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Amanda Grupp

Program:
Full-time MBA
Class Year:
Spring 2021
Employer/Title:
Senior Consultant, Enterprise Strategy & Innovation, IBM

Hometown: Sioux City, Iowa

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from DePaul University in Chicago.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? 
I worked at Kapost, a startup in Boulder, Colorado, as a customer advocacy manager.

Where will you be working after graduation? 
I will be joining IBM as a senior enterprise strategy consultant. I’m grateful to be staying in Atlanta and working alongside other Georgia Tech MBA alumni.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) at VentureLab — This opportunity is a dream as I was able to support the creation of a Female Founders program, which provides participants—female-led entrepreneurship teams—with a foundation in lean startup methodology, customer discovery, and the opportunity to build a supportive network of other lady entrepreneurs. Throughout the program, I contributed to recruitment, create and deliver lectures, and learn from the teaching team and incredible innovators.
  • Women in Business (WIB) Club President — The WIB leadership team is one of the most dedicated, thoughtful teams I had the pleasure of leading. We’ve increased club membership, ally engagement, and event attendance through hosting guest speakers and facilitating meaningful conversations. We have also emphasized intersectionality and learning from the experiences of our peers.
  • Tech Club Vice President — Our leadership team puts on programming to help with career development and to optimize the job search for students seeking roles in tech. I’m passionate about bringing in speakers who highlight the breadth of careers in tech and inspire us to reach higher.
  • MBA Admissions Ambassador and Prospective Student Interviewer — Many former Scheller students coached me throughout the admissions process and now I have paid it forward. I emailed prospective and admitted MBA candidates to encourage them in the process, answered questions, and provided support as they navigated making the best decision for their future.
  • Leadership Fellow — Selected by the MBA program office, I facilitated team check-ins for first-year students and aid in the designing the inaugural year of the leadership fellowship program.
  • Sustainability Fellow — My team’s sustainability fellowship project worked toward building an outreach program with community schools to introduce students at an earlier age to business and technology. Our goal was to support their learning and establish a more diverse pipeline of talent for future generations in business.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (D&I) Council Representative — I was a representative on Scheller’s DE&I council, working to create an inclusive environment and increase diversity at Scheller so that the student body reflects Atlanta’s demographics.
  • Hobby Group Host — The Social Committee organizes small group outings and I volunteered to lead hiking for “hobby days.” I’m passionate about the outdoors and am proud of introducing classmates to hiking, camping, and the easy accessibility to nature that Atlanta offers. These outings are good for mental health and building confidence.
  • Peer Mentor — The Peer Leadership Committee paired me with four first-year students to support them transitioning back to school, academics, and social life. We met regularly for walks and coffee—it was a joy to spend time together.
  • Consulting Club, Net Impact Club, Blacks in Business Club, and Analytics Club Member – As a member, I attended events and engaged with other members for career development and social/professional networking.
  • Case Competitions:
    • 3rd Place—Goodyear’s National Innovation Challenge, 2019
    • 2nd Place—Mars Wrigley’s National Packathon Challenge, 2020
    • 7th Place—Patagonia’s Case Competition, 2020

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? 

I am most proud of my achievements with my team as WIB president. Students are constantly messaging us to say that our club hosts the most meaningful events. WIB is special because we’re unrestricted by career function and are uniquely positioned to contribute to career development and build a close community with events that support the well-being of members.

 While I was president, we held the first Women in Male-Dominated Fields panel where a student—and inspiration of mine, Christine Scott – facilitated a panel of female students that shared their experience in the workplace. This panel created an environment of support for the women and illuminated the experience their peers have to allies. Hearing the stories come from people they know and respect made the panel more personal and impactful. I have also built connections and brought in female business leaders from the community to speak about their experiences as leaders and entrepreneurs. I’m proud that our club is making a difference in our Scheller community and beyond.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?

Accepting the position of customer advocacy manager, which was a brand-new position in the company. I designed the position and built a Voice of the Customer Program that celebrated our customers while increasing our brand visibility, customer retention, and new leads. As part of this program, I launched the Kapost Customer Awards and founded a Content Operations Leadership Council with marketing executives from Fortune 500 companies. The council was an opportunity for the company to understand customer pain points, and members called it therapeutic to have a community of other content operations leaders to discuss industry challenges and solutions. I’m proud that what I built was able to outlast my time at the company. Personally, having the opportunity to work with these leaders contributed to me deciding to return to school for an MBA.

Why did you choose this business school? 

Scheller piqued my interest with its outstanding reputation and in-state tuition. What won me over, however, was the people. Scheller is known for being a community that uplifts each other and that is the absolute truth. With small class sizes and weekly socials, you know everyone in your program immediately and intimately. Having a nontraditional background, I wanted a collaborative environment where I could learn from my peers and contribute with my experiences.

