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Amanda Grupp Named Poets&Quants 2021 Best & Brightest MBA

Georgia Tech Scheller Full-time MBA graduate Amanda Grupp has been selected as a 2021 Poets&Quants Best & Brightest MBA.
Amanda Grupp, Full-time MBA 2021 Graduate

Amanda Grupp, Full-time MBA 2021 Graduate

“Passionate about learning what motivates people, world traveler, AT hiker, and mac ‘n cheese aficionado.”

Hometown: Sioux City, Iowa

Fun fact about yourself: When I was 25 years old, I bought a one-way ticket to Colombia, expecting to stay for three months. Instead, I backpacked for a year from the northern Caribbean Coast of Colombia to Tierra del Fuego on the southern tip of Argentina.

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, Colo., as a customer advocacy manager.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? 
I interned at Nike as a digital product manager; while it was supposed to be in Portland, Oregon, it was ultimately remote due to COVID-19. I had an amazing team who made the 2,600-mile distance seem not too distant.

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 have been 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’ve been able to contribute 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’ve had the pleasure of leading. In the past year we have been able to increase club membership, ally engagement, and event attendance through hosting guest speakers and facilitating meaningful conversations. We have also placed emphasis on intersectionality and learning from the lived 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 am able to pay it forward. I email prospective and admitted MBA candidates to encourage them in the process, answer questions, and provide support as they navigate making the best decision for their future.
  • Leadership Fellow— Selected by the MBA program office, I facilitate team check-ins for first-year students and aid in the design of the inaugural year of the leadership fellowship program.
  • Sustainability Fellow— My team’s sustainability fellowship project is working towards building an outreach program with community schools to introduce students at an earlier age to business and technology. Our goal is to support their learning and establish a more diverse pipeline of talent for future generations in business.
  • Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Council Representative— I’m a representative on Scheller’s D&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 have 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 has paired me with four first-year students to provide support for the transition back to school, academics, and social life. We meet regularly for walks and coffee—it’s a joy to spend time together.
  • Consulting Club, Net Impact Club, Blacks in Business Club, and Analytics Club Member– As a member I attend events and engage 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? 
While I am in awe of all the activities I have been able to be a part of in the last year-and-a-half, 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 wellbeing 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 created an environment of support for the women and illuminated the experience their peers have to allies. Having the stories come from people they know and respect made the panel much 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 to the company. I was able to design the position and build 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 their 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 non-traditional 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 our core technology class. What really stood out is that we covered topics in class that were from the past year or less. Being able to learn about technologies that are emerging and to read new cases has helped prepare me as I enter a career in tech strategy. As a research professor and PhD advisor, he only offered one course for MBA students and when we requested more, he said a course takes him two years to develop in order 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.

While I’m only two weeks in, Dr. Anne Fuller is also a contender as I love how she keeps us engaged in an evening Corporate Strategy course. She would make a great podcast host!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school?
 Unfortunately due to Covid-19, our class wasn’t able to participate in staple Scheller traditions that I was excited about, such as the annual Crawfish Boil. However, one tradition that I really 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 really 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 GE. 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. In fact, 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 actually 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. In between the group projects and homework, there was always time to attend a social and to grab a drink at the local bar patio in the evening with classmates.

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 by getting 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, who is a dual degree Scheller MBA and Morehouse School of Medicine MD Candidate, and 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. He’s also incredibly humble and would deny everything I’ve said, even though it’s the absolute truth.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit?
 Our class was lucky in that we were already close with one another when we moved to a virtual environment in March 2020. This allowed us to host and attend fun, sometimes rowdy, virtual happy hours and trivia nights without awkward silences. As a club leader, it opened up our access to which speakers we could have and how many people we could invite to our events. In this sense, the virtual environment brought new opportunities. However, there is no substitute for in person learning and I’m grateful that Georgia Tech and Scheller have thoughtfully and safely continued in a hybrid environment. Free weekly Covid-19 tests and classroom social distancing measures allow us to engage in person at least a couple times a week.

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 CMO. She is a driven leader, advocates for her employees, and led the company through strategic changes. 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. This set me in motion thinking about what my greatest skills are and what future I wanted to build for my career. It also demonstrated that she believed in me and my capabilities and was even 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!

What made Amanda such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Amanda is the perfect example of the Full-time MBA student who made a successful career pivot. She was able to leverage her Scheller MBA along with her four years in customer experience marketing roles at a couple of small firms to secure a full-time strategic consulting role with IBM. She took full advantage of all experiential opportunities as a Full-time MBA student, participating in several case competitions, practicums with Delta Air Lines and Chick-fil-A, GRA at Georgia Tech’s startup incubator (VentureLab), and held leadership positions in Scheller’s Woman in Business, Managing Technology and Net Impact MBA Clubs.”

