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Meet the Babson Olin MBA Class of 2018

Members of the MBA Class of 2018 at Babson College

Members of the MBA Class of 2018 at Babson College

Are entrepreneurs born or made? On the surface, most people associate great entrepreneurs with intangibles. They’re a breed apart, risk-takers who are passionate about a vision, focused on an end, and oblivious to the odds. Many are blessed with an uncanny balance: The sixth sense to know when to pivot and the agility to outmaneuver more copious competitors. They are the doers, the ones who are earnest enough to write a plan and patient and tenacious enough to execute it.

Entrepreneurs may be dismissed as star-gazers at best and misfits at worst, but their skill sets fit surprisingly well in today’s corporate world. They are curious, always asking why and thinking how, unafraid to challenge the status quo as they confidently wade through uncertainty and ambiguity. They are customer-focused, tirelessly poring over data and interviewing purchasers to identify opportunities or gain an edge. They are maverick spirits who don’t wait for permission and direction, following the dictum that you act first and sell later. Most of all, they are tough. Accustomed to doing more with less and “eating what they kill,” they don’t go into a funk when they fall short. For them, defeat is just an opportunity to re-evaluate the value of the idea or the quality of the process.

RANKED AS TOP ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM BY U.S. NEWS FOR 22 YEARS RUNNING

The longest distance between two points is the one that runs from  an idea to its execution. Whether you aspire to launch a company or run a marketing department, the mindset and skills inherent to entrepreneurship are the gateway to a remarkable career. That is the major selling point of Babson College’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business. Call it the Hogwarts of entrepreneurship. In its signature curriculum, entrepreneurship isn’t a separate concentration; it is the foundation from which all other disciplines are taught. That’s one reason why U.S. News & World Report has ranked Babson #1 in entrepreneurship for 22 consecutive years. This opinion has increasingly become the consensus, with the program also reigning atop the Financial Times ranking for entrepreneurship for two years running.

Students in Babson College’s Olin Hall - Ethan Baron photo

Students in Babson College’s Olin Hall – Ethan Baron photo

Based in Wellesley, Massachusetts with a blended MBA program in San Francisco, the Babson experience is grounded in its Entrepreneurial Thought & Action (ET&A) methodology. Here, the focus is placed on rigorous market analysis, constant experimentation, and intensive training on business fundamentals. Like most MBA programs, each Babson course provides ample opportunities for students to practice leadership and teamwork, wrestle with ethical considerations, and develop greater self-awareness.

However, the curriculum is tied together with a larger mission: fostering a strong sense of social responsibility that doesn’t shy away from the complexities of globalization and positions business as a means to achieve social change. One of the school’s main areas of focus is on Social, Environmental and Economic Sustainability and Responsibility (SEERS),” explains Simon Kohnstamm, a first year from St. Paul, Minnesota. “They really hammer home that no matter what kind of business you create or join, it must leave the world a better and more prosperous place for everyone.”

“BABSON WAS THE ONLY SCHOOL I APPLIED TO”

Tamara Kvaratskhelia is fond of saying, “Those who dream, we call dreamers, and those who do, we call entrepreneurs.” Babson’s rare combination of practical training, startup process simulations, and social values was enough to draw her from Tbilisi, Georgia to the Boston area. “I have an entrepreneurial spirit and have always wanted to start my own company,” she says. “Babson College is the perfect place for students, like me, who are driven by idea generation and development, along with those who want to build their knowledge and networks to start their own company. This unique approach not only inspires, it also pushes students outside of their comfort zone to dare to do something bigger, more important, and revolutionary.”

Newton native Blake Chanowski takes it even a step further. “Babson was the only school I applied to,” she states. “If I didn’t get in, I wasn’t getting my MBA. I felt that I could probably fill the gaps in my institutional knowledge on my own, but Babson would change my state of mind and mold me into the kind of entrepreneur I want to be.”

The Class of 2018 joins an illustrious list of MBA entrepreneurs to call themselves Babson Beavers, including Jim Poss (BigBelly Solar), Ruthie Davis (Ruthie Davis), and Jason Jacobs (RunKeeper). The school is also renowned for producing skilled intrapreneurs. In this area, the alumni roll features several corporate heavy hitters, including Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda, Montreal Canadians CEO and co-owner Geoff Molson, and billionaire investor Dean Metropoulos, who was involved in purchasing and rebuilding top brands like Pabst Brewing Company, Chef Boyardee, and Hostess. Most recently, 2016 grad Sanmay Ved made headlines by beating out Google to purchase its domain name (a $12 investment that yielded an over $6,000 return).

ACCOMPLISHED, FRIENDLY, AND CREATIVE CLASS

William Lamb will be the new dean of Babson's Olin School

Dean William Lamb of Babson’s Olin School

According to Dean William Lamb, the incoming class has the potential to rank among its best ever. “This class is, in academic terms, one of the strongest groups we’ve ever enrolled,” he says. “They come from over 100 different undergraduate institutions and 26 different countries. They’ve worked for a very wide array of firms, and many have already had experience starting businesses or charities of their own. Many have experience in family businesses.”

Indeed, Babson carefully shapes its classes, which benefits students in the classroom — and beyond. “One of the most important qualities we look for in prospective students is their collaborative spirit,” Lamb adds. “How well will they work with others? Do they enjoy problem solving? What difference do they want to make in the world? Do they have a track record of working to help others? Students in this year’s class have worked at orphanages, medical centers, schools, and other charities. They bring a rich diversity of experiences and perspectives to the classroom. This includes a lot of different hobbies and outside activities, from athletics to music to artistic pursuits. This year’s class stands out as a friendly and creative group of people.”

Creative is a good description for this class, as is full of life. As a skier, Reed Snyderman won the freestyle Junior Olympics in 2008 and found himself on the podium at the 2012 U.S. Nationals for freestyle mogul skiing. “I can do a double cork 1260 on skis. (three-and-a-half spins while going off-axis twice),” he shares. Snyderman isn’t the only first year with a big trophy case. Mexico’s Manuel L. Corcuera Ramírez de Arellano is a Skeet national champion. The class also brings an artistic side. Ashutosh Pandit is an actor who has appeared in short films, while Kvaratskhelia has cut a CD playing classic piano music. Perhaps she could translate for Ali Eldessouky, who dances to “random jams”…in his head. As you’d expect, the class boasts plenty of techies. Eldessouky already holds a patent for a hand tool and has four more pending. Let’s not forget Kohnstamm. His bio reads like an 80’s comedy. “I was kicked out of high school for hacking into their network,” he admits. “They invited me to come back the next year to help improve their computer systems.”