A week in Charlotte, North Carolina, enabled 50 second-year MBA students from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business to take what they learned in the classroom out into the world. This trip, the culmination of a new integrated management capstone course, provided insights into corporate innovation and networking opportunities with influential executives, including Katz alumni.
Before visiting the companies in Charlotte, the week of Jan. 9, 2023, the students spent November and December engaging in lectures and classroom discussions on the topic of innovation. During the trip, a first for Katz as part of its MBA program redesign, the students spoke with industry leaders to learn first-hand how innovation is fostered and implemented in corporate settings.
“This class ties together everything the students learn,” says Sara Moeller, associate dean for graduate programs and executive education. “We also want students to realize that once they graduate, they are part of the Katz family, and we are their partner for life. The alumni that made this trip possible are part of a powerful network available to all our students.”
Alumni Leadership, Executive Insights
It was this alumni network that opened doors to the organizations and business leaders who met with the MBA students in Charlotte. The following alumni played an important role in this capstone trip:
- Helen Eggers, Katz ’81, consumer risk management executive for Bank of America
- Arno Czerveny, Katz ’05, head of investment banking, research, government & institutional banking, and sales technology at Wells Fargo
- Rich Sedory, B.A. in Business and Political Science ‘83 and JD’ 86, general counsel, senior vice president at Wastequip LLC
The conversations with these and other executives gave the students insights into business and career planning. Anthony Oberti, MBA ’23, was surprised to learn that “there are over one billion attempted cyberattacks against Bank of America on a daily basis. Thus, BofA constantly invests in infrastructure and employee training to ensure preparedness.”
Pearl Doe, MBA/Master of Science in Information Systems ’23, said a highlight for her was the fireside chat between Bank of America’s D. Steve Boland, chief administrative officer, and Kieth Cockrell, regional Charlotte president, about leadership and business strategy.
Asked what advice Boland would give his younger self, he said to be patient.
“I was particularly encouraged by Steve’s response and his emphasis on how important it is to be patient in our career journey,” Doe said. “As we pursue a growth mindset, we must remain patient and learn across various aspects of our career path.”
The Future Workforce
The executives were also inspired by the Katz students. Boland, in a LinkedIn post, said: “With every generation comes new perspectives that will ultimately shape the way we do business. Our conversation with students from the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business confirmed that our future workforce is smart, capable and eager to join impactful organizations like ours.”
In addition to touring BofA facilities and meeting their executives, the students also met with executives from the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, Grant Thornton, LLP, and Lowe’s Technology Hub. At Wastequip LLC, Sedory provided students not only a glimpse of innovation in manufacturing, but also a discussion of sustainability and product management in the waste management industry. Students also met with the team president of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, Kristi Coleman, and had a behind-the-scenes tour of Bank of America Stadium.