2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Courtney Felinski, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Courtney Felinski (she/her)

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

“A passionate competitor and queer southerner with a booming laugh and a biscuit obsession.”

Hometown: Magnolia, Texas

Fun fact about yourself: In 2019, I played in the Philippine Super Liga, their professional volleyball league. After my team was eliminated from playoffs, I was invited by ESPN to be a guest analyst for the league championship. I could talk about volleyball all day, so it was a real treat to get to share some of my knowledge of the game while also commending the incredible female athletes who were competing in the finals.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Georgia Institute of Technology, Bachelor of Science in Science, Technology, and Culture

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Before business school, I was a professional volleyball player. I played for clubs in Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, the Philippines, and Cyprus over the span of five years. Going pro was something I wasn’t sure I’d ever pursue, but it gave me some of the best experiences, lessons, and relationships of my life.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I interned at PwC as a consultant in their Workforce Transformation practice.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to PwC as a consultant in their Atlanta office!

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Graduate Assistant, Georgia Tech Volleyball – Back when I attended Georgia Tech for my bachelor’s degree, I was also on the volleyball team. As soon as I was admitted to Scheller for my MBA, I reached out to our head coach (who I played for when I was an undergrad) about a graduate assistantship. I’ve been on the coaching staff since I started my MBA, and it’s been one of the greatest joys of my last two years. It’s been a privilege to give back to the program that gave me so much and to try and be the type of coach and mentor I needed when I was in college. Our team impresses me every day, and being in the gym with them in an environment that’s always felt like home was the best stress relief I could ask for when school got tough.

President, Scheller Pride – As Pride President, I lead our incredible board and steer the direction of the club. We host events to continue educating ourselves and our peers on the importance of allyship, socials to celebrate LGBTQ+ culture, and professional development to empower LGBTQ+ students to take pride in their identity through the recruiting process. Our overall goal is to create lasting change for current and future queer MBAs, by building inclusivity into the core framework of the Scheller MBA experience.

Peer Leadership Committee Lead – As part of our Peer Leadership Committee, I’m responsible for helping ideate and execute events to foster community and mentorship among our fellow students. Our programming includes a mentorship program, socials centered on sharing personal stories, sponsored hobby nights hosted by classmates, and a bi-weekly “coffee club” where we chat about goals, mental health, or just dole out words of affirmation to each other – something I believe everyone needs from time-to-time.

Peer Mentor – I’ve mentored three first-year students, helping them navigate their Scheller experience. I provide encouragement and advice on academic issues, job searches, networking, or anything else they need.

Women in Business and Consulting Club member – As a member of these organizations, I get to participate in curated networking events, workshops, and professional development events.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am, by far, most proud of leading Scheller Pride, our LGBTQ+ affinity group. When I became President at the end of my first year, I knew I wanted our club to be a space that would highlight queer joy, welcome and support allies, and work tirelessly to solidify inclusion of LGBTQ+ folks in every facet of the MBA experience. It’s worth noting that because Scheller is a wonderfully inclusive place, these tasks didn’t seem daunting. They felt like work worth doing in a place I already felt appreciated. Since August, we’ve mandated the inclusion of pronouns on name tags and tent cards, advocated for the addition of all-gender restrooms in our building, held an allyship education panel to learn about legislation and healthcare policy affecting LGBTQ+ people, and hosted social events to strengthen and celebrate our community. This role has been one of the best parts of my MBA journey, and I feel immensely proud to have helped institute changes that will positively impact queer students’ experience at Scheller.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I was playing professionally in Switzerland, I played for a storied club with a devoted fanbase. The club had fallen short of a medal in the two previous seasons, and it was clear that wouldn’t be an acceptable result for a third year in a row. I had also been chosen as one of our team captains. In that season, we reached the quarterfinals of the European Championship – the best finish in club history, achieved victories against two teams our club had never beaten, and brought home the Swiss League bronze medal after an intense playoff run. It was a long, exhausting season, with all the pressure that comes with lofty goals. I’m proud to have been part of a team with stamina and unwavering commitment to each other, and to have been trusted with a leadership position on such a team. Any time I’m committed to a long-term process, I think back to that year and how the ending justified all our hard work.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Scheller for the community. I’ve learned by now that, for me, the most valuable parts of any experience I have are the relationships I walk away with. I wanted the same to be true about my MBA experience. Community was the through line in every conversation I had about Scheller during my application process, whether I was chatting with an admissions officer, a recent graduate, or a current student. I wanted to enjoy working alongside my peers during school and leave with a network built on genuine relationships with my classmates, and I feel that’s exactly what I’ve gotten. There is no scarcity mindset here; everyone understands that when one of us succeeds, we all do. It’s the kind of environment that makes tackling challenges feel just a little bit easier, and I knew it was where I wanted to be for my MBA.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Steve Salbu, who teaches our Legal & Ethical Business core elective. Going into his course, I had a deep fear that good business sense and strong ethics wouldn’t always mesh. Professor Salbu helped alleviate that fear. We studied general business law and the biases that underlies most ethical lapses, applying them to a wide array of business topics along the way. Professor Salbu designed cases for us to discuss that felt impossible to solve at times, but forced us to examine every potential course of action and its ramifications. Through these discussions, I learned it’s absolutely possible to make practical business decisions without making ethical compromises. Thanks to his course, I feel infinitely better equipped to be an effective, ethical leader in the business world.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Emerging Technologies with Professor Eric Overby, hands-down! Professor Overby taught us a framework for evaluating the potential success of new technologies, shaping strategies to ensure that success, and forecasting potential risks and challenges that may arise. Our class discussions were often based on current technologies, making it that much more interesting and applicable. Our final project was the best part: in a group, we recorded a podcast set ten years in the future. We had to research an emerging technology of our choice and use our findings to forecast a decade of fabricated – but plausible – events. It was such a fun and creative way to implement everything we’d learned during the semester.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?

