2009 Edie Hunt Inspiration Award Winner
Gouri Shintri (Tepper School of Business, Class of 2009) was a self-proclaimed “math geek.” With a BS in computer engineering from Texas A&M, she relished the cool perfection of an integral equation and believed that business was nothing but fluff.
But in her first job as an IT consultant with Deloitte, she found herself on a team tasked with analyzing a technology services contract on behalf of a client. “My role was to analyze what the old contract did technically,” she explains. “Some of my colleagues on the team focused on the business side—how much the contract cost and its affect on the company’s bottom line.”
When she realized that it was her colleagues, not she, who ultimately made the final recommendation—based on the contract’s implications for the business, rather than on its technical strength—she realized that she needed to know more about the big picture.
“My dad wanted me to get an MBA, so it was always on the road map, but being on that project made me realize what that degree would really do for me,” Shintri says. “It would allow me to have a lot more impact than I could have as strictly a quantitative person.”
That’s the message that Shintri has been determined to convey to other young women—whether they’re engineering elites like she was, liberal arts idealists or simply smart people who just haven’t considered a career in business. “Once I got into the MBA program, I realized how big of an impact women could have if there were just more of us in business.” With that in mind, Shintri focused on getting her message out to undergraduates.
She jumpstarted Tepper Women in Business, a club that had essentially gone dormant, initiating three new programs as president: a speaker series called “A Woman’s Perspective,” professional development workshops, and a Stressbuster Series encouraging women to find work/life balance. She also established a partnership with the Carnegie Mellon chapter of 85 Broads.
Shintri is most proud of the role she played in bringing Susan McGalla, president of American Eagle, to campus. While she was responsible for securing many interesting speakers throughout the year, she says McGalla was particularly inspiring. “She gave a really great speech and ended it with the top ten takeaways from her lifetime experiences,” Shintri remembers. Afterward, McGalla made time to talk to women students in smaller settings and had some wonderful things to share. “As part of the William L. Mellon Speaker Series, the event was open to the entire student body, so I felt it had the most impact and the farthest reach.”
With an eye trained on attracting the next class of women MBAs, Shintri also organized the Tepper admissions department’s Prospective Women’s Day, advised the school’s marketing department on its women’s recruiting brochure, and served as Tepper’s first point of contact for all women considering applying to the school.
It’s always admirable when women who have attained the highest positions of leadership turn around to help the next generation pursue their dreams; but, just a few years ahead of the women she has reached out to help, Gouri Shintri has proven to be particularly inspirational. Young, ambitious women can very easily see themselves in Shintri’s place—just starting her marketing career working on Heinz’s flagship tabletop ketchup brand, which includes the iconic 14 oz. glass ketchup bottle. Their propinquity may help them overcome any hesitation they might have to take the first step in that direction.
“Having conversations with young women about what they plan to do with their degree and what kind of an impact they want to have gets them to think about their position in relation to everyone else,” says Shintri. “You put that seed in their minds, and they continue to think about it.”