Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business students come to learn, explore, and build community. As they move forward in their careers, they take everything they’ve learned and use it to power innovation in industries and businesses across the globe. In celebration of Spring 2023 Commencement, we sat down with a few students to learn about their experiences and the wisdom they’ve gained in the process.
Meet Owen Pendley, who is graduating with a concentration in Strategy & Innovation and a minor in Sustainable Cities through the College of Design.
Where are you from?
Where did you go to high school?
Mill Creek High School
Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college?
The biggest influences in my decision to pursue a business education were Faith Davenport and Brett Pasquinelli, my high school DECA advisors. These amazing women gave me the opportunity to grow and become a leader, the space to explore different career paths, and the support and encouragement I needed to thrive during and after high school. As a result of their mentorship, I discovered my passion for business and decided it was what I wanted to study in college. I would not be where I am today without them.
Why did you choose Scheller College of Business?
I chose Scheller because of the college’s heavy emphasis on both business and technology. Pursuing a Bachelor of Science and the skills gained in the process have helped me stand out and excel among my peers from other business schools. Being from Georgia, I was also aware of Georgia Tech’s location and proximity to businesses, jobs, and opportunities, as well as the appeal of living in Atlanta.
One major factor in my decision came from my first visit to Scheller while in high school. During my visit, I got a sense of how supportive the faculty, staff, and advisors were of the students and how the entire building felt like one giant community. The faculty and staff gave both my parents and me the confidence that Scheller was a place where I could grow and thrive. Every day I am thankful for my decision to come to Scheller four years ago, and I can’t imagine where I would be today without this community.
What concentration did you pursue and why?
I pursued the Strategy & Innovation concentration because I have always loved puzzles. Business is a giant, ever-changing puzzle. It requires preparation and planning, just like taking your puzzle out of the box, finding a place to put it together, and blocking off your time. Every function of a business, from marketing campaigns to proper staffing, is a piece of the puzzle with its own unique edges and ways of interacting with the other aspects of the business. These pieces change and evolve with every decision you make and as your business develops.
Some pieces are rendered obsolete, others are introduced by new challenges or challengers, and sometimes the pieces simply do not fit, so you start again from the beginning. This constant challenge and evolution of problems across all aspects of business drew me to the Strategy & Innovation concentration and inspired me to pursue a career in the field.
What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into Scheller College?
Pursue what you are interested in and passionate about, not what you think other people want to see. Although being well-rounded as an applicant is important, it is more important to explore and develop your interest so that you can fully pursue them at Georgia Tech. With eight concentrations, more than nine centers and initiatives, and countless opportunities, there are no bounds regarding what you can do at Scheller.
I also encourage any applicant to do as much research as possible. Exploring the Scheller website and programs, attending information sessions and tours, or even calling the Undergraduate Program Office is the best way to ensure that Scheller is right for you. This is how I decided that Scheller was right for me and my goals.
What is the biggest myth about Scheller College?
I have given many tours of campus and Scheller over the past four years, and a common question I get from prospective students and parents is, “Why does Scheller seem somewhat isolated from the rest of campus?” It is a valid question, and I had similar thoughts when I first discovered the college was on the east side of the connector in Midtown rather than on the west side with the rest of campus.
Although we have a tight-knit community here, we are all, first and foremost, Georgia Tech students. We embody the ideals of innovation, creativity, and “Creating the Next” that has flowed through the Institute since 1888. We are a short walk or bus ride from any campus resource, residence hall, or event, but unlike most of the rest of campus, we are steps away from Fortune 500 headquarters, cultural organizations, and financial institutions. By being in Midtown, Scheller and its community can reap the benefits of both Georgia Tech and the energetic business ecosystem of Midtown.
As a business student in the heart of Tech Square, how do you think Scheller College embodies the intersection of business and technology?
Scheller students, by our very nature, are innovators. We are taught and mentored by world-renowned experts and are located in one of the densest clusters of startups, researchers, corporations, and innovative thinkers in the nation. Throughout their histories, Georgia Tech and Atlanta have grown together, and as the city has become a powerhouse of both business and technology, so have Georgia Tech and Scheller.
The courses at Scheller are structured to prepare us for a rapidly changing world. Projects and assignments are designed so that we use the most innovative technology to solve the business problems of today. In an ever-technology and computing-dominated business landscape, Scheller is uniquely able to prepare students to continue to flourish no matter what challenges the future holds.
What was your favorite course, and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it?
