2016 Best MBAs: Ian Nicholas Wetzel, Penn State

Ian Nicholas Wetzel Penn State

Ian Nicholas Wetzel


The Pennsylvania State University, Smeal College of Business

“Inspirational” and “irreplaceable” leader emerges as the spirit and voice of his class.

Age: 30

Hometown: Folsom, California

Undergraduate School and Degree: Loyola Marymount University, Marketing and International Business

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? GKKWorks Architectural and Construction

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Intel Corporation, Folsom, California

Where will you be working after graduation? Assistant Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President of the MBA Association as well as Graduate Assistant for the Diversity Enhancement Programs. I was most recently has been selected by his classmates to give the pre-commencement speech.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most honored that my classmates collectively chose me to lead our graduating class as our MBA President. As President, my team of advisors and I initiated a Mentorship Program, restructured our Academic Integrity process, and raised the most money ever in MBA history for the THON Charity event.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I lead a project team consisting of faculty, staff, construction crew, and architects to engineer a proposal that received 100% state funding to build what is currently the Jaime Escalante Program at East Los Angeles College. This program, which was the basis for the major motion picture “Stand and Deliver,” concentrates on students with statistically low graduation rates and places them in advanced math and science classes designed for college placement and future success.

Who is your favorite professor? I have two. Dr. Donald Hambrick, the creator of the Strategy Diamond, is my favorite professor and mentor, who teaches the thought process involved in implementing strategic change as top level management. Dr. Ralph Oliva who takes a genuine interest in his student’s real world success.

Favorite MBA Courses? Brand Management, Consumer Insights, and Strategic Implementation and Organizational Change. All three of these courses have given me the strategic outlook and skillset to succeed in my future career.

Why did you choose this business school? I was drawn to Penn State firstly for having the largest alumni network in the world. Coming from across the country, I valued a business school that had a strong sense of community that would treat me as part of a strong and growing network. In short, I wanted a school that was equally as invested in my success as I was.

What did you enjoy most about business school? I find it difficult to pick just one aspect as my favorite part of business school because there are so many interworking parts that contributed to my experience. For instance, my classmates, the professors and administration, and the general community made my experience at business school unforgettable. There may not be one distinct factor that was my favorite part about business school, but the program as a whole, was composed of so many exciting components that my experience exceeded my expectations.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? I am consistently impressed by the diversity of professional and personal experiences my classmates have undergone before attending business school. I consider my learning experience exponentially enriched because of the caliber of students I had the pleasure of learning with every day.

What was the hardest part of business school? Time management was the most difficult adjustment I faced upon entering the program. At first, the tasks before me seemed insurmountable, but time management and prioritization proved to be skills that served me well during my time at Penn State.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school?  The Smeal Program is tough. Succeeding in this program requires dedication and a true passion for your work. If you are willing to put in the requisite time and effort, the results will benefit your career for years to come.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that the career I wanted and had envisioned for myself was not attainable without a further expansion of knowledge in the classroom.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would…have remained at a position where my creative and leadership abilities would not have flourished had I not gone back and cultivated my skills at Penn State.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I achieved my first choice in a career in brand management working for Procter & Gamble. This beginning point will serve as a launching pad for my future goals, which include progressing within the marketing realm of the company.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I cannot express my gratitude for Penn State. Two years ago they took a chance on me and I will always strive to repay them for that decision.

Fun fact about yourself: I went to the World Cup in Brazil and have plans to go to the one in Russia.

Favorite book: The Count of Monte Cristo

Favorite movie: Man on Fire

Favorite musical performer: Tommy Trash

Favorite television show: Game of Thrones

Favorite vacation spot: Fripp Island, South Carolina. It’s where my grandmother lives and I always am at peace when I visit.

Hobbies?  Traveling, reading, soccer, basketball, racquetball, going to the beach, and novel writing.

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

“Ian Wetzel has been not only an invaluable part of the Smeal MBA Class of 2016, but also an inspirational member. Ian’s outgoing and friendly personality enabled him to connect with each and every member of his class. He quickly became a class spokesman and was elected class president at the end of the first semester of study.

Early on, students began going to Ian with their questions, concerns and dilemmas. In turn, Ian made each of them feel important and offered his assistance when necessary. As the liaison between the students and the administration, Ian led the formation of a very close community, and is an integral part of the glue that holds the Class of 2016 together. Ian’s classmates recognize his contribution and nominated him to represent the Smeal MBA community in the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON). Ian stood on his feet for 46 hours to help the Penn State Community raise over $9M for the Four Diamonds Fund, which supports families of children with pediatric cancer. Finally, Ian was selected by his peers to be the student speaker at our MBA graduation ceremony. This nomination exhibits the close ties Ian has with his classmates, as well as their belief that he is an excellent representation of the Smeal MBA Class of 2016.  Ian’s success in the classroom, with his job search, in giving back to the community and with his peers makes him irreplaceable and inspirational.” — Ann Mallison, Penn State University, Smeal College of Business, MBA Director of Student Services


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