2019 MBAs To Watch: Jordan Talmadge, University of Pittsburgh (Katz)

Jordan Talmadge

Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh

“I’m a simple guy who enjoys problem-solving, helping others, and spending time with family.”

Hometown: East Vandergrift, PA

Fun fact about yourself: I am a self-taught guitar and bass guitar player who has played over 50 live shows in various bands and was fortunate enough to meet my fiancé at one of my first shows.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Pennsylvania State University – Smeal College of Business, B.S. Supply Chain and Information Systems

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? PPG Industries – Supply Chain Specialist

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Vanguard – Malvern, PA

Where will you be working after graduation? EY – Senior Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Community Work: Big Brothers, Big Sisters (Big Brother); Woodcock Fellow (Small Business Consultant); Pitt Make a Difference Day (Volunteer); Toys for Tots (Volunteer)

Leadership Roles: Operations Club (President); Student Executive Board (Board Member); Katz Invitational Case Competition (Case Writer); Crane Case Competition (Case Writer); Katz Ambassador (General Member)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Due to our joint curiosity of the intersection of financial performance and social responsibility for publicly traded firms, a team of classmates and I participated in UCONN’s International Net Impact Case Competition in 2018. We developed a framework that enables a firm to manage its portfolio of social initiatives and calculate and quantify its SROI—Social Return on Investment. Our framework and presentation helped us place first in the competition.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2014, while I was at Hess Corporation, I co-developed an automated vessel log, which defined KPIs and determined baseline measures for our above deck and below deck cargo utilization for our Gulf of Mexico fleet. I conducted a portion of the training and integration offshore, spending a few nights on our supply vessels in the Gulf. The project challenged me at an intellectual, social, and physical level, which made it that much more rewarding.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Prakash Mirchandani. As one of my teachers and extracurricular club advisors, I have worked with him extensively over my MBA experience. Prakash’s teaching style is special; it combines the passion of a newly-doctored professor with the wisdom and experience of an accomplished senior executive.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Dave Dennis’ Corporate Finance was an outstanding class. My biggest takeaway from the course was that, in real life, there is so rarely a true “right” or “wrong” answer. Navigating ambiguity and using logical and deductive reasoning to support your decision-making will help to guide your solution.

Why did you choose this business school? I was initially drawn to Katz because of the ROI for their MBA graduates, which consistently ranks in the top 5 in the U.S., and they offered a 1-year MBA program. However, since I was aiming to transition from supply chain to consulting, admissions suggested that I enroll in the two-year program to better prepare myself for the career transition. The Director of Admissions took the time to meet with me to explain his thought process. From there on, I was sold on Katz. They carefully evaluated my application and put me in a position to achieve my post-MBA goals before I even signed my acceptance letter.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Katz is a melting pot of students from a variety of cultural, educational, and professional backgrounds, so be confident with your individuality and emphasize who you are and how you can enrich your peers and the program as a whole.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Within Pittsburgh, Tepper at Carnegie Mellon University – not Katz – is considered the school to attend if you are interested in entrepreneurial experience. I was blown away by the scope and scale of entrepreneurial programs and support that Katz and the University of Pittsburgh as a whole offer for entrepreneurial experiences. Among them is the Blast Furnace – University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute and the Randal Big Idea Contest.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? If you do it right, business school will be more of a commitment than most full-time jobs! Between the rigor of academics, the time commitment required of an extracurricular leader, and the tireless internship/job search, a prospective student looking to reap the maximum return from their program should gear up for a 60+ hours per week commitment.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Business school transformed me into viewing the big picture. In my past roles, I always asked myself, “Why am I doing this” and How can I do it better?” I now find myself reviewing cases and asking myself, “Why is the organization doing this” and “How can we do it better?”

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It would be easier for me to provide one reason why I admire each of my MBA classmates. With that being said, I really admire Will Chastka. He is truly a servant leader, and his selflessness towards the Katz community – faculty, staff, alumni, current students, and future students – is something special.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents fought up-hill battles as adults to earn their associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in the evening while working full-time. They paved the road for us – my sister, my brother, and me – to have a more direct route to higher education. They encouraged me to pursue a career that I was passionate about, and business was the perfect fit because of its unique combination of qualitative and quantitative components.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Firm is a timeless business film. Tom Cruise is a young lawyer at a prominent law firm that has some dark secrets. The film depicts how intelligence and integrity do not organically go hand-in-hand and reinforces that ethical behavior may not always the easy or popular choice, but it is always the right choice.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? ZOPA, or Zone of Possible Agreements, is pretty hilarious. It describes a situation in which a range exists where two negotiators have the possibility to reach an agreement that is better than their respective BATNAs (See ‘other ridiculous business acronyms’).

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a radio talk show host/DJ. I sat in as a guest host for a few of my friends’ radio programs in college, and we had a blast debating sports and providing commentary in-between songs on the stories behind the music.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? As a wise man once said, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” The MBA experience was well worth it, at least five times over.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? It’s not really a traditional bucket list item, but I would really like to have children someday. On a totally unrelated note, I would like to see an MLB game in each of the 30 ballparks – 12 down, 18 to go.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Jordan cared and did something about it.

Hobbies? Spending time with family and friends, playing music, paddle boarding, mountain biking, and traveling abroad.

What made Jordan such an invaluable member of the Class of 2019?

“It is my honor to recommend Jordan Talmadge for this award, as he is one of the most selfless and reliable individuals I have ever had the pleasure of working with throughout my career in higher education and business. His confidence and genuine demeanor stood out to our staff as early as orientation, which immediately established his reputation as a leader and professional, rather than a student in need of guidance. During his time in the MBA program, he continually offered his support to our staff, and we saw him as a true partner in our efforts to connect with and serve the student body.

Aside from being among the top of his class academically, Jordan intentionally selected extracurricular activities that directly supported his classmates, Katz staff, and the community of Pittsburgh. As a fellow and small business student consultant, Jordan supported a local barber institute to gain traction in the area by creating a strategic approach to recruiting student apprentices and mentors. He has also served in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization since 2014, where he has been a mentor to an elementary-aged student navigating the challenges of adolescence. We could always count on Jordan to participate and rally his peers’ support for various community volunteering initiatives such as Pitt’s Make a Difference Day and Toys for Tots.

Jordan was also heavily involved in case competitions and case writing. He co-wrote cases alongside executives from Crane Co. for our internal case competition as well as our nationally-ranked Katz Invitational Case Competition. Our long-standing partnership with Crane Co. is extremely valuable to our school, and Jordan delivered on his commitment with the highest standards of quality and professionalism. His team also won 1st place at the UCONN Net Impact Case Competition, where they created a framework for corporations to evaluate their social impact.

Finally, Jordan took every opportunity to support and motivate his peers, as he took personal responsibility for ensuring that his class had an outstanding reputation. As President of our Operations Club, he led the execution of events such as industry speakers and ensured that Katz was represented at top case competitions throughout the country. As a member of the Student Executive Board, he was a leader during Town Hall meetings with the Dean, and supported the organization of our annual International Friendsgiving and karaoke fundraisers. He also served as a Katz Ambassador, volunteering his time to speak to prospective students at recruiting events and information sessions.

While Jordan fully immersed himself in these efforts to give back to the school and community, he also managed to work part-time as a Supply Chain Consultant for PPG Industries and secure a full-time position as a Senior Consultant at Ernst & Young. Jordan is a grounded and extremely talented individual and we are excited to see what is in store for his bright future.”

Ashley McGovern
Assistant Director of Career Management
University of Pittsburgh, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

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