P&Q: What are the most exciting new developments in your program?
KB: “Tepper MBA students have unique opportunities to gain exposure to the critical problems faced by business and society today. We’ve recently launched four strategic initiatives – blockchain, healthcare, sustainability, and inclusive growth and prosperity – where faculty, students and industry partners will work together to create innovative solutions to rapidly changing markets that require an interdisciplinary approach.
One of the most exciting program developments this year is the new MBA concentration in sustainability led by Professor of Economics, Engineering, and Public Policy, Nicholas Muller. Because of both the increasing demand for sustainability studies and the existing expertise among faculty from across Carnegie Mellon, MBA students will now have an opportunity to pursue scholarship, coursework, and career opportunities in this ever-growing field. Courses include: Energy Policy and Economics, Energy Finance Catastrophic Risk Analysis, Government and Business, and Sustainable Operations.”
P&Q: What is the most underrated part of your program that you wish prospective students knew more about?
KB: “Students consistently describe the Tepper community and the student experience among the most valued parts of the program. At Tepper, each student is an integral part of a tight-knit, inclusive community and is able to lend their particular strengths from diverse backgrounds – in software engineering, marketing, or arts and humanities – to support each other in coursework, case competitions, leadership exercises, and club activities.
The Tepper community thrives beyond graduation, across the country and around the world, thanks to an engaged and connected alumni base. Tepper students are able to recruit in any major city because of a robust alumni network, and Tepper alumni are excited and ready to play a part in helping current students to develop and succeed professionally.”
P&Q: In 2018, you opened the Tepper Quad in the center of the Carnegie Mellon, which is known as one of the top universities for hard science, information technology, and the arts. What types of cross-campus, interdisciplinary partnerships have the quad sparked between MBAs and other Carnegie Mellon students over the past year?
KB: “The Tepper Quad has fulfilled its promise to be a campus hub for innovation. One place we see the impact is Entrepreneurship. MBA students like Summer (Qinxian) Xia, founder of mobile app startup LittleMoochi, have found new opportunities to collaborate thanks to programs like the James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellowship that brings together students from across campus to work on entrepreneurial pursuits.
LittleMoochi uses AI to turn photos that children snap of food into virtual food for their on-screen pets. The app is meant to encourage healthy eating, since whatever the child eats, its virtual pet eats.
Xia, a second-year MBA student, said she was able to collaborate with students across campus to form a leadership team for LittleMoochi, which includes students from CMU’s School of Computer Science and its Human-Computer Interaction Institute, the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, and the Graduate Entrepreneurship Club. Together, they brought the perfect mix of business, creative, and computer science skills to create the app’s AI engine and design its gamification.
Xia recently won a total of $25,000 at two pitch competitions, the Forte Power Pitch Competition and McGinnis Venture Competition, and the team will launch its beta product in the coming months. Xia states, “I can truly feel the power of Tepper Quad as an innovation hub to connect great CMU talents, help passionate entrepreneurs to build creative solutions, pursue their dreams, and transform the world.”
P&Q: Tepper is defined by its data-centric approach since its inception. How is this quantitative, analytics-driven approach infused throughout the program? How does it reflect the realities of what MBAs will experience after graduation?
KB: “The Tepper School was founded on the idea that data and analytics are important tools for solving business problems, and we continue to apply the Management Science approach to business education today. The MBA curriculum combines training in business fundamentals, quantitative methods and behavioral science.
In the first year of the MBA program, students take a series of core classes that provide a foundation for understanding business concepts and developing tools for approaching business problems. Then they move on to apply their foundational learning in functional areas like finance and accounting. In their second year, students can dive deeper into data science and technology through elective courses including: data management, data mining, business forecasting, technology strategy, and deep learning. We have also recently added courses in fintech, machine learning, data exploration and visualization, and cryptocurrencies. These courses leverage the strengths of Carnegie Mellon which stands at the forefront of theses technological innovations.
Then at the end of the program, students participate in a Capstone that allows them to apply the learning from the entire curriculum to a real business problem. Capstones are immersive, experiential courses where students might work with a corporation to develop a new product, solve in a strategic management problem or study abroad.
Of course, it’s not enough just to run the numbers. Business leaders need to be able to communicate their solutions and convince others about their ideas. In the first year, students take courses in communications and organizational behavior, along with a co-curricular leadership requirement that supports personal and professional growth. Our Accelerate Leadership Center offers innovative optional programming for students throughout the program.”
A MANAGEMENT SCIENCE PROGRAM
That support includes intensive career support. On average, Tepper grads enjoy over 2,000 one-on-one coaching sessions a year as part of the Accelerate Leadership Center. The center is another initiative spearheaded by Dean Dammon – and one that helped lure Rohit Dayal to the school. “Coming into the MBA, I’ve noted down many leadership capabilities I’ve wanted to develop. The Accelerate Leadership Center provides professional leadership coaches (who are full-time Tepper staff) to train MBAs on how to be better leaders through in-person coaching sessions, real-time feedback, and leadership assessments. It is the only MBA program I have found with such a program.
Technically, Tepper resembles several top MBA programs. Notably, the program’s data-driven mindset and commitment to teaching excellence is reminiscent of Chicago Booth. At the same time, Tepper’s multidisciplinary approach, which results in a robust interconnectedness with the surrounding university, brings MIT Sloan to mind. Like MIT Sloan and Chicago Booth, Tepper is often tagged as a “quant school” where metrics matter. For 2019 grad Ayush Luthra, that label is a misnomer, one that overlooks benefits like top-flight Finance and Organizational Behavior faculty. The label also doesn’t credit the program’s demanding core and diverse set of electives.
