2021 MBAs To Watch: Frank Avino, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Frank Avino

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“My passion in life is to bring others joy through work, service, and friendship.”

Hometown: Arlington Heights, IL

Fun fact about yourself: I have seen U2 in concert eight times, most recently in the second row at Madison Square Garden.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Northwestern University, B.S. in Computer Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? PepsiCo, IT Operations Analyst – White Plains, NY

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Deloitte Consulting, Summer Associate – New York, NY

Where will you be working after graduation? Deloitte Consulting, Senior Consultant – New York, NY

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

School Awards and Honors: Recipient of the Arjun V. Gokhale Spirit Award; 2020 Deloitte National Case Competition (Internal Round) – First Place Finish; 2019 Tepper International Case Competition (Internal Round) – First Place Finish; 2020 Berkeley Haas Tech Challenge – Finalist; 2020 Small Business School Challenge (Internal Round) – Third Place Finish.

Community Work: As a volunteer with The MBA Response, I collaborated with a team of five MBA students to create a digital marketing training program for small businesses affected by the pandemic. As a volunteer with TepperCares, I cooked meals for residents of Family House Pittsburgh, a residence for those who are seeking affordable housing during long-term medical care.

Leadership Roles: Executive Vice President of the Business and Technology Club; Chairperson of the Graduate Business Association’s Wellness Committee; Advisory Board member of the Consulting Club; Communication Coach with the Accelerate Leadership Center.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During the winter of my first year at Tepper, I invited staff from CMU’s Counseling and Psychological Services team and University Health Services team to provide group therapy for students who were dealing with recruitment stress. Those of us who are MBA students know how stressful the experience can be, especially while recruiting for an internship or full-time role. As the leader of the Graduate Business Association’s Wellness Committee, I wanted to give my classmates opportunities and resources to manage their mental health throughout the joys and the disappointments that come with the recruitment journey. Over the course of the session, over 15 students spoke openly about their fears and struggles with recruitment. Walking out of that session, I felt like my classmates had built a new level of trust with each other and had learned new ways to manage stress.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2018, thirteen associates were added to my team, and I was tasked with onboarding and mentoring them. I coached them on how to approach complex technical problems and interpersonal conflicts. I fostered an open and trusting relationship with each of my new teammates, empowering them to become one of the highest performing IT teams at PepsiCo.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Tepper because I wanted to augment my technical problem-solving background with a strengthened set of leadership and communication skills. In my previous role at PepsiCo, I frequently was on the clock to resolve IT outages that had halted the manufacture and distribution of key products. Over time, I discovered that technical expertise alone won’t drive an optimal outcome. When I showed empathy with my business users, I better understood the problems they were facing. I wanted to choose a business school where I could make a difference with both my technical background and my leadership skills.

I felt, and still feel, that Tepper is the perfect fit for me. Through the resources of Tepper’s Accelerate Leadership Center (ALC), I have grown my leadership skills far beyond what I thought was possible. Frequent 1:1 sessions with a leadership coach have taught me how to navigate difficult conversations and show more empathy as a leader. The personal reflection exercises in ALC’s Leadership Development Certificate curriculum have helped me articulate my own values and purpose as a leader. As a communication coach with ALC, I have supported over 25 students’ efforts to grow their writing, storytelling, and collaboration skills.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Before my Tepper experience, I often felt anxious about difficult conversations. Thanks to Professor Beth Walter and her Leadership Communication class, I now am a much more self-aware and flexible leader. Through lectures and simulated conversations in her class, Professor Walter helped me understand the importance of prioritizing dialogue over discussion — seeking to understand each other’s ideas rather than focusing on sharing your own ideas. Thanks to Professor Walter’s detailed feedback, I now know how to take difficult conversations to a place of empathy and constructive dialogue.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Every year during Fall Break, Tepper students travel to visit the offices of dozens of firms that recruit on campus. I loved traveling with the Consulting Club in October 2019 to Chicago, Boston, and New York. While visiting 17 offices, I built relationships with many alumni and learned a lot about consulting. One of my favorite memories so far at Tepper is when, in New York, a group of us sang together at a karaoke bar. While this past October’s treks were virtual, I am proud that Tepper has found a way to continue this tradition to help students build relationships with members of so many firms.

Since there are several different treks that Tepper students embark on every year, I feel that the treks reflect that Tepper is a place where you can seriously pursue any career ambition you have – whether that’s consulting, tech, finance, marketing, healthcare, operations, sustainability, aerospace, entrepreneurship, and more.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I was beginning my Tepper experience today, I would like to more intentionally manage my time during the recruitment process. During my recruitment journey, I targeted such a large group of firms that I spread myself thin when it came to networking. I think it is tempting, once you start the MBA experience, to attend almost every corporate presentation that happens on campus. However, I think that you can maximize your chances of earning your dream offer by reducing pressure on your schedule and prioritizing your time for companies that you truly want to join. I am deeply grateful that my efforts in recruitment paid off and I will be joining Deloitte Consulting after I graduate.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I feel that the biggest myth about Tepper is that this is just a “quant-focused” school. I have found endless opportunities to grow my emotional intelligence as a leader and communicator. Through the several practice negotiations in Professor Laurie Weingart’s Negotiations class, I discovered how I could be more assertive while focusing on the issues. In Professor Evelyn Pierce’s Executive Communication Skills class, I learned how I could employ analogies and purposeful body language to become a more persuasive public speaker. In Professor Clara Burke’s Consulting and Conflict Resolution class, I learned how to empathize with others’ goals, concerns, and emotions during a conflict. I feel that these critical experiences complement my experiences in many rigorous quantitative classes.

