2018 MBAs To Watch: Anna Babinets, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Anna Babinets

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

Enthusiastic doer and dedicated mentor, with insatiable curiosity for new places and challenges.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Ekibastuz, Kazakhstan

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve explored ship wrecks 100 feet underwater and flew hang-gliders 3000 feet in the sky, yet I still close my eyes and ears during scary moments in the movies.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, BSc Economics & Management, 2009

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I have seven years of progressive work experience in financial services and consulting. I led teams and managed client relationships for $6-12B companies, KPMG’s largest accounts in Kazakhstan. After moving to Atlanta, I worked as a Senior Associate with KPMG Deal Advisory practice, providing advice on M&A and cross-border transactions to multinational companies in the U.S.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? MBA Finance Intern in Flight Operations Division, Delta Airlines, Atlanta, Georgia.

Where will you be working after graduation? MBA Associate in Finance Leadership Development Program, Delta Airlines, Atlanta, Georgia.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Served as co-president of MBA Women in Business, an MBA club with more than 60 members that offers a variety of workshops, networking, and social events to Scheller community to equip students with the insights and tools for becoming successful leaders in the workplace.

  • Mentored first year students for academic and career success as a Peer Coach, a program which pairs incoming students with second-year MBA classmates.
  • Served as an MBA ambassador, assisting with admissions events and attracting more women and minority student to our MBA program.
  • Volunteered for an annual MBA trip with St. Bernard New Orleans project, a non-profit organization that focuses on re-building houses after Hurricane Katrina.
  • Volunteered as a financial instructor for Junior Achievement of Georgia, educating middle-school students on topics of financial and career planning with the goal of improving financial literacy and inspiring interest in pursuing STEM careers.
  • Member of Finance, Consulting, and Net Impact MBA Clubs.
  • Recipient of merit-based MBA and CFA scholarships.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am proud of the positive impact I’ve made on the student experience through the MBA Women in Business club. Under my leadership, the club has tripled its membership, established a Men as Allies initiative, and offered students an enriching line-up of speakers and events empowering them to be better negotiators, networkers, and leaders. This role has tested and honed my event planning skills, as we hosted at least two events per month – all coming on top of my MBA courses, graduate research work, and CFA and ACCA certification studies. We extended our outreach to the greater Atlanta community, hosting events with local non-profits, the Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and corporate sponsors like AT&T, Deloitte, and LexisNexis. It’s been a great ride for the entire leadership team, and our work was recognized with the ‘Club of Semester’ award. Additionally, my peers selected me as “Most likely to become CEO.” Coming from people with great achievements and aspirations, it was the most valid recognition.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud of leading some of the most interesting projects with KPMG Kazakhstan and mentoring my team members to achieve their full potential. In my second year with the firm, I was given an opportunity to assist our key banking client with selling a $1.4 billion loan portfolio. It was my first time leading a team. With only a few weeks to perform valuation of 30+ start-up projects, it was definitely a stretch assignment! Our client invested in strategically important industries, so when the deal was closed, it received wide publicity. I remember how proud we felt for our contributions and I was very happy to see my team recognized with excellent performance reviews and several promotions.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? It’s a difficult choice to make because I have had so many great professors at Scheller. Professor Charles Mulford excels at making a usually dry subject – accounting – both hilarious and inspirational, and always keeps the material relevant by discussing recent business events. He received “MBA Professor of the Year” award so many times that it was eventually named after him; students even started a Facebook fan page dedicated to his quotes. I’ve also had a chance to work with Professor Mulford as a Graduate Research Assistant in his Financial Analysis Lab, learning a lot from his insightful guidance and a meaningful assignment. In just one year we’ve published a research paper on selective earnings management in the U.S., which was highlighted in a dedicated article at CFO.com!

What was your favorite MBA Course? The Service Operations class taught by Manpreet Hora. The course provided both relevant frameworks and multiple opportunities to learn outside of classroom, and see how these concepts are applied in the real world. We visited the Amazon fulfilment center and learned about designing successful and responsive operations from the center’s director, met the CEO of Waffle House, and participated in a behind-the-scenes tour of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, followed by a case discussion with one of the case actors! Professor Hora is a great instructor, very knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. Having worked for him as a Graduate Research Assistant, I also know him as an excellent mentor and friend.

Why did you choose this business school? Georgia Tech MBA is ranked #1 in career advancement opportunities and return on investment, and both were important to me as I decided to pursue the MBA shortly after moving to the United States. From the moment I met our career services team during the admission interview, I knew that Scheller spares no effort in ensuring only the best outcomes for its MBA students. Even when I was just an applicant, our head of Career Services, Jim Kranzusch, shared his time to give career advice and extend his network to me. My initial assessment was not a mistake; the career services team enabled me to secure my summer internship two months into the program and land a full-time offer by September of my second year.

