2021 MBAs To Watch: Patrick Savage, University of Pittsburgh (Katz)

Patrick Savage

University of Pittsburgh, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

A dedicated Renaissance man who wants to leave the world a better place than found.”

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Fun fact about yourself: Over a four-year period, spanning 2013-2017, I spent more time floating on the ocean than I did on dry land. I worked on the deep-water drill ships in the Gulf of Mexico and never missed a 2-week “hitch” in that entire span.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Clarion University of Pennsylvania (BS Biology, Honors Degree, Minor Spanish)

  • La Universidad de Málaga (1-year study abroad)

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (MS Physiology and Biophysics)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?

Halliburton Energy Services – Principal Technical Professional; New Orleans, LA – Developed customized drilling fluid programs and supervised implementation by engineer teams in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020?

Highmark Health – MBA Finance Graduate Intern; Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh Business Group on Health (PBGH) – MBA Graduate Intern; Pittsburgh, PA

Where will you be working after graduation?

Westinghouse Electric Company – Finance Leadership Development Program Professional; Cranberry, PA

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Vice President, Adam Smith Society – Katz Chapter
  • Vice President, Katz Business Healthcare Club
  • Alumni Recognition of Community Help (ARCH) Award Winner 2020, Katz Bridge Program
  • MBA Student Ambassador, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business
  • Finalist Room Leader Volunteer, 2020 Katz Invitational Case Competition

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? More than any award I have ever received, I am most proud of the impact I was able to make over the course of the pandemic summer in 2020. I had my summer-long internship truncated to three weeks, working within the confines of my home office. In spite of those obstacles last summer, I was able to complete two internships and via the second internship, receive a job opportunity to work with a consulting firm to complete a marketing analysis for a major pharmaceutical SAAS company. Aside from the successful outcome of the project, that internship resulted in a full-time job at the consulting firm for a fellow Katz student whom I recruited to the project. While it is undeniable that I gained incredible professional growth from participating in these internship experiences, I was able to escape the confines of my home office and have an impact in helping the community.

Through my PBGH internship, I was able lead a team of MS and MBA students working with a non-profit coalition of leading employers from across the region to find a safe way back to work with the pandemic still present. The skyrocketing unemployment rates showed how important our project could be to helping our community get back to work. With that realization in the back of our minds, for a seven-week period our team collaborated with physicians, health data analysts and non-profit member companies’ executives to develop a novel pan-industry risk assessment. The resulting assessment was presented in the Alumni Recognition of Community Help competition to a panel of consulting experts. Our team was recognized as one the best project outcomes and I was honored to receive a Best Presenter Award. Currently, we are continuing to work with the Chief Medical Officer for PBGH to present and publish our model, to help the business world to better assess and navigate future black swan events.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my growth as a professional, adapting and creating value in the wide-range of industries in which I have worked. It was incredibly rewarding when I made the transition from a PhD student studying bone and aging muscle metabolism, to then enter an industry with no prior experience and become an awarded drilling fluid engineer supervisor. As I grew in my subsequent roles, I recognized that I had an opportunity to make a very risky, yet highly rewarding career move and devote myself to studying finance. As I undertook the massive career trajectory shift, I was forced to reach back and rely on all that I had learned prior to my MBA and also take full advantage of all the support that the Katz MBA program offered. With all of the unknowns that I faced throughout the process, being rewarded through inclusion in the inaugural Westinghouse Finance Leadership Development Program class is truly a point of pride for me. I am very proud to say that in my next career step, I’ll be able to shape tomorrow’s financial future with Westinghouse and support the provision of safe, clean, and reliable energy to the world.

Why did you choose this business school? I began my MBA search by solely evaluating potential schools based on rankings and placement statistics. That was until I broached the subject with my brother. As a Pittsburgh resident and professional in Human Resources, he mentioned how Katz Graduate School of Business had an excellent reputation for producing quality graduates and that I needed to look into the program for myself.

