A CLASS WITH GRIT
Along with his Ranger Tab, Chang also holds the powerlifting and pull up record at South Korea’s Camp Humphries. Indeed, endurance seems to be a shared virtue in the Class of 2021. Tom Mitchell trained for the New York Marathon while balanced work and GMAT preparation. In Tanzania, Taylor Tear, an HSBC banking analyst, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, which reinforced a time-honored lesson from business.
“The 5-day, 44-mile trek was one of the most grueling, physical and mental challenges I have ever experienced,” he remembers. “However, the journey reinforced the value of teamwork and the importance of shared goals. It was only through mutual support and encouragement that we were all able to reach the summit.”
Think that’s grueling? Elizabeth Barnard biked over 4,600 miles across the United States over 77 days – devoted 15 of those days to building homes with Habitat for Humanity.
“On my cross-country bike trip, I learned to take life one obstacle at a time. Each day we knew how far we would be cycling but we were unaware of if the terrain would be gravel hills, soft sand, a mountain pass, or a little bit of each. This coupled with a month of knee issues and my body covered in poison ivy taught me perseverance that I will undoubtedly use in my academics and recruiting endeavors in business school.”
CLASS SIZE DOWN…FOR A REASON
By the numbers, Tepper received 2,094 applications for a seat in the Class of 2022. That was a massive 60.2% improvement over the previous class. However, this spike was offset by class size, which shrunk from 200 to 141 students over the past year (though acceptance rates plummeted to a more selective 27% — more in line with peer programs like Yale SOM and NYU Stern).
In a written statement to P&Q, Kelly R. Wilson, executive director of masters admissions, noted that the enrollment decline stemmed, in part, to the program’s flexible admissions process. “We offered students who couldn’t come to campus the opportunity to attend remotely or defer for 1-2 years. For those wanting an in-person experience, a deferral was the chose option. Not surprisingly, most deferrals are international students. That said, 28% of the incoming class is international students. We have recently learned that a number of international candidates have been successful in obtaining their student visa and will be moving to Pittsburgh.”
The number of MBA students in Tepper’s part-time hybrid program also rose from 73 to 110 students this year. This is due to prospective full-time students pursuing the part-time MBA route, with the option to move into the full-time class at a later time. “For some individuals, attending a part-time program was in their career plan and the flexibility in our admissions process this year was likely a factor in taking advantage of the opportunity to start sooner than originally planned,” Wilson adds. The increase in the part-time programs may also be attributed to people not wanting to leave their jobs in a time of economic uncertainty.”
HALF OF CLASS COME FROM QUANT BACKGROUNDS
By the same token, average GMAT scores fell from 687 to 680 with the incoming class. COVID-19 also played havoc with the class profile. The percentage of women dropped from 33% to 25%. As noted earlier, the percentage of international students followed suit, with the percentage declining from 35% to 28%.
In terms of academic backgrounds, Engineering majors make up nearly a third of the class at 31%. The quant nature of the class is reinforced by students who hold undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Physical Sciences (10%) and Information Systems and Computer Sciences (8%). In other words, nearly half of the class falls into the quant category. Business (21%) and Economics (11%) majors account for another third of the class, with Humanities and Social Sciences (12%) and Other (7%) rounding out the Class of 2022.
The students’ professional experiences are a bit more segmented. Consulting and Financial Services each account for 16% of the class seats, followed closely by Technology and New Media (12%) and Manufacturing (10%). The rest of the class is broken down into Government (7%), Healthcare (7%), Energy and Clean Tech (6%), Consumer Goods and Retail (4%), and Consumer Products (4%). The remainder of the class boasts experience in Entertainment, Non-Profits, Hospitality, and Real Estate.
