2019 MBAs To Watch: Michelle Albert, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Michelle Albert

Scheller College of Business at Georgia Institute of Technology

Be feared or loved? Easy: I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”

Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fun fact about yourself: Between undergraduate and business school, I’ve traveled to 20 countries with my sisters. Each experience varied – from sleeping on the floor to posh European Airbnbs. The living situation didn’t matter nearly as much as the people I was with and the experiences we had.

Undergraduate school and degree: B.S. in Public Relations with a minor in Communications from the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

MBA Degree: Full-time MBA, with concentrations in Marketing and Strategy

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Riverside Church as a communications manager.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? E & J Gallo Winery, Associate Brand Manager Intern.

Where will you be working after graduation? General Mills, Associate Marketing Manager.

Community work and leadership roles while in business school: Blacks in Business – President; Georgia Tech Diversity & Inclusion Council – Member; Philanthropy Committee – Chair; MBA Ambassador; Marketing Club – Member; Women in Business – Member; Consulting Club – Member; Board Fellow – Board Member for Georgia Works!; Forte Fellow; NBMBAA ATL – Chapter Member, Graduate Student Scholar

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during your time in business school and why? As one of the youngest students in my class, with limited professional experience, I have had the pleasure of learning from some pretty phenomenal people. I was shocked to be considered a ‘Class of 2019 MBA to Watch,’ and honored that my classmates thought so highly of me.

I am also proud to have played an active role in diversity recruitment at Scheller College, specifically for black students. In 2017, to help Scheller with their diversity efforts, I joined forces with Terrance Gresham, one of Scheller’s recruiting managers, to strengthen outreach to black applicants and admits. We created a pipeline for talent via partnership and personalized student outreach, all while maintaining Scheller’s rigorous admissions requirements. And our efforts lead to results: Scheller’s 2020 MBA class includes 10 talented black MBAs from across the country. I am confident that my in-depth involvement played a massive part in this accomplishment. Even further, I am confident that this is just the beginning.

What was your biggest professional achievement? My final project with P4H Global is my greatest professional accomplishment to date. P4H, formerly Projects for Haiti, was preparing to take their educator-focused, sustainable solutions to countries outside of Haiti. To better represent this shift in their model, they were implementing a total rebrand. This included new logos, content, website, and even a name change. I felt honored that P4H leadership had confidence in me to manage the project. I built the project timeline, coordinated with our graphic and web designers, provided team feedback, and ultimately rolled out our external facing rebrand campaign.

This was my greatest accomplishment because it represented so much more than a rebranding. It was a culmination of over six years with P4H, working on projects that mattered in the form of volunteer work that turned into unpaid staff work that eventually became contract work. This change resulted in the scaling of a vision for education as a solution to poverty. It impacted millions of young people in developing nations that would be educated by better-trained teachers.

In the same way, P4H was going through a transformation that would provide an increased ability for them to act on their vision for sustainable development, I too was embarking on my own personal transformation in the form of my MBA education. And now, the two will realign — to celebrate my MBA graduation, I will be traveling with P4H Global on their inaugural trip to Nicaragua. My service with P4H Global served as pretty cool bookends to my MBA career.

Who was your favorite MBA professor Tim Halloran, my Core Marketing and Product Planning professor, is my favorite professor. Our core marketing class was the necessary blur of frameworks and case studies. As someone passionate about consumer marketing but lacking previous formal training, this course validated my interest in marketing. I knew I wanted to pursue brand management, and, upon expressing this to Tim, he went out of his way to partner with me to make it happen. He joined me for coffee chats about my career aspirations and conducted practice interviews before Internship Super Days. His rich industry experience at CPGs, including The Coca-Cola Company, lent itself to helping me land both my internship and full-time opportunities. I know for certain I wasn’t the only student with this experience.

What was your favorite course? The Big Data course has been both the most challenging and the most rewarding course at Scheller. I developed an understanding of how data empowers businesses to better understand the needs of their consumers while creating value for the company. “In God we trust; all others bring data” is now etched in my mind.

Why did you choose this business school? Career services and location were two primary factors behind my choice of business school. I knew that I wanted to accelerate my career and that I needed access to career professionals who could come alongside me to make that happen. I also knew that for two years, I’d have to live in that city and make it a home: find a gym, a church, a cupcake place, and a bar I could frequent. After having a smaller town experience in undergrad, I knew that a metropolitan city like Atlanta would make for a great playground for me and my classmates. It has absolutely exceeded expectations in that regard.

The icing on the cake in making my b-school decision was my first in-person interaction with Scheller College. I came for a class visit and sat in on the Pricing Analytics and Revenue Management class. In the course of an hour-and-fifteen minutes, Professor Necati Tereyagoglu blew me away with his ability to draw me into a discussion about a concept that was 100% foreign to me. I observed the engaged class discussion, took in the small class size and Tereyagoglu’s teaching ability and watched some of my future peers tinker with an airline capacity game. By the end of the class, I had silently decided that Scheller was my top choice.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Since my class visit was a tipping point in my selection of the right MBA program, I recommend applicants make a visit to Scheller.

Secondly, please leave your ego at the door. If you made it into an interview seat at Scheller, we know you’re competent and accomplished. Bring to your interview meaningful stories, good questions, and an interest in not only what Scheller can provide you, but also what you can bring to the Scheller community.

