2022 Best & Brightest Business Major: Carisa M. Shah, Wharton School

Carisa M. Shah

Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania and The School of Engineering & Applied Sciences

University of Pennsylvania, Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology

“A bioengineering and political science nerd who always has spare screws in her blazer pocket.”

Fun fact about yourself: I can count to ten in seven languages and can recite the alphabet in five languages.

Hometown: New York City, New York

High School: The Dalton School

Major: B.S. in Economics with concentration in Management (Entrepreneurship & Innovation specialization), B.S.E. in Bioengineering

Minor: Mathematics

Favorite Business Course: Business Economics and Public Policy 203: Business in the Global Political Environment

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board Co-Chair: Worked alongside Wharton administration on initiatives to improve the academic environment
  • Perry World House Student Fellow: Researched geopolitical strategy to inform policy on SARS-CoV-2 vaccine distribution in Southeast Asia and proposed solutions to climate migration in Lake Chad Basin
  • Seniors for the Penn Fund Co-Chair: Organized senior class outreach campaign directed towards providing financial assistance to first-generation undergraduate students and students of color
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Assistant: Worked with healthcare professionals to design and develop innovative biomedical technologies to improve patient care
  • Kite and Key Society Tour Guide
  • Honors
    • The Wharton School Herbert S. Steuer Memorial Prize
    • Phi Sigma Biological Sciences Honor Society

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • United States Navy Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington D.C., Engineering Intern with the COLUMBIA Class Submarine Program
  • Searchlight Capital Partners, New York, Private Equity Intern
  • Noodle Partners, New York, Technical Project Management Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Palantir, Deployment Strategist

Who is your favorite professor? Professor Gizem Saka embodies a degree of rationality unparalleled by all others. An incredibly structured, logical thinker, Professor Saka brings a sense of clarity to even the most convoluted of ideas. Her analytical mindset does not hinder her creativity. However, as an artist, former gymnast, and now distinguished economist, Professor Saka is a model of excellence. I met Professor Saka in my first week on campus and having had the opportunity to learn from her over the course of two semesters, I can confidently say that she is one of the best professors I’ve ever had.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? You can learn as much from your professors as you can from your peers. From group projects to discussion-based classes to extracurricular activities, I’ve learned so much from those around me. The Wharton education has taught me to not only learn independently but to take every opportunity to learn with and from my peers. Moving forward, I will continue to strive to surround myself with people whose perspectives and capabilities make me better.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Explore as many industries and take advantage of as many opportunities as you can – the skills you learn as a business student can help you do anything you want to do.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The analytical mindset that you develop with a comprehensive business education can be applied across any number of disciplines. As an engineering and business student, I did not expect the curricula to be incredibly synergistic. Looking back on the past four years, I can point to certain assignments, projects, and discussions where the Wharton curriculum substantially changed how I approached the task. Fundamentally, this highlights how broadly applicable a business education is to all sectors.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I came into business school with preconceived notions about the quantitative and qualitative sides of the curriculum. I purposefully frontloaded classes I thought I would find interesting and waited until the end of the four years to take classes I thought I would not enjoy. As a second semester senior reflecting on my experience at Wharton, I realize there is still so much I want to learn. In hindsight, I would tell myself to take as many introductory classes as possible as early as possible before deciding what it is that I want to dive deeper into. By establishing a broad foundation, I would better be able to take advantage of the vast opportunities Wharton offers undergraduate students.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Over the past two semesters, I, alongside four teammates, have spent the better part of most weeks in the Bioengineering Lab working on our senior design project. We are working with the de la Fuente Lab at Penn to create an accurate, rapid, and affordable point-of-care test that can diagnose viral pathogens and be easily deployed worldwide to fortify the frontlines of our global pandemic response. This project has been incredibly exciting because every time we are in lab, we use skills learned from class to solve problems. It is so rewarding to apply all the knowledge we have learned over the past four years to a project that has the potential to create a real, lasting, and positive impact.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire George Feng, a close friend, lab partner, and classmate since my first semester at Penn. George is incredibly smart and driven. He has an unparalleled work ethic and unbounded curiosity. Most of all, George is kind, decent, and unfailingly generous.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents are pillars in my life; without whom I could not stand. They taught me what hard work and determination look like, showed me what it means to be loved, and have always been constant sources of support. My ultimate inspiration, however, comes from my older sister, Karina Shah. Following in her footsteps has been one of the most formative experiences of my life. She is the reason I played soccer, learned Spanish, and took up the viola – she is also responsible for my relentlessly competitive mindset, keen interest in global affairs, proclivity for reading, and love of debates. My guidepost for everything, she embodies all that I aspire to be. She has never given me any idea that I could not do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be. Knowing Karina has made me a better person, and for that I am forever grateful.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Affect positive, sustainable change – make an impact that will last longer than the length of my career
  2. Work and live in another country for an extended period of time

What are your hobbies? Reading, cooking, listening to 2000’s music, traveling, and watching West Wing.

What made Carisa such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Carisa Shah has been a thoughtful, compassionate and fantastic student leader during her time at Penn. As co-chair of the Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board, she helped to lead and keep the organization running during the height of the pandemic. During the height of the pandemic, she helped to create a central student events calendar and a virtual suggestion box in order to keep students engaged and informed. Carisa also came up with the idea of the Wharton student values initiative and was instrumental in putting together the inaugural Penn Wharton Economics Conference. Carisa always has the best interests of her peers in mind when coming up with new initiative ideas and is led by the strong desire to enhance the student experience at Wharton. Admired by her classmates, faculty, and staff, Carisa has made a profound impact on the Wharton undergraduate student community.”

Lee Kramer
Director of Student Life


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