2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Steven Murchison, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Steven Murchison

Scheller College of Business at Georgia Institute of Technology

Dedicated advocate for sustainable business and preserving our environment for the benefit of all.”

Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Fun fact about yourself: I rode my bicycle 7,500 miles from Cairo, Egypt, to Cape Town, South Africa, as a participant in the 2011 Tour d’Afrique, the world’s longest bicycle race at the time. I even won a stage of the race – the day we rode into Malawi from Mbeye, Tanzania!

Undergraduate school and degree: University of Alberta, B.Sc. in Environmental and Conservation Science, Land Reclamation Major

 Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Before coming to Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech to pursue my MBA, I worked for eight years as an environmental consultant at a small company called Paragon Soil and Environmental Consulting in Edmonton, Canada.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? I interned at Georgia-Pacific Professional as a General Management MBA Intern. I developed a point of view on the need for a brand of sustainable foodservice products. The project required me to review market research, assess the competitive landscape, analyze existing sales channels, and project revenue and sales growth of the product portfolio. The knowledge I gained through the core Strategic Management class was particularly useful since I needed to assess how a sustainable brand would contribute towards GP’s competitive advantage.

Where will you be working after graduation? I accepted an offer from Georgia-Pacific Professional to return full-time as a Category Manager. I will be responsible for managing the profit-and-loss for a specific product category and will work closely with managers in other functional roles such as finance, marketing, operations, supply chain, and sales. I’ve chosen to take a very broad range of classes during my MBA which will position me well for success as a general manager.

Community work and leadership roles while in business school: I submitted a letter of intent for the role of vice president of Internal Development for the Graduate Consulting Club at Scheller and was selected for the role by members of the club. My responsibility as vice president of Internal Development was to facilitate and organize case interview preparation to help club members prepare for and succeed in their search for a consulting role. We did this through case interview workshops, small group case interview practice, and numerous one-on-one practice case interview sessions.

I was selected by the outgoing Net Impact board members to take on the role of vice president of Finance and Operations for the club. Net Impact’s objective of leveraging business to help solve social and environmental issues is something that I believe fully in and am very passionate about, so it was very exciting to be chosen. As vice president of Finance and Operations, I am responsible for setting the budget for the year, helping to secure funding, managing out membership list and dues, and tracking expenses throughout the year.

I also served as an MBA Student Ambassador throughout my time at Scheller and was selected as ‘Male Ambassador of the Year’ during my first year. As an ambassador, we liaised with prospective MBA students to answer questions about Scheller and to share our own experiences. We did this through phone and email conversations, class visits, tours of Scheller, and social events during interview days and open houses.

Additionally, I have served as a Graduate Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant for Beril Toktay, the Faculty Director of the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business (“Center”). My responsibilities include grading assignments, developing course content, helping to coordinate the Carbon Reduction Challenge, and drafting research briefs to help share the sustainable business research being done by affiliated faculty. It was especially great to be involved with the Carbon Reduction Challenge. The Challenge was started in 2007 and has evolved into a way to engage and educate students on the relationship between carbon and energy savings, and how to build a business case for carbon mitigation strategies. Teams of students devise a carbon reduction proposal for a specific company that they have a relationship with and are responsible for determining the total carbon emissions reduction and assessing the return on investment or payback period for the project. My GRA through the Center also provided me with the opportunity to engage with The Coca-Cola Company on their World Without Waste campaign, where we assisted with developing relevant metrics for the program. I was also invited to participate in the Anderson Center’s Advisory Board meeting, where I spoke about the Center’s involvement with Net Impact and practicum classes.

Lastly, I served as a student interviewer in my second year at Scheller where I interviewed prospective MBA students alongside MBA staff from the program office and provided feedback on how I thought students would fit in with the program at Scheller.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my work as vice president of Internal Development with the Consulting Club. Although I ultimately interned at Georgia-Pacific Pro as a general management intern, during my first semester at Scheller I prepared for and pursued consulting internship opportunities. I learned what it took to be successful, and while I did not pursue a consulting internship, I felt that I was able to help others achieve their goal. During my second year, I conducted multiple case workshops and small group breakout sessions, and over 50 one-on-one practice case interviews with fellow first-and-second-year classmates who were pursuing either full-time or internship consulting opportunities. Many successfully secured internship or full-time roles and commented to me that my assistance contributed towards them reaching their goal. As someone who began my MBA without a clear career objective, I am immensely proud that my time and effort has helped others achieve their own career goals since I was able to delineate and reach my own.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my safety record as an environmental consultant responsible for coordinating project teams completing baseline environmental assessments for large oil and gas developments in western Canada. Safety was the number one concern among clients within the industry and I am proud to have supervised teams of eight to 14 people on approximately 35 projects without any injuries or significant property damage incidents. My safety record allowed me to advance quickly into a management role and helped me secure continued work for my company.

What was your favorite MBA course (and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it?) Pricing Analytics and Revenue Management taught by Necati Tereyagoglu (otherwise known as Professor Terey) was my favorite MBA course. The course is all about “How you can sell the right product to the right customer at the right time for the right price.” The biggest insight I gained from the course was how dynamic pricing allows both consumers and producers to maximize the value they capture from a transaction. It is for this reason that Professor Terey likes to say, “Pricing analysts doing revenue management are not a necessary evil, but rather misunderstood puppies.”

