2023 MBA To Watch: Rukayat Muse-Ariyoh, Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)

Rukayat Muse-Ariyoh

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“A charismatic self-driven travel lover, who is constantly aiming to uplift and support communities around her.”

Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD

Fun fact about yourself: Amateur Trapeze Acrobat.

I’m very very far from an expert but my love for trapezing was ignited after a friend’s spontaneous birthday trip to New York in 2019.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

University of Maryland, College Park

BS Chemical Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? PepsiCo, Supply Chain Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Deloitte (Dallas, TX)

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey – Associate Consultant (Atlanta, GA)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Graduate Business Association  – Admissions Officer

Committee Chair – Tepper’s 2022 Welcome Weekend

Committee Chair – Tepper’s 2022 Diversity Weekend

Black Business Association – VP of Corporate & Alumni Relations

African Business  Collective – VP of Community Engagement

The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Member

Forte Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As Admissions Officer of the Graduate Business Association, I led Tepper’s Diversity Weekend planning committee. Diversity Weekend is a pivotal event at Tepper that provides prospective students with a glimpse into the differences and advantages of Tepper’s diverse community, program, and global alumni network. As someone who is passionate about uplifting minority communities, I was honored to have the opportunity to curate a weekend-long experience that would highlight the value of an MBA but also showcase Tepper’s dedication to empowering diverse communities. The best part of leading such an experience was witnessing the candidate’s journey from contemplating whether an MBA was worth pursuing to a candidate receiving an acceptance letter from Tepper.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had the opportunity to organize a donation of 800 cases of Frito-Lay products from my manufacturing plant to a local food pantry located in Baltimore, Maryland. This experience was hands-down one of the most impactful and memorable achievements in my professional career. The pandemic was a tough time and working in an essential industry I personally saw the impact on our surrounding community as families struggled to stay afloat during times of uncertainty. Having the opportunity to provide relief to local communities proved that we are each other’s keepers.

Why did you choose this business school? I choose Tepper because of its focus on community development. During my application journey, I was intentional in preferencing MBA programs that would provide me with an individualized learning experience and strong peer connections across the entire cohort. Generally, these two factors pushed me towards MBA programs that were smaller in size. However, what made Tepper stand out from the rest was the PEOPLE. Every current student I spoke with emphasized how well Tepper supports its students but also how well the students support EACH OTHER. A key deciding factor in my choice to choose Tepper.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor at Tepper was Meredith Meyer Grelli. Professor Grelli teaches several Entrepreneurship classes that generally have a 20+ waitlist at the start of each mini. As you can see, I am not her only fan: she has many. Entrepreneurship can be intimidating, but every class I take with Professor Meredith makes the idea less terrifying and more attainable.

Professor Grelli is an inspiration. She founded, led, and, sold two craft beverage companies, Wigle Whiskey and Threadbare Cider & Mead. She’s a product of the Tepper MBA program and is an example of the success that awaits us all after we leave the doors of Tepper.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite Tepper class is Gaining Advantage Through Sales. As someone with ZERO sales experience, I thoroughly enjoyed this course because it pushed me outside my comfort zone and taught me the necessary skills needed to persuade and influence. Highly recommend this course!

Sales go beyond just selling a product to a consumer, sales can be one’s ability to sell one’s self in an interview or at a career fair.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Tepper’s My15.

My15 is a key mark event held by Graduate Business Association’s (GBA) Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer. The event consists of a night full of storytelling where we hear about the lives and experiences of our fellow classmates. During Black History, GBA partnered with Tepper’s Black Business Association and hosted a black experience My15 that highlighted the inspiring stories of our Caribbean and African classmates. Hearing the stories of my fellow peers was a truly empowering experience that grew our bond as a community.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I could change anything about my MBA experience, I would have participated in more interconnected MBA events with other MBA schools. This past month, I had the opportunity to attend Tuck’s Black Ski weekend and it was incredible – not because of the beautiful Utah slopes, but rather because of the lifelong friendships I developed with MBA students from all over the country outside of my Pittsburgh community.

What is the biggest myth about your school?

“You can’t succeed at Tepper if you don’t have an analytical or business background. “

As someone who never took ANY business classes prior to Tepper and never worked with analytical platforms such as Tableau, I can wholeheartedly confirm that the above statement is a myth.

What did you love most about your business school’s town?  The location. Living in Pittsburgh has provided me with more opportunities to explore my surrounding areas. Pittsburgh’s convenient location provides easy access to the East, Midwest,  and Canada. Last summer, I drove from Pittsburgh to Toronto in under 5 hours for a weekend excursion.

What surprised you the most about business school? How much I changed from the process? Coming into the program I thought I had it all figured out and solely saw my MBA journey as a means of pivoting careers. I quickly learned that this was not the case. My journey at Tepper was a path of growing my confidence, stepping outside of the box, and challenging myself to recognize and learn from my shortcomings.

I always like to say that “the Rukayat that stepped into Tepper is not the same Rukayat that is leaving.”

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I believe connecting with current Tepper students definitely gave me an edge during the application process. My candid conversations with student leaders allowed me to learn more about the program and get a better sense of the authentic student experience. An experience I intentionally highlighted I wanted to be a part of within my Tepper application.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA classmate I admire the most is Rebecca Bearse. Rebecca is the professional development leader in the Organizational Leadership Club and is actively engaged with Tepper’s Accelerate Leadership Center. Rebecca is someone I’ve always been inspired by and is truly there whenever you need her. I’ve asked her for so many random asks from serving as a customer interviewee for my Lean Entrepreneurship class to serving as a panelist for our Diversity Weekend programming. Every conversation I’ve had with Rebecca has shown me how genuine of a character she is. From my interactions alone I know Rebecca has a bright future ahead and the sky is the limit.

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

  • Live and work abroad, specifically in Europe or Asia
  • Become a franchisee in the hair & beauty sector

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

“Rukayat Muse-Ariyoh role in the Tepper MBA community has become synonymous with service. She was elected to be the VP of Admission for the Tepper Graduate Business Association and made her mark coordinating the first post-COVID Welcome Weekend, Women’s events, and Diversity Weekend events for the school All three of these events were major undertakings and required a combination of hard work and personal capital getting her classmates to follow her lead.

And they all followed!  Rukayat has a quiet but passionate approach to her work, her academics, and her support for the student community.  She champions underrepresented groups and works to bridge the ends of the spectrum that make up her class.  Students see her as a “connector” and her positivity and compassion are well known.

A career changer, Rukayat has also been impressive in her move to consulting from Project Management looking to bring her diversity perspective to her roles post MBA.”

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


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