TEPPER QUAD SET TO BECOME CENTER OF CAMPUS
Such collaborations will only grow with the opening of the Tepper Quad, which – at 315,000 square feet – more than doubles the size of the existing building. In the process, the school intends to boost its master’s student population by 50%. Among its amenities, the Tepper Quad will include a fitness center, expanded dining, underground parking, and a 600 seat auditorium. Although the quad is still six months from being opened, Barraclough is certain that it will be a game changer that makes Tepper the focal point of campus.
“Naturally, the space is collaborative and cutting-edge,” she writes. “But, no, it isn’t hidden on the periphery of university. The Tepper Quad was designed and built to sit at the literal and metaphorical center of campus. The Tepper Quad is part of the school’s strategy to introduce a new “inter-connected” academic model that fundamentally changes the way business is taught and learned, by elevating a management underpinning throughout other campus disciplines, such as engineering, design, computer science, the arts, and science. The Tepper School is the only top 20 program to locate a new B-school building at the center of its university’s campus, bucking the trend by most business school peers to isolate buildings along campus peripheries.”
This integration is expected to be a boon for Tepper in other ways too. Notably, says Wilson, Carnegie Mellon University has reaped over a billion dollars of sponsored research and added 2,500 patents over the past four years. In addition, the program is devoting increasing resources into the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, which is expected to deepen Tepper’s integration with the larger school and enable it to become a gateway to cross-school partnerships and a hub for technology-related research and startup ventures.
On the lighter side, the school also introduced a student mascot this year: the Tepper Bot 3000. This spring, for example, two online MBA graduates were able to attend commencement via this remote control robot, which has also been used in networking events, club meetings, and even presentations according to Barraclough. “The TepperBot personifies the way technology is integrated into the Tepper experience,” she adds. “Students are encouraged to collaborate with CMU’s top-ranked schools of engineering, robotics, computer science, and design.”
DATA ANALYTICS IS THE CURRICULUM CENTERPIECE
If you surveyed the Class of 2019 on why they chose Tepper, the majority would respond with some variation of “analytics” or “data.” This area, along with tech and leadership, is the school’s calling card. For many, analytics is the “future of business” – and mastering its fundamentals and tools will give them an advantage as their careers progress.
As a strategist, Malavé Torres witnessed first-hand the value of analytics, noting that manipulating data enabled her to “find opportunities that would have been overlooked before.” One opportunity, says Turner, is how analytics can be used to mobilize change. “In my last role as a researcher at non-profit organization,” she shares, “I experienced the power of data and effective methodology in creating accessible, policy-relevant research content that can impact social change. I wanted to be part of an MBA program that not only provides a solid foundation in analytics but is forward-thinking in ways to use data to inform decisions and motivate people.”
Weiss takes it a step further. As a career changer, he appreciates the “structured framework” and generous number of analytics-related offerings at the school, along with how data skills are integrated throughout the curriculum to help students grapple with uncertainty and complexity. “The school values strong analytical leaders and shares my belief that data is crucial to the business world, and that the ability to accurately (and responsibly) use and interpret data will drive growth, impact and sustainability.”
GREAT TEACHING AND SMALL CLASSES
The school is also renowned for teaching excellence, ranking among the top MBA programs worldwide for faculty according to a student survey conducted by The Economist. Mike Trick, senior associate dean of faculty and research, takes pride in saying that Tepper is a “research school” – one that takes special pains to funnel relevant findings and best practices back into the classroom. Even more, Trick notes, each faculty member has embraced the program’s trademark analytical decision-making philosophy, which creates a consistency regardless of subject matter.
“The approach that underlies our program is a really deep and thorough understanding of analytics and the role that data places in decision-making; the role that modern data issues are having in every field together with some really creative approaches to leadership like how you take what you know from the data to change organizations. The faculty buys into the importance of both halves of this. It gets reflected in the classroom. There is a unity happening.”
The faculty’s teaching prowess is further amplified by the school’s relatively small size. Here, for example, students take core courses lock step with each other – with one faculty member teaching all sections of the core. This creates a sense of community that permeates the program. “The Tepper school felt like home when I was interacting with students, faculty, and staff,” observes Caralis. “It has a smaller class size compared to other programs and is a noticeably tight-knit community. One of the most impactful outcomes of a full-time program is the network that you grow, so with a class size of about 200, Tepper has provided me an amazing opportunity to get to know everyone on a deeper and genuine level.”
Caralis wasn’t the only student struck by how different students were at Tepper. Patel Iyengar describes her peers as “interesting and driven, yet very down-to-earth.” Chan, on the other hand, was “blown away” by the spirit of students she met during her campus interview. “They all had such diverse and unique passions, I felt inspired to grow my career and compelled to surround myself with this type of energy and enthusiasm.”
A TECH HAVEN
Indeed, the program is defined by a sense of possibilities that comes from its close ties to the tech sector. Each year, the school holds treks to Silicon Valley and Seattle – a nod to the program sending a higher percentage of its MBAs into tech than any Top 25 program outside of the University of Washington. In fact, the Bay Area is home to the third-largest concentration of Tepper MBAs – with 45% of 2016 female grads joining the tech sector. This gives it an impressive footprint in a rapidly growing industry where the Carnegie Mellon name – and technical aptitude associated with it – goes a long way.
