Paul W. Shumate II
“I’m a serial entrepreneur who loves people, the outdoors, and solving complex problems with simplicity and automation.”
Hometown: Fairfax, VA
Fun Fact About Yourself: I go to Burning Man every year and bring a fire breathing adult tricycle with a 32 foot LED flagpole.
Undergraduate School and Major: University of Virginia – Triple major in Systems Engineering, Economics, and Computer Science
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Microcoaching, Head of Business Development
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My first thoughts were about starting companies and securing VC funding for one of our startups. However, the accomplishment I’m most proud of was finding a sustainable solution to an increase in surplus textiles for a shirt company I was running as we expanded into new markets. Traditionally we’d donate our misprint shirts and that was the end of it. Then I learned about the crippling effects donated second-hand clothing has on the economies in which these textiles are dumped. Local manufacturers can’t compete with the well-intended donations and are forced to shut down, eliminating jobs and entire local industries. Faced with this moral dilemma, I reached out to my network and eventually found two small communities to directly send our misprint shirts. One was a Quechua orphanage where they turned the shirts back into raw materials and taught the kids to sew without disrupting any local industries. I learned how much indirect impact I could have, both good and bad, when being a leader in a company and this has helped me shape a more holistic approach to business.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Enthusiastic, innovative, and academically rigorous. I think Tepper’s smaller class size combined with its focus on leadership and its track record of innovation in data and analytics draws a certain type of person. I’ve met many engineers, inventors, and natural-born leaders at Tepper. What surprised me most is the wealth of entrepreneurs coming to school with not just ideas, but actual, viable products and business plans already in place with the intention of leveraging both Tepper and the surrounding Carnegie Mellon community to launch or grow their businesses.
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 was Tepper’s focus on data and analytics combined with Carnegie Mellon’s track record of being a leader in AI, machine learning, and engineering. I believe the future of business will be driven by big data and technology and I wanted a school that stays on the forefront of innovation. Tepper aligns well with my engineering and entrepreneurial background and I believe it will be the best place for me to build upon my current abilities, enabling me to add real value in the world through creative innovation and strong quantitative and analytical skills.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Case competitions and the Tepper Consulting Club. I get excited tackling new projects and coming up with creative solutions and I look forward to honing my skills in taking broad problems and breaking them down into logical and manageable pieces to create an action plan to affect change in a business.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve spent a lot of time running small businesses and startups and I wanted to expand my work to larger companies having a more global reach.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I looked at the next steps I wanted to take in my career and for the most part an MBA was a streamlined process to my next set of goals. In the big scheme of things, it seems like a minimal expense if it yields a career I am excited about and fulfilled by.
What other MBA programs did you apply to?MIT Sloan, UT McCombs, UC Berkeley Haas, WashU Olin
How did you determine your fit at various schools? First and foremost, I spent time figuring out what I wanted to do and secondarily, in what regions I wanted to work. Then, I pored through various guides on the top 20 schools, read tons of Poets & Quants articles, and visited each school’s website. I met with alumni and visited about a dozen schools, met with current students, and went on tours. After that, I read through a few years of employment reports from each school and noted trends in areas of interest. Finally, it came down to attending a bunch of admit weekends and seeing where I made the most connections. In the end, it’s my classmates and our synergies that will make the next two years matter the most and Tepper is where I found my home.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? After my second job way back in middle school, minimum wage kept increasing at a similar pace as my hourly raises. I was tired of making the bare minimum while also doing something I didn’t love. I decided to venture out on my own and take my side gigs – walking dogs and mowing lawns – to the next level. By the time I graduated high school, I had a pet care company and a landscaping business employing a few friends and had saved up enough money to pay for my undergrad at UVA. I realized early on that I could change the world around me for better and create my own way in life if I wasn’t satisfied with the status quo. This mentality has empowered me to try new things, take risks, and succeed at many aspects of my life.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? Management consulting in digital strategy or PM work in the tech industry.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Managing or selling digital strategy services to large international companies or running my own small consulting firm focusing on government contracts in developing countries.