The Positive Change We Want to See in the World

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAL4AAAAJDQ2MTNhMGMxLTE0ZDktNDExMi05YTk1LTg3ODg2NDBlNDNlZADana McTighe’s role as Vice President for CapitalStream Change Management at PNC Bank offers insight to why our MBA Sustainability program is ranked 10th in the world for “preparing graduates to change the world” and “succeed in this shifting business environment.”

Dana joined PNC as a project manager after completing her MBA in 2012 and steadily advanced. Now she heads up large scale enterprise initiatives for daily transaction systems, working with 17 different cross-functional teams. “I am responsible for the Change Management activities associated with approximately 10,000 employees across seven lines of business,” she said.

Dana noted that “the opportunity to manage innovation through multiple client consulting projects as an MBA student was good preparation for leading change” at one of the nation’s largest banks. Prior to graduate school, Dana held a progression of roles with a small financial services firm. As an MBA student, her consulting accomplishments included quantifying Scope III Greenhouse Gases, developing a global crop risk mitigation strategy for Heinz, helping to launch a social entrepreneurship, and conducting field work in Europe and South America on study trips.

A former leader of Duquesne’s Net Impact chapter, Dana remains active as an alumnus. In 2015, she organized and co-hosted an alumni-student sustainability symposium at Duquesne. She also coaches student project and practicum teams, most recently serving as client for a student team that helped PNC’s “Green Team” engage over 50,000 employees in social and environmental priorities.

“The program produces some of the coolest people I have ever met, personally and professionally.” – Dana McTighe, Duquesne MBA Sustainability ’12


Final Thoughts on the Fall Semester Project

In October when we learned PNC was going to be our fall consulting client, it was intimidating. Some students were surprised that we would be working with a bank on digital transaction challenges rather than social or environmental issues. As we heard from one of the executives from PNC, “Profit is not a trade off to social good. It says you created more than you consumed.”  We were tasked with working on the sustainability of the institution of banking in a smart commerce era.

McKinsey and Company recently released their list of the Top 10 articles in digitization. The article at the top of the list, Strategic Principles for competing in a digital age, gives seven trends that could redefine competition for businesses worldwide. One of the overarching themes of many student presentations was the emergence of non-traditional competitors in the financial services sector, a trend McKinsey ranks as number two. The “digital dynamics often undermine barriers to entry and long-standing sources of product differentiation” according to McKinsey.

The fall project is designed to help first semester MBA students see what is expected of managers in premier companies. Past fall clients have included PwC, Alcoa, and Heinz, who are all leaders in their industry.

This project challenged us to work in an industry where no one had any full time work experience and to think far outside our comfort zones.  It was a great opportunity and something none of us will forget any time soon. The growth from the beginning of the semester to the end is amazing to see. Our client saw major upgrades from our midterm presentations to the final. We are extremely proud of our growth.


Putting the Pieces Together: Design Thinking + PNC


Our project’s course kicked off with a design thinking simulation from IDEO and Experience Point.  Our facilitator, Drew Marshall, discussed the “sweet spot” between desirability, feasibility, and viability and outlined a systematic process for observation, ideation, testing and implementation. A highlight of the design thinking workshop was the lightening round of brainstorming. This process will be useful as we begin our consulting project with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

IMG_7165The following day, PNC’s chief marketing officer Karen Larrimer spoke to our cohort about the disciplined methodology for breakthrough innovation used at PNC. Using Target as an example, she shed light on how companies collect information and use specific data algorithms to tailor marketing to individual customer needs and wants.

One classmate, Laura, recognized the design thinking in PNC’s creation of the virtual wallet application.  Karen explained that the application responds to customer shifts from brick and mortar to ATMs and on-line bill paying while providing a competitive advantage for PNC. Laura described the creation of the virtual wallet as a “win-win” because customers have more flexibility, and the bank is able to reach more customers.

It is no accident that the program hosted Karen Larrimer after our design thinking simulation with Drew Marshall. While Drew showed us the theory and application of design thinking, Karen was able to show us design thinking in practice at PNC. It’s a relief to see that we learn in the classroom is directly applicable to a business environment.

Alumni Networking Event


Recently, the local alumni and our cohort had a networking event at the Red Ring campus restaurant. While our program has alumni across the world, we still have a lot of local alumni, which became evident to me after seeing the turnout at the event.  This networking opportunity allowed us to take a glimpse into our future – and it is bright.

Personally, I was able to talk with Maureen Coyle, operations director at Venture Outdoors.  While at Duquesne Maureen was also the graduate assistant that created the blog, Facebook, and Twitter for our program.   I enjoyed being able to pick the brain of the person whose footsteps I am following.

My classmate Dave spoke with two other graduates, Erin Clymer and Dana McTighe. Erin works in talent development at PNC, and hired Dana as a project manager upon graduation.  For Dave, this story reinforced the value of networking with program alumni.

Another classmate Blair connected with Ashley Jones, organizational efficiency specialist at NORESCO. Ashley and Blair connected on their passion for the Net Impact organization.  Ashley started the Pittsburgh Net Impact chapter, and Blair is the current president of Duquesne’s Net Impact Chapter.  Do I foresee another networking event between Net Impact chapters?

In attendance, there were also alumni from Fisher Scientific, FedEx, BNY Mellon, and other Pittsburgh-based businesses.  It is motivating to see the impact that our alumni are having in a variety of professions. To get to our own bright future, each of us has a lot of challenging, but exciting work over the next year