I would have asked more questions! I have a hard time admitting ignorance, and I wanted to make a good impression when school began…but the first semester brought with it an absolute whirlwind of questions. Luckily, I have very intelligent classmates who asked equally intelligent questions. They taught me there truly is no such thing as a stupid question, and that oftentimes, multiple people are wondering the same thing as you. I’ve gotten much more comfortable asking questions by this point, but it wouldn’t have hurt to start strengthening that muscle a little earlier.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I’d say the biggest myth is that Scheller will reflect the engineering focus of Georgia Tech as a whole, or that that’s the expected background of a Scheller MBA. That’s not at all the case. My cohort shares such a vast array of experiences, which of course includes engineering and tech. However, I’ve found each person’s perspective to be relevant and celebrated. The same can be said for the greater Georgia Tech network – it will welcome you with open arms whether you’re a helluvan engineer or, in our case, a helluva business major.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? I could go on-and-on about how much I love Atlanta, but if I had to choose one attribute, it would be the restaurant scene. There’s great food to be had in every neighborhood, and my favorite way to get to know someone (like a new MBA classmate, perhaps), is by sharing a meal. The best part about it, in my opinion, is that dining out really showcases Atlanta’s charming, small town energy; I always call it the biggest small town in America. You’re going to see people you know. You might even know all the staff at the restaurant. If you’re me, you might also occasionally ask for the recipe for dishes you especially love, and the chef will write it on the back of a receipt – because that’s what you do when you have company over!

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me the most is that your story, and how you choose to share it, is your biggest asset. I came in thinking there were but a few narrow paths to success, and that a specific combination of skills would prove most useful. What I’ve found is that you can truly tailor your experience to your strengths, personality, and aspirations. Learning how to tell your story in an authentic and engaging way will open doors, foster connections, and leave a lasting impression upon those with whom you choose to share it. I feel very lucky that my MBA experience has further shaped my story, by giving me new language to articulate what I want and where I want to go from here.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Authenticity was my priority throughout the application process. I wanted the people I spoke with to walk away from our interactions with a good sense of who I was. I wanted to show my personality and leave a strong impression that I believed in what I could do as a member of the Scheller community. I think people place too little attention on showing enthusiasm and energy in an application process, and I know it helped me stand out when I applied. The added bonus was that once interviews were over, I knew I’d given it my best shot.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I’ve admired my classmate Paroma Chakravarty since orientation. She’s an incredible storyteller with a fantastic sense of humor. She has one of the sharpest minds I’ve ever encountered, and a gentle toughness that makes her an excellent leader. Paroma regularly brings up points in class discussions that challenge people to see things in a new light and does so with a grace and dexterity that can make anyone come around to see her perspective. I’ve had the pleasure of being her teammate on a few projects, and I love the balance of humor and focus she brings to work assignments. She’s regularly sought out for advice and makes time to help folks in any way she can, even with the leadership responsibilities she carries. It came as no surprise when she was elected our class President at the end of our first year, a responsibility she handles with the same poise and cleverness she brings to everything she does.

I doubt she’d bestow this title upon herself, but to me she is the face of our class. She has a strong sense of self and a commitment to community that exemplifies what Scheller is about. I’m so grateful to have met her during this time in our lives, and I can’t wait to see where she goes from here!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Ever since my professional volleyball career ended, I’ve been itching to work and live abroad again. PwC gives employees the opportunity to work overseas in a few of their international offices, which is something I’d love to take advantage of. I think it would be so illuminating to do consulting work in an international setting, especially on the types of change management projects that are common for the practice I’ll be joining.

This one may sound a little off the wall, but a lifelong dream of mine is to be published. Over the years, I’ve grown increasingly interested in LGBTQ+ representation in media and would love the chance to tell a queer story in a joyful and empowering light. Maybe once I graduate, I’ll get writing!

What made Courtney such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Courtney is a true leader. As a student in my class, she was a star. At the university level, she helps coach the women’s volleyball team and supports their staff. She assists practices by playing in drills, facilitating drills, and giving feedback to the players. She’s even on the bench for all the matches, home and away, tracking statistics, providing feedback, and suggesting in-game adjustments. On top of this, she’s President of Scheller Pride, our LGBTQIA+ student organization, and has brought tremendous energy and excitement to the group.”

Steve Salbu
Cecil B. Day Chair in Business Ethics
Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business

“Courtney’s diligence and the high standard she sets makes her an invaluable addition. (I imagine these qualities contributed to why she was a professional volleyball player!) For example, my final exam is designed for students to integrate concepts from throughout the semester into a scenario about the future of delivery drones. Her scenario was easily one of the best I received. She skillfully forecast future actions by companies such as UPS and Walmart to form a plausible, detailed, and compelling scenario, one that executives from both companies would do well to read!”

Eric Overby
Catherine & Edwin Wahlen Professor

Professor of Information Technology Management
Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business


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