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Perhaps the most important thing to know about Purdue is it’s Purdue.
“We’re Purdue,” says Charlene Sullivan, the associate dean of undergraduate programs at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. “And Purdue has traditionally been the engineering, science, and technology school in the state of Indiana.”
Purdue University has deep roots in what has become known as the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. And its business school is no different. Krannert’s original MBA was designed for engineers and scientists. “You had to have calculus before you could get into our MBA program,” says Sullivan, who has been at Krannert as a student or professor for the past three decades.
The original undergraduate degree — a bachelors of science in industrial management — is still its most unique. Some 25% of the required credit hours are engineering and science foundation courses. No matter the major, all Krannert undergrads majoring in a business degree are expected to take six to eight hours of calculus. “We require more calculus than any other business school in Indiana,” Sullivan boasts.
With strengths in the analytical and quant side of business, it’s no surprise the school’s strengths are operations management and quantitative analysis. And in a surprisingly saturated elite business school market, it’s good to have unique strengths and play those up.
“There are a set of people who go to Notre Dame and they were probably bred to go to Notre Dame. But we definitely go head-to-head with (Indiana University) Kelley,” Sullivan says of in-state competitor schools. “And Kelley has an excellent program. And we say the difference is the analytical side. The companies that come here are looking for MIS, supply chain, operations management — those are strengths for us.”
SOLID JOB REPORTS
To be sure, the strengths show up in Krannert’s job report. Some 89% of the Class of 2017 had internships before their senior year. The same class has seen an average starting salary of more than $56,000 — a slight uptick from the Class of 2015 average of $54,207 and Class of 2016 average of $55,252. Recent top employers have been consulting firms Crowe Horwath and Deloitte. Not surprisingly, manufacturing companies like Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly, Cummins, and General Motors also dot the list of top employers for recent graduates.
“We’re sitting out here in Indiana — in the Midwest. And it’s still heavily manufacturing based,” Sullivan points out. “The companies that come here to recruit are probably full of Purdue engineers. It’s the Caterpillars and the John Deere’s and the Fords and the Chryslers and the General Motors and the GE’s.”
Of course not all students are going into manufacturing and consulting. Amazon was also a top employer for the school’s Class of 2016.
Cody Lachner is an example of an alum going outside of consulting and manufacturing. Since graduating from Krannert in 2014, Lachner has worked as a financial advisor for Carmel, Indiana-based Valic Financial Advisors. Lachner chose Purdue for the in-state tuition, which has been frozen for the past five years, and the student and faculty enthusiasm. “Nothing stood out to me at the other schools I was looking at and that pulled me to Purdue,” Lachner says of the enthusiasm he experienced on campus visits. And that student-interest proved true as Lachner went through the undergraduate program at Krannert.
“The teaching staff was really involved and enthusiastic about what they taught,” he recalls of his time at Krannert. Even in classes with more than 500 students, Lachner says he felt the personal touch. “Purdue went out their way make sure we met with professors in those classes,” he adds.
Indeed, Lachner’s fellow alums gave the faculty’s availability for informal discussions and mentoring outside of classes one of the highest marks in the Class of 2014 alumni survey at 9.14 on a one-to-ten scale. At 9.33, however, the highest mark went to the alumni believing the time and cost was worth the degree — likely a result of public, in-state tuition and a frozen tuition.
ALUMNI RELATIONS OFFICE IS NEW AND DEVELOPING
On the other end, however, Class of 2014 alums rated the school’s alumni network the lowest of 12 prompts at 7.62. That result was no surprise for Sullivan. Krannert’s Alumni Relations Center is only five years old and Sullivan says Krannert has had to play catchup on alumni connections. “We were sort of slow to the recognition of the value of our alums in helping us do things and helping our students do things,” she notes.
Another reason for the low rating Sullivan points to is many students are from out-of-state and go out-of-state for jobs after graduation. “They come here for an education but not to live,” Sullivan says. “And then they go to wherever they’re going to go.”
Still, Sullivan says, she has seen an increase in interest in giving back from recent graduates, which suggests a shift in alumni connectedness. “Younger alums are always reaching back,” she says. “They want to be part of the school. They’re in that give back generation.”
BUSINESS WITH A SERIOUS SIDE OF STEM
For now, Sullivan is focused on continually increasing the quality of students coming to Krannert and giving them a more experiential education.
“Our strategy right now is to maintain the enrollment at 2,500 and compete for better students,” she says. “And in my world, you compete for better students with scholarships.”
Once the students are at Krannert, Sullivan plans to give them real-world experiences.
“We definitely feel the need to make what students do here much more experiential because we don’t want them doing something here that you could stay home and get done,” Sullivan explains. “So we’re changing our program to reflect the reality in order to come to this residential campus and spend all this money, it’s important to learn something you couldn’t learn at home.”
According to Lachner, the school is already doing a good job at that. Lachner says the majority of the upper-level business courses he took were experiential. Still, for high school students considering a degree in business, Lachner says to look beyond what is happening at the school. “The biggest thing to look at is alumni placement after graduation,” he says, noting Krannert’s good placement report. “I think the biggest thing to look at for someone majoring in business is if there is demand for the degree in the market.”
With businesses and technology companies increasingly becoming quant-focused and data-driven, it’s easy to see Krannert’s name in demand in the market.
“You’re going to come out of here feeling comfortable with numbers, running regressions, and explaining the results coming out of computer spreadsheets,” Sullivan says. “If you’re interested in STEM and you’re interested in business then Purdue Krannert is the place for you.”
WHAT ALUMNI SAY
“One unique aspect of the Krannert School was their emphasis on students giving back to the community. During my senior year, I had an accounting professor who ran a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program in Lafayette, IN. He encouraged us to volunteer along with hi and help individuals in the community to prepare their income tax returns. This was particularly rewarding as we were able to give back to the community and also refine our coursework knowledge all in one experience.” – 2014 alum
“Global Immersion – Study Abroad: I spent a semester in Barcelona through the CIEE business and culture program that partnered with the local ESCI school. While taking 15 credit hours of classes in both English and Spanish, I was able to further my Spanish Language skills. Living in a different culture was the greatest preparation for entering the work force after school. I was forced to be self-dependent, having to learn a dialect of a language I was still learning to communicate with new friends, classmates, and my home-stay family. Not only was the language different, the culture varied significantly as well. I learned to keep a very open mind, try new things, and to appreciate other views and perceptions even when I did not agree with the result or opinion. I have carried the desire to constantly learn and improve as well as an open mind to my current position.
While these attributes are character based and not skill based, they are at the cornerstone of my success in my current position. The managing partner of my firm actively seeks for these character traits during interviews as he firmly believes they are predictors of how long people will stay in the consulting field and their ability to achieve successful outcomes, even during difficult times. I have recommended this program to several colleagues and friends; many have taken my advice. While everyone who has studied abroad through this program has lived a different experience, the results are the same. The study abroad program within Purdue’s business program is a major asset to the school.” – 2014 alum
“One of the highlights of my time at Purdue was the opportunity to compete in case competitions. This enabled me to collaborate with other undergraduates and truly refined my “all-around business knowledge” (i.e. Finance, Operations, Marketing, etc.). I had the opportunity to travel to Dortmund, Germany and also the University of Connecticut during my senior year at Purdue. These were truly great experiences, and were fully paid for by the Krannert School of Management.” – 2014 alum
Where the Class of 2017 went to work:
Eli Lilly & Company (9)
Ernst & Young (8)
Crowe Horwath LLP (7)
Ford Motor Company (6)
Pepsico Inc. (5)