Even more, the school’s approach, which binds business fundamentals, analytics, and technology through a rigorous interdisciplinary framework fits perfectly with the needs of tech firms and startups.
“The lifecycle on product development has become shorter and it’s more competitive,” says Stephen Rakas, the executive director of Tepper’s Career Opportunities Center, in a 2017 interview with Poets&Quants. “Companies are gathering an immense amount of data on consumers, and they often don’t know what to do with it, whether its user behavior or consumer insights. That’s becoming a whole set of opportunities where MBAs are really poised to help these companies analyze trends and data. And at the Tepper School, in particular, that’s our hallmark, analytical decision making.”
While the West Coast tech flurry is found thousands of miles away, Tepper students will find plenty of energy, inspiration, and opportunities in Pittsburgh, a Renaissance City that has emerged as a hub for healthcare and technology. In 2016, venture capitalists and companies invested $376 million dollars in Pittsburgh-area startups. Already benefitting from reasonable rents and a low cost of living, Pittsburgh now boasts 1,500 tech firms, including a deep presence from market leaders like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Intel, and Disney.
Such investment makes a program like Tepper all the more enticing to students like Haakenstad. “When making the decision on where to enroll, one aspect that really swayed me to Tepper was when I thought about where the school is going to be 5, 10, 20 years down the road,” he explains. “I needed to…strongly consider where the school is headed. Are the alumni engaged? Is the school investing in new facilities? Is the program committed to fully leveraging its resources in the future? Essentially, is the school content with where it is at — or are they proud of what they stand for but driven to become an even better program down the road? And when I asked myself that series of questions, it was a simple choice for me because the direction Tepper is headed allowed me to answer a robust yes to each one.”
IF ANALYTICS IS TEPPER’S HEART, THEN LEADERSHIP IS ITS SOUL
If analytics is the heart of the Tepper MBA, then leadership is its soul, says Laurie Weingart, a professor of organizational behavior and theory. At Tepper, strategic thinking and analytics is only part of the equation. To take the next big step, outlines Dean Robert Dammon, students must be able to communicate effectively and inspire. That’s the role of Tepper’s Accelerate Leadership Center, which provides everything from required assessments to one-on-one coaching to programming like workshops to prepare students for the realities of senior leadership.
Matthew McGann, a corporate banker for the Bank of Ireland, had been already sold on Tepper’s quant credentials. He admits, however, that leadership development was what led him to Pittsburgh. “MBA students should not only leave their program with a great education and a network of contacts, but also the skills to lead their chosen industry for the next few decades,” he believes. “Tepper’s Accelerate Leadership Center provides personalized leadership development from the first day a student commit’s to the program. For someone like me, who has not been in a managerial role (but aspires to do so in the future), this dedication to an often overlooked aspect of an MBA program convinced me that Tepper will give me the best overall education.”
So what’s on tap for the Class of 2019? Looking ahead, each defines success a little bit different. Weiss, for example, hopes to be able to put what he learns into practice…and be featured in Poets&Quants (Send me a pitch, Noah). Turner brings a bigger concern: Surviving! Joking aside, Turner is hoping for some give-and-take in her experience. “I will be present, I will be vocal, and I will work hard to build my knowledge-base and skill set to empower me to make a difference and to help others better their life chances and communities.”
That’s just the beginning. Forbes I looking to “breathe life into some of my crazy ideas.” At the top of his list is a platform that pays consumers for providing data that enables companies to “sink their creepy little fangs into our lives to spy on our daily activities.” Haakenstad’s ambitious agenda focuses on breaking down his personal barriers and exposing himself to new ways of thinking. For George, success means transformation – and she is confident that it will all fall into place.
“To me, the biggest success after my first year would be growing and transforming beyond my own expectations while being surrounded by people that push and support me every day even as I was able to push and support them. It sounds like a tall order, but I’m not worried; Tepper Class of 2019 has got this!”
To read profiles of incoming Tepper students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.
|Abhishek Bhattacharyya||Mumbai, India||State University of New York at Plattsburgh||Nautilus Solar Energy, LLC|
|Andrea Caralis||Detroit, MI||Miami University (OH)||PNC Bank|
|Laura Chan||Needham, MA||Carnegie Mellon University||Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company|
|Carlton Forbes||Brooklyn, NY||Brown Univesity||Goldman Sachs|
|Rebecca George||Pittsburgh, PA||Purdue University||Whirlpool Corporation|
|Mark Haakenstad||Minnetonka, MN||University of Minnesota||American Airlines|
|Nilvea O. Malavé Torres||San Juan, Puerto Rico||University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras||Banco Popular de Puerto Rico|
|Matthew McGann||Fairfield, CT||Stonehill College||Bank of Ireland|
|Puja Patel Iyengar||Scaggsville, MD||University of Maryland||U.S. Census Board|
|Kimberly Turner||Grand Blanc, MI||Hope College||Child Trends|
|Noah Weiss||Los Angeles, CA||Oberlin Conservatory of Music||Azoff MSG Entertainment|
|Linsha Yao||Beijing, China||Capital Normal University||SmartConn|