2016 Best MBAs: Samantha Grant, Carnegie Mellon

Samantha Grant Carnegie Mellon

Samantha Grant


Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“More than her accomplishments, the way Samantha conducts herself and the example she sets for her classmates have led to the community’s universal respect and admiration. She leads with a steadfast yet humble confidence. Rather than seeking praise or acknowledgement for her many achievements, she is quick to recognize the contributions of her team. Samantha’s service and positive energy have enriched our community and provided a lasting influence on those around her.”

Age: 25

Hometown: New York City, NY

Undergraduate School and Degree: Middlebury College – Bachelor of Arts (Major: International Politics and Economics; Minor: Sociology)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? JPMorgan Chase & Co. – Business Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? GE Healthcare (Milwaukee, WI)

Where will you be working after graduation? GE Healthcare, Human Resources Leadership Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellowship
  • Forté Foundation Fellow
  • Christian Business Association, President
  • Organizational Leadership Club, VP of Education
  • Black Business Association, VP of Alumni Relations
  • Forté Ambassador
  • Admissions volunteer
  • Organizer for the Tepper Women in Business Conference
  • Volunteer at the Pittsburgh National Food Bank
  • Organizer for two month long food drive

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In February, we organized and held the Tepper School’s inaugural Women in Business Conference. The idea for a women’s conference was conceived by myself, my fellow Forte Ambassador, Megan O’Rourke, and the Tepper Women in Business president, Madhura Kale, during our first year in our leadership roles. We shared a desire to bring women MBAs from business school programs around the country together for a weekend of workshops designed to address challenges specific to women aspiring to serve in leadership roles. We had a vision for a two-day conference with more than 500 attendees, inclusive of a household name keynote speaker, overnight accommodations, and at least 10 professional speakers to lead workshops.

As we began to draft a proposal for the conference, we also began doing some self-assessments. I was serving as a leader for four campus organizations and, just two days after our meeting, I had accepted my admissions to the Heinz College School of Public Policy. As a second -year student, I would have leadership commitments and be completing coursework at both the business and public policy schools, in pursuit of two graduate degrees – MBA and Masters in Public Policy and Management. The three of us concluded that, as passionate as we were about hosting a women’s conference, we would not have the capacity required to execute our dream conference.

However, with the guidance and support of staff from Admissions and Tepper’s Accelerate Leadership program, and first-year students eager and ready to take on leadership positions, our dream was not deferred. We were able to dedicate our efforts to organizing and hosting Tepper’s Inaugural Women in Business Conference. We had over 200 women in attendance as participants, workshop leaders, panelists, and power-circle mentors. The event received media coverage and praise from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Participants included: Tepper women MBAs, Pittsburgh women professionals, prospective women MBAs, and female students from nearby graduate schools. The energy of the conference, remarks of appreciation for the content shared, inspiration felt, and relationships formed on that day made me feel like I was not only giving back to the Tepper and Pittsburgh community that has invested much in me, but also living out my purpose in life.

Servant leadership has been a guiding principle in my life and, as I watched and listened to these women engage in conversations and glean insights that would prepare them to take on their next leadership role with confidence and competence, I could not be more proud.  The conference was not the dream myself, Meg, and Madhura had discussed, but it was a great foundation for the future. I am grateful that this is part of my Tepper School legacy.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It’s a tremendous source of pride that I served as a founding member of a global team at one of the largest and oldest financial institutions in the U.S., JPMorgan Chase. I had the privilege of contributing to the team’s growth and visibility. I helped in streamlining and automating processes so that other employees could not only be more productive throughout the workday, but also finish tasks more promptly, allowing them to attend their children’s activities and have dinners with their families. My experiences training new hires, engaging with senior management, and going through iterations of organizational change have contributed to my success in transitioning into a career in human capital development.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is the legendary and witty, Dr. Jeffrey R. Williams. In my first semester at the Tepper School, I took his Corporate Strategy course and enjoyed every minute of it, despite its unfortunate late-day time slot – 3:30-5:15 pm. At the start of every class, we discussed current events and company struggles in various industries. Some classes we spent more than half the class time discussing Wall Street Journal articles, Apple releases, and the happenings of companies we hoped would hire us. Throughout these discussions, he introduced and reiterated course concepts, which was the greatest way for me to learn. From Day One, he had told us that his goal was to “make us sound smart.” As I found myself eloquently analyzing companies’ competitive advantage to recruiters and casually using terms like fast-cycle market, isolating mechanisms, laws of renewal, chasing the Red Queen, the need to “eat one’s own children,” and so on to describe both actual and fictional companies (i.e. House of Card’s SanCorp), I knew Professor Williams was something special.

