Women MBAs from Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business are shattering the male-dominated tech industry. 58% of women from Tepper’s 2017 MBA cohort landed tech-related jobs after graduating—up from 45% the year before.
“Tepper has a reputation for tech,” says Anna Fuller, a current MBA student interning for Google as a product manager, “but it also has a strong tradition of female leadership.”
Working in collaboration with the Forte Foundation—an organization that specializes in pushing women into leadership roles—Tepper’s Women in Business Club and Forte Fellows launched an annual Women in Business conference in 2016.
The MBA-led initiative focused on leadership development opportunities for women at its second conference in February this year, amplifying the conversation on campus and beyond—lecture topics included ‘Men as Allies’, and ‘Understanding the Impact of Being Different to Your Peers at Work’.
“There’s a real emphasis on women being able to excel as leaders on the MBA program,” explains Anna. “Women who enter the tech industry as leaders maintain a close relationship with current students—so there’s a lot of alums to reach out to.”
Every year, two of Tepper’s female MBAs are chosen as Forte Fellow Ambassadors—connecting the Forte Foundation with the student body.
In addition, all the school’s Forte Fellows attend the Forte MBA Women’s Leadership Conference—a two-day conference that was held this year at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, with Claire Shipman—women’s leadership expert and the New York Times best-selling author of The Confidence Code and Womenomics—as the opening keynote speaker.
Exposure to the global world of female leadership is just half the story. Anna is part of the Tech Leadership Track program at Tepper—an immersive program designed to produce the next generation of tech leaders and product managers.
Students of the program are educated across campus, taking classes in computer science, architecture, machine learning, and product design—Anna even worked together with designers and engineers to create a prototype for a new app.
“Taking two years out of the industry to complete an MBA is a huge decision,” she says, “but at Tepper, you’re kept up to date with what is current outside the business world by working with schools all across Carnegie Mellon.”
Indeed, Anna was part of a team of business, design, and engineering students who entered the Official SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition—the brainchild of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, held in January and August this year.
The team from Carnegie Mellon will continue to compete in the competition’s next round in 2018, with the end goal to create a pod capable of transporting people at breakneck speeds through a vacuum-sealed tube.
Working with students from a plethora of schools exposes MBA candidates to a variety of mental processes—from business minds to engineering, to computer science and so on. It was, in fact, the multiple campus tours that persuaded Tepper MBA grad Annie Colonna to pursue a degree at the school.
“We had a tour of the robotics lab, and it really exposed you to the rich ecosystem of ideas and innovation at Tepper,” she explains.
After graduating, Annie landed a program manager job with Microsoft. And, she says, the education setup stuck with her, keeping her passion for technology alive.
“Tepper creates this inclusive environment,” she adds. “I think that’s something they do that’s really special.”
Cross-campus collaboration, plus the number of women going into tech, could be why US News & World Report ranks Tepper’s as the second-best MBA program in the US for tech management—over 50% of their student population go into tech, according to associate professor of marketing and strategy at Tepper, Tim Derdenger.
Tim explains, “we provide them all with the toolkit to be leaders in the workforce. By supplying the students with these skills, demand for them will increase.”
Tracking that demand goes back to 2012, when Tepper decided to study the data regarding its female MBAs entering tech-related roles.
“Women have either matched or exceeded men since that time,” explains Steve Rakas, executive director of MBA career services at Tepper, “so we really are at the forefront of tech careers for female MBAs.”
“We’ve always attracted folk who have a background in either tech or engineering, but we are also finding success for those without a technical background,” he adds.
Carnegie Mellon University is currently building the Tepper Quad, set for completion in 2018. Located in the heart of the CMU campus, it will only add to the ability for cross-campus collaboration—it will be partnered with the schools of computer science and engineering.