SCHELLER STANDS OUT IN INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY
By the numbers, Scheller enjoyed a 16% surge in applications during the 2020-2021 cycle. Ultimately, the school enrolled 66 full-time MBA students in the 2022 full-time MBA class. Test-wise, the class produced a 680 median GMAT, with GRE test-takers averaging a 159 in quant and 158 in verbal. The class also consists of 33% women and 23% underrepresented minorities. Another 14% of the class hailed from 10 countries overseas.
Par for the course, Engineering and Computer Sciences majors represent the largest segment of the class at 37%. Business and Management majors account for 15%, followed by Social Sciences, Humanities, and Sciences majors each making up an 11% share. When it comes to work experience, Manufacturing and Engineering professionals account for 15% of the class, followed by Technology (12%), Consulting (11%), Financial Services (8%), and Education (8%). The Class of 2022 also includes students who last worked in Government, Consumer Products, Logistics, Real E
Atlanta business ties aside, the Scheller MBA is known for making technology central to the programming. That certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed at rival schools. In a 2020 U.S. News survey of business school deans, administrators, and faculty directors, the Scheller MBA ranked among the five best for Business Analytics and Information Systems programming – and Top 10 in Operations and Logistics.
However, it is more than technical skill that sets Scheller apart. In a 2019 Bloomberg Businessweek survey of students and alumni, Scheller notched the 7th-best scores for sparking innovation and creativity among students. Those sentiments were backed up by employers. In a similar Businessweek survey conducted with recruiters, Scheller ranked 5th for innovation and creativity (and 4th for having the most entrepreneurial students). Notably, MBAs take a core course called Managing Information Resources, says Luis Trejo, an engineer-turned-consultant. As a result, Trejo notes, MBAs were digging deep into topics like blockchain, cybersecurity, and crowdsourcing after they started.
ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST CAREER CENTERS
And Scheller doesn’t just teach innovation – they practice it! That became readily apparent, observes Scott Spencer, with the advent of COVID-19. “Scheller’s faculty had to adapt their courses for a remote-centric environment and it’s been a success. Professors found novel ways to make classes and assignments engaging through a broad toolkit of distance learning strategies. A few classes even adapted their curriculum to include the pandemic’s impact on global operations and supply chain; they transformed COVID-19 from a challenge to a business case.”
Beyond technology and innovation, Scheller boasts a second huge advantage: Career services. The Jones MBA Career Center produced the 2nd-highest composite scores in both student and alumni surveys conducted by The Financial Times and The Economist. In a 2020 interview with P&Q, Katie Lloyd, the school’s associate dean of full-time and evening MBA programs, credited the school’s early commitment to career development and deep relationships with top employers. However, she also singled out another factor in the center’s success.
“The Jones MBA Career Center is comprised of a talented team of advisors with a balanced mix of corporate experience across targeted industries and hands-on career coaching know-how. At Scheller, career coaching does not occur through AI-based automated tools for interview practice or resume refinement; rather, the career services team enjoys a rich student to advisor ratio (29:1) across programs, which enables personal, specific, and in-depth coaching.”
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSOCIATE DEAN
What can MBAs expect in the coming year at Scheller? How did the school’s COVID response make such an impression on students? Why is the school’s analytics program such a game-changer in the field? Earlier this year, P&Q reached out to Katie Lloyd on these questions – and several others. These are her thoughts on how Scheller is continuing to evolve and differentiate itself.
P&Q: What are the most exciting new developments at your program?
KL: “One of the most exciting developments at Scheller is our decision to remove a barrier standing in the way of individuals furthering their education. Scheller has implemented a GMAT and GRE test-optional policy for the Full-time MBA program’s fall 2021 admissions cycle. This change allows applicants to apply and be considered for the Full-time MBA program without a GMAT or GRE test score.
Beyond the complications COVID-19 has introduced in terms of access to exams, an over-reliance on standardized test scores in admissions decisions puts underrepresented minorities, individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds, first-generation college applicants, and some international applicants who have learned English as a second language at a disadvantage. Standardized tests represent only one data point in the consideration process that goes into admitting a Scheller Full-time MBA applicant. Other factors like undergraduate performance, career progression, professional designations, certificates, and more are valuable indicators of potential success in a graduate-level business program. Throughout the application process, our Full-time MBA team dedicates itself to evaluating the emotional intelligence, teamwork skills, problem-solving abilities, and quantitative background of each applicant. We move forward confident this change in policy will attract our most qualified and successful MBA cohort yet.
Another exciting development is the increased momentum around diversity, inclusion, and equity at Scheller. While Scheller has been focused on D&I efforts for years, there is a renewed interest in ensuring our community is a place where each voice is heard and celebrated. Here are some of the highlights of the last few months:
- The Scheller D&I Council has expanded to include representatives from Blacks in Business, Women in Business, Scheller Pride, and the Veteran’s Club. The Council has divided into working groups that will focus on initiatives for specific areas within Scheller.
- Scheller’s Full-Time MBA program recorded its highest minority representation this fall at 23%.
- As a result of increased Hispanic MBA student enrollment in the past few years, student leaders are establishing an organization for Latinx community members and allies across all three MBA programs.
- Scheller’s Impact Speaker Series, which is organized by the Institute for Leadership and Social Impact, has hosted a number of virtual speakers in conversations on race, social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion this academic year. Speakers included Dr. Beverly Tatum, acclaimed author and former president of Spelman College; Archel Bernard, founder of the Bombchel Factory; and Lori George Billingsley, Global Chief Diversity Officer for The Coca-Cola Company.”
