What makes a great leader?
The 276 MBA students who make up the Class of 2017 at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School are quickly finding out. Most of them arrived on campus for orientation in early August and started class in the school’s leadership-focused MBA program on Aug. 7.
What the class has already absorbed is that for most leadership is a learned skill – not a natural talent – that requires continuous focus. And leadership is what unites the 276 members of the 2017 class at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Whether they plan to enter banking, consulting or entrepreneurship, they aspire, first-and-foremost, to become better leaders.
Based on early returns, they are well on their way. In fact, Sridhar Balasubramanian, associate dean of MBA program and professor of marketing, calls the MBA Class of 2017, “one of the strongest classes in our history.” “The class was selected not just for their academic and intellectual strength,” he tells Poets&Quants, “but also based on whether they demonstrated a high potential to fully leverage our leadership program. Specifically we selected for communication skills, proven leadership qualities, team ability, integrity and a strong moral compass.”
The quality of the students is another reflection of the increasing popularity of Kenan-Flagler. Over the last three classes, the number of applications to the full-time MBA program has spiked from 1,483 to 2,357 (the largest in 15 years). In the same period, the school’s acceptance rate has fallen from 45% to 34%, making it all the more exclusive.
The academic timber of students enrolling has been elevated as well. For example, the Class of 2015 started classes in the McColl Building with a 683 average GMAT and a 690 median. For the Class of 2017, those scores have jumped to 701 and 710 respectively (with GMAT scores in the mid-80% range being 640-750). Undergraduate GPAs reflect a similar pattern. In the fall of 2013, students entered Kenan-Flagler with an average GPA of 3.33, which have since climbed to 3.41 (a shade higher than the incoming class at Ross).
The school’s demographics are also shifting. The percentage of women, for example, increased by four full percentage points from 26% to 30% with the Class of 2017. Some 28 countries are represented in this class, with international students comprising 32% of the class (down three percentage points from the Class of 2016, but up four percentage points from the 2015 class). American minority students account for 15% of the 2017 class as well.
With Kenan-Flagler among the top feeder schools to Bank of America and Wells Fargo, it’s no surprise that the program draws heavily from undergraduate business majors. Among the incoming class, 26% hold bachelor’s degrees in business, finance or accounting, followed by engineering (20%) and economics (13%). When it comes to previous industry experience, 18% of the new class comes from financial services, followed by manufacturing (15%), consulting (12%), arts, education, and government (8%), and health care services (7%). To Balasubramanian, this diversity of experience offers a huge advantage to the 2017 Class. “This mix of business and non-business functions will make for robust classroom interaction and a class that is attractive to recruiters, he points out.
Go to next page to access student profiles of this year’s incoming class.