Learn about Declan Nishiyama's experience as a student at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business!
Name: Declan Nishiyama
School: MBA, Georgia Tech, Scheller College of Business
Hometown: Ashland, Kentucky
Profession: Senior Product Manager -- Technical Products, Amazon, Seattle, WA
Why did you choose your MBA program? Do you have advice for students on how to make a decision?
I chose Scheller because of the unique Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results (TI:GER) program. Many amazing companies have come out of the program, including LymphaTech, which recently received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight Lymphatic Filariasis all over the world. For my TI:GER project, I work with a PhD student from the College of Computing who is focused on autonomous vehicle technology. His research replaces decade-old technology at the core of today’s self-driving cars. This improvement will greatly increase the safety and reliability of autonomous vehicles by facilitating faster calculations of cars’ projected trajectories. Through the TI:GER program I’ve been able to work on developing the business plan to bring this project to fruition. This has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience that Scheller is uniquely positioned to provide.
My advice for a prospective student would be to get to know us! Talk with current students or come in for a class visit. We have a smaller than average class size and that really allows us to build a strong community.
What was your favorite classroom experience?
I loved Consumer Behavior. We base so many decisions on the theory that people act rationally, but that’s absolutely not the case! People do crazy things all the time, like basing our price estimates on the first values we hear or overvaluing things we own. This class was a great way to understand those quirks of human psychology and to leverage that knowledge into better business decisions.
What is something that you learned that was unexpected?
Scheller College’s Jones Career Center is amazing – in fact its Career Services was ranked #1 in the world by Financial Times among all MBA programs globally. This impressive feat is a testament to the amazing students, staff and partnerships with world-class companies who recognize the value of our Scheller MBA graduates. Before we even stepped on campus the Career Center was working with us to identify our career goals and provide guidance. For more details, please visit the Scheller website.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue an MBA? What inspired you? Did you pursue your MBA in order to switch careers?
As a former Chemical Engineer turned Technical Product Manager for cloud computing at Amazon Web Services Declan notes that “While engineering provided me with analytical skills, my MBA allows me to take that to the next level to make balanced decisions for the entire business.”
I had a coworker who left our company to get his MBA a few years before me. Prior to him leaving, I didn’t think it was possible to live without a salary for two years and to actually pay tuition instead. I thought that the process would be too much of a setback financially and career-wise. His departure and post-MBA success (he now runs his own search fund) showed me that it could be done.
Advice for Future Applicants
What is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started the MBA application process?
There is a myth that the MBA at Scheller is only for people with STEM backgrounds. That is totally not true. So many of my classmates come from outside STEM. Some were former teachers and even singers! The curriculum was developed to help.