THE CENTER OF CAMPUS
Ask MBA students to describe the Tepper MBA and “Management Science” and “Interdisciplinary” are certain to top the list. Robert Dammon, the school’s former dean, notes that Tepper was the birthplace of management science – a place where data and analytics methodologies converge to reveal patterns, forecast trends, and develop solutions. At the same time, Tepper is regaled for its interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving. In fact, the Tepper Quad – 5 stories high and covering 315,000 square feet – sits in the center of campus. Opened in 2018, the building has become ground zero for business students to turn research into concepts and business plans into ventures in areas like robotics, computer sciences, and artificial intelligence
“We have really leveraged our strengths and the university’s strengths,” explains Sevin Yeltekin, former senior associate dean of education at Tepper,” in a 2018 interview with P&Q. These opportunities are not just for track students but for all students. Moving to this building moved us closer to the rest of the campus. We really want to be a business school that is well integrated with the university.”
This focus on data research and technological application has made Tepper grads popular with employers. In Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2019 survey of MBA recruiters, Tepper graduates ranked in their Top 5 for Innovation and Creativity. Last year, MBAs earned $148,581 in base and bonus to startup – a nearly $17K improvement over the past five years.
Along the same lines, MBA directors surveyed by U.S. News in 2019 ranked Tepper in the Top 10 for four specializations: Info Systems, Operations, Supply Chain, and Business Analytics. Not surprisingly, the program has emerged as a rising power in Entrepreneurship. In fact, one recent startup, Rototany, ranks among the 25 best-funded MBA startups of the past five years.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE MBA DIRECTOR
Last year, the big news revolved around Tepper announcing its STEM designation, enabling international students to extend their VISAs and making them more attractive to employers. What is in the works at Tepper this year? In September, P&Q reached out to Kate Barraclough, who heads up the Tepper MBA program. From a new dean to the impact of COVID-19, here are some of the new developments that happening now at the Tepper School according to Barraclough.
P&Q: What are the most exciting new developments at your program?
KB: “At Tepper, we are thrilled to welcome a new Dean, Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, an accomplished leader in areas that include technology, analytics, interdisciplinary collaboration, and entrepreneurship. We look forward to her guidance and vision to advance our business school. As a small program, we’re also proud of the uncommonly high level of involvement our students are able to maintain with both the Dean’s office and administration in general. This two-sided interaction adds value to both the program and the students’ entire MBA experience.
Second, our Accelerate Leadership Center recently initiated a number of new and exciting opportunities, particularly relevant with respect to recent events and our students’ changing needs. The Accelerate Leadership Center is markedly nimble and responsive to the volatile business environment, preparing our students to tackle both current and anticipated future challenges.
Lastly, we’re excited to introduce two new interdisciplinary concentration opportunities: Sustainability and Healthcare Analytics. They’re both clearly timely offerings, both pertinent and societally valuable. Intended to support students pursuing a more interdisciplinary education, it exposes them to relevant content within and outside the business school, for example, in Engineering, the Heinz School, or the School of Computer Science.”
P&Q: What are the two most unique or differentiating features of your full-time program? How do they enrich the MBA experience?
KB: “First and most obvious, the Tepper curriculum, a unique combination of both analytic decision-making and leadership development that gives our students a clear marketplace advantage. Today, more than ever, business success relies on technological innovation, the ubiquity of data, and the application of advanced analytics, areas in which the Tepper School and Carnegie Mellon have long been renowned pioneers. We combine this analytic expertise with powerful leadership training to provide an integrated view of business that prepares our students to lead, manage and solve complex business problems.
Second, it is our career center, ranked by our students and alumni among the leading MBA career centers in the world, with a notably high level of personal attention and support. Among other things, it provides industry expertise, job-specific coaching, proven techniques, recruiter relationships, and skill development. The center’s mission goes beyond the recruiting effort, however, incorporating a focus on preparation for future career success beyond the interview. It’s a focus shared throughout our program, as our students gain invaluable career skills through classroom training, club activity, and real-world experience.”
* To read profiles of 11 first-years, go to Page 3.