs in this function. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from people who told me that they learned a lot from the newsletters because it made them more aware of the depth and importance of the field. 

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of my direct role in the market readiness of a complete motorcycle family line. I was tapped to be one of the early members of a new project team model called the flexible integration team, which was intended to be a high-performance and lean group that delivered one product line to market at a time. I assumed responsibility for 18% of the parts, all of which I had no prior experience with. I was able to rise to the occasion and overcame significant setbacks throughout the project, such as redesigning five exhaust systems just one week into joining the team. I then delivered the redesigns within 30 days without missing a major milestone. Ultimately, I was able to help the team launch the family line without delay or issues.  I’m proud about this achievement because it took strong leadership and scrappiness to be successful.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Carlos Corona, who taught my Financial and Managerial Accounting II class. Professor Corona believed in truly preparing us for the real world, and he did so by firmly rooting his class in the realities of human behavior and how it impacts the performance of organizations as a result of corporate governance structure. His class was particularly fun and enlightening on the days when he divided us into groups representing different business functions and had us debate which function was to blame for poor performance aiming to persuade the professor/CEO. This format highlighted the classical competing interests among business units and functions and stressed the importance of understanding the behavioral impact of performance metrics on departments.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Organization Power and Influence taught by Professor David Krackhardt was my favorite course because it helped me to better understand organizational behaviors commonly found along the corporate ladder and the traits of successful people.

Why did you choose this business school? I knew the right school for me would be one that synergizes with my academic and career goals, expands my network with strong friendships, and establishes a personal connection to a class that fits my personality. I found all three aspects at the Tepper School of Business. Academically, what I value most is the school’s powerful blend of analytics and leadership. And personally, the Tepper School’s commitment to diversity made a huge impression. I’ve never been in an environment as welcoming to all flavors of diversity.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Taking entrepreneurship electives with adjunct professors who currently run their own businesses and bring in real world perspectives and valuable advice. These classes also brought in guest speakers from venture capital, franchisees, franchisors, entrepreneurs, and private equity. I felt that these classes delivered an added bonus that I wasn’t expecting.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I was surprised by how similar the technical skills are to those in computer programming and how widespread employers’ expectations are for MBAs to have these skills. Prior to the Tepper School, I didn’t fully understand what the MBA technical toolbox would entail beyond becoming an Excel guru. I’ve picked up some cutting edge optimization skills from the latest in academic research here at the Tepper School that will help me drive management decisions backed by data.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Focus on your story by articulating the before, during, and after phases of your life with a Tepper School MBA. Then talk to as many current students as you can, especially second years, to get an accurate feel for the community. Ask them for their story.

What is the biggest myth about your school? What I hear most from prospective students is that the quantitative aspect of the curriculum is intimidating. I expected a lot of advanced calculus and memorizations of derivations, but that was not the case and I didn’t find the math to be difficult. Instead, I think the complexity of concepts and the volume and speed at which they’re introduced are the main challenges. And, while those challenges are not unique to the Tepper School, at Tepper, we all get through it together.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not getting more involved in my classmates’ startups. My classmates have consistently tapped me for advice on product design and input on monetization strategies throughout my MBA experience and I always made time to sit down with them. But I still feel I could have done more to push them forward if my plate weren’t already so full.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Lilian Ngobi, because she’s a strong, charismatic leader who can easily make friends with anyone and juggle more tasks on her to-do list than I can count, and does it all from memory. She can run a meeting with the entire agenda memorized.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I celebrated the 4th of July at the House of Blues in Chicago with a friend/co-worker and his former business school classmates. Folks flew in from all over the world to reunite, some from as far away as Africa, and I saw first-hand how meaningful and long-lasting the relationships you make during business school can be. That’s when I understood the meaning of the MBA experience. I left that weekend with new friends who continued to push me to pursue my MBA as I weighed my options. It was one of my most memorable experiences during my time in the Midwest.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…in law school focusing on corporate law.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Dedicate 75% or more of the orientation program to leadership development skills to quickly calibrate the class and establish strong examples of what the Tepper School leadership is, at the outset of the MBA experience.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Chief Operating Officer

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I want to thank God for blessing me with the opportunity to serve the community from a higher position of influence. I thank my parents for their love and support even when they didn’t fully grasp the scope of my accomplishments.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I want to be remembered as a trustworthy, competent, steadfast leader who my peers can turn to for advice, and who delivers on promises to his friends.

Favorite book: The First 90 Days

Favorite movie or television show: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Favorite musical performer: Michael Jackson

Favorite vacation spot: Kingston, Jamaica

Hobbies? Snowboarding, weightlifting, motorcycling, volunteering, playing intramural sports, and exploring ethnic foods.

What made Stephann such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Stephann Balthazar is a true leader with a unique selfless quality that improves the lives of those around him. He is highly respected by his peers and leaders at the school and has demonstrated his inclusive leadership style through his successful management of multiple club roles, as well as his organization of a number of high impact events with the Alumni Association, Tepper School Admissions (Diversity Weekend and Welcome Weekend), career panels, and participation in the Tepper Women in Business Conference. He volunteers before being asked, and recruits and organizes other volunteers to effectively and consistently exceed expectations in the delivery of stated goals.

He was particularly effective in his VP of Corporate Relations role with the Operations Club as he managed relationships at sponsoring companies to organize recruiting events and facility tours to broaden the club’s awareness of the quality and diversity of the Tepper School community. He also worked with his peers to help them prepare for professionally interacting with those companies. He managed all of this while managing a very demanding course load and his own very busy recruiting efforts always making time to help whoever was in need and quick to give credit to others.

Stephann has a unique ability to inspire people into action for the better good and was an invaluable member of his class.”

Kate Riley
Associate Director, Career Opportunity Center
Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University

 

DON’T MISS: MBAS TO WATCH: THE STORIES OF 100 EXTRAORDINARY GRADUATES FROM THE CLASS OF 2017