Favorite MBA Courses? Corporate Strategy, Developing Star Performers, Financial and Managerial Accounting II, and Optimization

Why did you choose this business school? I came to attend the Tepper School because of its size and dedication to both rigorous academics and leadership development. With a class of approximately 200 students, I knew I would be able to develop strong, genuine, lasting relationships with my classmates. Having attended a small liberal arts for undergrad, I came to value the attention and freedom that comes along with small classes.I believed attending a school with rigorous analytics and quantitative courses would complement my liberal arts degree and challenge me in new ways. Lastly, and most importantly, the Tepper School’s Accelerate Leadership Center was a key reason I chose to attend Tepper. The opportunity to create my own personal leadership development plan and receive individual leadership coaching was a key reason for me deciding to attend business school, so Accelerate aligned perfectly with my goals.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Flexibility. I really created my own path and had people supporting me along the way. Ideas popped into my head and classmates, faculty, and staff helped me improve and execute them. When I arrived at school, I wanted to continue along a career in Operations, pursing operational excellence in supply chain management or process improvement. As I began recruiting and reviewing various job descriptions, I realized my true desire was to transition into human capital development and HR positions. Doing this was seamless. Without missing a beat, I pursued a concentration in Organizational Behavior, was elected to serve on the board of the Organizational Leadership Club, and secured an internship and full time position in a reputable HR leadership rotational program. I was able to do what sounded and felt right to me. I did not feel like I was checking off boxes or following a prescribed path.

What was the most surprising thing about business school?  The people. I worked in classes with people from all around the world, with expertise in fields I never knew existed, and changing lives in a ways I had never imagined. It was amazing to see how people on different paths in life ended up at the same school, in the same class, in the same group, working on the same problem, and going through the same struggles to complete an assignment. As amazing as all of my classmates are, we all came into our program owning our shortcomings and doing our best to create better versions of ourselves. The humility of some of the students and professors I have gotten to know astounds me.

What was the hardest part of business school? Managing schedules. Everyone has their own priorities and responsibilities; scheduling meetings and keeping everyone on the same page is a challenge.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was less than impressed with my performance on a stretch assignment and thought, “There has to be a way for me to develop my management skills, without ruining a career in the process.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working with the same team, in the same (or very similar) role, for the fourth year.”

What are your long-term professional goals? In the long-term, I plan to focus on human capital development, augmenting and leveraging my organizational design and talent management expertise to execute corporate strategies.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would thank my family for setting high expectations and never letting me believe in the word ‘impossible’ (Ph. 4:13). While there are many people and programs that have been instrumental in my success, without the support and encouragement of my family, I would have never thought to take on new challenges or pursue greater opportunities.

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been to over 20 countries and visited six of the seven continents…I plan to make it to Antarctica before age 35.

Favorite book: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Favorite movie: Love and Basketball

Favorite musical performer: Jay-Z

Favorite television show: Law and Order: SVU

Favorite vacation spot: South Beach, Miami

Hobbies? Traveling, volunteering, and brunching

What made Samantha such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Samantha is a true servant leader. Her contributions to the Tepper School will last far beyond her two years because of the tireless effort she invested in improving the student experience for her peers and future students. Samantha cares deeply about mentoring underrepresented minorities and women in business to encourage their passion and help them succeed. As a founding leader of the Tepper Women in Business Conference, and as a board member of multiple student organizations, she has encouraged countless peers and community members by her example and her actions. She listens carefully, offers honest and valuable feedback, and confidently advocates for the missing perspective in the room. Samantha is such a reliable student that she is regularly called up by peers, and faculty and staff who know she will go above and beyond to help the community.

Despite being among the busiest student leaders, Samantha is quick to say yes to opportunities that will positively influence the future of the Tepper School. She knew the Tepper Women in Business Conference would be a huge time commitment and she was short on extra hours to give, but she could envision the long-term impact of the conference on future women students and the community. She rallied support, organized volunteers, spoke to the press, and helped execute a high quality professional development conference that exceeded expectations. More than her accomplishments, the way Samantha conducts herself and the example she sets for her classmates have led to the community’s universal respect and admiration. She leads with a steadfast yet humble confidence. Rather than seeking praise or acknowledgement for her many achievements, she is quick to recognize the contributions of her team. Samantha’s service and positive energy have enriched our community and provided a lasting influence on those around her.” — Emily Archambeault, Associate Director, Masters Admissions, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business


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