What is the biggest myth about your school and how was it the same or different than what you experienced? Contrary to popular belief due to Georgia Tech’s top 10 engineering rankings, a Scheller MBA is ideal for a wide range of applicants from diverse professional backgrounds. This spring, I will graduate with engineers-turned-marketers, elementary-school-teachers-turned-healthcare-consultants, and military-veterans-turned-finance-experts, and I will walk proudly next to them as a non-profit-communicator-turned-Fortune-500-CPG-marketer. It takes some grit, but Scheller continues to equip top MBA candidates with the skills to make their ideal transition, whatever it may look like.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? No one really knows what they are doing. I walked into my first day of business school, having spent my summer poring over Wall Street Journal articles, bingeing NPR podcasts, and completing required reading. I still felt wildly unprepared for the baptism by fire that commenced when the first semester began. I wish I’d known that that was okay; nothing can fully prepare you for the blitz of meeting your classmates, learning new concepts, preparing for on-campus and off-campus recruiting, and attempting to engage in the local community. I eventually realized I wasn’t alone. In a tight-knit community like Scheller College, I learned to lean on my core group. I also had the privilege of returning the favor and will continue to do so long past my final class this spring. I look forward to becoming an active alumna and staying involved with the College.

MBA alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? My time at Scheller has provided me with the skills to walk into an unknown situation and feel comfortable and confident figuring out what to do. Between classroom instruction, leadership opportunities, and practicum projects, I’ve gained exposure to a multitude of business problems that would have beyond stumped me before B-school. Even better, I feel comfortable bringing my entire self and lived experiences to the table. I realize that they are assets to any team on which I serve. Team diversity brings better outcomes to the project – and that diversity includes prior experiences. When we open ourselves up and share and receive others unique backgrounds and assets, we all benefit – and diverse teams often generate stronger business results.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? David Woods is a classmate with whom I’ve shared a class or two each semester. We’ve traveled to India together on an International Practicum and both were a part of a newly established Bible study group at Scheller. David also tutored me, along with over 60 of our other classmates, in analytics during our first semester. He landed a killer internship opportunity in M&A with a top consulting firm and then lent a hand to empower other students to do the same.

Unfortunately, during our second year of business school, David battled cancer. For anyone else, this would be the ultimate excuse to take your foot off the gas. Instead, David took the time needed to heal from his invasive surgery and did not skip a beat on campus. He was back at school several weeks after surgery, getting wrapped up in mentorship and community at Scheller. David Woods is one of the most accomplished, compassionate, and brilliant MBAs I’ve ever encountered, and I am lucky to call him a friend.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? In March of 2017, I shared a hare-brained idea with Bertrhude Albert, Ph.D., my sister and the CEO of a non-profit P4H Global: “What if I try to go to business school this fall?” I expected an exasperated sigh or for her to bully me into making a mind-map to think through the decision, but that isn’t Bertrhdue’s style. She looked at me, looked at the calendar, and said, “Let’s do this.”

“B,” as we endearingly call her, has always been a force to be reckoned with and an inspiration for me. Knowing that she believed in me, despite my short application timeline, was enough. Six weeks later, I’d taken the GMAT and applied to my top programs. Shortly after, I gained admission to five programs with collectively hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships from programs including Scheller College, the University of Florida, George Washington, and Georgetown University. I attribute this to my own moxie, to the gaggle of friends and family I have in my corner, and, of course, to my biggest cheerleader, Bertrhude.

What is your favorite movie about business and what was the biggest lesson you learned from it? I have to go with a TV series, Silicon Valley. It hilariously depicts the start-up ecosystem in the Bay Area, while showcasing some of the biggest mistakes founders make when starting new tech ventures.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered during your time at Scheller and what did it mean? (Feel free to be sarcastic!) This is Grad School” (TIGS). During our first semester, a classmate was complaining about the workload and internship hustle. In an epic moment no one will ever forget, another classmate Jimmy Jolly flatly replied, “Listen… This is Grad School.” And TIGS was born.

We use it as a reminder dig your heels in or a battle cry before midterms or finals. We also have t-shirts with Jimmy’s face and “TIGS” written across it!

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…Funny story: I can’t say. When I decided that I wanted to pursue my MBA and brand management, I let my employer know that come August, I was out of there and had no back-up plan. There was no going back, and I have no regrets.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? The education I received was priceless, and what we did in the classroom was just the start. The B-school ecosystem and extracurricular opportunities were transformative for me as person still early in my career. It has opened up an entirely new world – and set my career on a heightened trajectory.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • To visit every country in the world (or own a coffee cup from each one – whichever happens first).
  • Do a stand-up comedy set.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I had to crowdsource this one. Here is a combination of what my classmates had to say:

I’ve been different things for different classmates: a teammate, a mentor, a friend, a pain in the neck, a workout buddy. The common thread, however, is that I will be remembered as a person who cared about meaningful connections and used my carefree personality and loud laughter to breathe life to any occasion.

Hobbies? Traveling with great people; power lifting as an excuse to eat all of the things; beer and wine. If someone found a way to combine all of these things, I’d pay big money.

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

“Michelle Albert has been able to apply her own unique “4Ps” – perceptiveness, perseverance, partnership, and passion –  to her Scheller career. Michelle has a strong perception of herself and her goals and works extremely hard to achieve them. She is a student who continues to go the extra mile in working to understand the concepts, nail the interview question, and collaborate with teammates to achieve success. Michelle came into Scheller knowing that she wanted to pursue a career in brand management and has doggedly put her energies into achieving that objective. I am honored that I was able to play a small role in enhancing her Scheller experience.”

Timothy J. Halloran,

Lecturer, Marketing

Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech

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