2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Eric Hilton, Wharton School

Eric Hilton

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

“I’m a tall, red-headed father of three pursuing a career in technology investing.”

Hometown: Cupertino, CA / Holladay, UT

Fun fact about yourself: My wife and I welcomed our third child into our family this year. We have two girls, Hayden (5) and Holland (3), and one boy, Will (5 months) – our business school baby.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Brigham Young University – major in Exercise Science and minors in Business and Mathematics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Sorenson Capital – Senior Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Google (Corporate Development team) – Mountain View, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Sorenson Ventures – Vice President

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Affiliated with Wharton
    • Director’s List, Fall 2018
    • First-Year Honors
    • Board member for Technology Club (Careers), PE / VC Club (Member Education), Entrepreneurship Club (Member Education), and Ski & Snowboard Club (Sponsorships)
    • President of the Latter-day Saint Student Association (LDSSA)
    • Venture Fellow for the McNulty Leadership Program
    • Volunteer with the Student Admissions Program
  • Not Affiliated with Wharton
    • Member of the local Latter-day Saint congregation; Current responsibility is teaching music and lessons to the children who attend Sunday School
    • Volunteer mentor for VentureCapital.org (Assist entrepreneurs with their pitch materials and fundraising efforts)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’ve been most proud of my role as a McNulty Leadership Venture Fellow (“VF”). I participated in a Leadership Venture during my first year in Patagonia and had an incredible leadership development experience. Leadership ventures offer an experiential learning environment outside of the traditional classroom environment where participants can explore and develop their leadership abilities in a stressful, ambiguous environment.

Because of that experience I had, I wanted to facilitate that same opportunity for leadership development for my classmates as a VF. This past winter break, I helped lead an expedition to Isla Navarino, where I was able to provide valuable leadership coaching and development for my fellow classmates.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While working at Sorenson Capital, I was primarily responsible for deal execution and portfolio company management. When I spoke with my senior mentors at the firm, they highlighted the importance of deal sourcing as one’s career in investing progresses. I asked for opportunities to be more involved in sourcing deals and building relationships with investors and the firm was supportive.

In addition to my regular responsibilities, I began a concerted effort to source opportunities. I found that I really enjoyed the process of building relationships with entrepreneurs and learning about their businesses. This effort ultimately culminated in an investment in a fintech company focused on reducing fraud, which has performed very well since investment.

For me, this is the achievement I am most proud of because I identified a goal that would help me progress in that career and worked hard to achieve that goal and develop new skills. Ultimately, I found success in that endeavor, and through that process helped great entrepreneurs obtain the resources necessary to continue to build their company and have positive economic and societal impact.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor so far has been Peter Conti-Brown, who taught my Business Ethics class. He did a great job facilitating a discussion across several important ethical issues that we may face in our careers. He also helped us further develop our ability to properly analyze and make decisions when faced with ethical challenges. Outside of the weekly class lectures, he made himself available to students for topics both related and unrelated to the class. Finally, he really invested in building relationships with each student, learning the name and background of each of his students. All that diligent effort led to a very engaging, productive learning environment.

