To help kick off the Winter MBA Welcome Weekend, Vice Dean Howie Kaufold sat down with current second-year student Macie Whatley, WG’20 to answer a few questions about the MBA Program — and where to find the best restaurants in Philadelphia.

Macie: My first question, tell us, Vice Dean Howie, what do you do here at Wharton?

Vice Dean Howie: Basically, my main job is to oversee everything that happens in the MBA Program. There are about 80 colleagues of mine running from admissions, the folks who signed your letters and you may have met in different parts of the world. All the way through academic services, academic advising, student life, career management, our Communication Program, and the McNulty Leadership Program. We’re almost 100 people who try to make this the best possible program you can get.

I also teach. I’ve been teaching my entire career. I teach Finance, so I will get to know many of you in the core or corporate finance class.

What makes Wharton different than the other business schools?

We’re about personalization here at Wharton. More so than maybe any other business school we can deliver on that. We have a large program but we take advantage of that scale to offer you a myriad of opportunities across many dimensions.

We talk about maximizing learning. Not just in the classroom but learning across careers, across student life, and across leadership. Each of you will get an advisor who will help you match up your interests with what we offer here.

I think most of the students I talk to would agree that the problem here is time management. It’s choosing from the many things that you can do here — from courses to Leadership Ventures to clubs, not to speak of the career opportunities.

Philadelphia is known for its food scene, so what are your favorite places to eat in the city?

On 13th Street, if you just walk along there must be a dozen restaurants from Italian, Mexican, Asian, American, Greek… and I just love to walk along there and kind of decide where I want to eat at the moment. I tend to go down there a lot because there’s a club here called Wharton Storytellers and they tend to gather at a place that’s right near there (Franky Bradley’s). So, I’m frequently going to Storytellers and deciding, “Hey, where do I feel like eating tonight?”

What is the Wharton culture and student body really like?

The culture is as diverse as the people around you. I think that’s really what’s great about the place, and it’s also the challenge.

Our goal is to enable you to bring your unique backgrounds, your unique interests to our community. I think that it’s safe to say that your two years at Wharton, you will probably never be among as diverse a group of people for the rest of your life. I think it’s a matter of taking advantage of all these different backgrounds around you and actually pushing yourself into different groups of people to get those different perspectives.

Some people have this first impression that Wharton is a finance-driven school with a lot of highly competitive people. Of course, you wouldn’t be in this room if you didn’t have a competitive spirit. But people are amazingly supportive of one another’s goals and that’s another aspect of this diverse and supportive environment.

Some of these questions have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Posted: March 2, 2020

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