Meet Georgia Tech’s MBA Class Of 2020

Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech University

ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST CAREER CENTERS

Technology may be Scheller’s calling card, but career services is undoubtedly its bread-and-butter. In 2018 student and alumni surveys conducted by the Financial Times and The Economist, Scheller’s Jones MBA Career Services Center ranked 1st and 3rd in the world respectively. Known for the staff’s intensive coaching and deep connections with the Atlanta business community, the center’s excellence is exemplified by the placement and pay. Notably, 97% of the Class of 2018 landed jobs within three months of graduation. Average base pay and bonus also came in at $112,729 and $21,246, with the biggest employers including Amazon, Microsoft, Deloitte and Delta Airlines. In addition, 100% of the 2019 Class received internship offers.

Thus far, the Class of 2020 has already seen the difference that the Jones Center makes. “They are extremely hands-on and are willing to work with you to explore your best fit for career options and companies,” says Cynthia Latortue-Brooks. “The core curriculum includes a career development workshop. This was a huge selling point for me, as a career switcher who had never worked in a corporate role. I didn’t find this level of career support at other programs I researched.”

This center’s trademark personal attention was also a blessing for Ben Crom, who is transitioning from the military to management consulting. “They didn’t want to settle for me “just” landing a job; they wanted to push me to land my “dream career,” he shares. “It was clear from the get-go that I wasn’t just an admissions number to the school and that Scheller really cared about my career, my MBA experience, and helping to facilitate the best decision for myself and my ambitions.”

DEEPLY CONNECTED TO THE LARGER GEORGIA TECH UNIVERSE

Brian Jennings

Academic excellence is another under-the-radar aspect of the Scheller experience. According to this year’s Economist survey, the school ranked 11th worldwide in “faculty quality.” Brian Jennings, associate dean for MBA programs and executive education, notes in a statement to Poets&Quants that Scheller faculty published 72 research papers over the past year alone. That said, Jennings also points to the larger university, which he describes as “world-renowned technological research university and strong entrepreneurial environment.” Notably, Georgia Tech is considered to be one of the world’s premier engineering schools, renowned in areas ranging from aerospace to biomedicine to industrial manufacturing. In 2018, U.S. News even ranked it among the world’s five-most innovative schools.

That creates synergies that amplify far beyond Scheller, Jennings adds. “Scheller College has the benefit of being an integral college within Georgia Institute of Technology. Thus, we are able to provide our students a chance to tap into a unique ecosystem for hands-on experiential learning and practicums with Fortune 500 companies and innovation centers, just steps away from their classrooms.”

This vision is realized through the Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results program – more commonly known as TI:GER. Think of it as tech startup bootcamp, where hand-picked MBA students partner with students from graduate colleges like engineering, law, and sciences. Here, teams leverage their areas of expertise to help commercialize early stage research performed by Ph.D. candidates. In the process, students learn, step-by-step, how to turn an idea into a venture. They conduct market research, examine regulatory requirements, conduct testing, author business plains, and pitch investors. In the process, they build a network of potential mentors and champions who can assist them when they pursue their own business opportunities. At the same time, many TI:GER teams have also earned funding by winning national business competitions according to Jennings.

TI:GER TRAINS STUDENTS HOW TO LAUNCH INNOVATIVE TECH VENTURES

Rebecca Berge has already been selected as a TI:GER fellow. Now, she is teaming with an Emory JD candidate and a Ph.D. candidate from the nanotechnology lab to bring a venture to life. “Scheller, to me, represents the nexus of business and tech education,” she asserts. “I chose Scheller because I wanted to understand how innovation happens, and how valuable ideas can generate economic value – and I have the chance to learn that in hands-on applications at Scheller.”

The TI:GER program has certainly yielded its share of successes. Declan Nishiyama, a 2018 P&Q Best & Brightest MBA, cites LymphaTech, which received funding from the Gates Foundation to reduce Lymphatic Filariasis worldwide. Of course, Nishiyama is no slouch himself. He worked alongside a Ph.D. candidate from Georgia Tech’s College of Computing on an autonomous vehicle. The result? They won over $100,000 in fund through competitions and grants.

Kevin Stacia, Corporate Relations Manager, Jones MBA Career Services, instructing a student

Jermaine Fanfair, a 2017 P&Q MBA To Watch, wasn’t so fortunate with his venture, a dialysis technology that theoretically raise care quality for millions of patients. That’s not to say he didn’t gain from his experience, however. “I learned fundamentals of the innovation and commercialization process for new technology” he writes. “Also, our TI:GER team participated in the Georgia Bowl business plan competition this year. Unfortunately, we did not make it to the finals but it was a valuable experience that has really helped us move our commercialization plan forward.”

SCHELLER ANCHORS TECH SQUARE

There are few locations that are more friendly to the venture creation process than Atlanta. That starts with the Tech Square district. According to Brian Jennings, the area is home to over 100 startups and 50 accelerators and incubators. That doesn’t include the growing roster of big name firms establishing centers or labs in Tech Square to attract talent, including AT&T, Coca-Cola, Emerson, Home Depot, and Panasonic. It is an entrepreneur’s playground, replete with investors, technical experts, and researchers that offer access, know-how, and resources – all in a 1.4 million square foot ring surrounding Scheller.

“Being located in Tech Square, the Scheller College offers unparalleled access to learn in one of the nation’s premier start-up and high-tech business centers and interact with Fortune 500 companies, innovation centers, successful entrepreneurs and start-ups,” says Jennings. “This unique ecosystem provides depth and breadth of experiential learning opportunities as well as internships and career opportunities.”