 Scheller fosters a supportive community without sacrificing drive and achievement. Students are constantly helping each other interview prep, tutoring others, and sharing words of encouragement. As a result, people are getting their dream roles and receiving a lot of high fives once they do. The community and friendships that I have experienced at Scheller are beyond what I could have imagined, and I will carry them forward into the future.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? 

My favorite MBA professor was Dr. Marius Florin Niculescu, who taught a core technology class. What stood out is that we covered topics in class that were less than a year old. Learning about emerging technologies and reading new cases helped prepare me for a career in tech strategy. As a research professor and Ph.D. advisor, he only offered one course for MBA students, and when we requested more, he said a course takes him two years to develop to get it right. That care for class content and students was reflected in our core course and set us up for success in electives such as Emerging Technologies with Dr. Eric Overby, who is also passionate about teaching and creates extracurricular opportunities for students.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school?

One tradition that I appreciate is the tailgates. Having attended a university without a football team for undergrad, I loved having the opportunity to get up early on the weekend and spend the day outside with my new classmates as well as alumni. It was these Saturdays in the fall, which started at the tailgate organized by the Athletics Committee just two blocks from our school, that allowed me to get to know my classmates and have strong relationships even when we moved to the virtual environment. I’m looking forward to attending more tailgates as an alumna.

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

I’m quiet by nature and didn’t talk in the larger classroom discussions a lot the first semester. I listened to my classmates, reflecting on how their responses related to the topic at hand. However, I realized that I needed to speak up more after I attended presentations by women such as Heidi O’Neill, president of direct to consumer at Nike, and read “Imagine it Forward” by Beth Comstock, former vice chair of General Electric. It’s important to use your voice at the table, step out of your comfort zone, and contribute your unique perspective to class so it’s not always the same few voices. I’ve made a conscious effort to speak up more in class, which has been well received and is something I plan to carry forward in my career and encourage others to do as well. Everyone has something valuable to share, and you owe it to yourself and the world to say it out loud.

What surprised you the most about business school? 

I never thought of myself as a businessperson. I adamantly thought that I would never major in business. However, I choose to get an MBA because I realized that by understanding and practicing business, you can make an impact in your community and the world. When looking into Scheller, I was surprised by how many people want to make a positive difference—and how many opportunities there are such as the Sustainability Practicum course I took. However, what surprised me most about business school is that it is fun! I learned that I enjoy strategic problem solving for case competitions, practicums, and a career. Courses are rigorous, but you get through it with 80 new friends.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? 

I reached out to the admissions team. While it’s easy to hide behind a screen and submit an application, cross your fingers, and move onto the next thing, I made sure to talk with someone in the admissions office honestly about my application. We discussed my strengths and weaknesses. I benefitted from advice on how to strengthen my application, and they were able to see my commitment to Scheller. It was nice to go to Interview Day already feeling like I had a relationship established with someone, even if it wasn’t the person interviewing me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? 

I can honestly say that I admire every single one of my classmates and have learned a valuable lesson from each of them. One classmate that stands out is Chima Odinkemere. He has a dual degree from Scheller MBA and Morehouse School of Medicine MD candidate and he’s a co-founder of a startup. Additionally, he is a kind and supportive friend. Chima’s positive energy attracts people and makes them instantly feel comfortable. Scheller has an event where students can give “Ted Talks” and Chima gave a powerful presentation about failing your way to success. His vulnerability in taking the stage and sharing his greatest failures—and how they have led to his greatest successes—is something I try to emulate in my conversations with others. We can’t just share the highlight reel, we have to share the truth. Chima has overcome challenges and achieved many personal and professional accomplishments, with a goal of always giving back to his community. I strive to live my life in as authentic and giving manner as Chima. He’s an inspiration.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? 

My dad has been telling me since I was five years old that I should study business, so I’m sure he was an influence. However, the best way to learn is to be shown. I was inspired to take the leap to get an MBA when the company I began working under my company’s new chief marketing officer. She is a driven leader, advocates for her employees, and led the company through strategic changes. On her first day she asked what I did in my role, what I thought was unnecessary to the role, and what I wanted to do. These questions set me in motion to think about my greatest skills and what future I wanted to build for my career. It also demonstrated that she believed in me and my capabilities and was willing to take the time to get coffee and discuss her career journey. I knew that was the kind of leader that I wanted to be and while I have several of the soft skills necessary, I wanted to boost my analytical skill set by returning to school to pursue an MBA.

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

The first item on my professional bucket list is to teach college-level courses. Through my time at Scheller, I realized how much I love being a mentor and teaching skills to people. I have been able to practice building and delivering lectures for my GRA, and it is rewarding to have students reach out after and say they thought about something in a new way because of what I said.

 Since I’ll be traveling a lot for work, I also look forward to checking out the best coffee shops in cities across the country and maybe even getting a few hours to work from them!

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