Alumni Profiles

Maggie Diehl

Class of 2017 - Hometown: Nashville

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1) What are some key reasons you chose the Lauder joint degree program vs. just Wharton-only or Penn Law-only?

I chose Lauder for two reasons: the community and the international scope of the academics and network. Most Lauder students and alumnae will rave about the Lauder community, and they are right to. After four years between Singapore, Beijing, and Shanghai, I didn’t know what to expect in coming back to the U.S. I was worried I would be a fish out of water, even as an American. But I felt immediately at home with Lauder. I remember walking into the lounge and hearing conversations happening in multiple different languages about anything under the sun. I felt that when I visited prior to applying, and the program stood out immediately. Also, knowing I want to work abroad again, the network extends to every corner of the globe, and I knew that would be valuable.

2) What are some highlights of your Lauder experience so far?

There have been so many! The two highlights thus far have been Culture Quest in East Africa (Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya) in January and the Intercultural Venture I attended in Israel over Spring Break. Culture Quest was an amazing experience – our team of 7 took a road trip from Kigali, Rwanda to Nairobi, Kenya, sometimes driving as many as 16 hours in a day. It was 10 days packed with some of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. We went gorilla trekking in Rwanda and the Congo, white water rafting on the Nile, and on safari in the Masai Mara. Israel was also an incredible experience. Israel is at the forefront of water desalination technology, and after visiting venture capital firms, research universities, and government ministries, I walked away with a much clearer understanding of the ‘start-up nation’ and how it navigates a precarious geopolitical situation to leverage significant strengths in human capital and technology.

3) What was your summer immersion like? Where did you go and how was your time spent?

I spent my summer in Beijing and Shanghai with the Chinese track, and it was a blast. Having come from Shanghai before school, I was excited to experience it in a different way with new classmates, some of whom had never lived there. Each day we spent the morning in language class and the afternoons visiting companies like Baidu and Lenovo. We did a lot of exploring – at the fabric market in Shanghai to have clothes tailored, the marriage market (where we put one of our classmates on the market!), or out to dinner. It was a fantastic bonding experience before our Wharton classes began in August.

4) Can you describe your typical day as a Wharton/Lauder or Penn Law/Lauder student?

No two days are the same but a typical weekday might look like this: I wake up early for a morning workout (when I’m feeling particularly motivated) then head to class by 9. I’ll have a couple of morning classes in Huntsman, then grab lunch at a food truck on Spruce before heading to the Lauder lounge where I’ll relax for a minute before prepping for Chinese class. In the afternoon I’ll have another class or two and meet with classmates for various group projects like a finance problem set, a group presentation for a management class, or Lauder GKL research planning. I am co-president of Wharton Women in Business (WWIB), and I spend a good deal of time working with my other two co-presidents to manage the organization. We may have meetings with the administration, alums, or members of the community that want to be involved with the women of Wharton. I’ll grab dinner with a classmate or make dinner at home with my roommates, before getting to emails and my reading for the next day. There always seems to be a trip to plan or a party to find a costume for, and that stuff gets squeezed in among everything else. The pace of life has definitely picked up since being at Wharton/Lauder, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

5) What advice would you give to someone considering the Lauder program?

It is actually quite hard for me to think back to my “pre-Lauder” self. It has defined my Wharton experience in the most positive way and has had a huge impact on my life. I would probably tell someone to shadow a Lauder student for a whole day, morning to night, just to see the beautiful chaos of it all. Then do the same at other schools under consideration. You’ll see that Wharton/Lauder students are (in my very biased opinion) more dynamic, more interesting, more engaged, and much closer to each other than business school students typically are. “Fit” is incredibly important to us, as it should be to you. The most important thing is to find a place you are happy. We certainly have found happiness at Lauder.

Colton Neves

Class of 2015 - Hometown: Hawaii

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What made you decide to pursue Lauder along with Wharton as part of your graduate studies?

