“I want to help people lead healthier lives yet, today, I bought 22lbs of chocolate!”
Hometown: Staten Island, New York
Fun Fact About Yourself: For all four years of college at Brown University, I was a part of our one and only step team called Divine Rhythm. (I still have yet to find a similar dance team at Carnegie Mellon but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there!)
Undergraduate School and Major: Brown University, Cognitive Neuroscience
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Associate, ideas42
Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? A few years ago, I moved from New York to San Francisco to try living somewhere where it did not snow (my least favorite season is winter). However, after my first conversation with Tepper representatives at an MBA fair, I had an inkling that going to Tepper would be well worth braving a few more winters. I’d say there are three main factors that drove this decision – 1) the prominent underpinning of STEM both in the curriculum and in the background of many of the students; 2) the opportunity to explore the many strengths of the CMU community as a whole including the top-ranked computer science and public policy programs; and 3) the small and more intimate class size. I place a high value on interdisciplinary collaboration and developing relationships through small groups or one-on-one interaction so these Tepper qualities really stood out to me.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? On the professional club side, I’ll be joining the Healthcare as well as Business & Technology clubs. The intersection of these three focuses is really where my post-MBA career aspirations lie – helping build digital experiences that support people in making healthy daily choices that ultimately lead to more healthy days to come. On the more social side of things, I will be keeping my heart, mind and body active by taking part in Tepper Cares (volunteering in the Pittsburgh area), Tepper Games (my husband and I love board games!) and the Volleyball Club.
Generally, I’m also looking forward to getting to sit in on talks from academics and guests from across the university. That was one of my favorite parts of my undergraduate experience at Brown University that I’m excited to take advantage of at CMU.
What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Tepper? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? As the psychologist Abraham Maslow said, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” I am simultaneously nervous and very excited about the opportunity to grow by consistently choosing to take an active part in new and challenging situations.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: For six years before beginning my MBA journey, I worked at a non-profit called ideas42 that uses behavioral science (the study of human decision-making) to address social good issues. In my time at the organization, I was able to help build and lead some of our first projects in our domestic health and machine learning portfolios. I am proud to say that many of these early projects showed success – like helping over 100,000 people (and counting) learn that they might be at high risk for type 2 diabetes – and am excited to see the continued positive impact these domains will continue to have in the future.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Throughout my career, I have worked to understand and influence decision-making around health in critical areas such as childhood nutrition and diabetes prevention. I believe that digital health, when powered by personalized data and an understanding of human decision-making, has started and will continue to be a groundbreaking tool for improving health behavior on a massive scale. Post-MBA, my goal is to work in product management supporting the development and commercialization of mission-driven digital health tools. Getting my MBA at Tepper will help me pair my existing background in behavioral science and health with a growing understanding of product strategy and development to make me the strongest candidate I can be for such a role.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? In addition to Tepper, I applied to two other MBA programs (all member schools of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management). One was Berkeley-Haas, given the proximity to where I was living in San Francisco and their reputation for prioritizing social responsibility. The other was McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas- Austin, given the many opportunities in digital health/healthcare technology and the prime location in Austin.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I am honestly unsure! I ended up deferring my admission a year due to a death in the family and have a hard time remembering back to late 2018 when I was going through the bulk of the application process!
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I was lucky to have been able to attend multiple in person events such as diversity weekends and tours at a few schools pre-COVID. The aspects that often stood out to me about cultural fit were students’ willingness to be a resource and connector for potential incoming students (as well as their own curiosity), thirst for knowledge, and eagerness to discuss these academic and professional interests in social settings. I am one who prefers deeper conversation as opposed to small talk when possible or appropriate and felt that many of my peers at Tepper were aligned in this way.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I think one characteristic that will help me be successful in business school is resilience. These next two years will include tight timelines, constructive criticism, difficult conversations and seemingly impossible problem-solving. Although I have not yet made my way through this quite yet, I have survived and found strength in a rather different difficult experience, such as losing my father near the start of my sophomore year of college. Even in such dark times, I have honed the ability to identify a silver lining in most any situation and think that this will serve me well in the inevitable moments of challenge to come.
What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? One company I respect is RIP Medical Debt for the important work is it is doing. For many people, medical expenses are a burden that keeps them in a cycle of stress of debt. This organization aims to buy medical debt that is bundled and re-sold at lower prices in order to then fully forgive the patient on the other end of the lofty bill. I think getting a sense of the company’s strategy and the gap it is filling is an instructive entry point for better understanding the complex American healthcare system. It also may help to keep the patient, including consequences beyond just health-related, in mind from the start.
Pretend you have just graduated from business school. How do you picture your experience being successful? There are many aspects of the Tepper experience to take advantage of that I believe will be time very well spent. The first is a commonly-mentioned but no less critical one: getting to know and learn from my classmates. I will also look back with satisfaction at the moments I jump into opportunities – such case competitions, experiential learning and a summer internship – that help me better understand my own strengths, weaknesses and passions. I hope that even years after graduation, I am frequently engaging with the community, skills and new perspectives that I came out of my Tepper journey.