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Students’ Perspectives on Pitt’s Part-Time MBA
Studens Perspectives on Pitt's Part-Time MBA

Three Spring 2023 students in the Part-Time MBA program within Pitt’s Katz Graduate School of Business share their perspectives on how they are using their coursework, faculty expertise, and interaction with classmates to be more effective in their job:

Executive Applies Faculty Insights to On-the-Job Decisions

Cigdem H. Benam started a new position as the associate portfolio executive of Lifesciences at Innovation Works, a seed stage investor in Southwestern PA. While she has over a decade of experience working with small businesses, commercializing early-stage life science ventures, and earned a Ph.D. in International Relations, she realized the Part-Time MBA would help her excel in her new role.

“The faculty whose courses I have taken so far were great and the content we are learning is so relevant and applicable to the real world,” she says. “I am currently taking accounting and we are reviewing the financials of actual companies which is very relevant to investing, which I now do. Dr. Elise Boyas, who teaches the course, is doing an amazing job in making sure we not only understand the fundamental concepts but also acquire the skills to apply our learning to real life.”

This busy mother of two young children has enjoyed the convenience of online classes and the variety of life and work experiences among her classmates. “I was surprised by the diversity of the students who come from all industries,” says Benam. “I have classmates that are older like me and some who are much younger, which is great.”

Pharmacist Applies Leadership Skills from MBA Program

Brian Donahoe, a pharmacist supervisor at UPMC Shadyside Hospital, wanted to get his MBA after he graduated with his pharmacy degree but never thought he had the time. Then the pandemic hit. An avid traveler—he’s been to all 50 states in the U.S.—he suddenly had much more free time. Plus, he could take classes online.

Shortly after enrolling in the Part-Time MBA program, he was promoted to a supervisor role where his MBA courses became valuable.

“As I have moved into the supervisor role and while working directly with my management team at the pharmacy planning workflows for our pharmacy remodel, I have used skills I learned in strategy and organizational behavioral classes to organize strategic planning meetings and maximize buy-in from coworkers,” says Donahoe.

In addition to his job, he’s on the board of directors for the Western PA Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and enjoys the flexibility of having numerous ways he can attend classes. He has taken classes online, in-person, and during occasional weekend immersive courses.

Donahoe says he takes the weekend classes for two reasons; “I like the convenience of finishing the live portions in a weekend and they give me the ability to explore additional topics like sustainability and innovation from the business side.”

(Click here to learn more about the Part-Time MBA program at Katz)

CPA Enrolls in MBA to Expand Opportunities

When Kevin Mechas graduated with his undergraduate degree in accounting, he followed a predictable path, working in public accounting for Ernst & Young and earning his CPA license. He decided that while it was a good path, he wanted a different one.

“I saw getting an MBA as a great opportunity to diversify my background and make me a more well-rounded individual and use what I learn to apply in my new role and future roles,” says Mechas. 

He’s currently a senior analyst in accounting and reporting for Kennametal and will be moving into an operations finance role in the company’s infrastructure segment.

Mechas waited six years after he earned his undergraduate degree to enroll in graduate school. He admits that it took some time to return to coursework. He was impressed by the diversity of students, both culturally and professionally.

“I was expecting a lot of students who were business majors in their undergraduate degree or working currently in business. But in my first semester, I met many engineers, healthcare workers, IT professionals, and more,” he says.

He believes the culturally diverse background of the students results in more engaging classroom discussions, adding: “I think this is a large positive to be able to discuss many business topics with individuals from different backgrounds who may understand topics differently.”