2015 MBA To Watch: Amanda Olar

Amanda Olar

Amanda Olar


Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

Amanda Olar can be described as a trailblazer. The first member of her family to finish college, Olar was named a William G. McGowan Scholar, a fellowship given only to ten MBA students annually. Olar, who came to Tepper from the non-profit sector, is often described as friendly, humble, and selfless by faculty and classmates alike. At Tepper, she served as an executive admissions officer at the Graduate Business Association and a communications coach at the Accelerate Leadership Center. She also participated in the consulting club, soccer club, and the Tepper Women in Business. As if that’s not enough, she is actually brewing her own beer as a hobby!

Age: 27

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Undergraduate School: Allegheny College

Undergraduate Degree: Neuroscience, BS

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, Development Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, NJ

Where will you be working after graduation? PricewaterhouseCoopers, Health Industries Advisory consultant

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I met an alumnus from Tepper who had a similar path as me and became a mentor as I went through the process.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…in less debt, but missing out on an incredibly transformative experience that has changed my life.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I try not to plan too far in advance, but I know long term I will work for myself and hopefully continue making an impact within the community in which I live. I’m passionate about healthcare and excited to see what all the disruption will lead to in the next few years.

Favorite Courses: Data Mining, Consumer Behavior, Negotiations

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? My proudest academic achievement was being chosen as Tepper’s representative for the William G. McGowan Scholarship for the Class of 2015…I am a first generation undergraduate as well as graduate student and come from a very blue collar family. Education was seen as secondary to bringing in money with a full-time job. The McGowan Scholarship is awarded to one student at 10 top MBA programs based on their academic excellence and social leadership…It validated to me that working hard and being socially conscious is valued in business school and not only did I gain confidence from within, but because the decision was made by the staff and faculty at Tepper, it made me feel more connected to the community there as well. Getting this award after my first year in the MBA program encouraged me to continue voicing my opinions for what I believed in both in and outside of the classroom.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? My Mom (stereotypical I know). But she raised my sister and I as a single mother, worked two jobs and six days a week to make ends meet. All the while, she made it to our soccer games, encouraged us to be whoever we wanted, and that we were capable of achieving anything. I’m proud to say I can take care of her now and she won’t be needing to work 6 days a week to make ends meet anymore. That may be my runner-up proudest moment – being financially stable now so that I can care for myself and my family.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose the Tepper School of Business for two reasons. First, I was most captivated by their interdisciplinary track, Management of Innovation and Product Development which blended strategy, finance and marketing from the business side as well as design and engineering from across the university. Second, [I felt an] overwhelming sense of community starting with the admissions staff, continuing with the current students, and finishing with the alumni and faculty that reached out during the application and decision process, as well as proved to be great mentors throughout the two years at Tepper.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The ability to be a big fish in a small pond. There are only 200 students per class in the full-time program and with this size, you’re able to take on several leadership roles, and make strong connections with classmates, faculty, staff and alumni that go beyond the classroom, and I believe will continue on past graduation. I was able to work on my growth areas and really enhance my strengths with the ability to lead extremely talented peers across various roles.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? Aside from I’m guessing the feeling of graduating in a few short weeks, I would say the day I got my first full-time offer. That feeling is unlike anything else I’d felt before. Coming from the non-profit industry and seeing the offer letter of a six figure salary and signing bonus in an industry I’m passionate about, I knew all of the hard work and

Fun fact about yourself: I used to be in a Fight Club – don’t ask for the details.

Favorite book: Daring Greatly

Favorite movie: Horrible Bosses

Favorite musical performer: Lake Street Dive

Favorite television show: Parks and Recreation

Favorite vacation spot: Istanbul

What are your hobbies? Boxing, soccer, golfing, painting and most recent – brewing beer!

What made Amanda such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?

“There is not enough space, and I am not good enough with words, to tell you the full impact that Amanda Olar has made on our community during her tenure at the Tepper School. In many ways, Amanda exhibits traits that we commonly see in Tepper students: She is smart, yet humble; driven to succeed, yet not at a classmate’s expense; actively engaged in making a contribution that extends well beyond the classroom.

However, there is so much more to Amanda. She is sincere and earnest in everything that she does. She is genuine! I know the rigors of the program well; I also know the work involved in making the transition to management consulting. Not only did Amanda succeed in each of these areas, she did so while serving as the student government representative to the admissions office. In this role, she planned and executed our admitted student Welcome Weekend; she served as the first contact for many of our prospective students, and she rallied her classmates to give time to contribute to helping to build our incoming class. She did all of this with warmth, sincerity, and a genuine interest in contributing to a greater good…

Amanda will do great things in her career. She will positively influence every organization fortunate enough to employ her. Moreover, she will make every interaction personal, sincere, and genuine.”

– James Frick, Director, Masters Admissions


“Amanda Olar’s contribution to the professional development of her peers is a major reason why she is an invaluable member of the full-time MBA class of 2015. In her role as a Communication Coach for the Accelerate Leadership Center at Tepper, she offers support and guidance to fellow students through one-to-one coaching in the areas of mock interviews, resume writing, cover letters, and networking. Amanda takes the initiative to focus on her own development; this also allows her to model effective leadership behaviors to others. Her peers often describe her as approachable and empathetic. As a result of these attributes, students who may otherwise hesitate to seek coaching do so with Amanda because of the safe environment she provides. The ultimate impact of her work is a group of students moving toward becoming more confident and competent future leaders.” – Ron Placone, PhD, Faculty Lead, Accelerate Leadership Center


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