Real Humans of Carnegie Mellon Tepper’s MBA Class of 2021
Lawrence J LaPorta, Tepper MBA Class of 2021
Hometown: Ridgefield, CT
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Elon University – B.S. – Exercise Science focus in Public Health
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3.5 years in the Diagnostic Medical Sales Industry Ortho Clinical Diagnostics – Transfusion Medicine Business Manager – Southeast
Why business school? Why now?
My goal has always been to be involved in healthcare and to improve the lives of patients. But, after an eye-opening experience on a Medical Brigade in Ghana, I realized that the business side of healthcare offered the opportunity to impact a greater number of patients. To me, it felt more dynamic, exciting and full potential to effect change.
Therefore, I pursued a career in medical sales, where I was able to see the day in, day out issues affecting the industry, build my operational skills and understand the challenges of the industry. Through a networking opportunity I was introduced to a venture capital firm focused in MedTech and BioTech, where I worked closely with a healthcare focused start-up, Resility Health. It was at that point that I realized that I did not want to just operate within the healthcare system, but I wanted to help change it. In order to achieve that goal and transition to working full time in venture capital, I needed to supplement the operational skills developed in my previous role with quantitative and financial skills.
It was through conversations with family, friends and colleagues that it became clear that this could most effectively be achieved through pursuing my MBA.
Why Tepper? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Of all the MBA programs I applied to, Tepper stood out for a very specific reason – the quantitative rigor. Tepper does a great job of involving quantitative analysis and structure to each of its classes. Given my background in the health sciences, I knew I needed a program that would develop my quantitative and financial skills to prepare me for a career in venture capital. Tepper’s quantitative rigor combined with their strong entrepreneurship presence and location, surrounded by healthcare and technological innovation, presented a unique opportunity to do just that.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
When I applied to Tepper, I noticed that not many candidates had come from a medical background. For the past 4 years I have worked at the front lines of the medical device field learning to value customer feedback, to manage a team of people where there is no definitive leader and to operate in a fast-paced environment. I am confident my background in medical sales and healthcare will ensure a different perspective to my classmates throughout our time at Tepper.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I was offered a job making handmade pasta with a top chef in Sicily, but I decided to go to Carnegie Mellon instead.
Post-MBA career interests?
In the years following my MBA, my goal is to continue the part-time work I had done in venture capital, but full time as an associate. I am looking forward to working closely with founders to offer my pre-MBA experience in sales and operations as well as the financial skills I develop at Carnegie Mellon.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
One step I took at all the schools to which I applied was to visit each school. You can only learn so much about a school from what you read online – the culture, student life and classroom experiences must be learned in person.
Since each school has a different approach, focus and strength it is up to you to visit and determine if they align with where you want your MBA to take you. Take the time to attend a lecture on campus, take a tour of the school and reach out to current students who are on the same path as you.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
Waiting to take the GMAT. If I could do it differently, I would have taken this test almost immediately after graduation from my undergraduate institution. Since the test results are valid for 5 years, it would allow you to take advantage of being in the student mindset and focus on preparing for the essays/interviews when you decide to return for your MBA.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Given that I waited to take the GMAT, it was tough at first to get back into the mindset of studying. With the aspirations I had, I knew I needed to get a great score to land in a top business school.
Since I am fairly organized, I planned out study schedule including my test dates and what I needed to accomplish by a certain time, even down to what I would be studying each day. Having a plan and being organized was vital in my success and helped me achieve the outcome I needed.
What is your initial impression of Tepper’s students/culture/community?
During my evaluation of Tepper, I reached out to 4 current students who quickly responded to my emails and had a conversation with me. I spoke with each student about their experiences for over an hour and felt very confident in Tepper.
On top of my student experience, the class has created a WhatsApp group to help all incoming candidates acclimate to the area, stay up to date on deadlines for the program and find roommates and apartments. Every Tepper student that I have met has been extremely supportive and committed to each other’s success.
One thing you have learned about Tepper that has surprised you?
The approach to teaching business at Tepper is different than some of the other top Universities. Our business school was founded using the freshwater economics approach. Prior to its founding, the traditional training method was through the case method.
Although the Tepper school still utilizes case methods, it teaches decision making based on quantitative models and an analytical approach, many universities have adopted this approach since. When I learned about this approach, I was fascinated and excited to be a part of a unique institution.
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Naturally as an MBA student, the pivotal internship is what I am focused on right now. Making sure I can line myself up for success, but also taking in everything that Tepper has to offer.
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Outside of the academic rigor and quantitative emphasis of Tepper, what excited me the most was the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh offers an incredible mix of opportunity for a healthcare focused individual looking to get involved in entrepreneurship.
The combined presence of technological innovation, medical innovation and business excellence presents a unique opportunity that I am looking forward to taking advantage of. Given my experience working with startups, I know that I will be able to continue to find opportunities to do so at the Swartz Center.