Why did you choose this business school? There were three primary reasons I chose Wharton. First, I was really impressed with my colleagues and mentors at my previous firms (L.E.K. Consulting and Sorenson Capital) who had graduated from Wharton – they spoke incredibly highly about the wonderful experience they had there. Second, I was really excited about Wharton’s emphasis on leadership development – particularly the McNulty Leadership Ventures program. Third, I was attracted to the flexible curriculum and ability to personalize learning to topics and areas of interest. Since I was coming from a non-traditional undergraduate education, I wanted the opportunity to round out my business fundamentals while also pursuing topics in finance and entrepreneurship that would be interesting to me and helpful in my future career aspirations.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I think the piece of advice I would offer is to have the determination and be persistent. The first year I applied to Wharton, I was declined without an opportunity to interview. While it was discouraging for me, I decided to try again (at the encouragement of friends and mentors around me). The second time I applied, I was put on the waitlist. While on the waitlist, I continued to provide updates to the school about my personal and professional life and reiterated my desire to attend Wharton. I ultimately was admitted off the waitlist three weeks before school started. I am so grateful that I applied again and was patient through the trying waitlist process.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think the biggest myth about Wharton is that it’s only for people who have an interest in finance careers. While Wharton does have a very strong finance program, I’ve been really impressed with the depth of several other programs and areas of study that I’ve been involved in, including entrepreneurship, healthcare, and business analytics. With such a large student class, you will find people who have a passion and interest in many different career paths, and I’ve really enjoyed the diversity of experiences and interests as I’ve explored career opportunities during my time at Wharton.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I wish I would’ve worked harder to build relationships with the class above me. This year, I’ve had opportunities to get to know more students in the class below me, and I’ve really enjoyed building those relationships. It can be challenging in a large school like Wharton where I still haven’t met everyone in my class, but the relationships I’ve built while at school have been incredibly rewarding. If I could do it again, I would make that even more of a priority.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Reid Simmons, a fellow second-year student at Wharton. Although he has been battling cancer in advanced stages during his two years at school, he has maintained an incredibly positive outlook and level of personal motivation. I can only imagine how challenging this experience has been for him, but each time I talk to him I’ve been amazed at his determination and attitude. Even through everything he’s been through, he’s worked hard to be successful in school and his career, and recently got married this past winter break! Reid has set an incredible example for me of how I should rise to meet any challenges that I face going forward.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father most influenced my decision to pursue business in college, through both his encouragement and example.

He graduated with degrees in Engineering and Mathematics. After working as an engineer, he decided to start his own business. He was self-taught (he bought a book on “How to Start a Business”) and faced several challenges along the way, but ultimately built an organization that employed over 100 people before being acquired.

I was inspired by the example he set and the positive impact he had, both in his industry and on the lives of those employed by the company. When I was college, he encouraged me to pursue topics that were interesting to me (hence the major in Exercise Science and minor in Math), but also encouraged me to take business classes, so that I could benefit from that education which he never had (having learned instead through challenges and mistakes along the way). His encouragement and example motivated me to get a business minor while in undergrad and then return to pursue an MBA and round out the fundamentals of my business education at Wharton.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would like to start and build a company and I would like to be involved in some civic/public capacity to have a positive impact in my community.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A friendly, hardworking person with integrity who enjoys getting to know and helping others.

Hobbies? I’m an avid outdoor enthusiast, and I enjoy surfing, skiing, wakeboarding, slalom skiing, biking, golf, and running (I’ve completed 4 marathons). I also have a passion for music, and I play the violin, piano, and guitar. Other hobbies include reading, woodworking, watching the Utah Jazz and BYU football/basketball, and playing with my kids.

What made Eric such an invaluable member of the Class of 2020?

“Eric is an extremely visible and accomplished member of our community. First and foremost Eric is a proud member of our academic Directors list, which represents the top 10% of the class, and a recipient of First-Year Honors. Besides his exceptional work in the Wharton classroom, he has found time to be a leader across campus. Currently, he serves Wharton as a venture fellow in our McNulty Leadership Program leading students on leadership experiences around the globe. He also serves the student community acting as the President of the Latter-day Saint Student Association (LDSSA). He recently began a new role helping the MBA Admissions office recruit students at his alma mater, Brigham Young University. While Eric is most visible in his roles with the McNulty Leadership Program and the Latter-day Students Association he also finds the time to contribute and lead through our Technology Club, PE/VC Club, and the Ski and Snowboard club. In conversation with Eric you’ll find that his most rewarding Wharton experience to date was leading his fellow students through Patagonia. Not only is Eric a talented leader that those in our community look up to but he is also a proud father of three children. Upon graduation, Eric will be starting work as a Vice President at Sorenson Ventures.”

Maryellen Reilly
Deputy Vice Dean
Wharton MBA Program


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