I’ve been enamored with Japan since I was a kid.  Growing up in Hawaii, it’s impossible to avoid Japan’s broad influence across the food, the people, the language and the culture.  I was also an embarrassingly dedicated fan of anime and video games and dreamed that one day I’d be part of the industry.  It wasn’t until 2012 when my then manager, Eddie Serril WG’10, offhandedly mentioned the Lauder program that I seriously considered business school.  Not surprisingly, after reading about immersion, GKL, the opportunity to level-up my language skills applying to Lauder was a no brainer.  I never considered business school without it – you could even say that I decided to pursue Wharton alongside my Lauder studies.

What impact did participating in Lauder have on your career post-MBA/MA? (Studying language, regional studies, etc.)

Without a doubt broad exposure to the global political economy through the MBA/MA makes you think harder and more deeply about challenges you will face.  Seriously – right after graduating I worked with a K-12 Edtech company, Panorama Education, and interfaced directly with school and district leaders to build their 2-5 year plans on improving the student experience.  I ended up managing the majority of Panorama’s international schools including those in Tokyo, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Shanghai and in various parts of Australia.  Embracing a multicultural approach to language at Lauder enabled me fluidity when dealing with multicultural education challenges that I don’t think I would have without the MBA/MA.  It also didn’t hurt that I’ve already leveraged the Lauder network for my next job – I’m now building educational games and simulations for schools with Renzo Weber WG ’10.

What were some of the best experiences you had at Lauder both in and outside of the classroom?

By far the most skilled and deeply dedicated professors were the ones I met through Lauder, in particular, Mauro Guillen and Ronald Granieri.  Their classes were works of art and not just because of the teaching but the students as well.  You will take both classes with your entire Lauder class and there is nothing like developing comfort enough in your cohort to say vulnerable things and learn precious lessons.

Outside the classroom you’ll notice from day one that Lauder is a special family.  Partly because you’re on campus 3 months before anyone else but mostly because of your unique/goofy/wanderlusty classmates.  One of my favorite Lauder moments was traveling to the Galapagos Islands and eating home cooked, fresh caught fish with several other Lauderites AND some scientists we happened to meet earlier that day.  It was that exquisite combination of new experiences, novel cultures and familiar camaraderie that I found over and over again at Lauder.

How did you balance doing two graduate programs (MA/MBA) at once?

Proactive time management and ruthless prioritization and I mean relentlessly ruthless.  Everyday I had 12 decisions to make about who to meet, where, and for what reason and I could only choose 5.  Speak with your GKL advisor often and game plan early because, in the end, you will never have enough time.

Any advice you would give to applicants considering Lauder?

Be focused.  There are opportunities to do anything and everything, especially as a Lauderite.  And, since you’re in Lauder, you’ll have half the time to do any of those things.  Look up professors that are doing interesting work that relates to your field of interest.  Join a small handful of pertinent and interesting clubs.  You will rarely feel like you’re missing out if you make wise decisions at the beginning.

Zachary Queen

Class of 2016 - Hometown: Seattle

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What made you decide to pursue Lauder along with Wharton as part of your graduate studies?

Lauder fit who I was much better than just Wharton.  I had lots of international experience and Lauder just made sense and felt right.  It was great studying and spending a lot of time alongside others with similar and complementary experiences.

What impact did participating in Lauder have on your career post-MBA/MA? (Studying language, regional studies, etc.)

I chose a job in a country I had never been to.  I was in the Global Track in Lauder and didn’t study a language, but I missed language study.  One of the perks at the job I chose with Samsung was that language classes were offered.  It has been fun to formally study Korean while working and living here. I also chose to study East Asian history and even wrote a paper on Korea in my first class in May when I started, not knowing that I would end up in Korea.

What were some of the best experiences you had at Lauder both in and outside of the classroom?

