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Real Humans of Carnegie Mellon Tepper’s MBA Class of 2021

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Ben O’Bright, Tepper MBA Class of 2021

Ben O’Bright, Tepper MBA Class of 2021

Age: 31
Hometown: Norman, Oklahoma
Undergraduate Institution and MajorUniversity of Oklahoma, Business-Energy Management
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 Years, US Army (2010-2014); 5 Years, Oil & Gas (2014-2019)

Why business school? Why now?
I am pursuing an MBA as a career pivot. My last 5 years in the Oil & Gas Industry have developed me both as a leader and a professional, but I have missed the operations and management roles that I held in the military. As I looked to pursue a position in operations, I felt that I needed to further develop my technical and leadership expertise. Business school seemed to be the most suitable next step in making this career change.

Why Tepper? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I chose Tepper for the close-knit community and family feel. I was seeking a program where I would have the chance to get to know the entire class, and not just a small group. The smaller class size at Tepper was an important distinguishing factor for me. When we made the decision to transplant our family, my wife and I wanted to make sure that we were going to be a part of program and community that would bring added support to our family. We believe we found that with Tepper.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
Prior to coming to Tepper, I had almost 9 years of experience in 2 completely different industries. With this background, I feel that I may have an increased awareness of the importance of managing and prioritizing people, in order to optimize successful outcomes.

I am also a bit of an outlier when it comes to your average MBA candidate, in that I am married with two young children. The traits that I have developed as a husband and a Dad, including patience, compromise, and flexibility will translate nicely into group efforts.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I ran the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon in 2009. This marathon is conducted in honor of the service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II, most notably from the 31st Infantry Regiment. In 2011, I became a member of the 31st Infantry Regiment.

Post-MBA career interests?
My post-MBA career interest would be to join a General Management Leadership Development Program.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Always interview on campus. By interviewing on campus, I really gained a sense of the program’s culture and uniqueness. When it came time to decide, these visits weighed heavily.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
Make sure that all your campus interview dates allow you to attend a class and other events, such as lunch with current students. I scheduled one of my interviews when no other events were offered, and I did not get as much out of that visit.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The essays. I think everyone struggles with this part of the application process. It is difficult to really nail down and select a story to tell that answers the question in the most meaningful way. Luckily, my wife was extremely supportive and always served as a sounding board for me to bounce ideas off. I would not have been able to get through the application process without her.

What is your initial impression of Tepper’s students/culture/community?
Tepper’s students are extremely diverse. A large portion of our class is made up of international students, which makes for unique and differing perspectives. I would describe the culture and community of Tepper as very helpful and supportive.

I moved to Pittsburgh with my wife and kids and the amount of support that we have all received from Tepper students and faculty has been amazing. Everyone is willing to lend a hand. I would not be where I am today if not for the help of the Tepper community.

One thing you have learned about Tepper that has surprised you?
I was drawn to Tepper by the strong focus that the program places on Data Analytics and Operations, but I was unaware of how strong of an Entrepreneurship program Tepper has. The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship offers a first-class facility and faculty to entrepreneurial students.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
The quant classes. It has been over 10 years since I last took a quant class. The Math Workshop offered during Tepper’s BaseCamp has been extremely helpful in getting me up to speed, but I can’t deny that I am still a little nervous.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Getting to know all my classmates. I have never been in such a diverse environment, and I am really looking forward to hearing everyone’s story.

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.