2019 MBAs To Watch: Tracy Schroeder, Penn State (Smeal)

Tracy Schroeder

Penn State University, Smeal College of Business

An energetic leader, fueled by coffee, with a slight perfectionist streak.”

Hometown: Billings, Montana

Fun fact about yourself: My dog, Bridger, who is a black lab, has his own Instagram page! I originally created it as a joke, but our friends enjoyed the posts so much that I kept it going.

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.S. Business Administration Finance from Pennsylvania College of Technology

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?

Titan Inspection, Co-Founder

InCourage Financial, Program Coordinator

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Honeywell, Houston, Texas

Where will you be working after graduation? Honeywell, Strategic Marketing Specialist

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Smeal MBA Association
  • Member of the WMBA and the MBA Consulting Association
  • Founding member of the Penn State Energy Professionals special interest group
  • Smeal LionSHARE Buddy: Career mentor for incoming first-year MBA students
  • Smeal MBA Ambassador
  • Smeal MBA Graduate Fellow
  • 1st place at the Big Ten Case Competition

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the fact that I was able to compete on an amazing team that took home the win at the Big 10 Case Competition, held at Ohio State University. Everything from the client engagement to the team chemistry, to the final presentation of our recommendation to the leadership team from the company made it an experience I am not only proud of, but one that I will never forget. It was also the first ever win for the Penn State MBA program, at the Big Ten Competition, so that was an amazing thing to share with my fellow case teammates and our faculty advisor.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Professionally, I am most proud of starting a company. It can seem daunting to start a business on your own, but it turned out to be the most rewarding thing that I could have done prior to coming to the MBA program. I was able to contribute to our class discussions in a way that enabled my classmates to learn from both my prior successes and failures! In fact, I was even able to assist a fellow classmate who was starting up his own business with items such a business planning, tax planning, and payroll software. I was very proud of the fact that I could offer advice and assistance in that way to a classmate.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor has to be Dr. Ralph Oliva. He is smart, compassionate, and loves marketing! His work with business to business firms allows for him to have relevant examples to use in class. His push for all of us to better ourselves is also a trait I greatly admire. At the closure of the class, he presents each student with a “certificate”, indicating that we have added another skill to our “toolkit”. His recognition of the small milestones, on a bigger path, is something I hope to emulate moving forward.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite MBA course was our Power and Influence course, taught by Dr. Vilmos F. Misangyi. This class taught me how important power can be within an organization. It also helped me redefine how I recognize both power and influence. Power is a word that has such a negative connotation in the business world – and a word I would never have used to describe myself prior to this class. Dr. Misangyi’s class helped me recognize that power is not something to be acquired through force, but something that can be used as part of a toolkit in order to understand complex hierarchies within organizations. I learned that power stems from the influence that I have on those around me. How I use that power is up to me.

Why did you choose this business school? Community. From the very first time that I visited campus, I knew that Penn State was the community that I wanted to be a part. While I have had the chance to work with and learn from some of the brightest classmates, our community extends far outside of the business building. I have had the chance to celebrate Lunar New Year, learn a dance for Diwali, share my own mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, and take part in two karaoke nights in order to raise money for our program’s favorite charity! Hands down, the community is what makes the Penn State MBA program special.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Always be yourself. I remember applying to B-school and thinking that I had to check every box on the admissions criteria perfectly or I had no chance at getting into the program. I quickly realized, during my interview, that my personal experiences were what made me a unique applicant and that I needed to own my story and be myself.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That we are just a supply chain school. While the Penn State supply chain programs are exceptional, our MBA program also has incredible management professors, finance professors, and marketing professors. We are so much more than just a supply chain school!

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? How fast it would go by. Two years seems like a long time, but time seems to move so quickly within the walls of a business building. All of sudden, we are approaching commencement, in what feels like a few months since we started the program.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? I could not agree more that business school has been the most transformative thing in my life. My confidence has grown, my analytical skills have been sharpened, and I have been taught frameworks that allow me to analyze any business situation successfully. The leadership roles that I took on, the case competitions that I competed in, and the professors that I had the pleasure of learning from, all contributed to this amazing experience that has transformed my life.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Nghia Do. He is one of the hardest workers that I have ever met. He came to the program to further his career, like most of us, but his situation makes his success even more impressive. He was raised in Vietnam and has always sought to better himself through education and hard work. I was fortunate enough to be placed on his team for our first semester and learned so much from his can-do attitude and a great sense of humor. His ability to process financial equations, supply chain systems, and run Excel models is second to none in our class. I know that he will continue to do amazing work in the next chapter of his career.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I have always been encouraged to pursue higher education by Judge Ingrid G. Gustafson, who is Montana Supreme Court Justice. Ingrid’s daughter and I have been friends since high school and as such, Ingrid was always pushing me, right along with her. She has always believed that education is the greatest enabler of success and she encouraged me to chase my dream of getting my MBA.

What is your favorite movie about business? 12 Angry Men. It’s not really a true “business” movie, but it is a brilliant courtroom drama that covers negotiation techniques, the power of persuasion, and conflict resolution. It taught me how a single voice can change an outcome, even in a room full of opposing, louder, and sometimes more aggressive voices.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? KISS: Keep it Simple Stupid

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working on growing a small business into a bigger business.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? Priceless. While a typical ROI would be easy to calculate, I believe that the financial metrics that we learned in class fall short on this one. The community that I gained by coming to this program was worth immensely more than any formula could ever calculate.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Travel to 30 countries by the time I turn 30
  • Run a half marathon

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who always had time for others and who gave her time generously and without regret to anyone that needed it.

Hobbies? Baking, reading, and shopping

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

“From the very first time I met Tracy, I knew without a doubt that she would be a very valued and contributing member of our community! It was evident that she had the energy, talent, and passion to achieve great things in our program and in her career well beyond. She is a multiplier, giving countlessly of her time and talent to those around her. Tracy’s role as the MBA Association President for the Class of 2019 speaks well of her collaborative nature, from leading efforts across our community in supporting students new to the community and to the US, to representing our program to prospective students and working in collaboration with our Alumni Association Board. Tracy rises to the occasion, often surpassing everyone’s expectations.

In addition to her role as President of the Smeal MBA Association, Tracy was a contributing member of the Women’s MBA, the MBA Consulting Association, and a founding member of the Penn State Energy Professionals special interest group. She was also a career mentor for incoming first-year MBA students, a Smeal MBA Ambassador, and an MBA Graduate Fellow. As if this weren’t enough, her team went on to earn a 1st place at the Big Ten Case Competition! As she moves this year to Houston, Tracy will be truly missed. I have no doubt that she will pay this time forward through her willingness to help mentor future students along their journey in the MBA program and beyond.”

Denise Rill
Director of Student Services