When clicking off the benefits of Scheller, Stephanie Landaverde, a data management analyst, harkens back to a familiar phrase from real estate: “Location, Location, Location.” In her experience, “all companies are technology companies” now. That’s one reason why Atlanta has emerged as such a dynamic force. Home to 15 Fortune 500 companies – including Home Depot, UPS, Coca-Cola, and SunTrust – Atlanta is also a cultural hub. Sure enough, Georgia Tech is in the thick of it in Midtown.

“The Georgia Tech campus buzzes with energy thanks to its proximity to major companies and exciting startups in the city,” says Jasmine Howard. “I knew that by attending Scheller College, I would not only benefit from companies easily and frequently coming to campus, but I would also have convenient access to seek out networking opportunities on my own. Our business campus is surrounded by delicious restaurants and most of my cohort live within the immediate campus area. There’s always something going on! Atlanta is a city of reinvention and renewal, and we’re all enjoying its current renaissance as a high-tech center and film production hub.”

REBUILDING NEW ORLEANS OVER THE HOLIDAYS

Inside Scheller, the school also swells with opportunity and excitement. Take Practicums. These elective courses where students can apply their skills during consulting projects on behalf of firms like General Electric, NCR, and Delta Airlines, are popular with the Class of 2020. Mélanie Coissard, in particular, can’t wait for this spring’s International Practicum.

Saby Mitra, Professor of Information Technology Management, during a class instruction

“This class is designed to consult for a foreign company during a semester, and to travel to its country to actually meet with the executives and present our work to them,” she explains. “Combining consulting experience and international travel in a higher-level business setting is something really valuable, different and eye-opening on our way of conducting our work.”

Jasmine Howard’s twin passions are marketing and media. She is looking forward to helping run the Business Analytics Club, whose reach extends across campus. “Georgia Tech’s leadership in business analytics was one of my other key factors in choosing Scheller College, as I want to develop my analytical skills with hands-on projects with the Business Analytics Center’s corporate partners,” she says.

For Cynthia Latortue-Brooks, the big event is Scheller’s annual service trip to New Orleans with the Saint Bernard Project. “The trip occurs over a week in winter break, where volunteers rehab homes in neighborhoods still blighted by hurricanes Katrina, and more recently Harvey,” she writes. The trip is an opportunity to help families in need while simultaneously bonding with our classmates in the streets of New Orleans – it is a LOT of fun.”

INNOVATION FELLOWS HEADLINES NEXT FALL’S AGENDA

So what can the Class of 2020 expect during their time at Scheller? For starters, says Brian Jennings, the school will expand into a second building, which will be built over the next three years in Tech Square. The program has also added implicit bias training to MBA orientation to reinforce its commitment to “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” he says.  At the same time, the program is beefing up its practicum and overall curriculum offerings.

“Tapping into our technology ecosystem, we are launching a new Innovations Fellows program for the Class of 2021,” Jennings notes. “The Innovations Fellows program will provide select students with internships at Fortune 500 Innovations Centers located in Tech Square. We have also added dual-degree program options, allowing students to combine an MBA with an M.S. or Ph.D. in programs within Georgia Tech’s Colleges of Computing, Design, and Engineering. Additionally, we launched an MD/MBA program in conjunction with Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. These dual degree programs emulate today’s changing workplace and provide a unique opportunity that students may not find at other universities.”

That’s not all that makes Scheller unique, he adds. For one, the small class size creates a “tight-knit” and “collaborative” community, one where “faculty and staff are deeply vested in each student’s future.” For another, the program boasts a footprint and network that is second to none.

“Georgia Tech has a network of over 150,000 alumni across all 50 states and 132 countries and its network of leaders includes over 4,000 C-level alumni,” Jennings says. “Our ability to provide world-class programs and a unique approach to combine business acumen with tech-savvy and an entrepreneurial mindset prepares Scheller College MBA students to become future leaders across all industries.”

What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates.

StudentHometownAlma MaterEmployer
Rebecca BergeSeattle, WAEmory UniversityStatPro Group
Joseph CarothersHonolulu, HIU.S. Military AcademyU. S. Army/Wounded Warrior Unit
Mélanie CoissardClermont-Ferrand, FranceUniversité de Technologie de TroyesWavestone
Ben CromNAU.S. Merchant Marine AcademyU.S. Navy
Frances Theadora DietrickJohns Creek, GAUniversity of South CarolinaNestle USA
Jasmine HowardChattanooga, TNUniversity of TennesseeTreetree Agency
Daniel JesterAlpharetta, GAU.S. Military AcademyU.S. Army
Yash LakhotiaAjmer, IndiaBirla Institute of TechnologyMitsubishi Electric India
Stephanie LandaverdeEllijay, GAUniversity of GeorgiaLiberty Mutual Insurance
Cynthia Latortue-BrooksEmerson, GAMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCasablanca Design Group
Osama MikawiHouston, TXTexas A&M UniversityOccidental Oil & Gas Corporation
Diana NicholsChicago, ILFlorida A&M UniversityVroom Vroom Escape Room
Allison RowellAtlanta, GAGeorgia TechMorehouse School of Medicine
SaVona SmithShallotte, NCUniversity of North CarolinaMattress Firm
Lindsey WatersBelmont, NCHarvard UniversityCoca-Cola Company