Although it was extremely challenging, my favorite course has to be MGT 4196, the Strategy Practicum. My team and I developed a plan for Southern Company to reach net-zero emissions by 2030 while maintaining the reliability and affordability of utilities for consumers. This project required me to use concepts from almost every course I’ve taken at Scheller, from financial management to legal skills and sustainable business practices. Many of my interests lie in strategic sustainable business, and this project was a perfect fit. As a result of this course, I ended the semester feeling extremely confident in my ability to thrive in my career after graduation.
Who was your favorite professor and why?
My favorite professor at Scheller has been Dr. Anne Fuller. Looking back over the past four years, the four classes I took with Dr. Fuller have been some of the most impactful of my business education. As a professor, Dr. Fuller constantly looks for ways to make her classes more applicable to the current business landscape. She has consistently brought in excellent speakers, connected students with industry contacts, and pushed us to think through and view concepts in different ways. As a person, Dr. Fuller is one of the most knowledgeable people regarding the business landscape and the world that I have ever met. It helps that she has a great sense of humor too. I am extremely grateful to have been mentored by Dr. Fuller and commend her for her excellence as a professor, mentor, and Yellow Jacket.
What activities were you involved with on or off campus, and did your business education impact those activities in any way?
My biggest involvements on campus have been with the Student Center Programs Council, the Student Government Association, the Georgia Tech Swim Club, and Tour Guides. I have also worked for both the Office of Undergraduate Admission and the Scheller Undergraduate Program Office. One of the biggest impacts my business education has had on these activities has been in teaching me how to think through problems, effectively make decisions, and have the confidence to be a leader in any situation.
Where did you intern/co-op during school?
I completed a double internship with Pershing, Yoakley, and Associates as an operations intern working with their tax, accounting, talent acquisition, and consulting teams.
Where will you be working after graduation?
After graduation, I will start my career at Gartner as a client success associate in their Irving, Texas office.
How did the Scheller College undergraduate career education program assist you with your job efforts? Did you end up working or interning for one of your top choice companies?
The career education program was critical to my job search efforts. Last fall, after a few months of searching and interviewing for full-time positions, I met a university recruiter from Gartner in the Career Development class. I learned about the company and various positions, was encouraged to apply, and began interviewing soon after. Michael Dutcher and the career resources provided to Scheller students helped me prepare and succeed in my interviews and even land the job. In my opinion, the career education program is one of the most valuable resources we have access to as Scheller students.
Did you participate in any hands-on/experiential learning opportunities? If yes, which projects/companies did you work with, and how did you help them?
During my third year, I was selected as a Sustainable Business Ambassador by the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business. My team and I partnered with Georgia Tech Strategic Consulting to build out the structure and means of collaboration of the University Global Coalition, a global platform of higher education institutions working together to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals throughout campuses and the world.
The same year, I participated in the Peace Engineering VIP, where I helped develop strategies to promote peace, resilience, and sustainable development throughout West Atlanta in conjunction with the development of Science Square. Specifically, I focused on limiting current and anticipated financial pressures on members of the community and reconnecting neighborhoods like English Avenue and Vine City with Georgia Tech and the rest of Atlanta.
Who would you most like to thank for your success?
My parents. They taught me the importance of hard work, respect, and, most importantly, how to be a good person in any situation, no matter who is watching. My parents taught me how to lead and how to be compassionate. Because of them, I was constantly pushed to be better in academic settings, athletics, and in my everyday interactions with people. They gave me the freedom to explore my passions and interests, learn how to think for myself, and the space to reflect and grow from failures and setbacks. My parents have given me more support and love throughout my life than I will ever be able to express. I can never thank them enough, and I hope to continue making them proud.
What is a fun fact about yourself?
I can tell you about (almost) any active construction/building projects in the city.
What are some of your hobbies?
Currently, I am training for a marathon next year and for the Peachtree Road Race in July, so running has become my most time-consuming hobby. My favorite running route has to be from campus to Westside Park along the Westside Beltline Connector. I have also recently gotten into baking, specifically making bread, muffins, and other foods from scratch. I recommend The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum for anyone looking to start!
What are the top two items on your bucket list?
My bucket list is lengthy, but at the top is to visit all 50 U.S. states by the time I turn 25. I have visited 20 states so far in my life and have tentative plans to visit at least six more by the end of 2023. I would also love to ride the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express from Paris to Istanbul. My grandparents have traveled the world throughout their lives and have shared amazing stories about their experience on and the beauty of the original Orient Express.