I was soon in Pittsburgh to visit my brother and made an appointment with Katz admissions to see what my brother and other reviewers were experiencing. In that meeting, I realized very quickly how perfect a match Katz’s pedagogy and student selection standards were to my ideal business learning environment. Katz, at the student, professor, staff and administrative levels, exemplified the caliber of people to whom I aspire: dynamic, intelligent, adaptable business leaders. In essence, it was the people at Katz who became the deciding factor for where I would get my MBA. The diversity and the range of experience that Katz assembles in their student population, a world-class faculty, and the personalized career management staff were too great an opportunity to pass. I believed so strongly in Katz’s program that I decided it was worth reinventing my career path. I talked with my soon-to-be wife, who also saw the value in my MBA, and received her full support in moving us halfway across the country to put my head and heart into the program. It is for those people and their unparalleled collective characteristics that I chose Katz Graduate School of Business.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I have connected meaningfully with most every professor I’ve had at Katz and find it nearly impossible to select just one as my favorite. I will say that one of the most influential and lasting connections I made was with my financial management professor, Dr. Frederik Schlingemann. It was the first Finance class I’d ever taken and Dr. Schlingemann was kind enough to spend time outside of class to work with me. I would pepper him with questions about different concepts and implications of the theory we were studying in class t and he would apply it to real world scenarios. He was so gracious that after I had exhausted my questions, he readily became a sounding board and source of support as I entered the stress of selecting internship and full-time employment targets and the subsequent negotiations. Dr. Schlingemann’s incredible knowledge base and his seemingly endless generosity will continue to have a positive impact on my career for a long time to come.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event took place during the Admitted Student’s Weekend in the spring prior to my class’ matriculation. It was the Katz MBA Student Induction into the 457 Club. The honor is named after Bill Mazeroski’s 457-foot home run that won the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field, which used to be located next to the business school. The 457 Club honors full-time MBA students who have made an impact at Katz. The administration holding the ceremony in front of all potential MBA candidates really reflected the Katz culture of rewarding distinguished leadership, integrity, and teamwork to contribute to the betterment of fellow students and the MBA program. It wasn’t touting the great placement Katz had received in school rankings or glorifying how great are the starting salaries of their graduates. It was lauding the accomplishments of MBA students who helped others and made a difference in others’ lives.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The pandemic required significant changes to be implemented in almost all aspects of our interactions with the world around us. In-person interactions absolutely had to be curtailed in the interest of public health. Given the constraints on interactions, I would want to have the ability to safely attend in-person networking events and speakers, as they were hosted before the pandemic set in. The virtual events that societies and schools put together are still really great opportunities to extend an MBA student’s network, learn about current trends and gather up-to-date industry information. In my mind, there really is no substitute to having an in-person conversation with alumni and speakers at these events. The micro-interaction and the off-the-cuff conversation benefits of in-person events are immeasurably more useful in building a professional network. I only wish I would have been able to continue with those in-person interactions throughout my MBA.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think the biggest myth about Katz is that the small class size could constrain an MBA student’s experiences and prospects during the program. The relatively small student-to-professor ratio is a great benefit. Pairing this low ratio with accessible and available faculty, students are able to build strong learning relationships with experts in their chosen career fields. In addition, Katz focuses on experience-based learning, like consulting field projects and the global research practicums. This offers no shortage of real-world application on the theory learned in the classroom. This is all paired with an exceptional career management staff personalizing career resources and providing individualized support for the post-MBA career throughout the program.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was most surprised at the level of collaboration and interaction that was at the core of most every project I undertook during my MBA. Coming into business school, I thought that it would be constant competition and undercutting between classmates trying to fight for the same internships and jobs. What I found instead was a collaborative group of really talented people that came from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. There was an imperceptible gravity that drew the students together and pushed us to support and help each other prepare for internship and job interviews. Even more surprisingly, that collaborative characteristic extended well beyond my Katz classmates to most every MBA student I met at national meetings or case competitions.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think my edge in the application process came from meeting with the Katz administration before applying. My approach in the process was to demonstrate to the administration and staff that I had a clear understanding of what I wanted to do with my career after earning my MBA. I took time to create a compelling narrative, weaving my previous work experience and how I would utilize my MBA in the future. I tried to tell my story in a way that the admissions staff could easily recognize my drive, relate to who I was and see where I was trying to go.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? John Sopko – John is one of the most talented, generous, and dedicated individuals I have ever met. His finance acumen and drive to fully understand and integrate all the coursework in an MBA have helped me to push myself to greater depths of analysis than I realized possible. I have spent countless hours with John after class poring over the implications of the different lecture subjects. I remember distinctly a full week of late evenings wading through Modigliani-Miller theory on the whiteboards in Katz’s study rooms.

