2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Christopher Elston, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Christopher Elston

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“Diligent team player; Entrepreneurial minded; Amateur Detroit-style pizza chef.”

Hometown: West Bloomfield, Michigan

Fun fact about yourself: My wife and I are expecting our first child in July 2023!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Michigan State University, Bachelor of Arts in Finance

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Tenneco, Inc., Program Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Woodland Management / Partner’s Edge Fund (Family Investment Office & Fund Manager)

Where will you be working after graduation? Woodland Management / Partner’s Edge Fund, Investment Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Graduate Entrepreneurship Club– President
  • 99 Titans – MBA Partner
  • Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellowship
  • GSIA Class of 1971 Fellowship
  • 2022 VCIC Regional Runner-Up

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the work that I have done through 99 Tartans, an angel investment syndicate of CMU alumni investing in CMU founders. As an MBA partner I support management of deal flow, due diligence, investor relations, and day to day operations. In 2022, I contributed to our organization funding 14 deals worth $2.4M and helped further the Carnegie Mellon University entrepreneurial ecosystem. Additionally, the experience I gained at 99 Tartans opened the door to my summer internship and fulltime position with Woodland Management.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As a Program Manager for Tenneco, I oversaw a restructuring program which managed and delivered more than $300M in EBITDA savings over the course of the program. Managing this program afforded me the opportunity to showcase my abilities to the highest level of the firm, presenting progress to the c-suite monthly. I will always be thankful to my department leaders, Eric Cheng and Ted Lewis, for supercharging my development by granting me opportunities to take ownership and bolster my professional reputation.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose the Tepper School of Business due to Tepper’s prowess in production & operations. Early in my previous career at Tenneco, I was involved in a rotational development program that landed me in some of the firm’s manufacturing facilities. I spent a ton of time out on the plant floor conducting cycle time studies, investigating inventory issues, and auditing process routings. When I began my search for an MBA program and found Tepper, it felt like a perfect match. Tepper was a bridge from where I was to where I wanted to go.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Meredith Grelli is my favorite professor at Tepper. I took two courses with Professor Grelli, Lean Entrepreneurship and Commercialization & Innovation. Professor Grelli has a high energy teaching style that fosters an engaging learning environment. Professor Grelli’s entrepreneurship classes allowed my classmates and I to put theory into practice by working on semester long entrepreneurial projects. Plus, she always brought snacks as an incentive to sign the attendance sheet!

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Acting For Business taught by Professor Geoffrey Hitch, was my favorite course. Professor Hitch’s class taught me to feel more comfortable speaking in front of a group and the importance of associating words with actions in a presentation to deliver a specific impact.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would be a bit more judicious with my time. There are so many new opportunities to explore and fun things to do with your classmates. It’s easy to overextend and feel like you have bitten off more than you can chew! Doing a self-check-in on bandwidth occasionally could have saved me a few stressful nights

What surprised you the most about business school? The closeness of the class. The Tepper 2nd year MBA class is has about 230 students. For the most part, everyone knows one another and are willing to support one another, grab a coffee, or organize a fun event.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? During the application process, I made sure to reach out to MBA student ambassadors to get a better understanding of the academics and culture at Tepper. These informal conversations were extremely helpful as I began to write my essays and gave me confidence as I went into my interview.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire my classmate and friend, Anirudh Kapura. Ani and I have taken several classes together as part of the entrepreneurship track and serve together as officers of the Graduate Entrepreneurship Club. Ani is brilliant and has a natural leadership presence. I admire Ani’s entrepreneurial drive, confidence, and willingness to give feedback. I can always count on Ani as a sounding board when I am struggling with a problem. I am extremely glad that I got the opportunity to befriend Ani through the Tepper MBA program!

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

1. I hope to start a company with my wife, Cara, who is a geriatric physician. Her and I have talked about all sorts of healthcare related ideas ranging from the long-term care space to medical devices geared toward aging populations.

2. I wish to sit on a firm’s board of directors. I hope that during the course of my career, I build a strong reputation among my peers as someone who could add value at the highest strategic level.

What made Chris such an invaluable member of the Class of 2023?

“Chris Elston jumped directly into the Entrepreneurship ecosystem as soon as he started the TPR MBA program.  Joining, and then becoming the president of the Graduate Entrepreneurship Club, being selected as a Swartz Fellow in Entrepreneurship and MBA partner for the 99 Tartants Angel Investment Fund. Anyone interacting with Chris has seen his passion and commitment to the Entrepreneurship opportunities and community here at the Tepper School.

Chris has also found time to pursue a Dual Degree option in the MBA programming. Focusing on Health Care to help support a post program goal with his wife, Chris will graduate with an MBA and MS in Health Care Policy and Management. The dual degree requires enormous planning, commitment, and the ability to work and thrive between two different academic cultures. Chris has done this with amazing results.”

Wendy S. Hermann
Executive Director, Student Services
Master’s Programs
Tepper School of Business


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