Late this summer, I had the opportunity to sit down for a long conversation with J.J. Cutler, C’93, WG’97, who since May has served as Wharton’s Deputy Vice Dean of MBA Admissions, Financial Aid and Career Management.
Cutler’s dual role—he is charged with not only recruiting top young business minds to Wharton, but also helping them move on to rewarding careers after their years here are over—is a unique one among top business schools. According to Cutler, in fact, no other top b-school is using the same model.
Wharton, though, believes in this new model. Cutler does, too.
For one very simple reason: The world of business has changed, and Wharton must change with it.
Thanks in part to the global economic downturn, in part to globalization and in part to the evolution of the MBA degree itself, business education is undergoing fundamental and very likely permanent changes—changes that have brought challenges, of course, but great new opportunities as well.
Those opportunities are most apparent, it seems, in the striking diversity of interests among today’s Wharton MBAs—and the amazing variety of ways they are putting their degrees to use.
There’s no mistaking it, Cutler says: Not every Wharton graduate wants a career in finance or banking these days; increasingly, these graduates are instead seeking out opportunities in the energy sector, in sports business, in nonprofits, in microfinance.
Quite simply, students and employers today are viewing the MBA as much more than just a just a business degree. It is, instead, a leadership degree—a leadership degree that can be put to use pretty much anywhere.
In this issue of Wharton Magazine, we highlight a few alumni who are proof of this new-world concept.
• In our cover story, we catch up with one of Wharton’s most successful and most eclectic graduates, Elon Musk. Musk, C’97, W’97, first made his name (not to mention his fortune) as the founder of PayPal, the ubiquitous Internet payment system that literally revolutionized the Web. Having conquered cyberspace, Musk is working to revolutionize two other sectors—the auto industry … and the space travel industry. How does he plan to do so? Check out contributing writer Robert Preer’s illuminating interview to find out.
• As you’ll read in Chris Krewson’s feature story, “Tinseltown In Transition,” Wharton graduates are also proving themselves to be powerful players in a rapidly evolving, topsy-turvy Hollywood. With the rise of home entertainment, the dawn of much-improved 3D technology and the increasing influence of foreign markets, old Tinseltown business models are being tossed aside. As Wharton entertainment insiders told Krewson, though, there is still significant debate as to whether the changes will ultimately be good or bad for the industry.
• Meanwhile, back here in Philadelphia, George W. Gephart, WG’79, a former investment advisor and self-described “amateur natural scientist,” took over as the new President of the Academy of Natural Sciences, making him one of an increasing number of MBAs who are taking their business acumen into the nonprofit sector. In “Popular Science,” he explains what challenges he faces in this new role—and what he hopes to achieve as leader of one of the city’s preeminent institutions.
As always, we invite you to share your thoughts— comments, criticisms, raves and more—by sending your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure to check out the exciting new Wharton Blog Network, and follow us on Twitter (@whartonmagazine).
Thanks again for reading.
Tim Hyland / Editor