CURRICULUM IS FAR MORE THAN NUMBER CRUNCHING
Another way the school is bringing the Carnegie Mellon community is through its inaugural thought leadership conference, INTERSECT@CMU: The Future of Business, Technology and Society, which was held in September to great fanfare. “We gathered senior business and technology leaders to discuss technology’s impact on our lives,” says Kathryn Barraclough. “This year focused on AI, Blockchain and “Smart Cities, Smart Homes, Smart Cars.” Carnegie Mellon and the Tepper School of Business are well-positioned to shape the conversation and be key players at the intersection of technology, business and society.”
Being situated at this intersection is exactly where the Class of 2020 wants to be. Ever Isaac Hernandez, for one, lauds the school’s spirit and values, which he boils down to “hard work, passion, vision, leadership, impact on society, collaboration, innovation, education, research, creativity, and entrepreneurship.” Those core values also resonated deeply to Spencer Baker.
We both believe that when individuals and businesses correctly utilize technology, good analytics, and insight they become their best version.”
That doesn’t mean the Tepper MBA is strictly for quants. Instead, the program emphasizes a way of solving problems that starts with rigorous analysis over first impressions and data over impulse. “It’s not about number crunching,” argues Savin Yeltekin. “It’s not about who can add up a lot of data or produce a lot of tables. It’s about the scientific way of thinking. We want to be able to draw conclusions from that analysis and then use those conclusions for thinking about what are the prescriptive policies, whether you are a decision-maker in a business, whether you go into a think tank or you go into the policy arena.”
STUDENTS EXPOSED TO CUTTING EDGE RESEARCH AND REAL WORLD DATA ANALYSIS
The difference, however, can be summed up by a statement made by Barraclough at a Tepper Welcome Weekend event: ““While others talk about the importance of analytics in business, we are the school that actually teaches you those skills.” Such promises appealed to students like Annie Henderson, who plans to transition from the military to technology.
“Tepper’s emphasis on a quantitative approach and data-supported decision-making was very important to me. I spent a decade learning soft skills such as leadership and teambuilding in the Army and at West Point, but lacked the quantitative expertise of my peers whom have worked in the private sector.”
This data-centric methodology offers another benefit, adds Michael Trick. The faculty are world-class researchers. As a matter of pride, they ften bring their research to the classroom and their client projects to student teams. “It is rare that the content in many of our classrooms is coming out of textbooks,” he observes. “Our students all spend time on these mini projects. Every project has come up in the last eight months. Everything is new; all the data is new and all the techniques and approaches are new. It is completely different than the same course last year or before that.”
PITT IS A HIT
Considering Tepper’s Pittsburgh roots, it is natural for entrepreneurship to be a thriving part of the MBA ecosystem. After all, Pittsburgh startups generated $687 million dollars in investments in 2017, not bad for a city once written off as a dying blue collar steel town. The city also boasts a high concentration of higher education institutions and tech talent – plus the country’s sixth largest accelerator (AlphaLab).
Even more, two Pittsburgh-based self-driving car firms – Aurora Innovation and Argo AI – ranked among the Top 20 in Linkedin’s Top Startups list released in September.
“I would argue, right now, Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh have the number one robotics and autonomous vehicles and AI startup ecosystem in the world, says David Mawhinney, executive director of Tepper’s Swartz Center.
The newly-opened Swartz Center is Tepper’s big bet on entrepreneurship. Covering 15,000 square feet in the Tepper Quad, it includes ten startup garages for students to develop high tech ventures. However, it is the potential inherent to bringing disparate disciplines together that excites Mawhinney the most about the Swartz Center.
“When we bring people together, they exchange ideas, they brainstorm, and they come up with newer and better solutions,” he says. “So the Swartz Center is a community where lots of people from different backgrounds can come together to share ideas. It’s a workspace where you can talk to a peer company, you can talk to a mentor, you can talk to an entrepreneur in residence to help get beyond a challenge.”
A TOP-FLIGHT LEADERSHIP TRAINING PROGRAM
Beyond the Swartz Center, the Graduate Entrepreneurship Club, known on campus as GEC, also offers intensive support, networking, and programming to startup-minded students. “This club is open to members of all CMU graduate students and encourages individuals to think outside-the-box, combine disparate skillsets, and collaborate on putting novel ideas into action,” explains Brian Porter. “The creative energy and optimism of the members in this club is almost palpable. I am looking forward to both benefiting and contributing to this fruitful ecosystem where production cycles can be fast-forwarded through productive feedback and rapid iteration.”
Entrepreneurship isn’t the school’s only hidden gem. Barraclough touts Accelerate, Tepper’s Leadership Institute, which she ranks among the best training programs for MBAs. “Our Accelerate Leadership Center does not take a cookie-cutter approach,” she points out. “We provide an assessment, one-to-one coaching and a personal leadership roadmap. MBA students work one-on-one with full-time leadership coaches on development areas, personalized for them, and attend a series of workshops specifically designed to build the skills employers are looking for. This makes for a powerful combination of strategic analytics and business leadership that sets Tepper graduates apart from the rest.”
The program’s sense of community also earned rave reviews from the incoming class, including Seoweon Yoo. “A relatively small class size was important for me, since I wanted to be part of a tight-knit community of classmates that would support each other rather than compete for limited opportunities,” she writes. “The staff-to-student ratio was also important, especially as an international student that may have more administrative assistance needed in the recruitment process.”
FUTURE VENTURES RANGE FROM RENEWABLE ENERGY TO CODING
Where does the Class of 2020 see themselves in the future? Five years from now, Brian Porter hopes to apply the data collection and analytical techniques he learned to help people operate at “peak efficiency” physically. For Pierce Frauenheim, the goal is to use lessons from AI to better train the next generation of tech talent.
“I believe that there will be a shortfall in the developer community and that we must commit to more advanced technology training early on for our rising workforce. I plan on founding a code school that will focus on producing the best possible junior developers to enter the technology space.”
As an officer in Afghanistan, William Henderson witnessed how bringing energy to impoverished communities truly improved their lives. He would like to scale that to a renewable energy startup.
“I would love the opportunity to work for a company that is on the cutting edge of new technology,” he says. “The energy industry provides a multitude of its own unique challenges and considerations. I would be thrilled to pursue my passion while being able to provide a benefit to those in need.”
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.
|David Baars||Seattle, WA||University of Puget Sound||PipelineDeals|
|Spencer Baker||Greentown, IN||Indiana University||Conversant Media|
|Pierce B. Frauenheim||Pittsburgh, PA||Carnegie Mellon University||U.S. Marine Corps|
|Annie Henderson||Sewickley, PA||U.S. Military Academy||U.S. Army|
|William Henderson||Syracuse, NY||U.S. Military Academy||U.S. Army|
|Ever Isaac Hernandez||Boston, MA||University of Massachusetts Amherst||Chevron|
|William Liu||Queens, NY||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||U.S. Marine Corps|
|Andres Michel Jr.||Houston, TX||University of Houston||Chevron|
|Brian Porter||Los Angeles, CA||University of Southern California||Sense360|
|Paul W. Shumate II||Fairfax, VA||University of Virginia||Microcoaching|
|Anna Situ||Oakland, CA||University of California, Berkeley||Mathematica Policy Research|
|Seoweon Yoo||Seoul, South Korea||Korea University||Twinword|