2016 Best EMBAs: Jennifer Meller, Wharton School

Jennifer Meller Wharton

Jennifer Meller

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

“As a physician in solo practice, I was used to being in charge and making decisions alone. In business school, I had to work with a learning team, and many classes required group projects. I learned how to step back and let others own parts of a project, and how to play not only to my strengths, but to the strengths of the team as a whole.”

Age: 45

Location: Scarsdale, NY

Family Members: Husband, Moshe Rubin; daughters Sarah (15) and Rachel (8)

Education: NYU, B.A. 1992; NYU School of Medicine, M.D. 1996

Where are you currently working? Owner and director, Park Avenue Medicine

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles:  

  1. School: Awards and Honors:
  • First Year Honors
  • Dean’s List (semester2)
  • Wharton Venture initiation Program
  • Wharton Business Plan Competition Semi-Finalist
  • Johnson Women in Tech Competition Finalist

School activities/leadership: Organized a number of fun social events for our class (2nd year Halloween party, pre-graduation women’s event, post-graduation team dinner)

  1. Work: Honors/Awards:
  • Castle Connolly Top Regional Doctor 2015 and 2016
  • NY Times SuperDoctor 2014, 2015, and 2016

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Attaining First Year Honors. I came to business school without any formal business training. When I started school it seemed that everyone was familiar with some element of at least one if not most classes. The content was all brand new for me. I also had a family along with a busy job to juggle. So attaining First Year Honors (and on track to graduate with honors) was a huge accomplishment.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Being named to Castle Connolly as a Top Doctor. To be named, one has to be nominated and elected by their peers. Being recognized by colleagues for whom I have great respect is an honor.

Who is your favorite professor? Kent Smetters. He’s wicked smart, funny, kind, and made class material that I’d never been exposed to before digestible and interesting. He’s also been a great mentor.

Favorite MBA Courses? Influence, Innovation, Legal and Transactional Aspects of Entrepreneurship, Healthcare Delivery Systems

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? The diversity and quality of the students, the outstanding faculty, and the rigor of the program.

What did you enjoy most about business school? My classmates. Wharton’s program is a residential program, which means that we stay overnight every other weekend. Friday evenings between class days our class goes out in groups, and we get to socialize and have fun in what is otherwise an exceptionally work-intensive program. Getting to know my classmates both inside and outside of class was a treat. They are an amazing group: intelligent, motivated, diverse, and fun.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? As a physician in solo practice, I was used to being in charge and making decisions alone. In business school, I had to work with a learning team, and many classes required group projects. I learned how to step back and let others own parts of a project, and how to play not only to my strengths, but to the strengths of the team as a whole.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? What a big piece of my life it became. As a doctor, and a mom, living with my family in a suburb of NYC, I thought that I would travel to school, attend some classes, and then leave things behind when I returned home. I was quickly surprised by how connected I stayed to my classmates, even between class weekends. Between WhatsApp group chats, organized dinners out, and impromptu after-work drinks, my classmates have become good friends and a much bigger part of my life than I anticipated.

What is your best advice for juggling work, family, and education? Learn to be a master organizer. Set a schedule for getting schoolwork done, and stick to it. Try to stay ahead of the game, and never leave things for the last moment because you never know when work or family may usurp your time. Also be sure to set aside time for your family. Schedule it in if needed. Know when to shut the computer and put the books aside and really be present for the people you care about most.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your executive MBA program? Just go for it. You’ll work harder than you ever imagined possible, but the journey will be amazing.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when …” My husband and I spent a weekend checking out the Yale health care management MBA program five years ago, with the notion that he might apply. My husband is a Yale med school alum, but was uninspired by the visit. I, on the other hand, was enthralled with the course content, the curriculum, and with the general vibe. By the end of the weekend, my husband turned to me and said, “You’re the one who should go back to school.” And that’s when I knew.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be …” Doing the same thing for the next 15 years that I’ve done for the last 15 years.

 Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Sheryl Sandberg. A great leader, she empowers other women to lead and is unafraid of being vocal about juggling work and family responsibilities.

What are your long-term professional goals? To start and grow a successful health care IT company. After that, TBD …

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family. Without their support, love, and exceptional patience, I would not have made it this far.

Fun fact about yourself: I’m technically a grandma! My husband is 10 years my senior, and his daughter (my step-daughter) has two small children

Favorite book: A Room with a View

Favorite movie: Smart People

Favorite musical performer: Billy Joel

Favorite television show: “Homeland”

Favorite vacation spot: Three-way tie: Jerusalem, St. Thomas, Beaver Creek

Hobbies? Cooking, Pilates, spending time with my kids

What made Jennifer such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Jennifer Meller was a physician first. She became a business owner when she opened Park Avenue Medicine, an internal medicine practice in New York, and now she’s making a bold move into health care entrepreneurship. She and two EMBA classmates are participating in the Venture Initiation Program incubator and are currently semifinalists in the Wharton Business Plan Competition with Wait’s Up, a software application that integrates electronic medical records with patient flow in doctor’s waiting rooms to inform patients of delays via text message.

“As director of Internal Medicine at Park Avenue Medicine as well as attending physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, Jennifer sees all sides of internal medicine and wanted to do the same with the business side. Jennifer, who is also the mom of two girls, is now on track to graduate with honors. She says, ‘For me, getting an MBA is about finding a new direction in the world of health care.’”

Peggy Bishop Lane
Vice Dean of Wharton MBA for Executives Program
Adjunct Professor of Accounting

DON’T MISS: CLASS OF 2016: THE BEST & BRIGHTEST GRADUATING EMBAS