The class diversity is also reflected in their backgrounds, adds St. John. “The class studied at over 125 different undergraduate institutions, with the top feeder schools including the University of Texas, Southern Methodist University, Indiana University, University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt. In addition, 10% of the class already holds an advanced degree. Demographically, 30% of the class is comprised of women, a 4% jump from last year. The class hails from 32 U.S. states and 24 countries, including Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Scotland, Switzerland, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. International students and American minorities account for 29% and 20% of the class, respectively. The school heavily recruits among the military, with veterans making up 10% of the class.”
In terms of academic background, 51% of the students hold undergraduate degrees in business and economics, with engineering (16%), humanities and fine arts (12%), science and math (11%), and social studies and legal (10%) comprising the remainder of the class. However, their professional backgrounds are far more disparate. The largest bloc of the class (14%) worked in health care services and pharmaceuticals before entering Owen. Other industries that represent a healthy swath of the class include: finance (12%), government (12%), high tech (10%), consumer products (9%), education (6%), consulting (5%), entertainment and hospitality (5%), and non-profits (5%).
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM INSPIRED BY FORTUNE 500
In the 2016 Economist student survey, Owen ranked #1 for opening up new career opportunities, with its career services ranking 6th in the world. Not surprisingly, its graduates are faring well after graduation. In Owen’s October employment report, the Class of 2016 snagged starting median pay packages of $132,040, up from $122,994 the previous year. At the same time, Owen maintained its enviable 94% placement rate within three months of graduation. Notably, the percentage of students entering healthcare doubled to 24%, with consulting (25%) and financial services (15%) also remaining popular choices. Those numbers are only expected to improve with the 2017 Class, with 100% of students nabbing an internship and half returning to Owen with an offer.
What makes Owen so attractive to employers? For one, it offers a distinctive curriculum that emphasizes leadership, experiential learning, and ethics. In fact, you could consider the program’s crown jewel to be its Leadership Development Program (LDP), which is patterned after the training structures and coaching practices used in Fortune 500 companies. Running two years, LDP starts with KornFerry self-assessments that unfold into a custom-tailored development plan that fits students’ learning styles, needs, and goals. The full-time MBA program also leans heavily on hands-on learning ranging from immersive projects with business partners to outside activities like student-run investment funds. The school even features an honor code that students must adhere to along with a required ethics course taken during the first fall.
Owen also ranks as the premier destination for health care, boasting more graduate business courses in the field than any other school. “We have a robust healthcare focus,” says M. Eric Johnson, dean of the Owen Graduate School of Business in a 2016 interview with Poets&Quants. “Nashville is the for-profit healthcare epicenter. One out of six hospital beds in the U.S. are managed out of Nashville and the ecosystem that creates in the city and surrounding area is huge. Millennials like healthcare in general because it feels like they’re doing the world some good in it.”
“THEY DON’T TAKE THEMSELVES TOO SERIOUSLY – JUST LIKE ME”
These weren’t the only offerings that the Class of 2018 raved about. Mitchell is intrigued by the connection between employee engagement and overall business performance, which led her to the school’s Human Organizational and Performance program. In contrast, Petrie’s passions are centered in social impact and entrepreneurship, so the school’s Turner Family Center for Social Ventures and its newly-opened Innovation Center were naturals for her.
In the end, Owen’s upbeat and team-driven culture trumped all other factors in the class’ decision to enroll. At Vanderbilt, you quickly realize that your greatest resource is your fellow students, says Tripp Salem, whose philosophy — “I try to “keep [my] eyes on the stars and [my] feet on the ground” — seemingly channels Casey Kasem. “There is a general spirit around Vanderbilt where if one of us succeeds, we all succeed. This same principle is reflected in the strength of Vanderbilt’s alumni network, which really goes to bat for fellow alumni.” A month into her studies, Gaffney is certain that she has found a home at Owen. “Here, I am surrounded by people with unique backgrounds who are driven, social, and don’t take themselves too seriously – just like me,” she says.
Of course, students experience all of that with Nashville as a backdrop. Forget the outdated image of Nashville as a sleepy honkytonk. The city boasts a vibrant nightlife and cultural scene, not to mention a booming startup ecosystem and the presence of 11 Fortune 500 companies with 2015 revenues exceeding $100 billion dollars. “The city is growing, and there are so many startups, which creates a great environment for collaboration and innovation,” adds Gaitan.
“I LOVED WORKING WITH HER.”
Although nearly half of Owen grads remain in the south, their ambitions are far more encompassing than regional. Not surprisingly, Petrie intends to return to her roots by launching a social enterprise that addresses financial inclusion or poverty. However, she is keeping an open mind too. “There are also some amazing companies using their resources and influence to create positive social impact; leading a CSR team at an organization like Deloitte or Microsoft would be an incredible opportunity to demonstrate that traditional business can be a force for good, too.”
Mitchell is also attracted to the startup space, but for far different reasons. “Running my business, building it from the ground up, and riding the ups and downs of the roller coaster of entrepreneurship excites me,” she says. “I plan to launch businesses that will provide a long-term legacy and financial stability for future generations of my family.”
Guentner has even picked out his dream employer: Nissan, which owns a six million square foot assembly plant in nearby Smyrna that produces 640,000 vehicles annually. “I have a big passion for operations and lean management, and I want to learn from the best,” he explains. “As the Japanese actually invented lean management, there is nothing better than a Japanese company to work for and learn from. I also want to make an impact by reducing waste that occurs in production processes.”
In the meantime, the class has another seven “mods” to complete, plenty of time to make an impression on their peers. James Northcutt, a Memphis native and “cultural explorer,” wants to be remembered as a “team player who doesn’t let his ambitions get in the way of the greater good of the group.” Guetner and Gaitan hope to have classmates say they’d love to work with them again. For Mitchell, the next two years are about balancing the need to reach her goals with a mission of supporting others in achieving theirs. Her legacy: “She knew what she wanted and always went for it, but never forgot to help others along the way.”
To read profiles of incoming Owen students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.