Perspectives from the Executive Women in Leadership Panel

Denise Miller, Vice President, Digital Transformation and Innovation, SAP

How do you find a mentor? How do you balance your personal life and your career? How do you have a voice when you are the only woman in a group?

These were some of the thought provoking questions I had the privilege of discussing with a room full of talented women (and some men!) at the Executive Women in Leadership Panel hosted by the University of Pittsburgh, held earlier this year. As my esteemed cohorts on the panel shared insights from their journeys to becoming leaders in their respective professions, I couldn’t help but think back to a pivotal moment in my career. Fittingly, it was a moment in which the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz School of Business played a significant role.

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Can Fear Be Good for Wall Street?

Faculty member Dave Lebel

Conventional wisdom on Wall Street suggests that investors should not let fear influence their decision making. Too much fear among investors can have a strong negative impact on the stock market. However, recent articles in the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets suggest that investors may not have enough fear given the current economic outlook.

How can this be?

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Be in Control of Achieving Your Goals!

So did you take Ashley’s advice and just breathe? If you did and you are still feeling overwhelmed, think about the environment in which you operate.  Does it allow you to achieve your goals?  Do you compare yourself to others?

Director, Career Management

Often we find ourselves creating false logic or justifications to put off tasks that we find challenging or less desirable to complete.  We worry about what others are doing and how our actions stack up to their success. Acknowledge the instinctual fear that exists—fear of failure, fear of rejection, or fear of being perceived in a manner that goes against your brand.

Become more self-aware in 2017. Understand what you can and cannot control. Recognize your strengths, as well as your habits and tendencies that may limit your success. Eliminate those that work against you and make an effort to get things done. Try incorporating the following tips into your routine to help you achieve your goals this year!

Understand WHY. Why are you doing this? Why do you want to achieve this goal? Are you doing it for yourself or to appease another party? What are your intentions? Have a concrete reason to put forth the time and effort needed to accomplish what you set out to do. Ensure your heart is invested in these actions and that you are passionate about what you are doing.

Build a roadmap. Start with your end game in mind and reverse engineer the process. Research and identify the steps you need to take to reach that goal. You may need to refine the process as you go along, but this will serve as guide.

Manage ambiguity.  In most cases, you will find that you may not have a clear path to successfully achieve your goals. Identify factors that are out of your control and learn how they may affect your work stream. Remain calm and create various what-if scenarios to cover all of your bases to ensure success.

Create a task list. Now that you have built your roadmap, build a “to do” list that captures the steps you set forth for yourself. This will hold you accountable and allow you to see your progress. Use an app to  manage this list or good old-fashioned pen and paper. It still works. Pick the  mechanism that works best for you!

Learn to say “NO!” Everything you do takes time. Work realistically and understand to what you can truly commit. Lacking time-management skills can hinder you from accomplishing what you set out to achieve. Do not put off tasks to the point that you are scrambling to complete them.  It is okay to say “NO” when you are unable to fully commit to something.

Limit distractions. Set your priorities straight. We all like to binge watch Netflix or join our friends for half-price wine night, but those who are most successful work smart and get their stuff done first! Most distractions are social in nature and FOMO (the fear of missing out) is a real phenomenon.  Not being dialed into everything that happens in your social circle is okay when you achieve your desired goals!

At Katz, we have a team of advisors to help students achieve their goals and prepare them to be ready for anything. Please contact Melissa Shapiro if you have any questions or to learn more.


Ready, Set, Click — The Katz Blended Online MBA is Here

Bill Valenta, Assistant Dean of MBA and Executive Programs

Bill Valenta, Assistant Dean of MBA and Executive Programs

The questions have come from near and far, in person, by telephone, and by email. When will we offer online courses for graduate business students? Well, I am very happy to inform you that the answer is right now! If you want an MBA from Katz, and the only thing holding you back was the frequent travel to Oakland, you can now remove that as a reason for not joining our world-class MBA program.

This spring term, we completed our first two pilot courses in our Professional MBA program: Information Systems and Investment Banking and Venture Capital. We’re currently developing multiple core courses for the fall 2017 term — so much so, in fact, that if you were to begin the program then, you could conceivably take every course required to graduate in our blended online format. That is because we are continually adding courses and will have all courses available in a blended online format by 2019.

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Global Practicum Opens Eyes to Working Abroad

Megan Victorson

Megan Victorson

When I started my professional MBA program with Katz, I had heard a lot of talk about the Global Research Practicum during my orientation session.  I was immediately intrigued by this opportunity; I always had wanted to study abroad when I was an undergraduate student, but never took the opportunity.  So this past fall, when the locations of this school year’s GRP program were announced, I was immediately drawn to the Europe trip to London and Brussels.  Not only because I have never traveled to Europe, but also because with the Brexit vote being so prevalent in global business, I knew that this was the class I wanted to be a part of.

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Pitt Day of Giving Sets New Records

Jessica Stillman, Director of Constituent Relations

Wow — what a day! The University of Pittsburgh raised over $5.5 million during its first-ever Day of Giving Campaign.

In total, 5,577 gifts came in from all 50 states and 21 countries. It was an exciting 24 hours on February 28, 2017, which marked the 230th anniversary of the University’s founding. Pitt had never seen anything like it, and you can bet on this becoming a new annual tradition.

This was a huge day for us. Money raised will support tuition scholarships, study-abroad scholarships, and top Dean priorities.

I want to thank everyone who participated in the Day of Giving.

