As part of our Countdown to Commencement series, we interviewed a few soon-to-be graduates from our undergraduate and MBA programs to learn about their backgrounds, why they chose Scheller College, and what they plan to do after Fall 2018 Commencement.
Meet Rebecca Von Der Heide:
Rebecca is a native of Hopatcong, New Jersey, and completing her Executive MBA (EMBA) in Management of Technology. She has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and describes herself as “a wife, mom, neuroscientist, market research director, pet owner, lifelong learner, and travel lover.” Rebecca chose Scheller’s Executive MBA program because “it offers an incredible curriculum on a schedule that worked with my job and home life.”
Fun fact about yourself:
I have a Ph.D. in neuroscience and enjoy writing papers and publishing my research. One of my favorite topics has been studying how the brain develops and functions during the teenage years.
Where are you employed and what do you do there?
I’m employed at the Nielsen Company where I work as director of Consumer Neuroscience. There, I work with Fortune 100 clients to design neuroscience research studies that can help them understand consumer response to their products, advertising, marketing, and packaging.
Did your position change as a result of the EMBA program?
Yes; As a result of the EMBA program, I have taken on additional leadership responsibilities at the company where I work. One of the areas I am excited to do more work is in product innovation.
Why did you choose Scheller College of Business?
I chose Scheller College of Business because the curriculum in the EMBA program was exactly what I was looking for to fill in gaps in my knowledge and help me take the next steps in my career. I wanted to learn business strategy, how to be an entrepreneur, and speak to companies to map out the next steps in my career path.
Why did you choose the Executive MBA program?
I am a busy mom working full-time as a neuroscientist. I chose the Executive MBA program because it offered an incredible curriculum on a schedule that worked with my job and home life.
Who was your favorite professor and why?
I mean it when I say it would be impossible to choose just one. The professors at Scheller College are all experts in their fields and each bring their own unique style to teaching. My favorite things about the professors I had as a whole are that they are incredibly smart, energized by what they teach, and constantly challenged us to push ourselves and learn more.
What was your favorite course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it?
Our MOT capstone course was my favorite. The biggest insight I gained is that I could push myself even harder than I thought was possible to achieve my personal business goals. As I completed the curriculum, I was able to narrow down to a new product idea that I am passionate about and I plan to bring market one day. This would not have been possible without the MOT capstone course.
As a business student in the heart of Tech Square, how do you think Scheller College embodies the intersection of business and technology?
The location of Scheller College in the heart of Tech Square embodies a vast and dynamic culture that exists at the unique intersection of business and technology. It is not the location or the building but the people at Scheller College and the surrounding community at Tech Square who are the dynamic bridges between business and technology. As a business student, one of the most valuable resources I will walk away with are the relationships I forged with other people at Scheller who are leading experts in fields that bridge business and technology.
What is your best advice to someone interested in getting their MBA at Georgia Tech Scheller College?
The MBA programs at Scheller offer a large number of unique opportunities to be an engaged and active student. My advice to a prospective student is to make sure the timing is right for them to take full advantage of those opportunities during their time in the program.
What is the biggest myth about Scheller College?
The biggest myth about Scheller College is that the classes are filled with engineers only. One of the things I loved most about Scheller is the incredible diversity. The diversity and fantastic group of different people and backgrounds made it a great opportunity to learn from other people in addition to our class work.
What was your capstone project? What did you think about the final presentation before the judges?
My capstone project was the development of a health care app called “NutraBuddy,” which helps individuals with dietary restrictions shop and easily gain access to a wider variety of food choices.
How do you feel your capstone experience has prepared you for post-graduation?
The capstone experience allowed us to walk first-hand in the shoes of an entrepreneur. I now know the process and am prepared after graduation to transform my ideas into actual products and services.
Did you participate in one of the optional trips?
I had an opportunity to go to Silicon Valley and Panama. Each of these trips were an incredible experience and left me with memories I will be talking about for the rest of my life.
In Silicon Valley, we had an opportunity to visit big companies like Auto Desk, Twitter, Schlumberger as well as smaller startups. We talked to C-suite executives, venture capitalists, and Georgia Tech alumni working at these companies. My favorite company was Potrero Medical whose CEO, Joe Urban, is a graduate of the Scheller College EMBA program. It was great to see someone who was in our shoes only a few years ago living his dream and leading a company he is passionate about.
In Panama, we received an unbelievable behind the scenes tour of the Panama Canal; hiked in the rainforest; took a dugout canoe to the village of the indigenous Embera Tribe; taught children English in one of the local schools; and visited with country managers and CEOs at companies like Kelloggs, Grupo Rey, FCI Logistics, and Hospital Punta Pacifica. The first-hand experience, knowledge, and advice we received in Panama was unique and impactful. I am grateful that I had an opportunity to have these once in a lifetime experiences.
“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…"
If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be a consumer neuroscientist!
What are the top two items on your personal bucket list?
To visit 50 or more countries and to write a children’s science book.
In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?
I want to be remembered as a hard-working and supportive classmate who, hopefully, helped to make their time in the program as great as they made my time here.