Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Elizabeth (Liz) Ostertag, Wharton School

Elizabeth (Liz) Ostertag

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania / Carey Law School

“Lawyer-to-be determined to make an impact at the intersection of the law, media, and technology.”

Hometown: Scarsdale, New York

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve swum across the Hudson River twice (for charity, not just for fun)!

Undergraduate School and Major: Princeton University, English

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: PepsiCo; Associate Manager of Marketing Innovation

What has been your first impression of the Wharton MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Wharton story so far.  My cohort of JD/MBA candidates took summer classes at Wharton earlier this summer, and were eagerly anticipating when the rest of the students would arrive in August. When Preterm began, it was so special to join such a diverse and welcoming community. I have particularly enjoyed getting to know my Learning Team. We all met our Teams during an offsite in Delaware, where we spent the day doing leadership games like blindfolded coordination activities and field games. We shared personal stories about our backgrounds and experiences to get to know each other on a deeper level. From there, we dove right into our Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership course, where we conducted a multi-day intense simulation of running an electric car company. What struck me most was how quickly our Learning Team felt like a community. In just a few days, we went from strangers to seamlessly navigating difficult decisions from the simulations. I had such a fantastic experience pairing the course materials about building a strong team culture with the daily simulation experiences. I saw firsthand how Wharton prepares its students to manage difficult real-life management scenarios.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the Wharton School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I was excited by Wharton’s focus on interdisciplinary learning. As a JD/MBA, I wanted a school that didn’t only focus on teaching me hard skills, but also how to think critically and comprehensively about both legal and business issues. This was important to me because I knew that to be a successful leader one day, I would need to be equipped with a wide breadth of skills and perspectives. Even non-dual-degree students would find this interdisciplinary spirit at Wharton through its Core Curriculum. Wharton requires students to take everything from Accounting to a Legal Studies & Business Ethics course.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at the Wharton School? I am very excited to join Wharton Storytellers. The group has a mission of encouraging the Wharton community to actively listen, share, and learn from each other through story “slams.” Each one has a theme, and students attend to share their perspectives and hear from others. When I heard about the organization, I thought it was such a fantastic way to get to know people on a deeper level, particularly in such a large class. As someone who majored in English, I’m a big believer in the power of stories to foster community and encourage diversity of thought.

When you think of the Wharton School, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Engaging. Wharton classes feel more like a back-and-forth between the professors and the students than a traditional lecture. You can also learn so much from the students sitting next to you during these discussions. Professors often encourage students to bring in insights from their past work experiences, which brings nuance to the conversation. We have students in the class who have come from many different types of backgrounds, like the military, entrepreneurship, entertainment, and teaching. This diversity sparks the engaging classroom discussions.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At PepsiCo, I worked with senior leadership to launch the company’s first alcohol distribution network. It was an incredibly complex project from a regulatory and business perspective, and required input from internal and external counsel as well as business leadership. During that project, I first realized how valuable a JD/MBA could be for navigating other complex innovations, and it inspired me to think about going back to school.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? I am hoping to work at a law firm, where I want to focus on technology and intellectual property. Long term, I would love to work in either a business or legal role at a large corporation, hopefully in the media/technology space.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I believe the key to a strong MBA application (or any school application, for that matter) is a lot of self-reflection. This may not be a typical answer, but I recently watched a show called “Jury Duty” on Amazon Prime. Without giving too much away, the show was essentially a series of tests of how a person makes difficult ethical and moral choices under pressure. It really made me reflect on my own values, and how I would have behaved in the same scenarios. The more you can understand yourself, the more prepared you are to be a leader in both an MBA setting and in future work settings. The show is also hilarious, and it’s very important to take breaks and laughs during a stressful application cycle.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to the Wharton School after I was already a law student at Penn Carey Law, so I did not have a typical application cycle!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Wharton School’s MBA program? Be yourself. Think hard about what unique experiences you have that would contribute to an MBA classroom discussion. Don’t try to retrofit your profile to become whatever you see on prior years’ MBA class profiles. Use your application as an opportunity to reflect on what drives you and why an MBA will help you meet your goals.


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