2019 MBAs To Watch: Brad Grantz, Penn State (Smeal)

Brad Grantz

Penn State University, Smeal College of Business

“Extroverted introvert who tries hard to be the man that my dogs think I am.”

Hometown: Ithaca, New York

Fun fact about yourself: My sister is 7 years older than me, but we share the same birthday.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Washington. BA, Media and Communications

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Campus Recruiter, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Columbus, Ohio

Where will you be working after graduation? JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Columbus, Ohio. Associate, Chase Associate Program (CAP)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President, Military & Veterans Association; Teaching Assistant for BA 801-Business Management; Marketing Association. MBA Admissions Ambassador; THON Fundraiser for Pediatric Cancer Research

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud about the impact our Military & Veterans Association was able to have while I served as President. Whether it was raising money for Pediatric Cancer Research, being honored at the President’s Tailgate, helping increase veteran enrollment numbers, or implementing procedures and standards that helped veterans through the admissions process, our Association was able to come together and make an impact.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When leaving the U.S. Army, it can be difficult to find that sense of service in a new career. I think I’m most proud of the fact that throughout my entire post-military career, I’ve been able to find different ways to devote my life to helping fellow veterans and members of my community. I have had a lot of wonderful people help me throughout my career, and I’m just proud that I haven’t lost sight of that and continue to try and pay it forward.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dennis ‘Denny’ Gioia. Here is a man who has built a course about management and leadership around his greatest professional failure and regret. Two times a week, for seven weeks every year, Denny relives in some shape fashion or form this trauma. And why? So that his students can become the types of leaders who will be in a better position to not make the same mistake(s) he did. His humility and selflessness as an educator and leader are something I will not only always remember, but something I will always try to emulate.

What was your favorite MBA Course Business Management with Dennis Gioia. The biggest insight and takeaway from this course for me was that “You have to love a mess.” As future business leaders, we are going to face situations that are “messy”, complex, and where the right decision isn’t always black and white. However, equipped with our MBA education, we should feel confident about making the call and understand that these messes often provide great opportunities to make a difference.

Why did you choose this business school? I knew I wanted to be a part of a tight-knit community, where I would get to know my classmates – the students in the classes before and after me, along with alumni, professors, and administration. After speaking to lots of alumni and hearing all the stories about how they still attend tailgates together, go to each other’s weddings, and are there for childbirths and birthdays, I just knew this was the place for me. Plus, it’s Happy Valley!

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Have a strong understanding of what you’re bringing to the program. One of the great things about a small program like ours is the fact that a student can have a real significant impact in not only on how things operate, but how you can help a fellow classmate. Know your strengths, know what makes you unique, and communicate to the admissions team how you will impact the program and your classmates.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That State College is just a tiny little college town with little to do. Not True! I’ve been blown away by all the high-quality dining and entertainment options that Happy Valley has to offer.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I knew to pace myself. You can’t do it all, but you shouldn’t stop trying to. There are so many wonderful events, speakers, information sessions, courses, associations, community service activities, etc. While it’s impossible to do everything, every single day, if you pace yourself and plan, you can accomplish a lot without burning out.

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 has allowed me to build on my strengths while working on my weaknesses. It has introduced me to some of the smartest and most caring people I will ever meet. And it has helped me to look at problems – and search for solutions to problems – in not only business but in society, in ways that I could have never imagined.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Craig Popp. I personally think the MBA experience is about striving for professional, academic, and social excellence, and I don’t think anyone embodied this more than Craig. One of the smartest people in the program, but also incredibly humble, Craig was a thought leader in our class on DAY 1. Perhaps maybe the most underappreciated aspect of Craig, was his ability to unite our class and making sure everyone felt included in this incredible and transformative 2-year journey.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Probably my father, who also studied business at a Big 10 school. He had a successful career, then ran his own business. However, his life was cut short and he passed away when I was in high school. We never got to see his life and efforts reach their full potential. Call it a passing of the torch in some way but going back to business school was a way for me to carry on his legacy in business.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Founder – Operate as a visionary, and then learn to sell that vision

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? “It depends” – when in doubt, it is the quintessential go-to MBA response to almost any question.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…not as prepared as I am now to help my future organizations, customers, and community.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I don’t think I would put a dollar amount on it, as I don’t think the total impact it will have on my life, my future organizations, and in my community, will be measured just in dollars and cents. I do know that this MBA experience was worth every dollar and cent I did spend, and then some.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Visit all 30 Major League Baseball Stadiums (I’m up to 14) and watch Penn State football, in person, play in the National Championship Game!

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Hopefully, I am remembered as someone who always took the time to help fellow classmates, a champion for the program, and as someone who worked tirelessly to leave this place a little bit better than it was when I arrived.

Hobbies? Spending time with my wife Brooke, and our two dogs Stella and Lou. Watching college athletics and movies with friends. Learning to cook authentic Thai Cuisine.

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

“When I met Brad during the admissions process, he immediately struck me as an outstanding future leader who would achieve great success no matter where he chose to go for his MBA. Besides having a positivity, genuineness, and thoughtfulness that his classmates respect and appreciate, Brad is deeply passionate about not only helping others in times of need but also helping others to rise up and improve themselves and their community. As a veteran of the U.S. Army, he was a clear choice to take on the leadership of the Smeal MBA Military and Veteran’s Association. In this role, he was always available to meet with a fellow veteran to discuss the program, future career plans, and help them with their transition to civilian life. I count Brad as one of the best MBAs I’ve encountered in my career, as someone who will evolve into a tremendous leader, and hopefully, as a life-long friend who will continue to give back to the Penn State community as an alumni.”

Michael Waldhier
Director of MBA Admissions

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