The 2014 B-School ‘Nice Guys’ List

Laurie Pickard is completing an MBA curriculum entirely through MOOCs

Laurie Pickard is completing an MBA curriculum entirely through MOOCs

5) MOOC Pioneers: Yeah, we’ve heard the criticism leveled at full-time MBA programs. It’s just a certification, some say. You’ll lose two years of income and stunt your career. You’re taking on a six figure debt. And you can learn what’s critical just by opening a book. That’s true to an extent, which is why but some professionals are taking their education into their own hands with MOOCs.

Take Laurie Pickard, for example, who created her own thematic curriculum that covers the same content as a standard MBA program. The price: less than $1000. And she’ll complete it in less than three years. Like Pickard, Ankit Khandewal designed his own global business program, often using courses developed by Wharton and Yale. Bottom line: MOOCs may not disrupt the business education model, but they are giving enterprising student other options. Thankfully, they’re creating a template that the rest of us can use.

Adlai Wertman

4) Adlai Wertman, University of Southern California: Going from investment banking to teaching might seem like a step down. But for Adlai Wertman, who heads USC Marshall’s Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab, wanted to do more than feather his nest egg. As a result, he has created initiatives where undergraduates and MBAs can open up businesses that employ the impoverished.

His goal is to create an army of social entrepreneurs. From projects and internships to actual jobs, Wertman is showing how private enterprise can produce social change. And graduates can even earn subsidies to offset income loss for working towards this change. Sounds like a win-win for everyone.

Shirzad Chamine

Shirzad Chamine

3) Shirzad Chamine, Stanford University: Think business school will be easy, do you? Well, the real challenge isn’t mastering financial models or case studies. It is learning to accept a hard truth: You’re not as special as you think. At this level, everyone is gifted. And any major flaw – impulsiveness, sloth, insularity, or phoniness – will be exposed (publicly and fast).

It’s never easy to face our limitations. That’s why the first year of his Stanford MBA program left a deep impression on Shirzad Bozogchami (now Chamine). In an epic reflection, Chamine wrote a letter to future Stanford first-years outlining the powerful lessons he learned. From the folly of grades to the value of peers, Chamine shared the social and spiritual lessons that students would never gain from the curriculum. Even more, he reminded his successors that everyone feels afraid, isolated, and inadequate in their first year. To truly succeed, they needed to drop their hardened personas and embrace as a community. It was a timeless message that was finally made public after 26 years of being passed between Stanford classes. And the world is a little better today as a result.

Columbia teams with founders Casey Gerald (left) and Michael Baker (right).

Columbia teams with founders Casey Gerald (left) and Michael Baker (right).

2) Road-Tripping MBAs: So where did you spend your vacation time? Did you hit the slopes? Network? Lay around and recharge? This year, several b-school students chose to serve others. Over spring break, for example, eight HBS classmates paid their own way to Las Vegas – but not for poker and the Blue Man Group. Instead, they worked with local community leaders to evaluate urban renewal projects and build apprentice initiatives that pair graduates with area startups.

And they weren’t alone. This summer, eight teams from schools like Babson, Columbia, Ross, Stanford, and Haas took part in MBAs Across America, driving over 40,000 miles to help entrepreneurs in locales like Montana, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Here, they did everything from gathering data to advising on strategy, providing fledgling entrepreneurs with tools for growing their businesses. Not only did they serve others, but they came away with a whole different perspective. “The small business life teaches you to be scrappy,” noted Columbia’s Sam Wollner. “You have to learn to solve problems with all of the resources.”

ice bucket challenge

1) Answering the Ice Bucket Challenge: It was the 2014 version of the Macarena. Only this time, the silliness was for a good cause. By now, you know the drill: You videotape someone dumping a bucket of ice water over their head to promote awareness of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). In the process, that person challenges a friend or colleague to do the same (while giving $100 to the ALS Association).

Sure enough, business schools were quick to join in the frenzy. Harvard’s Nitin Nohria got the ball rolling in August (boldly challenging Harvard President Drew Faust to do the same…Talk about job security!). Soon enough, you had entire sections at Fuqua, Stanford, Wharton, and Columbia follow suit (with Fuqua, of course, goading Kenan-Flagler into doing it themselves). It was a amazing response that showed real leadership from our future business leaders.

Honorable Mention:

LGBT EVENT CREATES COMMUNITY OF ACCEPTANCE

LIFE LESSONS FROM THE EXCEPTIONAL WOMEN OF THE BAY

ROSS MAKING AN IMPACT BEFORE IT WAS COOL

HOW MBAs CAN LEAD THE LIFE THEY WANT

WHAT IS IT YOU PLAN TO DO WITH YOUR WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE

DON’T MISS: OUR TEN FAVORITE MBAs of 2014

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