Meet Yale SOM’s MBA Class of 2017

Yale University School of Management - photo by Chris Choi

Yale University School of Management – photo by Chris Choi


Beyond the numbers, more importantly, are the people in the class. They include Lavinia Petrache, a Facebook software engineer, who has also worked as a documentary photographer for Greenpeace USA. Johann Rebl, a Silver Scholar, served as an assistant controller and assistant purchaser at Siemens before even earning his bachelor’s degree. After earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford, Vichi Jagannathan followed her passion and joined Teach For America. And Alice Xiang, who holds master’s degrees in statistics and economic development from Harvard and Oxford respectively, is completing a joint JD-MBA program with Yale Law – the top-ranked law school in the nation.

For such students, Yale offered a broad range of options and appeals. Gita Ramamurti, who is completing a joint MBA-MPH with the Yale School of Public Health, considers the program to be the total package. “I chose Yale SOM because of the diversity of its student body, its global perspective, its relatively small class size, and the support the school provides for students interested in both traditional and less-traditional post-MBA paths.”

For Leah Karlins, whose resume includes stints at the Bridgestone Group and the African Entrepreneur Collective, her fellow students – and they values they shared – attracted her to the program. “When I visited Yale, it was immediately obvious that the students were not only incredibly smart and driven, but also uniquely thoughtful about the broader impact of their work on people and the planet. I was inspired to meet graduating students who were heading off to all kinds of careers, from Google to IDEO to McKinsey to nonprofits, all expressing a shared commitment to be leaders for both business and society.”

As an institution, Yale is accustomed to forging its own path, establishing precedents rather than following them. A decade ago, faculty tore down silos that separated disciplines – both inside and outside the School of Management. Now, many courses are taught by teams, whose interdisciplinary expertise widens discussions and produces more enduring solutions. The program has also established partnerships with 27 overseas business schools to share curriculum and cases, along with setting a global study requirement that requires first years to spend a week or more overseas.  To expose students to the incomplete pictures that bedevil decision-making, Yale SOM pioneered the raw case study approach. Here, students conduct analysis using raw data and information from various sources (as opposed to the carefully-screened narratives that embody most case studies).

Class of 2017 (Courtesy Yale School of Management)

Class of 2017 (Courtesy Yale School of Management)

Along with these innovations, the Class of 2017 also cited Yale’s long-standing commitment to non-profits and social enterprise (along with its growing emphasis on entrepreneurship) as major factors in their decisions. In the end, the thought of being part of socially-attuned community that channeled its energies into making a social impact carried the most weight. “It was a decisive factor for me to be a part of a class where people care about working on meaningful projects that make our communities and the world better,” says Petrache. And Karlins adds that the school presents a unique blend of amenties too. There was no other school where I could take a global study trip to South Africa, enroll in classes at Yale’s Law and Forestry schools, watch world-class theatre at the Yale Rep, and spend the weekend in New York City, all in the same semester.”


Yale is on a roll these days. Aside from its growing popularity, the school opened its $234 million home in 2014, dubbed the “Starship Enterprise” for its spacious interior and ultramodern architecture.  Like the school itself, the 2017 class is also making big plans. Jagannathan, for example, hopes to use social enterprise to help break the cycle of poverty.  At the same time, Petrache plans to return to Silicon Valley after absorbing the big lessons from other industries. And Trevor Thompson, a professional futurist who studied environmental science and public policy at Harvard, is looking to apply business and management fundamentals “within the context of sustainability-related frameworks such as planetary boundaries, public and global health, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.”


Others, such as Karlins, plan to test their boundaries. “My primary goal is to grow as a leader – to practice making high-stakes decisions in challenging contexts, to reflect on my values and interests, and to learn from the experiences and wisdom of my professors and classmates. I hope to build relationships with people who will challenge and inspire me, both personally and professionally.”

Still, it is only September – and some first years already realize that business school has a funny way of transforming your outlook. “I know that plans change,” concedes Jagannathan. “So I’m keeping an open mind to the other directions I may end up heading that I hadn’t originally considered.”

To read profiles of incoming Yale students – along with their advice on tackling GMAT, applications, and interviews – click on the student links below. 

Clover Duan / Beijing, China 

Vichi Jagannathan / Hopewell Junction, NY

Leah Karlins / Campbell, CA

Brandon Perkovich / Naples, FL 

Lavinia Petrache / Slobozia, Romania

Johann Rebl / Schwandorf, Bavaria, Germany

Gita Ramamurti / Boston, MA

Matthew Scher / Washington, NJ

Trevor Thompson / Marietta, GA 

Alice Xiang / Kingsport, TN