Why did you choose this business school? While my school search was admittedly rather small, the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech was my top choice from the very beginning. This was primarily due to the sustainable business curriculum, the presence of the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, the small class size, and the depth and breadth of its Jones MBA Career Center. One of my primary objectives for pursuing my MBA was to gain an understanding of how business can be sustainable and used to address social and environmental issues. The Scheller MBA is widely regarded as one of the top MBA programs for sustainable business, not only in the U.S. but also the world; Corporate Knights, a publication that focuses on sustainable business, ranked Scheller College #2 in their 2018 Better World MBA ranking for the United States.

Equally important, I wanted to join an MBA program where I could get to know my classmates, and the smaller class size at Scheller has allowed me to build strong meaningful relationships with nearly everyone in the program. My recruiting experience confirmed for me that the MBA program at Scheller was a very welcoming environment where my contribution would be valued. Lastly, as a career switcher with no prior business experience – and as an international student – I wanted to attend an MBA program with world-class career services that would be able to support me and guide me towards a rewarding career. I found all of these at Scheller College.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I would advise applicants to get to know as many people at Scheller as possible and to be themselves! Since Scheller is a smaller MBA program, one of the most important parts of the admissions process is determining how well applicants will fit in the program. Getting to know current students, staff, and faculty helps applicants envision how they would fit with the program and articulate how they would contribute to the Scheller community.

What is the biggest myth about your school and how was it the same or different than what you experienced? Georgia Tech, as an institution, has a reputation for being a very challenging, demanding school. While the MBA program at Scheller certainly does require hard work, dedication, and time management, there is work/life balance with time for a life outside of the classroom. There are numerous opportunities through the MBA program for fun and social events including intramurals, tailgates, and weekly social events!

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish that I had come into my MBA with a more fully-formed idea of where I wanted to take my career. I initially thought I wanted to pursue consulting opportunities and worked hard networking and preparing for the recruiting process. It was not until I started my internship at Georgia-Pacific that I realized general management was what I wanted to do. That being said, I do not regret the time or effort I put into my consulting job search since it helped me to develop skills that I will use regardless of where my career takes me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? One of our classmates was diagnosed with cancer early in our second year. Despite the challenges he faced, his positivity never wavered, and he continued to be a supportive classmate who was happy to help others however he could even when his own personal need was greater. He managed to stay enrolled in our program and completed his classes that semester despite missing several weeks when he had surgery to remove cancer. I admire him greatly for his courage, dedication, perseverance, and his amazing ability to stay positive, cheerful, and considerate of others through such a difficult situation.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My then-girlfriend who has since become my wife! After completing her graduate degree, she accepted a job in Atlanta. I had been considering a career switch for some time, but I was lacking the reason or motivation. Her decision to accept the job and move to Atlanta provided me with an important enough reason to make a change. While I was considering looking for a career in Atlanta, she was the one who encouraged me to explore graduate programs and helped me prepare for the application and interview process.

What is your favorite movie about business and what was the biggest lesson you learned from it? To be honest, I haven’t watched a lot of business movies, so I’m going to have to pick Office Space. It’s a hilarious movie and there is much more to take from it than first glance. However, I would say the biggest lesson I learned from it was to not over-manage the people you are responsible for – it stifles creativity and can foster misery in the workplace.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…if I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be traveling for work still and spending far too much time away from the people I love.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? It is very difficult to place a dollar value on my MBA. I was making a good salary before I started my MBA and had many reasons for pursuing one besides the long-term financial benefits. My post-MBA salary will be slightly more than I was making in my previous role, and my long-term career potential will be much higher with my MBA.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I’ve always wanted to make sure I visited one new country on average every year, but I’ve fallen behind on that lately. I’m 31 years old and have been to 27 countries, but I’m excited to start catching up once I graduate.

Another of my goals is to complete a rock climb with a grade of 5.13, which would be bordering on professional difficulty. It will take a lot of work, training, and years of commitment, but I think it is important to set long-term goals that force you to push your boundaries.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as someone who was always willing to lend a helping hand, whether it was with case prep, cleaning up after an event, or finishing assignments.

Hobbies? My main hobby over the last few years has been ice and rock climbing. However, since there is obviously no ice in Atlanta and the MBA program takes up a lot of time, it’s mostly been on a rock, and that rock has mostly been fake and in a gym. There is a bouldering gym located just a few blocks from Scheller, so for much of my time in the program, I’ve been going there as my study breaks.

What made Steven such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Steve always exhibits a positive outlook and attitude in the classroom. Most of the data-based exercises in my class require time from students to crunch the data and create business insights without detailed instructions on how they can achieve the desired goal. Steve shows enthusiasm for every new challenge with data and never gives up for any data-related issue until he produces a useful insight. Such a patient attitude is mainly driven by his desire to support his strategies always with data. With a growing interest in business analytics, he sets an example of excellence in how a product manager should lead a team of data scientists.”

Necati Tereyagoglu

Assistant Professor, Operations Management

Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech


“I can describe Steve as a student in three keywords: focused, passionate, and rigorous. I have interacted with him in and outside the classroom and witnessed on numerous occasions how diligent, rigorous, and focused he was. These qualities inspire one, helps to educate others, and leads to a significantly improved classroom experience. His passion for sustainability was also quite remarkable. When his parents visited him, they joined a session on sustainable operations and contributed as a family, which possibly explains the origins of the three keywords I mentioned above. I strongly support Steve for this Poets & Quants recognition.”

Atalay Atasu

Dunn Family Professor, Operations Management

Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech





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