2017 MBAs To Watch: Lilian Ngobi, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Lilian Ngobi

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“I love life and aspire to make life enriching for others.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Coral Springs, Florida

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a third culture kid – first generation American, born to Ugandan parents and raised in both the United States and Brazil.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering; University of Pittsburgh, M.S.E. in Chemical Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? BASF Corporation – Operations Engineer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Cargill, Inc. in Wayzata, Minnesota (Minneapolis Metro Area)

Where will you be working after graduation? Accenture Strategy – Senior Strategy Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • 2016 Arjun V. Gokhale Award
  • President – Tepper Black Business Association
  • VP Professional Development – Tepper Women In Business
  • Co-Editor – Robber Barons Publication
  • Carnegie Mellon University Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Committee
  • Admissions Volunteer
  • Welcome Weekend 2016 Committee
  • Diversity Weekends 2015 & 2016 Committees
  • MBAs Open Up – Tepper Lead
  • Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow
  • Forte Foundation Fellow
  • Management Leadership for Tomorrow Fellow
  • Class of 2017 Gift Committee

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of how I was able to channel my role as co-editor of the school’s Robber Baron publication to learn about my classmates, to promote issues of social justice, and to build relationships that will persist far beyond my time at the Tepper School.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Before coming to business school, I had the opportunity to lead a team of union and management-represented employees at BASF as change agents to manage organizational change throughout our plant. I am proud of all of the leaders I helped to develop and the positive change we were able to achieve throughout the organization.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I am a HUGE fan of all the Tepper School faculty, so this is difficult to pin down! My favorite MBA professor is a tie between Brandy Aven and Marvin Goodfriend. Professor Aven is one of the most dynamic professors I have ever met and I have enjoyed working with her, both in her class and as I have sought to become more involved in the greater community. Professor Goodfriend is probably one of the most brilliant people I have ever had the chance to listen to – not only are his accomplishments as a leading economist numerous, but he leads all of his students to look at the world in a truly connected fashion.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite course has to be a tie between Managing Intellectual Capital & Knowledge by Professor Robert Kelley, and Money, Banking & Financial Markets with Professor Goodfriend. Professor Kelley’s class is one of the premiere classes that teaches us how to ensure that people and their intangible talents are cultivated and applied for maximum benefit for the individual and greater society. Professor Goodfriend’s class just makes it so much easier to rationalize the cause and effect of all of the moving parts of our economy and society.

Why did you choose this business school? When I first thought about business school, the Tepper School was one of the first schools I visited, and I was immediately enamored by the people, community, and opportunities for innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership development. An added bonus was the fact that Pittsburgh has also emerged as a true Renaissance city with a new identity as a tech, healthcare and innovation hub.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I just love the opportunity to try new things, visit new places, and most importantly, gain a whole new village of dynamic and inspiring friends.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I’m forever impressed by how efficiently, expansively and affordably MBA students travel all over the world!

What is your best of piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Really think about how you want to impact the school, and how you want to be involved at the Tepper School and the greater community. Along with the pillars of the school, any applicant that really wants to make a difference in their classmates’ lives would be an amazing addition to our school!

What is the biggest myth about your school?

Myth: You have to be a quant/analytics genius to make it here.

Truth: The faculty, your classmates, Student Services and everyone else here will not let you struggle alone! We have students at the Tepper School from literally every single industry (not everyone is an engineer) and every single one of us is successful. Believe it or not, the Tepper School is strong in a variety of areas!

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not coming sooner.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Zac Talmadge – We all have so many jokes about Zac, but I don’t know what our class and our school would have done without him. Not only has he been the definition of a servant leader, but he has been a powerful and welcome ally and advocate for myself and many of our classmates.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I met the team of strategy and business development professionals who were part of advancing the alternative energy industry forward at my previous company. The more meetings I went to and the more customers I met, I knew I had to expand my expertise beyond engineering.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working with teams of amazing people in my previous position in manufacturing!”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would implement a mandatory international component for the Tepper School.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I aspire to lead a multinational energy corporation and would also like to lead an organization focused on economic development in Africa.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I thank my family for their never-ending love and support throughout my life. My parents and my husband, in particular, sacrificed A LOT to ensure that I realize success in life. When I look back on my life, so far, I realize that I have seriously benefited from a plethora of extremely amazing people who have pushed me along in one way or another. So from my childhood best friend, to the guys in the union who helped to groom me into a better engineer, to my little sister who excels at everything with major style, and all those who I hold dear to my heart – thank you!

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I want people to feel like at some point that I made them feel better about themselves and made them believe that they deserved to achieve all the things they aspired to achieve.

Favorite book: Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama

Favorite movie or television show: The Godfather Part II (movie) / Game of Thrones (TV)

Favorite musical performer: Beyoncé

Favorite vacation spot: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Hobbies? Cooking, traveling, yoga

What made Lilian such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Lilian Ngobi has made an impact on the Tepper School MBA program that will last well beyond her two years as a student. Lilian has been highly involved in the Tepper School community, taking on a wide range of leadership roles at the Tepper School: She was President of Black Business Association, Vice President of the Tepper Women in Business Club, and editor of the student newspaper, the Robber Barons. In many ways, Lilian represents an ideal Tepper School student: she is a leader and a collaborator; she is supportive of her classmates and quick to recognize their successes, yet is unafraid to provide constructive feedback; she takes initiative and drives outcomes; she is smart and works hard.

Over the past year, MBA students across the country have become more active on issues of social justice, and Lilian has been a leading voice at the Tepper School. She is part of the MBA student collective “MBAs Open Up”, and has been a driving force behind several new initiatives at the Tepper School that reflect the concerns of women, minorities and international students.

I have worked closely with Lilian in my role as head of the MBA program. I also taught her in my finance elective class. In both capacities, it has been a true pleasure to get to know Lilian over the past two years. She will be very much missed at the Tepper School.”

Kate Barraclough

Head, MBA Program and Distinguished Service Professor of Finance

Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon



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