What surprised you the most about business school? When I was going through the business school application process, I don’t think I was fully aware of the depth of support that second year students offer first year students. Over the course of my first year, I received a tremendous amount of support from my second year classmates through communication coaching, club programming, case interview practices, and general mentorship as well. I feel that my second year classmates gave me the tools and the conviction to reach for the stars and bring my best self to every aspect of the Tepper experience. I have especially enjoyed mentoring first year students throughout this past year as a member of the Consulting Club, Business and Technology Club, and as an ALC Communication Coach.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? In my business school applications, I tried as best I could to tell my story in a genuine way. Before I jumped into the application process, I reflected about what kinds of work I like to do – improving processes, telling stories, and negotiating agreements. I reflected about what I feel my strengths are – leading teams, showing empathy, and analyzing data. In my applications, I told stories that showed how I will bring these strengths to the MBA program to benefit my classmates. I also shared how these strengths will help me succeed in an internship and after graduation.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have great admiration and respect for Marlo Abramowitz. As the President of the Business and Technology Club and as the VP of Professional Development of Out & Allied, Marlo has made tremendous contributions to the personal and professional growth of the Tepper community. Over the past year, I have served with Marlo on the board of the Business and Technology Club and as teammates on our capstone project. I have seen first-hand how Marlo demonstrates exceptional empathy, resilience, and dedication to her team. I am especially grateful that I have worked with Marlo so much because I feel that working with someone so committed to excellence has brought out the best in me.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? At Tepper, I found that the transition went very smoothly. I feel that our faculty and staff at Tepper did an outstanding job proactively communicating with us students about their decision-making processes and the avenues we have to pursue our academic, recruitment, and networking goals at Tepper. I am especially grateful for the efforts of the Tepper staff, including former Dean Bob Dammon, Dean Isabelle Bajeux, MBA Program Head and Professor Kate Barraclough, and Executive Director of MBA Student Services Wendy Hermann.

I have also found that managing my mental health has become even more important throughout the pandemic. I meditate every day, I run or walk every day, and I meet with a therapist every week. By prioritizing activities that support my mental health, I feel I’m able to still give my best to my commitments during this tough time.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I remember attending my dad’s MBA graduation when I was four years old. My dad earned his MBA while working for my grandpa at the family plumbing company. Even though he didn’t need an MBA, my dad pursued an MBA because he cared about fulfilling his potential. I am grateful that I grew up with a father who taught me the importance of reaching for the stars. Growing up, I saw how my dad could manage conflict with a calm focus on the issues and could improve a process because he cared so much about the details. I felt that by getting an MBA I could take my dad’s lessons about dreaming big, showing kindness, and sweating the details and apply them to make a big impact in the world.

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

  1. I would like to reach the most senior level of a firm and then use that position to mentor and support more junior employees.
  2. I would like to start a non-profit that works with the United Nations to fight poverty around the world.

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

“Frank leads with conviction, curiosity, and compassion. And that is what has made him such a valuable and respected member of the Class of 2021. From the moment he declared, “I’m so excited for this class!” on day one of my Leadership Communication course, I knew that Frank’s enthusiasm for learning and his desire to be a positive role model were an invaluable asset to our community.

As a student, Frank is conscientious and inquisitive – two qualities that have led to his own academic success and, more importantly, his ability to inspire others. As a leader, Frank is empathetic and driven – he understands that effective leadership requires a genuine desire to connect with teammates and a willingness to ask for and act on their feedback.

Frank’s commitment to these ideals is evident in the variety of leadership roles he has held at Tepper. As Executive Vice President of the Business and Technology Club, Frank collaborated with his board members to support over 80 students to recruit for technology and product-focused roles. He executed small-group interview preparation workshops and co-designed an inaugural all-virtual company trek. As a Communication Coach at Accelerate Leadership Center, Frank guided 25 students in 1:1 preparation for behavioral questions and case interviews. And in his role as Graduate Association Wellness Committee Chair, he led a team of nine in developing resources to help students manage stress and sustain well-being.

Frank has consistently supported Tepper’s mission to innovate at the intersection between business and technology. He designed workshops to help students learn more about consulting in technology. As Advisory Board Member for the Tepper Consulting Club, he gave actionable feedback on practice interviews to over 40 students who were recruiting for consulting internships.

Frank is a leader who has an acute sense of self-awareness, the courage to be vulnerable, and the ability to engender authentic commitment from his team. I am confident that Frank’s future is bright, and I am certain that his commitment to our community has made an indelible impact on the Class of 2021.”

Beth Walter, Ph.D.
Assistant Teaching Professor of Business Communication
Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business



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