Meet Georgia Tech’s MBA Class Of 2020

Frances Theadora “Thea” Dietrick

Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business

“Fearless in pursuit of my passions; a brilliant life; meaningful work and a fantastic pair of shoes.”

Hometown: Johns Creek, GA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have my Class B Commercial Driver’s License — I am a fully licensed truck driver!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of South Carolina, International Business, Economics, Management; Chinese Studies (minor)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: District Sales Leader at Nestle USA

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I managed close to 45 people before entering grad school, and before the age of 27, with the vast majority (close to 85%) of my direct reports being twice my age, male, and proud. Having a 20-something girl placed as their manager was frankly not an ideal situation for them, and many did not take to my placement kindly. However, I worked tirelessly to prove them (and myself) wrong: 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.

Slowly but surely, the members of my team came around to me in their own way. Maybe it was a reference to a daughter or a niece that I reminded them of; maybe it was subtly thanking me for a suggestion or answer I provided; or maybe it was sharing their sales win or favorite recipe with me. Regardless of the size, manner, or time it took to receive this display of acceptance, each time it happened I would swell up with pride, but even greater than that, thankfulness. I was thankful for them, for myself, for growth, in general, but mostly for proving that it could be done. In a day and age when it seems we are more divided than we are similar, I am so very proud of the connection I made with those men and what we were able to accomplish for our company.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Impressive, yet humble. These people are all remarkable individuals — impressive resumes, outstanding careers, and diverse backgrounds. Yet, every single one of them is humble, supportive, and a great friend. We are competitively supportive — a giant family that roots each other on in our goals while continually striving to be the best new versions of ourselves. I am so happy to have 86 new best friends, as cheesy as it sounds. I am thankful to Scheller College for each and every one of them.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? It really was the emphasis on Georgia Tech’s position at “the intersection of business and technology.” Having not come from a tech background – and having very little hard technical skills – 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.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Definitely being a Georgia Tech Student Ambassador. I love meeting new people and helping recruit the next class of Georgia Tech MBA students is something I am really excited to be a part of. I want to find a class as equally competitive, fun, and impressive as the one that surrounds me each and every day. Being an Ambassador comes naturally to me – I could be described as an “extra extravert” so any place where I get to tell people why I love what I love and why they should love it too is the best for me. And right now that place is Scheller College of Business!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I always knew I wanted to pursue an MBA at some point in my career, but was unsure of the timing. I decided to start this past fall because I had reached a point in my career where I knew in order to make the successful pivot into supply chain, I needed a more formal education and foundation of the subject. Additionally, I knew it would act as a career accelerator and unlock new growth potential I hadn’t been privy to before my MBA.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I specifically looked at national rankings of programs versus their annual tuition rate and expected return on investment in terms of salary, companies actively recruiting (alumni), and strength of degree. From there, I narrowed down my search based on small class size, geographic location, and difference from my undergraduate experience.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None, because after my online comparisons I found there wasn’t a comparison among price, return on investment, class size and location.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I can’t speak for other schools. At Georgia Tech I instantly felt at home after my first introduction to the school, curriculum and staff at the Open House. The admissions staff was so friendly, down to earth, and really made me feel welcome at Scheller. This was huge for me, considering the pure investment in time I was about to make at a single place for the next two years; I wanted to feel at home there. The staff were not only brilliant, accommodating, and passionate, but I felt a connection with each of them instantly – like not only could I be professional acquaintances with them, but I could be friends. This gut feeling is almost impossible to replicate, and I couldn’t have found it anywhere else.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? A defining moment in my life is when I moved to Hong Kong at 19 years old as part of a two-year exchange program between the University of South Carolina and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. As a bright-eyed, bushy-haired sorority girl, I was completely out of my element, my culture and my comfort zone. To be quite literal, I was on the other side of the world from it. I didn’t know anyone, had never been to Hong Kong, and didn’t speak the native language. Still, I was tasked with starting a life in this foreign country. To think back at the crash course of what being an adult meant, while trying to become an adult at the same time, I am equally grateful for both the ups-and-downs my time living abroad provided. It turned out to be the single most impactful decision I ever made, and I am so thankful for the life, friendships, and learnings I cultivated during my two years. My learned resilience gave me the fundamental faith in myself to know I would always be able to navigate any challenge life threw my way.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I hope to be working in supply chain sourcing for an apparel company. I have a passion for connecting people with the products that fulfill their lives (hence my forever search for the perfect pair of shoes).

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully I will still be pursuing my passions, whatever they may be, or morph into by then! Personally, I would hope to be settled with a supportive spouse and my cat. Professionally, I hope to have climbed the corporate ladder and be well on my way to breaking a glass ceiling or two — the sky’s the limit. But, I guess a VP or director-level position wouldn’t be the worst place to land in the meanwhile.

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