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Real Humans of Carnegie Mellon Tepper’s MBA Class of 2020

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Paul W. Shumate II, Tepper MBA Class of 2020

Paul W. Shumate II, Tepper MBA Class of 2020

Age: 36
Hometown: Fairfax, VA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Virginia – Systems Engineering, Economics, Computer Science, minor in Applied Math

Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 12 years, Tech & IP Law

Why business school? Why now?
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have a huge impact on small businesses and developed a successful track record of driving innovation and affecting change in emerging markets. I want to leverage my background, drive, and grit to work in management consulting to bring my ability to affect change to larger companies with global reach and influence.

Why Tepper? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Tepper’s focus on data and analytics combined with Carnegie Mellon’s reputation of being a leader in AI, machine learning, and engineering is what lead me to Pittsburgh. I believe the future of business is big data and technology and I wanted a school that stays on the forefront of innovation.

Tepper aligns well with my engineering and entrepreneurial background and I believe it will be the best place for me to build upon my current abilities, enabling me to add real value in the world through creative innovation and strong quantitative and analytical skills.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020?
I have an entrepreneurial passion to think outside of the box and create novel solutions to unique problems. However, I think my most valuable contribution to the class is that I love to spur that passion in others and empower them to question the status quo and transform themselves and the projects on which they are working.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I’ve driven from Virginia to the Arctic Ocean and visited most National Parks in the US. I try and spend time outside everyday elevating my heart rate and appreciating whatever unique and diverse environment I currently have the blessing to experience.

Post-MBA career interests?
Management consulting with an eventual focus on enterprise level digital strategy in emerging markets.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Visit schools and meet current students. Do this early and get to know each school under consideration before deciding exactly where to apply.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would have started the process earlier and been ok with making my school search a longer-term, possibly multi-year process.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GMAT. It wasn’t a hard test but it’s such an MBA-specific metric that I’d rather have spent my time doing something more holistic. I crammed for a month and took it to get a baseline to further focus my studying. I was so relaxed during my first attempt that I performed way better than expected and was able to move on.

What is your initial impression of Tepper’s students/culture/community?
Everyone here is so enthusiastic and supportive. Since starting basecamp, any and every event or activity has had incredible turnout.

The first week of school a few of us planned a small rock-climbing trip and 25 people showed up. When one of our classmates, Hannah, taught a yoga class in the main campus gym to be evaluated as a new instructor, Tepper students packed the room at 8 AM in support. Further, not only Tepper alumni, but CMU alumni as a whole, are so quick to give back to the community, meet with current students, and connect us to their professional networks.

One thing you have learned about Tepper that has surprised you?
I know Carnegie Mellon is a hotbed for innovation but what surprised me most is the wealth of entrepreneurs coming to Tepper with not just ideas, but actual, viable products, business plans, and actionable steps already in place with the intention of leveraging both Tepper and the surrounding CMU community to launch or grow their businesses.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m most anxious about maintaining my focus and priorities in the upcoming sea of opportunities. I’ve already experienced the metaphor of “drinking from a firehose” and while I know it’s extremely important to prioritize ever decision in my life, there are just so many amazing people to meet, experiences to have, and opportunities to try out. I believe coming to school with an open mind but also an actionable plan is the only way for me to mitigate my fears of missing out or spreading myself too thin.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Getting to know every person in my class and learning about their passions and expertise. We have a relatively small class size full of diverse, interesting people that come from all over the world and from many industries. I love seeing the world through the lens of another person’s perspective and I look forward to incorporating that diversity into the way I see, understand, and approach solutions in the world of business.

Jonathan Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as Contributing Writer at MetroMBA and Contributing Editor at Clear Admit, he was also a co-founder of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.