What does it take to persuade the chief executive officer of General Electric to come to a college campus and participate in a forum with students and alumni?
According to Jared Itkowitz, the key ingredients are a good idea, a little chutzpah, and a heavy dose of support from the campus community.
He should know. Itkowitz, a junior Tepper School student majoring in Business and Chinese Studies, is the Student Senate chair who initiated contact with USA TODAY and, together with other members of the Senate, persuaded the newspaper to bring its CEO Forum to Carnegie Mellon. On Monday, Dec. 10, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt spoke at Rangos Hall in the University Center. The event featured an on-stage interview of Immelt by USA TODAY senior media reporter David Lieberman followed by questions from the audience.
Itkowitz first started pursuing the CEO Forum a year and a half ago when he was the chair of the Student Senate’s Business Affairs Committee. Students held monthly meetings with USA TODAY through the Campus Readership Program, which provides for free distribution of that newspaper as well as the New York Times and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
It was through the Readership program that Itkowitz got the idea to bring the forum to Carnegie Mellon. Once he started the ball rolling, he was pleased by how much help he got from fellow students and administrators.
“One of the things I love about the Tepper School of Business, and about Carnegie Mellon, is the ability of the students and university administration to work so closely and so well together,” he says. “It really did not take that much of a struggle for me as a student in order to make this process happen.”
When the newspaper agreed to hold its forum at Carnegie Mellon, students — including Itkowitz — had some input into who was invited to speak, he says.
“General Electric is a great choice because it has technology and energy, which is of great interest,” says Itkowitz.
Originally from Lancaster, Pa., Itkowitz spent last summer in Shanghai working as an intern at a Chinese bank. Eventually, he would like to pursue a career in investment banking or consulting, either overseas or domestically but with ties to East Asia in either case. Toward that end, he began taking Chinese in the first semester of his freshman year, and now rates his language skills at “intermediate to advanced,” with a strong understanding of the culture.
He credits the Tepper School with providing him opportunities to network, and says the collaborative learning environment was one of the factors that drew him to the school.
“I was looking for a top-notch business program” when he chose Carnegie Mellon, he says, adding that he likes “the teamwork that comes with being at the Tepper School.”