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Meet Our 2019 Cohort of Fellows: Penny Barnes



Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

I've worked as a geoscientist in the oilfield exploration business for ten years between completing my undergraduate studies and attending business school. I've lived in Texas most of my life.


What made you consider business school?

I have had the opportunity to collaborate with some incredibly brilliant people on challenging problems, including developing technologies that transform the way oilfield exploration is performed. However, as a technical expert, I spent more time implementing these technologies for our clients than actually reviewing and analyzing the impact that it had on their business. While putting that technology into practice is very satisfying, I think that I would have more impact if I had a better understanding of how our clients and business partners were using our products. I decided that to develop that understanding, I would need to work on my education, and while I found plenty of guidance at the bookstore, I eventually decided that to really satisfy my desire to excel in this area, I should pursue a graduate business education.


What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

One thing I'm really looking forward to is working and studying with people who have the passion and energy that I saw from MBAs I've met during the admissions process. I think that when we're at work, it can sometimes be hard to see the recognize the common goal that we share, but in school, we all have self selected for that desire to grow and learn.


Who are some leaders (in the LGBT community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?

I am inspired by Ellen Pao, for constantly putting pressure on the organizations she's in to push back against misogyny and hate, even at risk to her own career. I admire Ellen Page and Janet Mock for using their platforms to speak their truth and educate people on LGBTQ topics. Finally, Carli Lloyd inspires me with her virtues of hard work and determination.


What's one thing everyone should know about you? I don't like giving up. Achieving our goals may require compromising for time, bandwidth or resources, but it shouldn't require compromising on passion.