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Real Humans of Tesla: Jen Plantz, Texas McCombs MBA ’23, Supply Chain Program Manager

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Buckle up! In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, Jen Plantz takes us on a ride from healthcare to clean tech, driving through the MBA program at Texas McCombs to Tesla. Acquiring a new perspective and a new set of skills in the MBA program allowed Plantz to discover her passion for sustainability and clean tech. Read on to discover how Plantz made the transition thanks to connecting with her fellow students and the wider McCombs community.

Jen Plantz, Texas McCombs MBA ’23, Supply Chain Program Manager at Tesla

Age: 34
Hometown: Holland, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Bucknell University, Mechanical Engineering
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin. Class of 2023. Concentration in Finance and Investment Management.
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Technical Program Manager, Eli Lilly and Company, 7 years, Medical Devices + Pharmaceuticals
Post-MBA Work Experience: Supply Chain Program Manager, Tesla, 2 years, Electric Vehicles

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I knew I wanted to further my education because I love learning. I was deciding between the technical niche of injection physiology (I was the lead medical device design engineer for moujarno/zepbound – those viral Type 2 diabetes/obesity injections) and a generalist degree like an MBA. My mentor convinced me an MBA would open more doors, so here I am. While I miss designing new products, I am only two degrees away now!

Why Texas McCombs? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I only applied to McCombs because my husband graduated a few years ahead of me from the same program. I didn’t apply to other schools because we wanted to make Austin our hometown.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
The MBA experience gave me two things: a new perspective on how I can benefit society and a new set of skills to make me a better leader. 

If you read my admissions essay, you’d see I wanted to be a healthcare consultant. But during my first semester, my study teammate, Alexis Greco, opened my eyes to sustainability and clean technology. I quickly decided that I wanted to pivot industries and my career path. The best thing about the MBA is your classmates – their diverse backgrounds and passions will give you a new perspective on life! 

In terms of curriculum, you can get the fundamentals at any program or even on YouTube. What makes a Full-Time MBA worthwhile are classes with experts in macroeconomics, office hours with an ex-CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or access to summits like ClimateCap or Forte Leadership Conference.

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice of Tesla?
I knew I wanted to stay in Program Management – it is the perfect mix of breadth and depth. Therefore, I interned at Tesla as a Supply Chain Program Manager during my 1Y summer and continued through my entire 2Y. This is atypical to the standard full-time MBA experience, but I had a blast working on the team launching the refreshed Model 3 and cybertruck. I was extended a full-time offer to do the same role, working on global initiatives.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I chose Tesla because it is the pioneer in the transition to sustainable energy. Switching industries has been fun, I learn something new every day, but still felt confident in adding tangible value from day one. 

My coworkers are all proactive and inspiring which makes going into the office worthwhile. This role also checks the box of staying in Austin – I love F1, Austin City Limits, Longhorn sports, and champiñones tacos from Cuantos Tacos.

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Practice, practice, practice! Everyone who gets an MBA comes from an impressive background… what sets candidates apart in interviews is their eloquent and effective communication. Leverage your communication coaches, classmates, and alumni to practice your value proposition and STAR stories so that when you land your dream interview, you are prepared and confident.

–One thing you would change or do differently as part of the job search?
I don’t think I would change anything. I have seen a lot of people get hung up on the idea that their post-MBA job defines their career and put so much pressure on themselves to land the perfect job immediately. I thoroughly disagree – it is your skills and network that will propel you to your career dream state. I’m enjoying my job today but I’m excited to see where the future takes me!

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
Tesla reached out to me after I threw my resume into a large resume book. Don’t self-select yourself out of opportunities, even if you don’t feel perfectly qualified. You never know who is looking for someone like you!

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Make it a goal to spend time with every classmate, no matter your class size. You never know how you can support each other – whether with a case analysis this week or in decades for advice!

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.