2020 MBAs To Watch: Andrew Ellis, University of Pittsburgh (Katz)

Andrew Ellis

University of Pittsburgh, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

An extrovert who loves meeting new people and using data to inform decision-making.”

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Fun fact about yourself: I was on the ballroom dance team in college and to this day I love to cut the rug at any type of event.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Wake Forest University, Bachelor’s Degrees in Economics and Anthropology

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Math Teacher, San Antonio Independent School District

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? IBM—Armonk, New York

Where will you be working after graduation? IBM as a Senior Financial Analyst

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Volunteer on A+ Schools Board Watch – Observed and took notes during Pittsburgh Public Schools Board Meetings. As an organization, our notes were compiled and published with the goal of holding the school board accountable.

Vice President and Business Manager – Student Executive Board. These roles required me to manage our budget and provide programming that was responsive to students’ needs. This role also allowed me to frequently interact with the phenomenal administration that we have at Katz.

Wilma Tabisz Memorial Award Winner- Recognizes students “who have exhibited helpfulness to others and a selfless concern to achieve progress.”

8th Annual Crane Case Competition Winning Team – This is a Katz-wide case competition with a $2,000 prize. We analyzed the supply-chain numbers and provided a recommendation. Judges were even asking to see our model which was really cool.

457 Club Member – Awarded to “students who have been judged to be superior in terms of their success and engagement both inside and outside of the classroom. These students are regarded as having a significant positive impact on the Katz community.” The award is named after the Forbes Field 457 ft. center field wall that still stands next to our business school. Since I am a Pirates fan and this space used to be home to my favorite baseball team, this is a really cool honor!

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During my time at IBM, I recognized the value of practicing an agile workflow. I realized that with our Student Executive Board Budget, we had the opportunity to run a workshop for students who were not exposed to this workflow at their internships. I reached out to the Agile headquarters in Maryland to see if they could run a session at our school and I was able to bring a ScrumMaster to campus and run a 4-hour information session for interested students. While there were a few institutional obstacles to making this event happen, I was able to work with the MBA office and facilities to make this an event we could all benefit from.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Having the autonomy of my own 7th-grade math classroom taught me so much. My students held me accountable on many levels and they taught me how important it is to be loving and demanding at the same time. I have tried to take my lessons of leadership from the classroom to business school and I look forward to the next challenge of applying these lessons to my career at IBM.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Frederik Schlingemann is my favorite professor because he introduced me to the financial principles that I applied directly to my internship. He was funny and, more importantly, I appreciated his teaching style. He was very intentional with how he presented topics and since I was a teacher before coming to business school, I thought that was great. He was one of the professors who took the extra step and designed lessons that made us think deeply about the concept. We could understand the material to the point where we could explain it to others.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Every fall, we have a “Friendsgiving” event that is sponsored by the Student Executive Board. Since we have so many international students, we designate the various break-out rooms as countries and students cook traditional meals from their home countries and share with everyone. I always make a point to stop at each one to learn about the food and how and when it is traditionally prepared. This is representative of Katz because we are a diverse and inclusive community. I hope I get to attend even after my graduation.

Why did you choose this business school? I knew I wanted to come back to the East Coast. During my interview with Tyler, a staff member, I shared my greatest aspirations and goals. He called me back and suggested another program that the business school offered thinking it would be more aligned to what I ultimately wanted to do. When I wasn’t sure, he gave me multiple alumni to talk to and I confirmed that the MBA program was for me. To have my admissions interviewer be that concerned about how I aligned with my program was awesome and Katz has consistently prioritized my needs ever since.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Given my previous example, I would say to be open and honest during your interview. The Katz faculty and staff are here to support your development and growth and they want you to learn a lot and be happy in the career that you pursue. If you have been thoughtful but also open-minded towards your future, I think you will find yourself in the perfect MBA program here at Katz.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I am not really sure of any myths that are associated with Katz. I know we have a great reputation for supply chain, but I have also been so impressed with the finance faculty. In addition to Professor Schlingemann, I have had many professors who have put students first and designed really cool experience-based learning opportunities. In Professor Ken Lehn’s valuation class, we are all given a company’s 10-K to value and we follow along as he concurrently values PPG, which is a Pittsburgh-based company.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I have very few regrets regarding my MBA experience. However, I only did two case competitions and wish I had done more. They are a great opportunity for you to become a temporary expert in a field or industry. When you cannot fit a certain class into your schedule, these are great opportunities.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Hiroki Toyoda is one of my team members for our capstone course and a frequent project partner. He is from Japan and his company sponsored him to come to Katz for his MBA. Even though his company will be providing him with a job after school, he is involved in the community and is committed to providing similar opportunities for other international students in our program. He is the president of the International Business Association and a pleasure to work with. His attention to detail has inspired me to do more of the same and I am really glad I got to know him during my time at Katz.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I think I always saw myself doing business because I love working with people. I really admire a leader in the education field who has an MBA and this kind of program teaches you how to work with people to solve any problem. My uncle got his MBA from Katz and I always admired how he treated people—that probably had something to do with it too.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would really like to present to the board of a Fortune 500 company. Having just prepared for a board presentation in our capstone management simulation course, I would like to see what it is like to do this in the “major leagues.” I also miss the mentorship aspect of teaching and would like to be a manager at IBM as soon as possible so that I can help employees reach their goals as well.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I loved Katz because of how down-to-earth and fun to work with my peers were. From karaoke nights to Friendsgiving, I enjoyed every tradition and look forward to staying in touch with my peers in the future.

Hobbies? I love going to baseball games and riding my bike to school! One time, I even rode my bike to a Pirates game and that was the best day ever. Cooking and eating are also up there. I am very excited to try the various cuisines that they have in New York when I start my new job.

What made Andrew such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

Andrew exemplifies the characteristics and qualities not only for this award but for what we strive for each of our Katz graduates to become through our program.

When I interviewed Andrew for admission, I struggled to see how our program would align with his future goals. His experience was in teaching and his career goals at that time were to take on a leadership role in an educational setting. The more I challenged him on his motivations, the more he challenged me back. He knew exactly what he wanted and was confident that he was going to see it through. That is exactly how Andrew approached his time here at Katz—when he was faced with a challenge, he did not back away. He pushed through every obstacle and used each opportunity to grow as a person and as a professional. Andrew never once expressed hesitation. He genuinely took the time to problem solve and look at things from a different perspective, allowing him to forge a path that worked best for him and most importantly, paid it forward by sharing what he learned with his peers.

Andrew will always be known by his peers for his smile, laugh, and truly genuine interest in helping others. No matter how stressful the semester is, Andrew is always thinking of his peers and the school first. He looks for ways to give back, even now before he graduates. Andrew recently coordinated an event for the Katz Student Executive Board’s student speaker’s series which helped students learn about networking from their peers. Andrew created the content, led the session, and participants shared the skills and lessons they’ve learned during their time at Katz.

By focusing on finding ways to make our program and the student experience better, Andrew is paving the way for others. Not many students return to campus from their summer internship and apply what they’ve learned to help other students. Having been exposed to Agile workflow at IBM, Andrew brought in a ScrumMaster to run a 4-hour information session for his peers. Andrew’s efforts in all areas have been recognized by the school as he was recently awarded the Wilma Tabisz Memorial Award, which is given to a student who has exhibited helpfulness to others and a selfless concern to achieve progress.”

Lynn Rosen
Assistant Director of MBA Career Services
University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business


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