P&Q: What are the two most unique or differentiating features of your full-time program? How do they enrich the MBA experience?
KL: “One unique distinguishing factor about Scheller is the culture of feedback we have fostered in our Full-time MBA program. We pride ourselves on delivering the best possible experience and we survey our students regularly to seek feedback about the experiences they are having in and out of the classroom to help us meet and exceed expectations. As a smaller program, we are nimble and able to pivot quickly. An example of our quick reaction time occurred this fall after we learned in a survey that our students were craving more interactions with their peers. We brainstormed with student and club leaders and redirected funds into safe, outdoor, community-building activities like knockerball, paintball, and picnics. In addition to the surveys, we host focus groups each spring. We ask targeted questions about curriculum, marketing, admissions, and program offerings, along with general sentiments about their experiences. We use that feedback to shape our strategies, priorities, and initiatives for the next academic year.
Second, there is something special about Scheller’s Jones MBA Career Center. Year after year, the team generates strong results. In large part, these results are driven by a proven process that includes 1:1 coaching starting the summer before the students arrive, dedicated employers who return each year to seek the talents of Scheller MBAs, and consistent workshops that begin during orientation and continue throughout the fall. The other part of the equation is the career coaches. Jones MBA Career Center career coaches skillfully provide a balance between offering tough feedback and persistent encouragement. They care tremendously about our students and the feeling is mutual. Often, we hear glowing, unsolicited positive sentiments from students about their coaches. Coaches celebrate the offers with their advisees with a festive bell-ringing ceremony. All community members are invited to attend.”
P&Q: How has Covid-19 impacted your business school?
KL: “Covid-19 has forced every industry and organization to re-examine what they do and how they do it. Higher education is no exception. Business schools have an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate relevance in this volatile, quickly-changing world.
Georgia Tech Scheller has been lucky in at least one regard. While some business schools are rushing to adapt their research and overhaul their curricula to meet the demand for skills required in a post-Covid world, at Scheller, a focus on technology, disruption, and digital-first knowledge has always been a part of our DNA. As the business arm of a world-renowned technological institution, that is one area we’ve come out ahead. Our curriculum is future-focused and future-ready; however, the impact has been significant in almost every other regard, changing the format of our classes, the ways our faculty teach, how our students engage one with another, and the ways we work.
Our faculty converted to online instruction in under two weeks during the spring. For summer, they were able to master online instructional technologies and practices so well that our average course evaluation was 4.88 out of 5. For fall, faculty had to learn and adapt even further to deliver courses in a hybrid format. Right now, about 80% of our classes are delivered in a hybrid format. This has been yet another learning experience. We surveyed our MBA students in September to see what was working well and what needed to be improved. Based on the feedback we received, we modified student engagement activities and provided a list of best practices to faculty to shape the remainder of the fall semester as well as the upcoming spring.”
P&Q: Talk to us about your two-year TI:GER Practicum. What is involved? How does it tap into and create synergies with other schools like Engineering and Law?
KL: “TI:GER® (Technology Innovation: Generating Economic Results) is a unique, transdisciplinary program that has prepared MBA students and PhD candidates for careers in technology innovation since 2002. TI:GER is an immersive track in strategy and innovation, combining classroom instruction, innovation projects, team activities, and real-world experience into a total, immersive, practical education. The three-semester program is open to MBA, PhD, and JD (Emory) students, creating a robust environment for collaboration across different areas of expertise. For students whose objective is to become technology innovators in early-stage high-growth ventures, consultancies, or finance, marketing, operations, or strategy corporate positions – the TI:GER experience provides essential skills, tacit knowledge, and networks for success.
TI:GER is the educational program for the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL-Atlanta), which is a global milestone-based mentoring program for massively-scalable science-based startups. CDL-Atlanta is directed and operated from the strategy and innovation academic area at Scheller College.”
P&Q: According to U.S. News, the Scheller MBA ranks among the top business school for business analytics. What is Scheller doing in that area that differentiates it from other MBA programs?
KL: “Scheller shines in areas like operations, IT management, machine learning, and other quantitative-based subjects. All these strengths contribute to creating a solid foundation for the development of business analytics experts. While Scheller does not have tenure-track faculty who focus solely on business analytics, the College draws upon faculty expertise across disciplines. Through research, handling data sets, and generating actionable business insights, Scheller faculty are well-positioned to get our students excited about data, teach them the fundamentals of business analytics, and show them how to apply these skills in their areas of functional interest.
Scheller’s strength is underpinned by our Business Analytics Center (BAC). According to Keith Werle, Managing Director of the BAC, “As a center for thought leadership and a catalyst for industry and academic partnerships, the BAC offers strategic contributions that will continue to propel Scheller to new heights in business analytics education and innovation.”
Additionally, another reason Scheller is top-ranked in business analytics is our location in the vibrant, technology-rich city of Atlanta. We work with global leaders from the BAC’s Executive Council like The Coca-Cola Company, The Home Depot, AT&T, and UPS. Companies approach Tech seeking advice on how to focus their efforts in business analytics. These organizations want our faculty and students to help them think about analytics in a strategic context. Companies can engage students in projects through practicum courses that allow students to spend a semester working on a real-world data challenge and then present their insights to the company. The opportunity to practically apply their learnings reinforces student knowledge and assists a company with a real problem they are trying to solve.”