Academic excellence is only one aspect of John. From his first day on campus, he has generously given of his time to help any and all fellow classmates in need, whether it be through his position on the Student Executive Board or just having a quiet conversation. Within the context of our friendship and program-related events, John’s quiet energy and vigor permeates every interaction I have shared with him. He has helped me to view each obstacle that confronts me with a calm and insightful eye. Throughout the MBA experience, John has helped me to grow both professionally and personally. He has an incredible passion for the world of corporate finance and IBM is a richer company for having hired him. John Sopko is a constant source of inspiration and friendship that I count myself lucky to have had with me throughout my MBA experience.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? The shift to an online environment after COVID hit was tough but manageable. I had previously taken university-level Portuguese classes online prior to my MBA, so I had some experience with navigating a fully virtual educational experience. Katz did an admirable job in shifting the coursework into an online venue, but in my opinion in-person learning will always add an extra depth to the experience that virtual courses can’t replicate.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Jordan Savage, my brother, had a significant impact on my decision about pursuing an MBA. While I was in my previous job, I recognized a need for expertise in finance beyond my previous understanding. I would talk to my brother on a daily basis about how I could attain that expertise. My initial thought was to enroll in a professional MBA as a part-time student. It was my brother who helped me talk through the pros and cons and pointed out the value of a full-time enrollment for my major change in career trajectory. In our conversations, he was a fount of support and constantly presented me with solid data about the benefits of coming back north and getting my full-time MBA at Katz. He constantly supported me in my most indecisive moments and eventually helped me set up my appointment to meet with Katz admissions staff. Without my brother’s support, I am not sure I would’ve been able to take the leap out of my previous role and chase this dream of a career, in which I find myself.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • To have a lead role in helping a biotech startup grow with an owner who comes from a biological background similar to mine, but hasn’t had the time or bandwidth to immerse themselves into the finance side of business.
  • To expand and use my knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese to work as a global finance leader in Latin and South America.

What made Pat such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Patrick Savage aspires to leave the world a better place. He understands to do that, it’s critical each and every day to make decisions and act in ways that help shape the environment we all interact in, on a micro and macro level. Patrick is mindful of how to use his voice to benefit the Katz community and that being the loudest voice doesn’t mean it’s the “right voice.” He has used his voice to open discussions with all members of Katz to address concerns and find opportunities. Patrick uses dialogue and collaboration to bring folks to the table to develop solutions and problem solve, as well as expand his knowledge and understanding on different points of view.

Patrick strives to move our whole Katz community forward. Where and when one succeeds, we all do. He pushed student clubs to do and be more than a line on a resume for students. He engaged with key thought leaders through his leadership roles in the Business Healthcare Club and Adam Smith Society. This allowed for all members of our Katz community to benefit from hearing current industry perspectives through discussions and providing opportunities for students to connect what they were learning in class. For example, capitalizing on the strong connections he built locally in the area of healthcare and risk management, Patrick is bringing the director of strategic risk management and capital allocation of Highmark Health, a national blended health organization, to speak at an event organized by Katz’s Business Healthcare Club. This event will also serve as a supplement to the topics being covered in our Risk Management course. Through connections he made during a project he worked on during the summer of 2020, Patrick was key in helping a peer who had an internship truncated due to the pandemic, find a secondary project that not only helped the peer gain great experience but also lead to the peer being offered a fulltime role with the organization upon his graduation. Patrick looks for ways to connect the dots.

He leaves every project he touches better for everyone and approaches every project looking for ways to learn and for ways to give back to his team. When talking through the work he has done, Patrick often talks of the team’s success, what they have overcome to reach that success and acknowledges when there is a disconnect and works to make sure everyone is on the same page. Patrick seeks out resources and advice when he isn’t able to find the path himself and is open to feedback.

And while Katz students and staff have always been impressed with Patrick’s work ethic, what has really stood out is the praise he has received from the various organizations and alumni that he has engaged with during his time at Katz. Hiring managers from recruitment events have consistently commended his drive, positive energy, and business knowledge after meeting him. Business leaders from the groups in which he completed consulting classwork for have praised his leadership and even gone as far as hiring him to continue working for them on the side. Patrick is truly a gifted speaker. He is always engaging and a man of action—something that comes so natural to him. It is clear that these qualities are true a demonstration of his core values. Finding ways to be an instrument of change will be one of Patrick’s greatest legacies as he graduates from Katz and goes on to a role at Westinghouse in their Finance Leadership Development Program, where I have no doubt he will continue to make an impact.”

Lynn Rosen
Assistant Director of Career Management
University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business


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