Anna Lawrence | Full-Time MBA | Class of 2018
Runner. Travel enthusiast. Pursuing tech product management.
Prior to returning to school for my MBA, I worked for eight years in the industry. I spent four years working in marketing, strategy and business development in defense IT and then four years working at an e-commerce tech company in product management, ultimately serving in the role of director of product.
At my last company, I discovered a passion for tech product management, and that realization has allowed me to be very focused in my approach to recruiting and coursework. Since I knew exactly what I was looking for in terms of career growth, I was able to get recruiting out of the way relatively early in my first year and could focus on all of the leadership and academic aspects of the program.
I decided to return to school for an MBA because I wanted to fill the gaps in my quantitative skillset with coursework in finance, accounting and analytics. Now that I’m back at school, I realize that an MBA offers so much more than the coursework!
I love running, drinking wine, cooking Blue Apron dinners with my husband and (like every good MBA) traveling! I’m also an avid reader, although I currently seem to be acquiring new books much faster than I can keep up with reading them.
Your Life + Tepper School
I chose the Tepper School because of its reputation as an excellent analytical school and because I wanted to be a part of the technology and innovation happening broadly across the larger CMU community. The school has lived up to my expectations in both regards, but what pleasantly surprised me about coming to CMU was how important my fellow classmates have become to my journey. I’m constantly wowed by the rich experience my peers bring to classroom discussion and group work.
The culture at the Tepper School is very inclusive! With only 210 students per class, it’s hard not to get to know everyone. The school promotes a culture of diversity and inclusion from the start by intentionally assigning us to groups and class cohorts that change from course to course and mini to mini.
I’m excited for my coursework in the Tech Leadership Track, led by professor Timothy Derdenger. In that track, not only will I be taking classes at the Tepper School that will strengthen my ability as a tech product manager, but I’ll also be taking classes across campus and getting the opportunity to work with diverse groups of students from the School of Computer Science, the Heinz program of Information Systems Management, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the design and HCI programs. I love the exposure to different disciplines throughout the track; it simulates what it will be like to work in industry with peers who are designers and engineers.
One Tepper School experience that stands out in particular was traveling to Los Angeles for the Hyperloop Competition Finals. We spent each day at SpaceX manning the tent and prepping our pod for the competition. Between rounds, we found time to explore LA’s hot spots. Some highlights from the trip: standing in Michael Jackson’s footprints at the Chinese Theatre, dancing until dawn and still managing to arrive at SpaceX by 9 a.m., and meeting one of my all-time personal and professional heroes, Elon Musk. I still can’t believe I got to talk to him! Our team took 8th place in Overall Design & Construction (out of 27 finalists and over 1,000 teams in the initial design round).
Tepper School Advice
Once you arrive on campus, you'll be flooded with opportunities to get involved; you won't have enough time to do everything. If you've taken some time to reflect and come prepared with clear priorities, you'll be positioned to make the most of your Tepper School experience.
Your Life + Pittsburgh
The arts scene in Pittsburgh is fantastic. We have great museums, theaters and performing arts organizations in the city; many of them are free or discounted for CMU students!
I also love the foodie scene here! Pittsburgh was named Zagat’s top food city in 2015, and new restaurants are opening every day. Some of my favorites include Cure, Whitfield at the Ace Hotel, Butcher and the Rye, and Smoke BBQ Taqueria.