The immersion experience with the 9 other students in my track was amazing.  I was able to learn from them, spend time with them, and get to know them in ways that you can’t do during a normal program.  We had great experiences in lectures, company visits, airports, and everywhere in between.  Hearing specific examples from students about specific countries we were studying was a great addition to the material from the textbook or instructor.  It added a lot to the experience to have someone who had lived there.

Lauder Intercultural Ventures were also amazing.  Both my trip to Morocco and Cuba were incredibly educational and great bonding experiences with other Lauder students.  My GKL experience was both fun and interesting.  We were able to speak with academies at some of the best soccer clubs in the world.

How did you balance doing two graduate programs (MA/MBA) at once?

I had to say no to a lot of things.  It was hard to find the right balance at first.  I also had to be efficient with my time studying and doing assignments.  I didn’t have the luxury to spend a lot of time on things.

Any advice you would give to applicants considering Lauder?

The program may be expensive (on top of already expensive Wharton), but you cannot put a price on the relationships that you will create and the experiences that you will have.  It was amazing being part of the tight community during b-school. (See information on Lauder Fellowships).

John Withers

Class of 2017 - Hometown: London

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1) What are some key reasons you chose the Lauder joint degree program vs. just Wharton-only or Penn Law-only?

I chose Lauder chiefly because it broadens my international perspectives with its diverse student body and curriculum, allows me to recover and accelerate both my Mandarin and my cultural awareness for use in social and business environments and finally it provides me with a close-knit community within which I can thrive while still benefiting from the broader Wharton network, academics and career management office.

2) What are some highlights of your Lauder experience so far?

The summer immersion was a definite highlight. In addition to how well run the program itself was, those eight weeks incubated lifelong friendships between all seventeen of us.

Our Culture Quest through Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya was also unforgettable. I learned a tremendous amount about these countries, their histories, their flora and fauna, their people as well as bonding with the amazing friends on my team.

3) What was your summer immersion like?

The summer immersion experience exceeded all my expectations. I have studied abroad in China before, but the Lauder immersion program takes a more focused, applied approach to business language acquisition, combining study of current business, political and economic topics with visits to companies across a wide range of industries.

4) Can you describe your typical day as a Wharton/Lauder or Penn Law/Lauder student?

While there is a significant variation in my schedule, an example day might involve: Waking up around 6:30 (I try to be an early bird), getting over to a café to catch up on readings and assignments, attending 3-6 hours of class—Lunch tends to be a quick meal from a food truck, eaten amidst friends in the Lauder lounge—and following up in the afternoon with group projects, one-on-one meetings, homework or perhaps a run. By the time dinner rolls around I try to make my day either 100% social (happy hour; small group dinner; party; club activity like dance studio), 100% academic (writing an essay; completing an assignment; trying to figure out a statistical model), 100% career (applications; info sessions; research) or 100% personal (reading, exercising, reflecting, communicating with friends and family). The daily distribution depends on the time of the semester, but the social days often dominate.

5) What advice would you give to someone considering the Lauder program?

Even in a program as small as 70 people, we get some very different things out of this experience. Talk to as many people as you can as you consider your options. But at the end of the day, if it takes more than 15 seconds to explain to someone where you’re from, apply to Lauder.

6) Anything else you’d like to add?

You’ll hear the term “stretch experience” a lot at Wharton and Lauder, and probably at business school in general. It gets overused. I have observed that people who “stretch” themselves in a meaningful, intentional way get more out of their efforts than those who dive headlong into an exaggerated array of new experiences. Be intentional!

Neha Goel

Class of 2017 - Hometown: San Francisco

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1) What are some key reasons you chose the Lauder joint degree program vs. just Wharton-only or Penn Law-only?

I chose Lauder because I wanted an international curriculum that went beyond just business and also a community that shared my interests. I’ve wanted to work in India for years, and this was literally the only program of its kind, that focused specifically on South Asia within a global context.

2) What are some highlights of your Lauder experience so far?

