2018 Best & Brightest: Maximilian Kneis, University of Pittsburgh

Maximilian Kneis

University of Pittsburgh

“A passionate individual proactively bringing about efficiency and systematic change in organizations.”

Fun fact about yourself: I moved to the United States from Germany when I was 4, and am still a German citizen.

Hometown: West Chester, PA

High School: B. Reed Henderson High School

Major: Finance & Accounting

Minor: Economics & Applied Business Analytics Certificate

Favorite Business Course: Business & Politics

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: Student Government Board (President), Phi Beta Lambda, Beta Theta Pi, Stamps Leadership Scholar, Teaching Assistant, Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honorary

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • AmerisourceBergen Corporation, Conshohocken PA, FP&A Intern
  • PNC Financial Services, Pittsburgh PA, A&L Finance Intern
  • The Boston Consulting Group, Atlanta GA, Summer Associate

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working as an associate with the Boston Consulting Group, based out of Atlanta GA.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I most enjoyed the personalized advising and experiential learning opportunities I have had at Pitt Business. I began business coursework in my fields of interest during my first semester, and have had the opportunity to work on multiple class projects for real clients, allowing me to make measurable impacts for organizations.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that collaboration is the key to success. Working in a team everyone brings different skills to the table, and unlocking the potential of each member and utilizing them in the most effective way creates synergies that create better work than anyone could have completed on their own.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? The learning you do outside of the classroom matters just as much, if not more, than the learning that happens inside. Getting involved in student organizations and other extracurricular opportunities develops important soft skills and sets you apart when you apply for internships and jobs.   

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…industrial engineering or economics.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? A combination of my father and Mrs. Tobin, my Introduction to Business teacher in 9th grade. I’ve always admired the way my dad carried himself and was respected when I visited his office or met colleagues. Mrs. Tobin confirmed my interest in business through an extremely engaging freshmen year elective, and remained a mentor to me during my time in FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America).

Which academic extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of being elected President of the Student Government Board for my senior year at Pitt. After months of campaigning, speaking in front of hundreds of organizations, and many sleepless nights, over 2,000 students (many of them strangers) placed their trust into me. It has truly been so rewarding getting to work in this position to improve the collegiate experiences of my peers.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the business school? I would ensure that there was free coffee available 24/7 to all students studying in the business building, making us as productive all year as we are during finals week when treats like this are offered around campus.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire Derek Arnold, a fellow senior, for his constant motivation to pitch in anywhere there is a need. Derek brings an extremely up-beat attitude, can strike a conversation with anyone, and always gives his all to get things done.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Two important women in my life: My mother and girlfriend, Elizabeth. I’d like to thank my mom for instilling a strong work ethic and attention to detail. I still remember having to rewrite my spelling homework in elementary school when they were sloppily completed. Actions like this helped develop many of the skills I’ve needed to have a successful undergraduate career. Elizabeth has been my sounding board throughout all of college, always ensuring I thought deliberately about my choices and supporting me in all my endeavors.

What would your theme song be? “On Top of The World” by Imagine Dragons. I’ve been so blessed with amazing friends, family, and opportunities over the last few years at Pitt that when I step back and reflect I couldn’t imagine a better journey.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? See the Philadelphia Eagles play live in a Super bowl and go skydiving

Favorite book: Ender’s Game and Good to Great

Favorite movie: Remember the Titans

Favorite vacation spot: Lewes, DE

What are your hobbies? Spending time with friends, trying out good restaurants, football (Fly Eagles Fly!), cooking, and watching/playing soccer

What made Maximilian such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?

“I became acquainted with Max Kneis in April 2014 via email. Max was in the process of preparing to join Pitt Business in fall 2014, and he wrote to me because he was focused on getting his first term schedule completely organized well in advance. This, my first interaction with Max, was highly reflective of the student I would come to know far better as I served as his academic advisor for the next four years. Max is a clear and concise communicator, and is equally eloquent in person or in writing. Max is a strategic thinker, and always has his eye on the future.  And, Max is a great partner, a great collaborator; Max not only asks questions, but he also listens to responses. I remember having such fun working with Max as he and I selected the classes for his first term in college: Introduction to Physics, Honors Microeconomics, Quantitative Methods, Financial Accounting and Honors Market Manipulations. Suffice it to say, Max’s first term schedule was academically challenging!

As Max notes on his nomination form, he is the recipient of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation Scholarship. The mission of the Stamps Scholarship is to help “exceptional students become meaningful leaders throughout society.” Max has certainly lived up to this mission at the University of Pittsburgh, culminating in his election as President of the Student Government Board (SGB). I find two things particularly notable about Max’s run for SGB President. First, in large part due to Max’s absolutely inexhaustible campaigning, student voter turnout more than doubled compared to the prior year. Second – and this says a lot about Max – Max competed for the office against one of his best friends. Despite that intense competition, the campaign did not become nasty or backbiting. To me, this is truly the hallmark of Max’s leadership style; even in the midst of competing very hard for something he wanted badly, Max remained a highly decent and collaborative person.

Max is an absolutely outstanding student. He is earning majors in Finance and Accounting, a minor in Economics and a Certificate in Business Analytics. Max’s academic record is amazingly strong. During my 23 years in Pitt Business, Max is one of the brightest students with whom I have had the privilege of working.

Max is a tireless advocate for the Pitt Business Honors Program, of which he is an inaugural member. My colleague, Lisa Cherok, Director of Pitt Business Admissions, describes Max as an “honorary Pitt Business ambassador” who gives extremely generously of his time and energy in talking to prospective honors students about unique opportunities within Pitt Business. Max has played a pivotal role in helping us recruit some excellent students; Max’s recruiting efforts will make us a better school for years to come. Max knows he has many tremendous blessings and opportunities – and his shows a genuine willingness to “pay it forward”.

In sum, Max is an invaluable member of the class of 2018 because he leaves both the University of Pittsburgh and the College of Business Administration bettered by his leadership. Max has led in so many ways: as a committed member and treasurer of Phi Beta Lambda, as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the required business core course Quantitative Methods and, of course, as SGB President. However, I suspect as I look back on the political climate of 2017/2018, what I will most fondly remember about Max is how he fought a tough campaign for office against one of his closest friends, but never lost his humanity. It is this combination of tenacity and decency that Max will bring with him as he launches his career with Boston Consulting Group. And, I have no doubt that this combination of tenacity and decency will take Max far in life.”

Liz Adams
Director of Academic Advising
University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration