2017 Best MBAs: Mary Gamber, Wharton School

Mary Gamber

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Age: 28

Hometown: New Canaan, CT

Undergraduate School and Degree: Princeton University, A.B. in Religion (2011)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

  • Deloitte Consulting, Federal Analyst in the Strategy & Operations practice (2011-2013)
  • Education Pioneers, Manager of Data & Evaluation (2013-2015)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? GSVlabs, a startup incubator in Redwood City, CA. I worked with the CIO (a Wharton Executive MBA alumnus) to build out GSVlabs’ social impact strategy, including programming for startups and investment opportunities.

Where will you be working after graduation? The Bridgespan Group in Boston

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • The Patrick T. Harker Award: My peers selected me for this award at the end of our first year, given to the student who best exemplifies the Wharton tradition of service, participation, and involvement.
  • Co-President, Wharton Social Impact Club: I co-lead a professional club with more than 200 members dedicated to providing education, career opportunities, and events to Wharton students interested in social impact.
  • Student Life Fellow: I mentor and support a group of first year students to help them adjust to life at Wharton. More broadly, the Student Life Fellows serve as student representatives of the Office of Student Life to foster a sense of belonging within the MBA community.
  • Vice President of Social Impact, Wharton Graduate Association: With a team of first years, I organize and support community service initiatives on campus and implement our flagship “Wharton Impact Day” event in the spring.
  • Wharton Social Impact Initiative Fellow: Last year, another student and I wrote a case study about the use of data and analytics at a national education nonprofit. This year, I’m serving as a liaison between the Wharton Social Impact Initiative and the Wharton MBA community.
  • Nonprofit Board Fellow: I serve on the board of a Philadelphia nonprofit (Valley Youth House) to support their work and learn more about how to be an effective nonprofit board member.
  • Alumni Fellow: I support fundraising for The Wharton Fund, help our classmates transition from being students to alumni and understand resources available to them through Wharton, and will plan our first year reunion.
  • Captain, Wharton Wildmen Ice Hockey: Co-Captain for the “Ugly Pucklings,” one of the either Wharton D-League ice hockey teams. Surprisingly, this leadership role has taught me the most about how to lead and motivate others–especially when facing a tough loss!

 Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During Wharton Welcome Weekend this January, I sat on a panel about internships and careers in social impact for prospective students. I vividly remember speaking to a woman after the panel who told me, “I didn’t know what social impact was, but this is what I want to do.” This woman solidified why I’m probably overly involved in social impact on campus — not only to support those who come to school passionate about it, but also to show my other classmates that social impact is something everyone can do in their own way.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career, and why? I’m most proud of taking the leap to follow my passion for social impact. I remember being so nervous to leave Deloitte to join the fellowship program at Education Pioneers — I felt like I was choosing between a stable job with a clear career path and a completely unknown future in a new city. I’m thankful for an amazing mentor at Deloitte who encouraged me to follow my dreams and take the risk, and who showed me what true mentorship looks like.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I have to choose two professors here. The first is Mori Taheripour (Negotiations). She transformed how I think about negotiations — from something to be avoided to a conversation that can actually build relationships and where all parties can succeed. The second is Kartik Hosanger (Enabling Technologies). His class is an overview of everything you need to know about technology: how the internet works, what the cloud actually is, etc. I think both classes should be required for all Wharton MBAs!

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The people — students, faculty, and administrators. I love the sense of community I have when walking through Huntsman Hall. Some of my favorite times are sitting on the grass in Koo Plaza on warm days, just catching up with friends. I’ve met so many incredible people at Wharton, and I appreciate how they’ve pushed me to be the best that I can be.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I was happily surprised at how student-run Wharton is, and how many opportunities there are for students to shape the school and our experience—of course with the incredible support of administration and faculty. Clubs and extracurriculars are a huge part of the Wharton experience, and have been where I’ve found many of my friends

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be authentic. Know and demonstrate the unique value you will bring to Wharton. Wharton is an incredibly student-run place. What will you bring to the community? How will you shape the Wharton experience for your classmates?

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my veteran classmates, and particularly those with families. I had the opportunity to participate in the Marine Corps 24-hour intensive at Quantico through the Wharton Leadership Ventures program, and I experienced a tiny, tiny fraction of what they did for years before Wharton. I’m in awe of their leadership ability, their focus on team success over individual gains, and their grace under pressure. I admire how many of them have integrated their partners and children into the Wharton community, and made Wharton a place for their entire family.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to explore how business can be a force for positive social good. I don’t know what this looks like—whether it’s through public-private partnerships, or impact investing, or a shift in how companies do business—but I wholeheartedly believe in the Wharton Social Impact Initiative mission: “business strategies for a better world,” As much as I don’t want to graduate and leave this amazing place, I’m thrilled to begin at The Bridgespan Group this summer and start to learn from all my brilliant colleagues.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Without a doubt, it would be my parents and grandparents. As I wrote to them on the dedication of my senior thesis, “There are two things no one can ever take away from you: your faith and your education. Thank you for your gift of both.” I think more people might read this article than my thesis, so hopefully they receive the appreciation they deserve this time around!


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