Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Savannah Thomas, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Savannah Thomas

Georgia Institute of Technology – Scheller College of Business

“An artist passionate about solving complex problems, creating community, and designing the perfect grilled cheese.”

Hometown: Chattanooga, TN

Fun Fact About Yourself: While other people were making sourdough during COVID-19, I was making ice cream. By mid-July, my fiancé and I had acquired 6+ machines and our (and all of our friends’!) freezers were full, so we began selling at the local farmer’s market. By the end of the season, we had a strong regional following and when we announced a limited run of holiday flavors last December, we sold out in under 30 minutes.

Undergraduate School and Major: Savannah College of Art and Design, Photography

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Creative Arts Guild, Visual Arts Director

When you think of Georgia Tech, what are the first things that come to mind? How have your experiences with the Scheller MBA and the larger university thus far reinforced or upended these early impressions? The Georgia Tech brand is strong and proud! You can’t get far in the United States without seeing a Georgia Tech hat or bumper sticker. Throughout my career, I’ve met alumni ranging from bachelor’s degree to Doctoral degree holders, but they all have had the same things in common: brilliant, innovative, passionate, and – perhaps most important – very proud of their alma mater.

I never would have thought that, as an undergrad in art school, I’d also one day claim Georgia Tech, but when I started considering an MBA it was the first school I put on my list. Through the recruiting process and getting to know my classmates, Scheller MBA students are every bit the brilliant, innovative, and passionate group that I expected them to be, and Georgia Tech is every bit as pride inducing as I was led to believe.

What has been your favorite part of Atlanta so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? Atlanta has such a unique culture – the food, the arts, the outdoors – and Georgia Tech’s location in Midtown is central to all of it. It’s totally realistic to have a weekend where you eat dinner at a great new restaurant, catch a Broadway Musical or gallery opening, tailgate for a football game (or World Series baseball game), go hiking/rock-climbing, participate in a service project, and still manage to get in a round of golf. And because there is something for everyone, there are also people for everyone. Atlanta has managed to become an amazing metropolitan city while still retaining small-town hospitality, making it easy to meet others and form connections, no matter your interests.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the Scheller MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Coming from a career in the visual arts, I knew I wouldn’t have the financial or operational expertise that many of my classmates had, but I also didn’t want to feel like my pre-MBA background cheapened my perspective in the classroom. And while, yes, taking business classes alongside PhD and MD students may have felt even more humbling at first, the fact that Scheller is intentional about the make-up of the cohort meant that I wasn’t ever the only one in the room with a unique viewpoint. This, combined with the collaborative culture of the program, made Scheller stand out.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Georgia Tech Scheller? Something that I’ve been involved with this semester, and in so many ways believe encapsulates what makes Scheller special, is our MBA Consulting Club. MBA programs everywhere are filled with people who are driven and intelligent. At Scheller, they use their skills and energy to help build others up for success. The Consulting Club at Scheller is no different. Since August, second years have dedicated innumerable hours to case-prepping, pep-talking, and coffee-chatting with new students looking to break into consulting, making sure that they are prepared for recruiting calls, applications, and case interviews. This mentality is contagious throughout the program. In turn, you see the same willingness to help – even amongst students who are vying for the same opening – sharing connections, interview feedback, and reviewing each other’s cover letters.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: One Saturday in the summer of 2017, I had stopped by work to meet an artist needing to take measurements of a gallery space for an upcoming installation. While they were taking measurements, a stranger pulled into the parking lot and said that he had a friend’s paintings in his trunk and was wondering if I could let him know if they were any good. Traditionally a sceptic in these situations, I was blown away when he opened the trunk, and I was shown work by a completely undiscovered self-taught artist. Immediately I gave the man my contact information and details for an upcoming group show I was curating. I later learned that the artist had severe anxiety and I was one of the first people outside his family to have seen his work. After all the pieces he entered into the group show sold, I reached out inquiring about booking him for a solo show in one of our largest exhibition spaces. Though it took some convincing, he eventually agreed to meet with me – inviting me to his studio and allowing me to curate an exhibit of 100 pieces.

While the show was a measurable success, the true accomplishment was the impact it had on his self-perception and the trajectory of his artistic career. In less than one year, he went from a painter who had never shared his work with anyone to an artist booking multiple solo exhibitions and client commissions.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Always one to lean in, when my Graduate Research Assistantship supervisor asked if I was comfortable doing market analysis and putting together a presentation for key stakeholders, I didn’t stop to think about my lack of experience before saying “yes.” Thanks to her great mentorship and armed with less than half of a semester of Marketing Management and Analytic Tools for Decision Making, I found myself on a team call presenting my research just a few weeks later. After the call was over, I had several people reach out wanting to discuss the presentation more in depth and brainstorm ways that we could apply some of the analysis to their specific department. It was surreal to have the opportunity – and trust – to go from student to consultant just a few weeks into the program!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Scheller MBA program? Reach out! Yes, our admissions representatives are beyond helpful, but they also want to see you succeed in the application process. Don’t be afraid to ask them in helping you identify any blind spots. I knew I was a non-traditional candidate whose resume didn’t necessarily scream “Quantitative Skills!”. The conversations I had with them, along with current students and alumni during the recruiting process, were essential to discovering the best way to share my story, highlight my strengths, and address my weakness. By the time I received my admit offer I knew not only was Scheller a great program that would challenge me, but also the right culture fit and a community where I could thrive.

DON’T MISS: MEET GEORGIA TECH’S MBA CLASS OF 2023 AT SCHELLER COLLEGE

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