Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Introduces New Class of James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellows

2015 Swartz FellowsFourteen graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University representing a wide variety of disciplines have been selected for the new cohort of James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellows. The Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellows Program is administered by the CMU Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) and aims to accelerate the career development of Carnegie Mellon graduate students who demonstrate a passion for fusing technology with business, and for taking their innovative ideas to the marketplace.

Robert Southern, MBA ’17, was driven to apply by both his own entrepreneurial interests and some encouragement from alumni of the Swartz Fellows program.

“I want to take advantage of every entrepreneurial resource that Carnegie Mellon and the Tepper School have to offer, and the exposure provided by the Swartz Fellows program seemed very appealing,” Southern explained. “I spoke with several previous fellows, and they assured me that it would be an incredible experience.”

The newest cohort of Swartz Fellows represents five of the Carnegie Mellon University schools and colleges, promoting cross-campus collaboration and interdisciplinary work.

“As a design student, I was excited to see an opportunity that bridged across graduate programs. I think it’s important to see how design fits into the overall scheme of a business,” said Lisa Otto, CFA ’17. “I'm looking forward to being able to test ideas with people who think and learn differently from how I do, and I am already amazed by the diversity of viewpoints and interests.”

This year’s Swartz Fellowship recipients include:

  • Sneha Chaudhari, SCS ’16;
  • Andrius Didziulis, HNZ ’17;
  • Jameel Francis, MBA ’17;
  • Sakshi Goel, CIT ’16;
  • Derek Gregg, MBA ’18;
  • Simon Kalouche, SCS ’16;
  • Crystal Lin, CFA ’16;
  • Lisa Otto, CFA ’17;
  • Ivan Pistsov, MBA ’17;
  • Joshua Sirchio, CIT ’16;
  • Robert Southern, MBA ’17;
  • Adam Yabroudi, SCS ’17;
  • JiaJia Zhang, MBA ’17; and
  • Michael Zomnir, SCS ’17.

Swartz Fellows are offered coursework in entrepreneurship and special networking opportunities to help them secure marquee internships with top-tier, venture-backed startups within the high-tech, high-growth environment of Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

“I hope to use the access and network provided by the program to secure an internship working directly with leadership at an early stage startup… getting as close as possible to strategic decision-making at the executive level will help prepare me to run my own business,” added Southern.

Fellows are also presented with ample opportunities for coaching and mentorship by Carnegie Mellon faculty members, alumni of the program and venture capitalists.

“I would like to continue to develop my acumen as a business leader and create critical connections and experiences within the technology startup space,” said Jameel Francis, MBA ’17. “I believe the Swartz Fellows program will also help me to network with investors and business leaders, learn from entrepreneurial leaders, and build valuable relationships with current and previous fellows.”

“It is rare to have the opportunity to interact with entrepreneurs, investors, and other industry veterans on a regular basis, and one of the main goals of the Swartz Fellows program is to facilitate these types of interactions,” added JiaJia Zhang, MBA ’17. “I want to learn from the best and be surrounded by people who live and breathe entrepreneurship.”

The benefactor of this program, James R. Swartz, MSIA’66, is also a distinguished entrepreneur, venture capitalist and founding partner of Palo Alto-based Accel Partners. He was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Venture Capital Association in 2007.  Swartz is an inaugural member of the Tepper School’s Business Board of Advisers and is the benefactor of the James R. Swartz Leadership Scholarship, awarded to first-year MBA students who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential.