2020 First Generation MBAs: Ari Noah Derman, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Ari Noah Derman

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

Class: 2022

Hometown: Melville, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I started a blockchain initiative within my company to educate colleagues and C-suite executives about the uses of blockchain technology in the business world.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Miami, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA), Finance and Computer Science.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Acceleration, Business Manager

What did your parents do for a living? Owned a mom and pops restaurant for over 10 years on Long Island, NY.

What was the highest level of education achieved by your mother and your father? Both received high school equivalents in Israel.

Which family member or mentor is your biggest inspiration or role model? Why? I would say my father because after he spent three years in the military, he worked in multiple industries and gained multifaceted skills. While I plan to work in a specific industry, I believe learning a variety of skills is important for any MBA student.

What was the moment that led you to decide to pursue higher education? I worked for three years in the marketing world for various Fortune 500 clients. After working for a specific client, I realized I wanted to career pivot. My undergraduate degree opened a limited amount of opportunities for me and I knew that I need to pursue a graduate degree to open new opportunities.

What was your biggest worry before going for your undergraduate degree? Being far away from home in a completely new state and city was my biggest worry. Attending college close to home allows you flexibility and comfort. However, I knew that attending college far from home would help me grow both academically and personally.

What was the most challenging part of getting your undergraduate degree? Deciding on a second major. I initially was just a Finance major, but realized that adding a second major would give me a competitive edge. I switched my second major three times until I realized the Computer Science was the most interesting and beneficial.

What didn’t your family understand about the higher experience that you wish they would understand better? How much studying you must do! My parents did not do many academic classes in their life and so they did not understand that sometimes studying all night is must.

What led you to pursue an MBA degree? I was looking to career pivot and initially weighed the benefits between an MBA and a master’s in economics or finance. I realized that an MBA not only provides the analytical skills that a master’s program provides, but also the soft skills and networking opportunities that lack in a master’s program.

How did you choose your MBA program? I was looking for a program and school that had exposure to the tech world. Given my computer science and business background, Tepper stood out in its connection with the high-tech community at Carnegie Mellon and its focus on analytics that is engrained in the MBA program.

What was your biggest worry before starting your MBA? The current economic situation due to COVID-19 became my biggest worry. I overcame this by knowing that employers will highly value students who are adaptive and take risks in times of uncertainty.

How were you able to finance your MBA as a first-generation student? Government loans and personal savings from working at my previous employer.

What advice would you have for other first-generation college students? First generation college students usually grow up in non-academic households like I did. It is important to know that while you can be successful without college, it is okay to want to study and invest in your career. Be confident in your decision and do not let anyone, not even your parents, hold you back from going to school and pursuing your goals.

What do you plan to pursue after graduation? Investment Banking.