Like so many Harvard Business School students, Libby Leffler makes a lasting impression. Ever since graduating from UC-Berkeley’s Haas School as an undergraduate business major in 2006, she has racked up one achievement after another at two of the hottest tech companies in the world: Google and Facebook.
At Facebook, she performed analysis and managed details for her boss, HBS alum and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. As Sandberg’s business lead, Leffler leaned in and earned a seat at the table, exposing herself to the winning strategies and inner workings of Facebook as it skyrocketed into business lore. But she was more than Sandberg’s eyes-and-ears. For the past three years, Leffler carved out her own path as Facebook’s senior manager of strategic partnerships, where she expanded the company’s relationships with entities ranging from the White House to the Vatican.
Deeply engaged in everything from the San Francisco Symphony to Leanin.Org, where she was launch team manager, Leffler has racked up numerous accolades including being named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” for media. All in all, Leffler was arguably the most compelling MBA candidate to come out of Silicon Valley this year.
‘FEW MOMENTS IN LIFE WHERE YOU HAVE THE CHOICE TO BREAK AWAY’
Yet, she remains modest about her accomplishments and bullish about the next two years at Harvard. “I am at HBS to learn as much as I can from everyone around me,” she tells Poets&Quants. “There are few moments in life where you have the chance to break away and surround yourself with some of the world’s most brilliant individuals – which includes both my professors and my classmates. My focus on my first day here will be the same as on my last: The people.”
Leffler is among the headliners for Harvard Business School’s Class of 2017. For the incoming class, HBS is a culmination and a destination, with an MBA being that secret handshake that opens doors to a higher caliber network of superiors, investors, and mentors. On paper, this incoming class of first years ranks among the best ever to step onto the HBS campus. The school’s median GMAT – 730 – held steady with the 2015 and 2016 classes (with the incoming class’ ranging from 700-760 in the middle 80% range). The class also arrives with a impressive 3.66 average undergraduate GPA.
HBS also remains the most popular B-school for applicants, generating 9,686 applications in 2014-2015 (up 143 from 2013-2014 and 371 from 2012-2013). This incoming class did, however, face greater odds of getting into HBS, with the school accepting only 11% of applicants (down 1% for each of the past two years). That said, HBS experienced fewer defections from accepted applicants, with a 91% yield rate (up from 90% and 89% over the past two years). Overall, 937 students will comprise HBS’ Class of 2017, down from the 940 who entered last fall.
When HBS Dean Nitin Nohria addressed the class in late August, he noted that “this is a more diverse class than you might imagine.” Indeed. Women compose 42% of the cohort–nearly equal to the 2017 school classes with the most women (Kellogg and Wharton at 43% — with HBS having an edge in sheer numbers). HBS also registered U.S. ethnic minorities at a 28% clip in its 2017 class, up 3% from both the 2015 and 2016 classes. In addition, over a third – 34% – of HBS’ incoming class comes from overseas, representing 64 countries The school accepted more students from international universities than domestic colleges by a 135-to-130 margin. Overall, 68% of the 2017 class is American, with students hailing from Asia (14%), Europe (9%), Central and South America (3%), Africa (1%) comprising most of the rest. Regionally, Central and South America was the big winner, with student enrollment from this region rising from 29 to 49 students over the past year.
Professionally, the highest percentage of the 2017 class – 18% — previously worked in venture capital and private equity. Consulting covers another 16% of the class, with technology (14%), financial services (11%), public sector and education (8%), health care and biotechnology (7%), consumer products (6%), energy (6%), manufacturing (5%) and the military (5%) also taking up major shares of the class. These numbers are roughly equivalent to the 2016 class, with small declines in financial services and consulting made up for with small gains in technology, energy, manufacturing, and the military.
Go to next page to access student profiles of this year’s incoming class.