In business, technology has emerged as the great equalizer. Forget scale and brand. In the digital age, success is driven by quality, speed, and agility. That’s exactly what technology offers to upstarts and incumbents alike.
Business cases are packed with examples of how automation, connectivity, and outsourcing have slashed operating costs, opened new markets, and revolutionized business models. Amid the upheaval, technology has brought communities together – just as they’ve torn industries apart. In business school, you don’t truly understand how technology is closing gaps and diversifying markets in a one-off project. It is something you must experience every day in every class. That’s what makes the Scheller College of Business a template for MBA programs to follow.
“IT IS SCHELLER’S TIME TO SHINE”
“Tech” is part of the Georgia Tech name for a reason. Here, MBA students can complete concentrations in areas like Information Technology Management, Managing Innovation & Technology, and Business Analytics. That doesn’t include optional immersive tracks such as Technology Commercialization, Managing Technology Products, and Innovating for Sustainability – where coursework often dives into areas like nanotechnology and machine learning. Such tracks also draw upon Atlanta’s red-hot corporate, tech, and startup sectors. As a result, students enjoy a wealth of ongoing partnerships and projects.
Indeed, proximity is a plus for Scheller. Just a block away from its Midtown campus, you’ll find Tech Square – a sprawling innovation hub that’s home to Fortune 500 branches, startups, tech incubators, and venture capital firms. Next year, Georgia Tech will open Coda Tower across the street from Scheller. A 21-story architectural gem, Coda Tower is designed to bring together school researchers, computer scientists, and corporate partners. Ultimately, the space is expected to house over 2,000 professionals…including MBAs.
Between its tech-infused curriculum and vibrant commercial ecosystem outside its doors, Scheller is poised to become a major MBA force. ““We feel it is Scheller College’s time to shine,” says Katie Lloyd, executive director of MBA admissions. “We’re well-positioned to be the MBA program for the 21st century, from practical application, to our position at the intersection of business and technology and emphasis on business analytics. MBA programs worldwide are trying to move this direction, but we’re already there.”
‘DON’T NEED A TECH BACKGROUND HERE TO SUCCEED’
Such positioning is what drew the Class of 2020 to Scheller. One of those students is Thea Dietrick. A sales manager from Nestle USA, Deitrick admits that she comes to the Big Peach with “little hard technical skills.” Looking to move into supply chain management, Dietrick believes a better understanding of technology is key to transitioning into a new career.
“I was looking for a program that would not only emphasize the effect technology is currently having on almost every market and industry in the world, but also teach me how to use this technology to come to my own conclusions about what this meant for me, my future career, and how to navigate the decisions I will be charged with making in the future.”
Alas, “tech” can be an intimidating word – one that conjures up images of complex concepts and intricate processes that are beyond the grasp of liberal arts majors and Type-A sales reps. In reality, Scheller is hardly a nerd haven, filled with engineers and programmers looking to burnish their management credentials. Instead, it is a place where faculty and staff take great pains to get students up to speed on technology. At its heart, the Scheller MBA curriculum is geared to increase their understanding of how technology is re-shaping business. To succeed, students simply need to take a leap of faith – and bring a can-do attitude to match.
“The best part is you don’t have to have a technology background to be successful at Georgia Tech, says SaVona Smith, a regional sales manager who’s looking to pivot into brand management. “They teach you all you need to know!”
FIRST YEAR SAILS THROUGH HURRICANES – AND TRAVELS WITH TRUMP
86 students strong, the Class of 2020 is as diverse as MBA cohorts come. Take Joseph Carothers. He comes to Scheller after serving as a Company Commander for the U.S. Army’s Wounded Warrior unit, where he helped over 230 soldiers transition to civilian careers. Working in the derivatives market,
Rebecca Berge spearheaded a project that cut the interest rate swap volume on the Mexican peso by 35% in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. How about Allison Rowell? A fourth year medical student at nearby Morehouse Medical Center, she started out as a traveling nurse – a job that prepared her for a career in business as much as medicine.
“You are typically walking into a pretty rough situation if a hospital requires agency nurses to fulfill staffing needs,” she explains. “Having the ability to walk into any hospital, with a bare minimum orientation, and being able to function independently under my scope of practice at that stage of my nursing career was a huge accomplishment. This experience gave me the confidence to finally pursue my dream of going to medical school.”
Impressed? Just wait until you meet Ben Crom. During his career in the merchant marine, he has sailed through Category 3 hurricanes and traveled alongside President Trump. He has also sat in on meetings with the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State and testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. So what led him to pursue an MBA? It boils down to two words: understanding and impact.
