2018 Best MBAs: Christopher Staten, University of Pittsburgh (Katz)

Christopher Staten

Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh

“Former Division 1 football player who enjoys traveling, men’s fashion, and mentoring African American youth.”

Age: 26

Hometown: Chicago Heights, Illinois

Fun fact about yourself: Back when I was a 300 pound defensive linemen (I weigh about 220 lbs now), I sacked Jimmy Garoppolo, starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Murray State University – B.S., Recreation & Physical Education

Georgia State University – M.S., Sports Business

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Leadership Development Specialist, Indiana University Department of Athletics (Bloomington, Indiana)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Digital Strategy, The Vitamin Shoppe – Secaucus, New Jersey

Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Client Representative – IBM (Boston, Massachusetts)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

School-wide Involvement

  • President, University of Pittsburgh – Graduate & Professional Student Government (2017-2018).
  • Lead, Graduate & Professional Student Governmental Relations Committee (2017-2018)
  • Graduate Student Representative, Alcohol & Drug Task Force (2017-2018)
  • Organizer, Student Advocates of Graduate Education Summit (Fall 2017).
  • Graduate Student Representative, University of Pittsburgh Senate Council (2017-18).
  • Graduate Student Representative, University Council of Graduate Studies (2017-2018)
  • Member, University of Pittsburgh Diversity & Inclusion Committee (2017-2018)

Joseph M. Katz Graduate School Involvement

  • BNY Mellon CSR Fellow (Spring 2018)
  • Team Lead, KeyBank Minority MBA Case Competition. Placed 1st Place out of 25 team. (Spring 2017)
  • Best Speaker, KeyBank Minority MBA Case Competition (Spring 2017)
  • AMA & Alumni Liaison, Marketing Club (2016-2017)
  • Student Admissions Ambassador (2016-2018)
  • Graduate Student Representative, University Review Board (2016-2017)

Community Involvement

  • Organizer, University of Pittsburgh Black Men’s Summit (Spring 2018)
  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated (Spring 2013- Present)
  • Collaborator, Young Black Pittsburgh (2017-2018)
  • Speaker, University of Pittsburgh Student Athletes Advisory Council – How to Prepare for Graduate School (Fall 2017)
  • Speaker, Swampscott High School, Boston, Massachusetts (Spring 2017)
  • Speaker, Calvary Baptist Church (Fall 2016)
  • National Black MBA Leaders of Tomorrow Assistant Director (2016-2017)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of being President of the Graduate & Professional Student Government at the University of Pittsburgh. Leading the charge in advocating for all 10,000 graduate & professional students concerning academic policy, student resources, and leadership development opportunities has been a great feat. With other graduate student leaders, we have been advocating on issues such as research funding, student debt, tax reform and more recently the Prosper Act. Through our advocacy we aspire to enhance the graduate and professional student experience and make advanced degrees more accessible to low income aspirants.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In December 2012, Dr. Shaun Harper, Executive Director of University of Southern California’s Race & Equity Center, concluded that across four cohorts, 53.6% of African American male student-athletes graduated within six years, compared to 68.5% of student-athletes overall, 58.4% of African American undergraduate men overall, and 75.4% of undergraduate students overall. At Indiana University, I started Men of Valor Excelling (M.O.V.E.) to “empower and encourage African American male athletes to be leaders in their sport and community through brotherhood, education, and moral. This initiative has and will continue to inspire and equip African American male athletes to achieve in all facets of life.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Kenneth Lehn. His ability to breakdown complex concepts into simple terms is second nature to him. He is dedicated to his students and exhibits that by carving out time to meet with students individually. He also displays patience as he answers every question that is asked, not to matter how complex or simplistic the question may seem.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Valuation, as it requires students to analyze companies’ financial statements and market behaviors to estimate the future value of a company.

Why did you choose this business school? I enjoy building real bonds with others. Due to Katz’s smaller class size, I was able to personally connect with faculty, staff, and fellow students. It feels good to walk through the halls and being able to greet everyone by name and follow up on their personal endeavors. Also, Katz Experience Based Learning curriculum allowed me to serve as a consultant for companies such as PPG Industries, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and local small businesses. These experiences afforded me the opportunity to apply the foundational techniques learned in the classroom to solve real business problems.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Two pieces of advice, be confident and authentic.

  • Be confident that your work experience, test scores, GPA, and personal brand is legitimate. Only then can that confidence shine through in your interviews and conversations with the admissions office. In essence, you are selling yourself as “the right candidate” and one cannot sell what they do not believe in. Believe in yourself.
  • Authenticity is also key. Many try to fit the mold of a “perfect candidate”, however, I encourage you to not fit the mold, but break the mold. There is only one “you” in this world, so “be you” to the best of your ability. “What comes from the heart touches the heart.” One cannot lead, influence, or touch others without being authentic.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Katz, and other business schools, is that we are disconnected from the rest of the graduate student body. However, I found it easy to connect with students studying law, engineering, medicine, etc. It was even easy to connect with students at other institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University. Also, Dean Assad has implemented various joint degrees with the School of Social Work, Medicine, and Law

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not creating a Katz & Tepper Gala.

 Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is a tough question because all of my classmates are awesome. It’s a tie between, Andrew Ndukwe and Jacob Sondergard. Andrew because he is one of the most intelligent and talented people I have ever met. Jacob and I started a weekly bible study. Through this bible study, I have gained a brother in Christ and a lifelong friend in Jacob.

 Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Other than the African American intellectual of past years such as W.E.B Dubois, Carter G. Woodson, and more recently Barack Obama and Ta-Nehisi Coates, I have two good friends who influenced me to pursue business school. Jamaal May who earned his MBA from the University of Central Florida (Class of 2017) and Michael Barnes Jr. who is a MBA Candidate at University of Michigan Ross School of Business (Class of 2019). I had individual conversation with Jamaal and Michael about pursuing a MBA and they voiced their interest in business school as well. Their affirmations pushed me to take this leap of faith.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…Traveling the country speaking at high schools and colleges motivating the leaders of tomorrow to “break the mold” and helping them to find their own pathway to success.”

 If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Each student will be able to study abroad at the expense of the school one time during their 2-year MBA experience.

 What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Marriage
  • Lunch with Lebron James

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Chris is an ambitious leader who commands the room and has a heart full humility, passion, and grit.

What would your theme song be? “One Man Can Change the World” – Big Sean

Favorite vacation spot: Havana, Cuba

Hobbies? Mentoring, attending church, working out, trying new foods, getting manicures and pedicures, watching This Is Us.

What made Christopher such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Chris Staten made an immediate impact and positive first impression on the entire Katz community right from the start during orientation. His approachable demeanor, willingness to step out of his comfort zone, and high level of engagement all contribute to his outstanding leadership, communication and interpersonal skills. I have continually been impressed by the high level of self-awareness Chris demonstrates and his voracious appetite towards his professional development/self-improvement. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Chris on several initiatives and projects, including a prestigious Case Competition that his team won and he was named best individual presenter. His work ethic is one of the strongest I have encountered in my 20 years in higher education. Simply put, Chris has been a terrific asset to his MBA Program and the University of Pittsburgh.”

Joe Pieri
Senior Director of MBA Programs
University of Pittsburgh
Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF THE BEST & BRIGHTEST: CLASS OF 2018