Meet Dartmouth Tuck’s MBA Class of 2017

Ben Stevens

Ben Stevens

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Undergraduate School and Major: Brigham Young University, Business Administration with an emphasis Strategy

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

General Manager & Co-founder at Bamba Water (for-profit startup in Kenya)

Microfranchise & SME Designer at Fairbourne Consulting

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? If possible, take it while still an undergrad. As an undergrad you will be in an academic environment, have access to great GMAT resources (classes, groups, GMAT prep courses, some of them free), and you will be much more in that studying and test taking mindset. I did not do that, but wish I would have. So if you are like me and thought you would never be going back to school again then COMMIT, set a date (give yourself plenty of time), and stay disciplined in your preparation and study. Don’t get frustrated; for me, it was important to build momentum in my studying early and then doing lots of repetition with the various types of problems. Remember, it will be worth it in the end and you’ll never have to take another standardized exam like this again. At least I really hope not.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? Know yourself. The application process alone is a significant investment of time and money. Not to mention the costs when you get accepted. Take a considerable amount of time to gather info, look introspectively, and decide if an MBA is right. What are you passionate about? What are your goals? Will an MBA help you reach these goals? Which schools have the resources, faculty, and emphasis that will best facilitate your development?

A favorite Swahili proverb I picked up while living in Kenya says, “Haraka haraka, haina baraka”, which translated means “In hurrying there is no reward.” Take some time during this phase of the process for real reflection. It will be good for you regardless of whether you choose to go to business school or not.

Additionally, consider your goals, needs, and wants. Then create a system for ranking and weighting items like class size, top recruiters, geography, culture, faculty, etc. You likely won’t find everything you want in a school. I wanted warm weather year-round, for example. Ideally, you will find a school that offers most of the items on your list and especially the most important items on your list.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? It is particularly important to identify one or two people who you really trust, who feel comfortable offering opposing viewpoints, and (most importantly) who for whatever reason really want to see you succeed. Then allow these people to be as much a part of the process (and your life) as possible. If you don’t have people like this in your life yet, then spend some time identifying those you think could fit this role and begin cultivating those relationships.

Additionally, I would suggest exploring your past experiences, especially the ones that have shaped you as a person and professional. Share these stories with anyone who will listen and pay close attention to your audience’s reactions, questions, and insights. Doing this will help you narrow your list of stories down, see how your story will be viewed through different lenses, and key in on the most interesting and important aspects of your experiences. Lastly, work on connecting the dots. Make sure your experiences are relevant to the themes that flow throughout the entire application. Having a succinct, interesting story and being able to communicate that story clearly is important for the essay and interview.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Tuck offers a world-class education and genuine people (students, faculty, & alum) who immediately took an interest in who I am and what I want to accomplish. In my situation it was also important for my family to feel comfortable. After my wife and daughter were exposed to the Dartmouth community, there wasn’t any way I was going to be able to drag them away from Hanover.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Connecting on a real level with each of the other students in my class. It has only been a short time since arriving to Tuck, but I have already learned a great deal from their pre-Tuck experiences and their approaches to learning, developing skills, problem-solving, etc. I know that if I am going to maximize my growth over the next two years, it will only be possible with the help of my classmates. Two years, 280 students… I think it is a goal worth achieving. And a close second is learning how to ice skate so I can win a Tripod hockey championship.



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