2015 Best MBAs: Alexander Brown

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Alexander Brown


Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business


As class president, Alexander Brown had his hands in everything at the Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh. He established and led the school’s mentorship program, which helps first years transition to the program by pairing them with second years. He also launched the Discover CMU initiative and the international student life committee, and led the academic committee. In addition, he was active in several school initiatives, such as rebranding the Graduation Business Association, integrating Tepper’s organizational offerings with its new online program, and establishing a leadership series at the school.

Age: 29

Hometown: Denver, Colorado, USA

Undergraduate School: University of Colorado, Boulder

Undergraduate Degree: BSBA Finance

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Royal Dutch Shell – Planning Analyst/Investor Relations and Motiva Enterprises (Shell/Saudi Aramco JV) – Business and Capital Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? A.T. Kearney – Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Doha, Qatar

Where will you be working after graduation? A.T. Kearney, EMEA – Strategy Consultant

Favorite Courses: Global Economics, Emerging Markets, Managing Intellectual Capital, Business and Government, Statistical Decision Making, and Operations Management

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when……I took a break from my daily grind and accepted that I have growth opportunities and leadership potential that only an MBA could help me realize.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working in finance and volunteering in the areas of my interest instead of pursing them as a career.”

What are your long-term professional goals? In the long-term, I would like to focus my career on economic development activities in frontier markets, focusing on energy and energy infrastructure.

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? While enrolled at Tepper, I focused much of my energy on increasing the amount of collaboration and knowledge transfer among graduate schools at Carnegie Mellon. It is my belief that interdisciplinary interactions are fundamental to the creation of forward thinking and informed MBAs.

I developed various initiatives that focused on these efforts. At Tepper, I created a 10-person committee that focused on developing tangible relationships with other graduate programs. Each committee member was assigned different graduate programs at CMU and was tasked with understanding more about that program, developing relationships with administrators and student leaders of that program and with planning and hosting mutually beneficial events. The committee was wildly successful and gained recognition across various programs as being highly progressive.

I also developed and led two university-wide initiatives that were fully funded by grants that I received from CMU’s Office of the President. The first initiative, CMU Idea Marketplace, was to develop a committee of two students from each graduate program. The committee acts as a graduate student think-tank, focusing to identify broad student and administrative level institutional changes that need to be put into place to increase interactions across programs. The second initiative, CMU Idea Space, was to develop a campus-wide competition that brought together graduate students to compete by developing socially-motivated solutions to emerging societal issues. Teams had three days to form interdisciplinary teams and fully develop and present their issues and proposed solutions. The competition was judged by local professionals, government officials and university representatives. Winners won monetary prizes and an opportunity to partner with the Forbes Fund, a local non-profit incubator. Both initiatives were incredibly successful.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? Laura Maxwell. Laura is the executive director of Tepper’s Accelerate Leadership Center, a center that focuses on helping students advance their leadership and interpersonal skills. Laura was my executive coach and mentor. After working with Laura for a few months, we had developed a strong working relationship and friendship…Laura not only helped me to accomplish all of the actions that I outlined in my leadership development plan, but she also helped to guide me through very difficult leadership and personal challenges…Laura also kept me honest and helped me to discover some of my own blind spots. She objectively listened to me and provided me with the necessary feedback to grow and become the leader that I am today. One of the most valuable lessons that I took away from Laura was how vulnerability can be one of my greatest strengths. Laura challenged me and pushed me through some of the stages of discomfort that arose during my own self-discovery.

Why did you choose this business school? Tepper has many incredible strengths, including its academic rigor, quantitative nature, leadership development, community and small class size. While all of those strengths were incredibly important to me when identifying an MBA program, what truly drew me to Tepper was how I felt when I interacted with students, faculty and staff as a prospective student. Starting from my first interaction, I felt as if I was part of the community. Everyone that I met cared deeply about my story and spent considerable time listening to me and learning as much as possible about me. The more time I spent interacting with the school, the more relationships I began to develop. Some of the relationships were meaningful and later, as a student, developed into friendships. I came to the understanding that the school cared deeply about the fit of its students with the community and culture. My decision to join Tepper was equally as important as Tepper’s decision to admit me.

What did you enjoy most about business school? For me, business school was a clean slate both professionally and personally. I had the opportunity to be impressionable and absorb as much information and experience as I wanted. And I did just that. I was incredibly attentive to my studies and professional development. Academically, I learned far more than I ever imagined and discovered entirely new areas of interest. I also explored new extracurricular activities, which broadened my horizons and again helped me to discover new interests.

What I enjoyed most about business school was that I could try on many hats and seamlessly move between activities. I enjoyed that business school was a safe environment, where I could experiment with new knowledge and activities and have little consequence of failure. While I am happy with my successes, I am even more proud of my failures because they came about from experimentation and self-discovery. I learned from my failures and was able to instantly reflect, adjust and charge on.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? I worked incredibly hard during my term as president to create leadership opportunities for first year students within the student government. One evening near the end of the first semester of my second year, I received an email entitled, “Sharing the praise.” The email was a detailed and beautifully written third-person narrative of the experiences of a first-year student while at an off-campus recruiting event. The narrative described how the student felt exhausted by the recruiting process and lacked connectivity with representatives from the company. It then went into a detailed description of a rich and meaningful interaction she had with a manager from that same company. The topic of their conversation revolved around her efforts on a student government committee that focuses on cross-campus collaboration. The narrative also described the overwhelming satisfaction that she experienced from this uplifting conversation. It then closed as follows: “The first thing she did after that was write the story and share it with the person who deserved all the praise. Not only because a manager in a huge consulting firm praised him, but also because she was thankful for the opportunity he gave her….That’s why this story is in your mailbox.”

Just as second years challenged me during my first year, I challenged this student. Over the course of her first year, she truly blossomed into an outspoken and passionate leader. We now have a strong mentor relationship and friendship.

Fun fact about yourself: I enjoy furniture design and woodworking. I designed and built many of my own home furnishings.

Favorite book: My name is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok)

Favorite movie: Hotel Rwanda

Favorite musical performer: Luke Bryan

Favorite television show: Modern Family

Favorite vacation spot: Malta

What are your hobbies? Volunteering, geocaching, road biking, furniture design and building, traveling, exploring new foods, playing with my dog

Twitter Handle: AlexBro905

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