Meet Georgia Tech Scheller’s MBA Class Of 2021

Tech Square

P&Q: You are based in the heart of Tech Square. Why is that significant and how does Scheller College embody the intersection of business and technology?

KL: “For those unfamiliar with Atlanta, Tech Square is the innovation hub in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, home to startups, incubators, and innovation centers of Fortune 500 companies like AT&T, Delta Air Lines, and Boeing, as well as Scheller College of Business. Our MBA students engage with these companies through graduate research, pitch competitions, career fairs, practicum coursework, and internships. Given the energy of the area, companies like Anthem and Norfolk Southern have recently broken ground on major office towers mere blocks from the business school.

Thanks to the Tech Square ecosystem surrounding Scheller College, students have a unique advantage of being next door to more than 100 startups, over 50 incubators and accelerators, and more than 20 innovation centers. Students also benefit from living in Atlanta, which is home to 17 of the world’s Fortune 500 headquarters.”

Class of 2018 at Graduation

EYE OF THE TI:GER

Tech Square – all 1.4 million square feet of it – bills itself as having the “highest density of startups, corporate innovators, and academic researchers in the entire southeastern United States.” That doesn’t count seed-stage venture funds. And Tech Square is only growing as it enters Phase III, which includes building two high-rises that add another 400,000 square feet of space of use. Best of all, these resources – employers, experts, partners – are right outside Scheller’s doors for MBAs.

“The corporate community surrounding Scheller is an ever-expansive network of innovation centers from the Fortune 500 list,” writes Candace Blacknall. “Their position in Tech Square is strategically designed to give them access to the wealth of talent emerging from Georgia Tech. Scheller is a school that prioritizes preparing leaders to thrive in this growing technological world.”

Another popular staple of the Scheller MBA is Technology Innovation: Generating Economic Results…or TI:GER for short. A two-year practicum, TI:GER puts MBAs in teams with graduate students from the schools of science and engineering (along with Emory law students). Their goal: convert Ph.D. research into commercial products. TI:GER teams also duke it out in various competitions to sharpen their to-market strategies and generate seed capital.

“[Teams are] responsible for conducting market research, filing US Patents, and finalizing product design in order to bring new technologies to business and consumer customers,” explains Andrew Eskander. “The opportunity to take a product or service to market with the ability to consult with top academics in the business field is an invaluable experience that I am excited to participate, learn, and carry forward throughout the rest of my academic and professional career.”

Scheller International Practicum

LOOKING FORWARD TO PRACTICUM

Another differentiator? Sustainability. Traditionally, Scheller ranks among the top programs for sustainable business by Corporate Knights, a platform that promotes clean capitalism. That made an impression on Kelsey Lyford, who hopes to someday become a Coast Guard Commanding Officer who oversees the construction and revamping of facilities.

“Scheller has a world-class sustainable business program that promotes interdisciplinary study and innovation to increase understanding of how businesses can be more sustainable and used to effect positive environmental and social change,” she points out. “As a dual MS Civil Engineering candidate with a focus on sustainable engineering, I desired the unique opportunity the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business offered to balance my technical skills with a business acumen in order to better solve sustainability challenges.”

Now that the Class of 2021 has completed the first-semester core, says Abby Brenller, her peers are entering the ‘practicum’ portion of the program. In a nutshell, practicum courses pair student teams with partner companies to complete consulting projects. Brenller, like many of her peers, was looking forward to the International Practicum, where students spend time working abroad.

“Since I want to focus on international business, I’m most excited about our international practicums that match student teams with companies in foreign countries,” she shared with P&Q  (before the advent of the Coronavirus). “We’ll spend the first half of the semester doing research on the company and the problem they ask us to work on. During Spring Break we actually go and meet our counterparts in their country of operation before presenting our final recommendations at the end of the year.”

A FUTURE IN TECH

What’s ahead for the Class of 2021? Candice Blacknall, for one, plans to open a private, rural medical practice…and maybe start her own business in healthcare tech. Andrew Eskander, a fellow veteran, plans to take a similar path. In 10 years, he hopes to run a consulting firm.

I believe that the world is changing at an exponential rate in relation to technology. Although technology has been invaluable to increasing efficiency in business, supply chain, and logistics, it has also come at a cost to privacy and security. I intend to start a consulting firm to identify shortfalls in cybersecurity and inefficiencies in legacy systems. As the market and business landscape changes over the next decade, I want to protect consumer privacy while increasing the capacity of small and mid-sized business to defend their customer’s privacy and expand their presence in the marketplace.”

At the same time, Bill Mizell intends to stay close to home and serve those around him. “I see myself in Atlanta, leading a team of smart, tech-savvy people, using analytics to help my business make better decisions.”

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. 

MBA Students Hometown Undergrad Alma Mater Last Employer
Candice S. Blacknall Flint, MI Elon University U.S. Army
Abby Brenller Knoxville, TN Saint Vincent College Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate
Sara Chamberlain Atlanta, GA University of Georgia North Highland
Julie Deng Atlanta, GA Georgia Tech Deloitte
Bartlet DeProspo Goshen, NY SUNY CNSE Georgia Tech
Andrew Eskander Frederick, MD Ohio State University U.S. Marine Corps
Vivek Girreddy Mumbai, India McGill University Soroco
Marcus Harmon  Indianapolis, IN University of Dayton U.S. Army/Atlanta Hawks
Kenneth Hettler Holmdel, NJ U.S. Military Academy U.S. Army
Kelsey Lyford Princeton, MA U.S. Coast Guard Academy U.S. Coast Guard
Denzel McCollum Greensboro, NC University of North Carolina United Parcel Service
Bill Mizell Tucker, GA Georgia Tech Alvarez & Marsal

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