One course in business puts student on new career path


Tatiana Granger’s Akron Experience was almost over before it began.

When she decided to pursue an MBA in International Business here, Granger discovered her background in humanities had not prepared her for the math-intensive Graduate Management Admission Test. She did well enough to be accepted into the program, but only as a provisional student. She was not eligible for a graduate assistantship, and had to maintain a 3.0 grade point average for two semesters to become a fully admitted student.

Tatiana Granger

Tatiana Granger

“In that moment, I realized I would have to work to my fullest potential to prove that my decision to pursue a new career in business was the right choice,” Granger told the members of UA’s Board of Trustees during a recent presentation on her Akron Experience.

Career detour

In her native Russia, she had earned a B.A. in Linguistics and Foreign Languages, summa cum laude. Granger then went on to win a Fulbright Scholarship to teach for a year at the University of Evansville in Indiana. While there, she took her first business class, Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship, which led to her career detour.

It was family that led her to UA. Both her husband, Doug, and her brother-in-law, Matthew, are UA graduates. Granger said she was also attracted to UA by its proximity to the many companies in the region with international profiles.

The “provisional student” not only excelled here, she landed a position with The J.M. Smucker Company in Orrville as a trade planning analyst after graduating in May.

Tatiana Granger

Joining Tatiana Granger after her Board of Trustees presentation are, from left, Student Trustee Matthew Hull; her husband, Doug Granger; Myra Weakland, assistant director of graduate programs; Sandra Pianalto, executive-in-residence, FirstMerit Chair in Banking; and CBA professors John Matejkovica and William Hauser.

During Granger’s time at UA, she quickly qualified for a graduate assistantship. She immersed herself in a variety of opportunities, including a 2014 summer internship as an EDGE Fellow with The Entrepreneurs EDGE, a non-profit organization.

Valued mentor

Granger also joined the Women's Leadership Development Group, and found a role model. The group is led by Sandra Pianalto, who retired as president of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank in 2014, and is now an executive-in-residence, FirstMerit Chair in Banking and an Advisory Trustee on UA’s Board of Trustees.

“It was a great honor to work with her and get advice on how to succeed in life and grow as a leader,” recalled Granger. “But more than that, the most important advice that Ms. Pianalto inadvertently taught me was compassion and kindness. Ms. Pianalto was so approachable and humble, and serves as a lasting role model for the kind of person I hope to become.”

Granger also founded a student organization — the Cross-Cultural Committee — with the help of Dr. William Hauser, interim assistant dean and director of graduate programs, and Myra Weakland, assistant director of graduate programs. The CCC brings together American and international students to promote intercultural connections.

‘Outstanding' Akron experience’

In looking back, Granger said her greatest accomplishments at UA were being admitted into Beta Gamma Sigma, an honorary society for business students, and being chosen as the “Outstanding Student” of the MBA Class of 2015.

“My Akron Experience helped me ‘bridge the gap,’ both professionally and personally,” said Granger. “I have bridged the divide in my academic and professional career by combining my first love of teaching, language and foreign culture with my new passion for finance, economic development and entrepreneurship.

“But most importantly, I have bridged the gap in my identity between the person I was at the start of my graduate studies and the person I am today,” noted Granger. “I will be eternally grateful for what the faculty, staff, my colleagues and the overall Akron community have provided me. I know that my lifelong education is just beginning.”