“When I was working at the Pentagon, I would observe decisions being made that had major impacts to organizations, nations, and people,” he explains. “Some of these decisions were counter-intuitive from the third-party outsider; I wanted to know what metrics upon which these decisions were based. I also knew that if I wanted to continue an upward career progression, a graduate degree would be paramount.”
GETTING INTO HARVARD…ON A DARE
Thea Dietrick endured her own rite of passage before business school. Before she turned 27, she was already managing 45 direct reports – with most being “twice my age, male, and proud.” Admittedly, many resented tested her. While the assignment tested her mettle, it also enabled her to grow as a leader.
“I worked tirelessly to prove them (and myself) wrong,” she says. “I asked questions, gave direct and actionable feedback when needed, and always followed up regardless if it was necessary. I did my best to defy stereotypes, show compassion, and empathy, but be a strong leader from the side, always letting the team think the direction or strategy was their idea.”
If that didn’t make an impression, this fact surely would: Dietrick holds a commercial driving license and can drive trucks weighing up to 52,000 pounds. That’s just one of the fun facts about the Class of 2020. Think getting into Harvard is near impossible. Not for Lindsey Waters, a brand analytics manager at Coca-Cola, who received an offer after applying the night before deadline…on a dare. SaVona Smith collected over 20 U.S. dance titles in clogging – a form of folk dance. Not to be outdone, Cynthia Latortue-Brooks, a MIT-trained architect, helped design the opening exhibit for the 2012 Reykjavik Arts Festival. Then there’s Mélanie Coissard, who has spent the past four years living in locales as disparate as Paris, Geneva, and Shanghai. Her claim to fame? She captained her college cheerleading squad…despite being unable to do a cartwheel!
That’s just the start. Osama Mikawi has climbed one of the Great Pyramids of Giza. Daniel Jester, a Squadron Operations Officer in the U.S. Army, recently won a 260-mile, two person relay race. Be wary of playing tennis with Yash Lakhotia. He once served an ace on a Davis Cup player…a guy who once defeated Roger Federer. Looking for dieting advice? Meet “mathmagician” Diana Nichols. “After surviving solely on fresh fruit and veggie juice for 60 days,” she says, “I dropped 44 pounds and ran my first marathon.”
A SOLID, GENUINE AND PASSIONATE CLASS
What does the Class of 2020 have to say about their peers? Nichols uses “solid” to describe her classmates. “They are the type to scoop you if you need a ride, lend you a blazer, huddle up for a quick cry and hug, and celebrate accomplishments with a free beer and a high-five. It amazes me how supportive and collaborative my classmates are, even though we’re competing for some of the same positions.”
For Jasmine Howard, “genuine” best encapsulates her early impressions of the incoming class. “I love that my cohort is full of unique and bold personalities,” writes the Tennessee native. “My classmates are confidently and authentically themselves—there’s no guarded apprehension or obnoxious posturing. Thanks to our small class size, we’ve all gotten to know each other quickly. It’s been so fun to find classmates who share the same interests, quirks, and eccentricities.”
In contrast, Mélanie Coissard was struck her classmates’ passion. “Being pushed by their passion means that their level of motivation is really high. We always have amazing conversations on just about every subject and I have learned so much just by talking with everyone about their passions.”
40% OF CLASS IS WOMEN
By the numbers, Scheller received 495 applications during the 2017-2018 cycle, with more than 50% ultimately choosing to enroll – a yield that tops nearby MBA programs like Vanderbilt Owen and Emory Goizueta. Overall, 40% of the 2020 Class is comprised of women, placing Scheller in a range normally inhabited by Top 10 schools. By the same token, 18% of the class features underrepresented American minorities. International students account for another 15% of the class.
Academically, the class brings a 681 GMAT average to campus, with scores ranging from 625-730 in the 80% range. 35% of the class also posted GRE scores, with averages being 162 (Quant) and 159 (Verbal). The average undergraduate GPA is 3.3 for the class. In terms of academic backgrounds, STEM – Engineering and Computer Science – make up the largest bloc of students at 41%. Business (22%), Social Sciences (16%), and Humanities (6%) also represent large segments of the class.
Not surprisingly, technology and engineering professionals hold more seats at 20% and 19% of the class respectively. Consulting (13%), consumer products and marketing (12%), government and military (11%), and financial services (8%) are also well-represented in the class.