We are fortunate to have an incredible alumni network that stretches across the globe. If you’re interested in getting more involved with the school—whether by making a financial contribution, serving as a mentor to students, offering job referrals to graduates, becoming an alumni ambassador in your region, or anything else you have in mind —please don’t hesitate to reach out! My email address is

There are truly so many ways to get involved. Active alumni improve the value of your degree, enhance the experience for today’s students, and create a stronger and brighter future for the school. You are the secret ingredient to our success!

Let’s build on the momentum of our historic Day of Giving, and make Pitt all it can be.

Hail to Pitt!


B-School Rankings & the Value of Your Degree

Jim Waite
Director of Alumni and Constituent Relations

Our alumni are our strongest ambassadors.

You are proof of the power of the Katz education. What you say, and do, and think is critical to our success.

One of the best ways you can help is to participate in alumni ranking surveys.

As a top business school, Katz participates in the annual business school rankings of Bloomberg Businessweek, U.S. News & World Report, The Economist, Forbes, and Financial Times. Alumni ratings are a huge factor in the rankings, and help us to compete against other business schools.

We recently held an online talk called “Alumni Rankings and the Value of Your Degree,” hosted by Dean Arjang A. Assad and Assistant Dean of MBA and Executive Programs Bill Valenta.

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Writing to Speak: My Transformation into a Confident Speaker

Sandra Douglas, MBA, PMP, Director, Specialized MS Programs

Imagine a 12-year-old girl with her head in the clouds, full of ideas and stories and visions of the future. As you might expect, she read lots of books and she dreamed of writing her own. But along the way, she learned a few things about speaking to groups and would like to share them with you.

My first experience speaking to a large group happened, ironically, at a writing conference. My English teacher selected a few students to attend a “young writer’s conference” at a college in a big city. I was honored and excited. The program included workshops on various aspects of creative writing; it was thrilling to learn everything from how to frame my narrative to how to bind my own book.

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“Rule Your Mind, or It Will Rule You” – Horace


Assistant Director, Career Management

Remember that time you had a fun, relaxing, and restorative break, and then returned to your real life and immediately felt stressed?  That drastic change is a challenge for so many, but what if I told you that you possess an incredibly powerful tool that if harnessed effectively, could help you reduce that stress, and significantly improve your productivity and daily happiness?

We often allow our mind to run wild with our fears, stressors, and natural reactions, and we don’t even realize that many times these are just thoughts, and the stress is simply coming from thinking about what could happen, and not what is happening.  The good news is that we all have the power to ease these difficult moments with the help of just our breath.

This simple concept is known as meditation, and before you jump to conclusions about what meditation looks like or why it’s not for you, I challenge you to keep an open mind and try it out with a few of the resources below.  Meditation is simply the practice of focusing the mind on the breath, and then when the mind wanders, and it always will, gently bringing the focus back to the breath.  This practice leads to more mindful moments, which allow you to create space in your mind to analyze and understand the feelings in front of you, deal with them, and then return to your responsibilities with more clarity.

So here is your resolution for 2017:  Just Breathe.

This idea is incredibly simple, and often times the best solutions to our problems are found in the simplest of answers.  We are constantly receiving input from our surroundings and listening to others speak, which can lead to stressful moments, but how often do we stop and take time to listen to ourselves?  Your breath is a constant that is always with you, and it doesn’t cost a thing or take any effort.  The only effort needed to make this resolution work is to practice recognizing when you need to take a step back, breathe, and think about why you’re experiencing the negative thought or emotion.  Taking just five minutes to try a simple guided meditation will allow you to hear how loud your inner monologue can be, and with practice, you will start to recognize and control your thoughts more effectively.

So next time you find yourself overwhelmed, stressed, angry, or in a spiral of negative thoughts, just breathe! Remind yourself to rule your mind, or it will rule you.  I wish you the best in your pursuit of a more present lifestyle.

Here are the resources that helped me learn about mindfulness and how to practice meditation:

*10% Happier (Book, App, Podcast): Awesome book for “fidgety skeptics,” plenty of free content on the app, and weekly podcasts interviewing prominent people who meditate.

*Headspace (App): Free 10-day, 10-step trial with guided meditations


Experience Based Learning

Thomas Keller, Director of Admissions

There are so many masters’ programs around the world that offer world class faculty, beautiful classrooms, and challenging courses. One place students may not focus on in their quest for a business school is their out of the classroom experience. Experience based learning, extra-curricular activities, or independent learning; whatever you’d like to call it, it is a crucial part of a business degree in the modern world. But how can you tell what experiences are worth it as a student? What types of programming will really help you nail that deal in the boardroom and even that promotion. In this article, we will take a look at the different types of out of classroom learning that can really make a difference in a business degree.

Real World Experience

Nothing compares to actually being faced with a dilemma that you have to problem solve in the moment. Students should search for experiences where they are forced to step out of their comfort zone and make decisions. Business school is the place to fail and then learn from the experience and make changes. Whether taking risks in an internships, a field project with a company, or a case competition, all are great ways to have real world exposure with the safety net of B-school.

International Exposure

The world is getting smaller by the minute with the technologies of today and travel becoming easier. It is vital that we start to understand the business world on a global scale in order to do business in many markets. Studying abroad for a semester or taking an international business practicum are important ways to help your out of the classroom resume but also help you experience the world in a completely new way.

Team Training

Though you may be held accountable as an individual, you will be working on teams to solve problems after graduation. It is important to understand team dynamics and your own leadership style within a group setting. Programs that foster collaboration will help you to prepare for these real life situations but also to learn about yourself and a teammate and a leader.

These are just some of the ways to make sure you are getting the most out of your business school experience even when you are not in the classroom. Make sure to ask questions about the professional and personal development opportunities within your program.