Tepper itself prefers to position itself as a “Management Science” program – one that’s devotes heavy attention to analytics and statistics across its portfolio of courses. “The approach that underlies our program is a really deep and thorough understanding of analytics and the role that data places in decision-making; the role that modern data issues are having in every field together with some really creative approaches to leadership like how you take what you know from the data to change organizations,” notes Mike Trick, senior associate dean of faculty and research, in a 2017 interview with P&Q.
PLAYING TO THE UNIVERSITY’S STRENGTHS
This approach made Tepper stand out to Lawrence J. LaPorta. “Tepper does a great job of involving quantitative analysis and structure to each of its classes. Given my background in the health sciences, I knew I needed a program that would develop my quantitative and financial skills to prepare me for a career in Venture Capital. Tepper’s quantitative rigor, combined with their strong entrepreneurship presence and location that is surrounded by healthcare and technological innovation, presented a unique opportunity to do just that.”
While Tepper proudly subscribes to management science, the philosophy is not designed to weed out students, says Danielle Schmitt, a 2011 Tepper grad and principal program manager at Microsoft. “You hear the phrase Big Data everywhere, and it is really part of business today. That can scare a lot of people. But I think one of the great things about the Tepper culture is that from day one you learn not to be afraid of data, and beyond that to understand its power and how you can use it. Data comes into marketing classes and entrepreneur classes and everything in between. I used that, well, my entire career, whether it’s helping inform strategic business decisions, or experimenting to hone and refine a product. That emphasis on data and using it to make smarter business decisions is a skill that I learned and built at Tepper.”
When Andrew Carnegie founded Carnegie Mellon in 1900, he envisioned it as a vocational training school. For many years, the school was actually known as the Carnegie Institute of Technology. Since then, Carnegie Mellon has emerged as a “New Ivy” – an elite research and academic powerhouse best known for its prowess in computer science, engineering, statistics, economics, and cognitive sciences. With that pedigree, Tepper is often associated with technology too. Noreen Fischer attributes that to Tepper wisely leveraging the larger university’s technical strengths – one that adds a certain urgency to the curriculum.
SMALL SCHOOL WITH BIG OPTIONS
“I believe Tepper’s MBA program goes beyond just business administration and is trying to integrate technology and business together,” adds Cue Kim. “Tepper’s effort on interdisciplinary collaboration is a good example that the program always looks into the tech side of business. By surrounding myself with world-renowned technology related faculties such as Machine Learning, AI, and Big Data, I was confident that I can broaden my perspective and knowledge about the tech industry.”
Kim’s perspective will be broadened far beyond the tech industry, adds Danielle Schmitt. “The exciting thing about a business school program is that you get people from different industries with loads of different life experiences. You’re approaching a lot of the same questions, but you get so many diverse opinions and different ways of tackling a problem. I think outside of business school, you often get similar opinions, whether that’s because of your industry or your group of peers. It’s really, really hard to find those challenging opinions that I think are super-critical, especially if, like me, you’re working on a global product. You need differing opinions because your customers are going to have different opinions. At the time I possibly wouldn’t have said I valued it, because it can be quite challenging, but in hindsight having those kinds of opinions easily available is something I sorely miss.”
The Class of 2021 won’t just miss the opinions. Tepper ranks among the smallest of the top MBA programs, one where students grow more closely connected and no one falls through the cracks. “I am a bit of an outlier when it comes to your average MBA candidate, in that I am married with two children,” writes Benjamin O’Bright. “I chose Tepper for the close-knit community and family feel…When we made the decision to transplant our family, my wife and I wanted to make sure that we were going to be a part of program and community that would bring added support to our family. We believe we found that with Tepper.”
What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates.
DON’T MISS: MEET THE MBA CLASS OF 2021: THE GO-GETTERS
|MBA Student||Hometown||Undergraduate Alma Mater||Most Recent Employer|
|Marlo Abramowitz||Flagstaff, AZ||Northern Arizona University||HDR Engineering|
|Rebecca Blei||Milan, Italy||Emory University||A.T. Kearney|
|Naftali Burakovsky||Los Alamos, NM||University of California, San Diego||SelectQuote Insurance Services|
|Rohit Dayal||Old Bridge, NJ||Johns Hopkins University||Ignyte Group|
|Noreen M. Fischer||Pittsburgh, PA||University of Notre Dame||J.P. Morgan|
|Corey Fowler||Pittsburgh, PA||Penn State University||Arconic|
|Cue Kim||Seoul, South Korea||University of Toronto||Samsung|
|Lawrence J. LaPorta||Ridgefield, CT||Elon University||Ortho Clinical Diagnostics|
|Cynthia Mills||Cherry Hill, NJ||University of Miami||Arise Virtual Solutions|
|Vedika Narayanan||Cupertino, CA||University of California, San Diego||Digital Media Academy|
|Ellen Noh||Seoul, South Korea||University of Southern California||Jam City|
|Benjamin O’Bright||Norman, OK||University of Oklahoma||Devon Energy Corporation|
|Kathleen Orr||Greensburg, PA||Penn State University||IBM|