Being part of the Lauder family is an incredible thing and is the biggest highlight by far. I have friends from more countries than I can count, who speak so many languages, and who have all kinds of experiences, from startups in Argentina, to economic development in India, to real estate development in China. In particular, racing around East Africa on Culture Quest with such a group was amazing: we rafted whitewater rapids on the Nile, hiked with chimpanzees, went on safari, and camped out in the Masai Mara.

3) What was your summer immersion like?

As part of Hindi / South Asia, I was in India my whole summer. I was primarily in Delhi, with time in Mumbai, Banaras, and Kochi as well. We got to focus heavily on language, and by the time I came back, my Hindi was stronger than it’s ever been. We also had a good variety of corporate and cultural visits, which were all customized to our group’s particular interests.

4) Can you describe your typical day as a Wharton/Lauder or Penn Law/Lauder student?

I’m up and on campus around 9am and tend to have a full day of classes, till 3pm or 4:30pm, with some breaks in between. Outside of classes, I’m on the board of the FinTech Club, part of the Wharton India Economic Forum, a Student Life Fellow, and in Dance Studio, among other clubs, so on any given day, I might have a few meetings related to that. The clubs also actually help a lot with recruiting, too, which I’m going through right now. It’s pretty busy, but I can’t imagine my Wharton life without Lauder or the family I’ve found through it. And that schedule leaves plenty of time to hang out with them in evenings and on weekends!

5) What advice would you give to someone considering the Lauder program?

Just do it. If you’re someone who loves travel, who wants to live a global life, this is the program you’ve been looking for.

6) Anything else you’d like to add?

I knew coming in that I’d value being part of this community; I just could never have seen how much.

Akshay K. Khanna

Class of 2015 - Hometown: New Delhi

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What made you decide to pursue Lauder along with Wharton as part of your graduate studies?

The Lauder program provided me with the unique opportunity to get an MBA from a renowned institution such as Wharton, combined with the ability to improve my language skills and to learn more about a region of the world that I was already invested in. But, most importantly, the program introduced me to some of the most interesting, worldly, and well-rounded people in the Wharton class, many of whom I am proud to call my friends.

What impact did participating in Lauder have on your career post-MBA/MA? (Studying language, regional studies, etc.)

While my chosen career path may not have been directly driven by my learnings through the Lauder program, my experiences during my two years at the Lauder Institute gave me incredibly important perspectives on several of the decisions I have made after graduating. Perhaps the strongest legacy of the Lauder program has been the network of colleagues, classmates, and friends I was able to build and through this two-year degree.

What were some of the best experiences you had at Lauder both in and outside of the classroom?

My favorite memories are the travel experiences I was lucky to have during my two years in the Lauder Institute, most notably the two months my fellow Hindi track-ers and I spent in India in the summer of 2013 and the Thailand mini-immersion trip during our second year. Both were incredible and unique educational experiences that cannot be replicated in any other setting.

How did you balance doing two graduate programs (MA/MBA) at once?

It is definitely a larger workload and so requires some deft time-management and work juggling skills. However, the Lauder professors and administrators go above and beyond to ensure that every student is getting the sufficient help they need to ensure that they’re maximizing their educational experience during their two years.

Any advice you would give to applicants considering Lauder?

Your two years with the Lauder Institute will enhance and augment your business school experience and the people you meet through this program will be friends for a lifetime. I cannot recommend the program highly enough for anyone interested in getting a global and well-rounded perspective during their business school years.

Pablo Pedrejón García

Class of 2013 - Hometown: Spain

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1) What made you decide to pursue Lauder along with Wharton as part of your graduate studies?

I have always been fascinated about what opportunities and challenges can arise from the globalized world. While growing up, I had the opportunity to live in many different countries with my family, and this experience ingrained in me the desire to keep learning about new cultures. During university, I studied in three different countries and as a management consultant I worked in almost ten countries in three years. With this background, I was convinced that the business manager of the future needs to take into account international relations and dynamics.