Dave Deiters
Executive Director, Jones MBA Career Center

“What impressed me about Amanda Grupp was her dedication to learning. After one MBA class session, she hung around in the classroom with other colleagues for almost an hour to discuss topics related to the course and beyond. She is a sharp and genuinely interested student who does connect the dots. And yes…now the cliché part… she also did very well in my class.”

Florin Niculescu
Associate Professor, Information Technology Management

“During her short time at Georgia Tech, Amanda has made a significant impact to Scheller College. The comments from her peers highlight the admiration and respect they have for her:

“Aside from being a stellar human, brilliant classmate, and fun adventure seeker, Amanda is creating real, structural change for women entrepreneurs. Her work with VentureLab to create and launch a Female Founders program for aspiring women entrepreneurs in Atlanta has created a growing network of women helping each other achieve their startup aspirations. Her desire to transform the business world for women continues within our MBA cohort as she curates amazing speakers and engaging programming to elevate the profile of women in our class. If anyone in the Scheller class of 2021 is going to go on to create real, equitable change for women in the workplace – and do so humbly, thoughtfully, and intentionally – it’s Amanda Grupp.”

“Amanda is outgoing, intellectually curious, and genuine in her efforts to connect with people in our class and bettering the greater Scheller community. She’s currently the president of Women in Business, which has been one of the most active organizations in the program during the pandemic. With her GRA, she has she helped create the Female Founders Program, a four-week virtual cohort experience where participants gain a foundational knowledge of lean startup methodology and customer discovery while tackling topics associated with the specific journey of female-led startups.”

“From the very first day Amanda got to Scheller, she’s been a model of how to seek the next level of personal achievement while simultaneously supporting and building up others on their own unique paths. Amanda has numerous professional achievements of her own, including her impressive digital product management internship at Nike, her future full-time job as an enterprise strategy consultant at IBM, and top three finishes at multiple national case competitions. Despite how hard she works individually, she also carves out plenty of time to give back to the Scheller community.”

“Amanda truly embodies the Scheller spirit and shows it through her involvement in the community. Although she has many ties to the community, I want to specifically call out her involvement in the Scheller Women in Business Club (WiB) as well as in the Female Founders program. Amanda has used her role as the president of the Women in Business Club to empower women to lead and speak out and she has brought in more allies to the club. Amanda frequently connects with women who have been successful in their careers and gives these women a platform to speak about their journey and experience, which gives everyone an inspiring role model who they can connect with and learn from. She also encourages WiB leadership to ideate events and take the lead on executing them while giving them the tools for success so that everyone can experience leadership roles in a supportive environment. This has led to insightful Q&A sessions for allies to better understand what women experience working in their roles as well as strong connections between members who feel empowered to share their experiences. Through her GRA, Amanda has established the Female Founders program. Amanda already puts significant thought and effort into what she does, but this program is one that’s especially close to her values and she’s taken it on with unparalleled enthusiasm. She created a program built to empower and educate female entrepreneurs who have been historically underserved. This program has served to coach female entrepreneurs on some of their largest pain points to set them up for success. Although Amanda’s contributions to the community could fill pages, I feel particularly strongly about her impact through these two that she’s taken on. These are the things that will be around long after she leaves Scheller, and her legacy will be well known.”

“Amanda is an amazing classmate and friend. She is always so positive – someone you can count on to power her friends/team through tough moments. She is the type of leader who champions what is right and challenges the status quo, whether that’s related to sustainability or promoting women in the workplace. Amanda has so much potential to change the world for the better.”

“Amanda Grupp represents the heart and soul of Scheller better than anyone else. Hands down one of the kindest and most considerate people I’ve ever met, her willingness to help does not stop when we run out of requests for her. She will go out of her way to make the members of Scheller feel at home unprompted. Her kindness is only second to her intelligence and abilities.”

“Amanda is a natural leader. Amanda is committed to inclusivity, equity, and female empowerment within the Scheller and broader Georgia Tech communities and has shown this commitment at every turn. As a Sustainability Fellow, she worked to build an outreach program with public schools to create a path towards higher ed for underserved communities and acted as a voice for inclusion as the only female officer of the Tech Strategy club. On a personal note, Amanda has been a steadfast friend and constant cheerleader for me. She is someone who I call to think through challenges but is also one of the first people I tell when good things happen–she is someone who truly celebrates her friends’ accomplishments as much as her own. Her thoughtfulness, experience, and perspective are invaluable–she is truly one of Scheller’s best.”

Katie Lloyd
Associate Dean, Full-time and Evening MBA Programs

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