I also made my choice considering that the relatively small size of the program fosters closer ties between MBAs. I’m deeply honored to know each of my classmates personally and very proud of their character and accomplishments.  There will be more than a few life-long friendships to cherish after graduation.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Meet the Scheller family! Our small program size creates a unique close-knit community that we cherish and love talking about, but a class visit or a weekend spent at the MBA Open House will tell you more than a thousand words. This is a major life and investment decision, so taking time to visit campus and interact with students and alumni is well worth the effort. I knew that Scheller had a strong program and network that would enable me to achieve my career goals, but a warm welcome from friendly, bright, and highly motivated people on campus and at MBA socials really sealed the deal for me.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I am happy to bust the myth that you have to be an engineer or a technology guru to succeed at Scheller. Like many of my classmates, I come from a non-technology background and chose to pursue a general business track for my MBA. While our close proximity to Tech Square and dynamic startups undoubtedly provides unique opportunities to pursue technology and innovation tracks, it’s an added bonus, not a requirement.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had the foresight to arrange my desired courses and personal commitments to prioritize taking an international practicum. Scheller offers a fantastic opportunity to experience a different country while solving real business problems. My peers worked for a Japanese sake brewery client, helped an Israeli company develop go-to-market strategies for cyber-security products, and dined with the Hungarian ambassador to the U.S. I would recommend this experience even for well-traveled MBAs.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Kristen Whalen. It takes a lot of effort to be a successful full-time MBA student, keeping up with all academic and extracurricular activities. It takes an even greater commitment to be a loving and caring parent. I’ve always admired Kristen for skillfully balancing both of those. Kristen became a mom in the middle of fall semester, but continued to give 100% to all assignments, managed the Women in Business club finances, and overall is a “have it all” wonder-woman whom I look up to.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My family gave me the courage to leave a stable job in consulting and go back to school. My husband is my best friend, who supports my wildest ambitions and empowers me to pursue my dreams. My mom is my role model as a successful professional and a loving parent, who is always there for everyone. She raised me and my sister through the hardship and uncertainty of the post-Soviet Union economic collapse, yet always exudes positive attitude and contagious optimism. I would not be here without their unyielding support.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…having a great time at KPMG, working hard to earn the right to become a partner one day.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Scheller is located in Technology Square and just a block away from 17 corporate innovation centers and more than 100 start-ups. I’d love to see a practicum class that allows all MBA students to partner with these corporate innovation labs. During MBA orientation, we toured the innovation centers, and everyone was excited to play with the latest technology at Delta, Panasonic, and Emerson. Select students pursuing immersive tracks and members of our TI:GER (The Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results) program get a chance to partner with start-ups to help solve business problems, but it would be great to scale that up to engage every Scheller MBA.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Visit all continents and become fluent in Spanish

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who is willing to step up, truly cares about her team, and tackles obstacles with a smile

What is your favorite movie about business? 12 Angry Men is a great courtroom drama. The biggest lesson I gained from it was understanding how to influence others and build consensus without formal power. The movie illustrates how one can successfully instill changes and resolve conflicts by listening to others and understanding their inner motivations and personality.

What would your theme song be? “I Did It My Way” by Frank Sinatra

Favorite vacation spot: A window seat in an airplane, which will take me on a journey to explore another culture and savor new experiences.

Hobbies? I love to travel and experience outdoors – from endurance-testing 1000-mile U.S. road trips to scuba diving in Egypt and sandboarding in South Africa. When I am in town, there’s nothing better than hosting board game nights and dinners with friends, sharing a tale or two of our adventures.

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

“As an MBA student, Anna Babinets is an active member of the Scheller community, serving as the co-leader of our Women in Business (WIB) organization. Due to her efforts, WIB has increased its presence and programming throughout this year hosting programs in Effective Networking and Negotiations as well as company events and tours. These events prove vital in both skill development for women students and building community among women at Scheller.

In addition to WIB, Anna is also a Peer Coach in a program that pairs incoming students with members of the second year class to aid in transition and adjustment. She is also a Scheller MBA Ambassador, making herself available for recruiting prospective students through tours, information sessions and interviews.

When Anna graduates from Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business in May, she will join Delta as a member of their Finance Leadership Development Program. Though she has studied in Atlanta and will remain here after graduating with her MBA, she is Kazakhstani by birth. Anna came to the United States in 2006, transferring in to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and earning her bachelor’s degree in 2009.  Since completing her undergrad, she has worked for GE Transportation in Kazakhstan and KPMG in both Kazakhstan and the United States. At KPMG she led teams of 10+ employees and managed significant client relationships. At Scheller, she is a full merit-based scholarship student and is actively pursuing CFA licensure.

In the Atlanta community, Anna has put her finance skill and ability in practice serving as a Volunteer Financial Instructor with Junior Achievement of Georgia. She has also participated in the St. Bernard Project focused on rebuilding the St. Bernard Parish area of Louisiana.

Anna is a vital part of our community, a leader both inside and outside of the classroom. We’ve been fortunate to have her energy and enthusiasm in our program.”

Lauren Porter
MBA Corporate Relations Manager
Jones MBA Career Center
Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

 

DON’T MISS THE FULL LIST:

100 MBAS TO WATCH IN THE CLASS OF 2018