Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Justin O’Neil VanNoy, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Justin O’Neil VanNoy

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“Well-read. Well-spoken. Well-traveled. Well-dressed. Well-balanced.”

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am blessed to have traveled to every continent except for Antarctica.

Undergraduate School and Major: Morehouse College, Bachelors and Business Administration with a Concentration in Marketing

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Syneos Health®, Senior Brand Specialist

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? As a STEM-designated MBA program, Tepper is pioneering and innovating at the intersection of business, technology and analytics. Tepper also has an abundance of resources for students looking to transform themselves into business leaders the world needs. I wanted to join a small MBA program that can help me sharpen my leadership skills and pursue my ongoing passion for bringing business to science and science to business. Tepper is a leading program that rose to the top of my list.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I am excited about joining clubs such as the Healthcare Club and Entrepreneurship Club. I also look forward to benefiting from the resources available in the Schwartz Center for Entrepreneurship, the Tepper Health Care Initiative, and the Heinz School of Public Policy. These clubs and initiatives will open doors to networking opportunities and allow me to learn from diverse thought leaders. Through my membership, I will gain valuable experiences and skills to help me achieve my short-term and long-term career goals.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Tepper? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? Attending business school was my dream for many years and realizing this dream is a great feeling. I am a little nervous about how I will find time to take advantage of Tepper’s myriad of offerings and resources, but I am sure I will manage.  

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Enrolling in the Tepper School of Business as a Consortium Fellow, a Ewing Fellow, and a MLT MBA Prep Fellow is the biggest accomplishment of my career so far. The preparation leading up to my acceptance taught me to dream big, put in the work and remember that dreams do not have deadlines.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Before business school, I worked for more than eight years in various facets of global marketing, advertising, and corporate brand management. To become a more well-rounded player in the business world, I decided to return to school and balance my existing creative and qualitative acumen with more quantitative skills.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to University of Texas – McCombs School of Business and University of Rochester – Simon School of Business.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “Why do you want to go to business school?” It may sound like a simple question, but this is a loaded one that must connect with your passion and career goals in order to be effective.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I wanted to join a small MBA program with resources and initiatives dedicated to healthcare and entrepreneurship. Programs that were members of the Consortium and MLT were preferred. I also wanted to join a top program on the East Coast so I can access an abundance of next-level resources while making it easy for my loved ones to visit.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? My defining moment was not a single moment, rather it was years of work preparing my application before I hit “send.” That process taught me the importance of connecting with a community of individuals who share similar goals and how to sacrifice short-term pleasures for long-term aspirations. I know that in business school the marathon continues, but I am definitely in a better position to succeed with the skills and knowledge that I had acquired during the application process.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? It is a tie between Netflix and Apple. Their commitment to diversity and recent investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities made my family and me customers for life. They also have cool and consistent brands! Business students can use these companies as examples of organizations that provide value for their customers and shareholders while taking responsibility for the communities where they do business. It is amazing to see how they achieve balance.

Pretend you have just graduated from business school. How do you picture your experience being successful? Success for me is leaving Tepper with a job at a company of my choice, acquiring skills that support my long-term goal of becoming successful CEO at a global company that brings therapies to those who need them most. Success also looks like me leaving Tepper with a network of classmates who turned into friends for life.

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