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2023 Katz Graduates Celebrate at Commencement
Katz Commencement 2023

The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business Class of 2023 should find meaning in their work, stay focused on their goals, and use their experiences to inspire and drive change. 

Those were among the messages the master’s and doctoral degree graduates heard during the 63rd annual Katz commencement ceremony held Friday, April 28, 2023, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. To watch the ceremony video, click here. The commencement program, which includes all the graduates, is here. 

Gene Anderson, the Henry E. Haller Jr. Dean of Pitt Business, addressed the graduates and said: “You are leaving our community even richer and stronger than you found it. Remember, you will always be a part of the Pitt Business Family. A family that will always be here for you – ready to support you when you need us – and ready to celebrate you when you make us proud.” 

Hard Work: The Engine of Success 

Commencement speaker Moussa Coulibaly (MBA ‘94) told the graduates: “Success depends on hard work, a positive attitude, and luck, all anchored around a clear goal. Luck may seem random and uncontrollable, but we create favorable conditions for it with a positive attitude and hard work.” 

Coulibaly, vice president of omni-channel pricing strategy and execution at DICK’S Sporting Goods, has an impressive track record of success in driving growth and profitability. Currently in his 21st year with DICK’s, having held numerous leadership positions, he credits his MBA with teaching him the importance of collaborating with different stakeholders.  

“You have the opportunity and an obligation to apply your skills and knowledge in innovative ways. Use your experiences to inspire and drive change,” he said. 

Coulibaly pointed out that this graduating class represents 15 different countries and that, “the world is changing and so must we. We must always ensure that our work environment is free of any discrimination, racism, prejudice, harassment, or inequality of any kind.”  

Overcoming Obstacles and Challenges 

Sara Moeller, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Executive Education, told the graduates: “You have endured obstacles and hurdles to bring you to this singular day—a day where your family and friends, as well as our faculty and staff, share with great pride your collective accomplishments. I hope that you are proud of your achievement, are dedicated to being a life-long learner, and will remember your time at Katz fondly.” 

Vicky Hoffman, professor of business administration and Barry Jay Epstein Faculty Fellow, said in the opening comments: “We know you will use the knowledge and skills you’ve gained at Katz to succeed in business. Remember to stay true to yourselves and your values, find meaning in your work, and aim to improve the world around you.” 

Business Alumni Association President Matthew Stahl (MBA ’11) welcomed graduates to the Katz family. 

“You have risen to the challenge and completed a demanding program, and on behalf of the 35,000-plus Pitt Business alumni around the world, I congratulate you on this remarkable achievement,” said the senior manager of embedded finance digital product delivery at PNC Bank in Pittsburgh. 

“We have all been influenced for the better by our Pitt experience, and we have a responsibility to give back to this hallowed university to ensure that it will provide an even better experience for those who follow us,” he said. 

Recognition and Awards 

The student speakers were Ammar Kinkhabwala, representing full-time MBA students, along with Nikki Hillard for part-time MBA students, and Zongwei Shen for Master of Science students. 

During the ceremony, 10 doctoral degree candidates were recognized: Jingning Ao, Conor Brown, Anushka Iyengar Daunt, Sayan Gupta, Jung Yoon Jang, Kumari Pallavi Jha, Xinyu Fu, Nathan Mecham, Luxi Wang, and Di Yuan. 

Beta Gamma Sigma inductees included faculty member Peggy Liu and 36 graduates. The following teaching and student award winners were also announced: 

  • Full-time Master’s Program Student Choice Awards for Outstanding Teaching: Prakash Mirchandani 
  • Part-time MBA Student Choice Award for Outstanding Teaching: Tom Davis and Frits Pil 
  • Master of Science in Accounting Student Choice Award for Outstanding Teaching: Heidi Bartholomew and Qian Zhang 
  • Sheth Foundation Scholars in Marketing: Mel Amago, Yue Pan and Brian Donahoe 
  • Peter Stipanovich Outstanding Finance Student Award: Katsuhiko Yamamoto 
  • Outstanding Accounting Master’s Student Award: Elizabeth Vautier 
  • Outstanding Supply Chain Management Master’s Student Awards: Denise Bergdolt and Aman Sardana 
  • Marshall Alan Robinson Prize: Himanshu Varandani 
  • Dean’s Outstanding Masters of Science Student Service Award: Denise Bergdolt 
  • Dean’s Outstanding Part-time MBA Student Service Award: Brian Donahoe 
  • Dean’s Outstanding Full-time MBA Student Service Award: Tasmia Afroze