2022 MBA To Watch: Grace Stewart, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Grace Stewart

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

“CEO of bringing my whole self to every situation.”

Hometown: Morehead City, NC

Fun fact about yourself: I came much closer to becoming a professional clown than I would like to admit (and even auditioned for a graduate program in clown performance).

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of South Carolina, Bachelor of Arts in Theatre & English

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Content Writer at iVision (Technology consulting and management firm for IT services)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? I interned at Bain & Company as a Summer Associate in the Atlanta office.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to Bain & Company as a Consultant in the Atlanta office.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

* President, Consulting Club: The Consulting Club at Scheller is one of the largest and most active organizations for MBA students. We host networking opportunities, facilitate case prep, and provide encouragement and resources to any MBA seeking to pursue internship or full-time opportunities in consulting.

* Graduate Assistant, MBA Admissions: I support the MBA admissions team for my graduate assistantship, leading our team of ~70 student Ambassadors and creating connections between prospective students, current MBAs, and alumni. Outside of my formal role, I provide additional support as an Ambassador myself and interview prospective students.

* Peer Leadership Committee: The Peer Leadership Committee at Scheller facilitates community-building by hosting events and pairing second-year mentors with first-year MBAs as they navigate through the program. In addition to serving as a mentor to six first-year students, I also serve with several of my peers on the committee to create events including small-group hobby nights, mental health chats, and SchellX, a favorite in the program for building personal connections through vulnerable storytelling.

* Board Fellow: The Board Fellows program through the Net Impact Club allows MBA students to serve as non-voting members on the board of a local nonprofit. As part of the program, I served with Inspiredu, an organization that helps underserved youth and families develop the skills needed for education and career success by driving digital inclusion and literacy for Atlanta’s families, communities, and schools.

* First-Year Student of the Year: I was honored to be selected by my peers in the cohort for this award last year.

* Forte Fellow: I receive financial support as a recipient a Forte Fellowship, which is awarded by schools to women pursuing MBAs.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Serving as President of the Consulting Club has been my proudest achievement. Half of Scheller’s MBA program is registered as a member and there was a heavy interest in consulting this year. I led the club’s leadership to entirely rework our consulting internship prep program from scratch to strengthen early fundamentals of case prep and better support our second-year case coaches. Not only did we help almost ~20% of the second years successfully re-recruit for consulting positions, but we now have 5% of first-year students with MBB internship placements – our highest percentage ever.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I spent most of my career working in media and entertainment in Los Angeles. This may sound unconventional, but my proudest professional achievement was being consistently employed as an assistant for the entire time I was pursuing that career. I doubt that I will ever hold a job again that is as demanding as being a Hollywood assistant. Being a good assistant takes considerable effort, communication, determination, problem-solving, discretion, networking, and ability to navigate ambiguity at a fast pace. I was able to work on dozens of editorial projects, commercials, digital series, and television shows because I could reliably demonstrate enough of those qualities to be referred from one project to the next.

Why did you choose this business school? Coming from a non-traditional background, I valued Scheller’s smaller cohort size, strong career services, and exceptional value (and scholarships!). Above all, I was drawn to Scheller’s reputation as a school that focuses heavily on technology and attracts a lot of former engineers and quantitative types. I wanted to pick a business school where I felt like I could bring something unique to the cohort and be challenged by my peers. It has been immensely valuable to be on teams with classmates where I can learn so much and feel like I am rounding out their skillset as well.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? D.J. Wu teaches the Electronic Commerce elective at Scheller. I have met very few professors as enthusiastically dedicated to their students as he is. I took his course in Spring 2021. Even in a virtual environment, he managed to make the entire course engaging and active. Every week had guest speakers from industry – all of whom seemed to know D.J. personally and spoke very highly of him in their talks – and our assignments incorporated practical applications of E-Commerce principles. I would take any course from D.J. and I wish that he taught more!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Scheller has a lot of traditional events, but my favorite has been the recent (i.e., during the pandemic) development of Hobby Nights by our Peer Leadership Committee. Every semester, students volunteer to host small-group events to share their hobbies, passions, or culture with others. Some of my favorites in the past have been fitness classes, dim sum, and clay shooting. It’s been a lot of fun to learn more about people and get to experience activities I may not otherwise explore. It shows that even though we’re a small program, we have a lot to offer each other.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Of course, I wish that it wasn’t during a pandemic, but otherwise, I wish I had said no to some obligations and yes to more fun experiences. I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish professionally and personally during the program and getting there took a lot of hard work. But I do envy some of my classmates who seemed to find better balance throughout the MBA.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think one of the biggest myths about Scheller is that it’s a tech school for technical people who want to go into technical roles. While that’s certainly true in some cases, we also have an incredible diversity of backgrounds and experiences in the program – and we place people into all kinds of careers!

What surprised you the most about business school? You really do get out of it what you put in! There are so many opportunities to take advantage of. The hardest thing is figuring out how to find a sustainable balance and learn when to say yes and when to say no.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Connecting with current students and alumni, especially at a small program like Scheller, can go a long way in the process. Not only do you meet people who may speak highly of you to the admissions team, but you get to learn about what the real culture of a school is. Talking to current students helped me frame my “Why Scheller?” story in a much stronger way that I think made me more successful during the interview.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I most admire is easily Michael Becker. He has been an invaluable resource for me throughout the MBA program, not only in his role as VP of Internal Engagement for the Consulting Club, but also as a teammate and friend. I admire how Mike will always show up 100% for people, whether that’s to build out a financial model for a group project or to offer wisdom and encouragement to anyone struggling with consulting recruiting. I don’t think I have ever seen him flustered or overwhelmed. Mike handles every situation with determination and levelheadedness.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Neither of my parents have four-year degrees, and I had never even heard of an MBA until about eight months before applying to Scheller. In my most recent pre-MBA role, I reported to a manager who himself had an Executive MBA from Emory Goizueta. He was incredibly influential in my decision and was one of the first people to make me feel as if an MBA was something I could achieve and do well at. Not only did he write a glowing recommendation for me, but he also managed to forgive me for ending up at Scheller instead of his alma mater across town!

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

1. My ultimate goal is to eventually return to the entertainment/media industry. I have such an appreciation for the way the media landscape has shifted over the past decade and in the future, I hope to play a more strategic role in driving how people consume content.

2. In a lot of ways, business school and the professional world still doesn’t feel like a place for someone like me who grew up in a lower income, first-generation, single parent home. No matter where my career takes me, I hope to use my position to encourage and empower students from similar backgrounds who are looking to pursue an MBA or consulting role. I’m very thankful to be going to Bain where I can immediately begin doing that through their 1GEN community of support.

What made Grace such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“The Latin root of education (educare) means raising each other up. Grace stood out as someone who inspired the instructor, her team and the entire class. She is a shining example reflecting the unique value proposition of a Scheller MBA experience – students and professors raise each other up. I learned as much from her as she learned from me.

Grace means GRIT. My E-Commerce (EC) course is extremely demanding and challenging in every aspect. Grace rose to the top of a very competitive MBA class with nearly perfect performance in every metric. Grace’s writing ability was so powerful that it was a joy even grading her exams (she earned perfect scores, not surprisingly). Finally, her creativity is second to none. In our EC demo-day, her team pitched a startup idea of “the clubhouse of announcements.” The unique selling position is a “secure, private way to stream short audio messages (under five minutes) to an approved audience.” It was professionally well-executed, demonstrating creative business use of technology. Near perfect presentation voted by the class. You can’t beat that!”

D.J. Wu, Ph.D.
Ernest Scheller Jr. Chair in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization
Area Coordinator and Professor, IT Management


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