Meet Carnegie Mellon Tepper’s MBA Class Of 2021

Marlo Abramowitz

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

People-oriented problem-solver who loves the outdoors; I aim to be the person my dog thinks I am.”

Hometown: Flagstaff, Arizona

Fun Fact About Yourself: I grew up an hour from the Grand Canyon and have hiked to the bottom five times and have also spent 16 days rafting on the Colorado River. The first time I hiked the Canyon I was 7 years old and the only way I would keep going was if my parents kept my fanny-pack full of candy and let me sing songs the entire way.

Undergraduate School and Major: B.S. in Civil Engineering from Northern Arizona University

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: HDR Engineering, Transportation Engineer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Taking the initiative to make the big leap to a full-time MBA program. It is easy to stay in a familiar job, especially once you get comfortable with the role, people, and company. I certainly felt I would have been happy staying in the same career path, but knew that it was not fulfilling my true career goals. It took courage to disrupt that stability to chase something I am passionate about, and despite the risks, I am invigorated by the prospective gains.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Down-to-earth. Everyone I have met has been extremely easy to connect with, open, and honest. No one has tried to one-up anyone else or flaunt their previous successes. They are coming with an inspiring curiosity to learn more about their classmates and to start this adventure as a team.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Tepper’s focus on preparing students to be at the intersection of business, technology, and analytics all while focusing on developing future leaders is what made this program stand out. Tepper is constantly thinking about the future and how to better prepare students to thrive in tomorrow’s business world. The constantly changing business landscape is at the forefront at Tepper and I knew that I would be fully prepared to launch my career after graduating.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am most looking forward to the Tepper Women in Business Club. Previously, I was a female civil engineer in a field where women make up less than fifteen percent of the workforce. More often than not, I was the only woman engineer in the room or on the design team which inspired me to participate in organizations that help women thrive in engineering. I found personal and professional growth through involvement in organizations that promote women in the industry. I’m excited to be a part of this club and to foster an inclusive community.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “What do you think will be the biggest challenge for you at this school?”

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? An MBA has always been on my radar both for career reasons and for personal growth. Ultimately timing with my husband’s job made this the ideal time to pursue an MBA. Waiting until now allowed me to gain valuable experience in a technical engineering field, while also having an opportunity to seek out exposure to business development, marketing, project management, and operations. These first-hand exposures to the other functions of an engineering firm solidified my desire to get my MBA and leverage it to help businesses at a higher level.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? University of Washington

How did you determine your fit at various schools? For me, the ultimate tool in deciding how I would fit at the schools was an in-person visit to the school campus. After my visit to Tepper during the Diversity Weekend event, I already felt like a part of the Tepper family and I hadn’t even interviewed yet. All of the current students were extremely involved in the weekend and made a genuine and committed effort to help me learn about the program. While searching for programs, I found there were many schools that would provide a robust MBA degree, but the key was to find the one where I would be successful and develop into the business leader I wish to be was meeting the students, staff, faculty, and alumni to get a holistic look at the program.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? When I was in college, I listened to a report on NPR about StoryCorps, whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. Hearing about their mission and work inspired me to interview my grandparents and create a recording. I developed questions that I wanted to ask and gained their permission to interview them. We spent an hour going back-and-forth as I heard about their childhoods, families, adulthood, careers and raising my dad and aunts. Much of the time, it was hard to hold back the tears hearing about their challenges, triumphs, and their incredible 60-year love story. I shared this invaluable recording with the rest of my family and hoped that they would treasure it as I planned to.

Last year, my grandma had passed away and I was heartbroken. Though I was fortunate to have lived in the same city as her and my grandpa for six years as an adult, I still felt like it was not enough time. In my grief I remembered the recording with her and I went to dig it up. When I heard her voice, her funny anecdotes and her soothing stories once again, my heart was filled with love and joy as reveled in the memory of her life. From this moment forward, I became determined to make an extra effort to delve deeper with the experiences of my loved ones to find out more about them as people more than just a mom, dad, or brother. Life is short but taking the extra time to find out more about those close to you to better understand them and their history is nothing short of rewarding.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years, I see myself bringing positive change to organizations by providing employee-focused strategy to lead them to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing workforce.