Once having decided that I wanted to pursue an MBA, Lauder was a perfect fit for me: the opportunity to study International Studies while coursing a Wharton MBA is unique in its proposition. After speaking with students and alum and learning more about the experience, there was no doubt in my mind that Lauder Institute was the correct choice for me!

2) What impact did participating in Lauder have on your career post-MBA/MA?

After Lauder, I started Petsy.mx, my own business in Mexico, a country in which I had no previous experience. However, I had seen that there was a great business opportunity in the country, and with the skill-set that Lauder gives you in navigating a new country, I did not hesitate to jump right into it. Also, the tight knit community within Lauder is a great support base to get you off the ground in a new country.

3) What were some of the best experiences you had at Lauder both in and outside of the classroom?

Being really passionate about geopolitics, the class “Global Economic History: Structure and Change” with the Professor Jesús Fernández-Villaverde was without a doubt the highlight of my classroom experience. Gaining a deep understanding into how economic change interacts with political developments was fascinating.

Outside the classroom, without a doubt the best aspect of Lauder is the amazing group of friends that you create. The level of motivation and energy that you could see in a group of passionate Lauder students is something that I had never experienced before. Most of these classmates end up being lifelong friends, supporting you during your professional and personal life way beyond Lauder.

4) How did you balance doing two graduate programs (MA/MBA) at once?

Once you start the program, balancing the two graduate programs is not as difficult as it seems from the outside. With proper organization, time, and the support of your peers, a student can accomplish all requirements while truly enjoying each academic assignment. There are a few times where you do need to go the extra mile, but it is usually worth it due to the great achievements you accomplish.

5) Any advice you would give to applicants considering Lauder?

I think that the best advice to those considering Lauder is to speak with current students and alums. Getting to know firsthand the personal experience of a Lauder student will show you the enthusiasm with which they speak about the program, and see whether the program is a good fit with what you are looking for.

Davis Smith

Class of 2011: Salt Lake City

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What were you doing and where were you living before you came to Wharton and Lauder?

Before attending Wharton/Lauder, I was living in Salt Lake City, Utah where I was the founder of an e-commerce business called PoolTables.com, which had about 25 employees.

What made you decide to pursue Lauder along with Wharton as part of your graduate studies?

I first heard about Lauder when I was living in the Cayman Islands when I was 23. I immediately knew it was the program for me. I had spent thirteen years living in Latin America and the Caribbean, so the program really spoke to me. I wanted an MBA, but I had majored in International Studies in undergrad and was interested in studying business from an international perspective. The idea of studying language, culture, international politics, and how those fields impact the way we do business just seemed to make sense.

What impact did participating in Lauder have on your career post-MBA/MA?

I was in Lauder’s Spanish track, and a number of my closest friends in the program were Brazilian. It really sparked a deep interest in Brazil and ultimately drove me to move to Brazil upon graduation where I started Baby.com.br, Brazil’s Startup of the Year in 2012. Additionally, my co-founder at Cotopaxi, Stephan Jacob, was a Lauder classmate of mine (a German in the Spanish track).

What were some of the best experiences you had at Lauder both in and outside of the classroom?

I actually traveled to 30 countries during the 24 months of Lauder. Seven of those countries were visited when my Lauder classmate, Greg Mitchell, and I organized the first Lauder Culture Quest where nearly 60 of our Lauder classmates raced from Belize to Panama.

How did you balance doing two graduate programs (MA/MBA) at once?

A Wharton MBA is one of the most rigorous MBA’s on the planet, so adding the MA degree was a challenge. In addition to the academics, I had two young children and I was starting a new business. Ultimately, there is time for what is important to you.

Any advice you would give to applicants considering Lauder?

The Lauder program is what made me choose Wharton. It was truly the highlight of my Wharton experience and is where I developed many of my deepest and most meaningful friendships. There simply isn’t another program like it.

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