Meet Carnegie Mellon’s MBA Class Of 2018

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David Edwards

Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Pittsburgh guy, born and raised. On the playground where I spent most of my days.

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have completed a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, most of which depicted open ocean. That was a frustrating, but oddly satisfying accomplishment.

Undergraduate School and Major: Yale University, Bachelor of Arts in Economics

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Highmark Health: Associate @ Highmark Corporate Development & Strategic Investments

  • Highmark Health is a large regional health insurance company. I worked in its corporate development and strategic investments office. While there, I worked directly on early stage investments in strategic vendors that could help lower costs for the health plan and drive down member premiums.

Octane Lending: Investor & Advisor

  • I have been involved with Octane Lending through its CEO (Jason Guss, my college roommate) since its inception and subsequent acceptance to the DreamIt Ventures incubator program. Moreover, I helped facilitate Octane’s initial seed investment from Rider Insurance, the country’s leading pure-play motorcycle insurance company. I continue to work closely with Octane’s CEO and advise the company on various matters including strategic initiatives, product deployment and more.
  • Today Octane has raised almost $8M in venture capital and $25M in debt. Octane is free cash flow positive and employs 10+ people.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was fortunate enough to work at Highmark Health – a large regional health insurance company – at a time when early stage healthcare investing was never more in demand within the industry. As a result, we made tremendous deals that led to significant cost savings at the enterprise level and allowed the company to navigate some very tricky industry waters much more nimbly. Our group routinely received positive feedback from the highest levels of the enterprise. I felt it was an accomplishment to be singled out and recognized in an enterprise that employs tens of thousands. That was a big honor.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? Be yourself. Don’t feel forced into being a different you in order to be more marketable to a certain program. In that sense, the application process is a lot like dating. Be yourself and someone will love you.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? As a Pittsburgh guy born and raised, I have great respect for Carnegie Mellon University and the Tepper School of Business.  Carnegie Mellon, in all of its different programs and specialties, is steeped in the tradition of scholarship and is a community of friends. I grew up only a few blocks away from the Carnegie Mellon campus and even as a neighbor have felt strong ties to the community. I received offers from several business programs, but could not say no to the Tepper School of Business.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? After having worked in early stage investing in a corporate setting, I am convinced of two things: 1) I’d like to continue investing in early stage companies; and 2) But not in a corporate setting. Corporate venture investing has become a big trend in recent years and lots of companies are getting into it. However, the structure of many corporations hinders the investing process for many reasons that I will not go into (perhaps if I ever write a book, it will focus on this).

Therefore, my dream job would be to start a venture firm so that I can make a career of supporting entrepreneurs and companies that will change the way people live their lives. In my mind, that would make for a special and fulfilling life in many ways.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? “That’s a guy I can trust.”