The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.
Those words were originally penned by Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist in 1988. Since then, more than 65 million copies of the book have been sold in nearly 60 languages. And those words helped guide Poets&Quants as we plucked our favorite MBAs from a deep list of highly capable and impressive individuals we were honored to get to know in 2015.
Take a group of MBAs from the very best business schools in the world and you’re sure to get a potpourri of wit, tenacity and gumption. No doubt, it’s a top-minded smorgasbord of backgrounds and passions. Truly the only challenge in choosing a list of our favorites is whittling down a booming group of bright, heartfelt and impressive people. So we considered those MBAs working from the heart and the brain.
And what we came up with is a list comprised of adventurers, athletes, a magician and an Ironwoman, among others. They come from around the world. They’ve already worked on Wall Street. They’ve been deployed. They’re social activists. They’re game-changers, and, yes, even disruptors. They’re on the list not just because of what they’ve already done, but what they envision themselves doing. And they’ve gotten back up eight times. At least.
Honorary Mention: Philip Blackett, Harvard Business School
Philip Blackett’s story came to Poets&Quants right as our Favorites List was being published. We wanted to include him but not bump off an already chosen top ten. Blackett lost his job with Goldman Sachs during the Great Recession. A series of events including a failed residential real estate venture, disinterest in finance and a stagnant economy caused Blackett to be unemployed and unable to afford his Jersey City, NJ, condo.
Blackett moved to a vacant home, once inhabited by his grandparents, to work himself into Harvard Business School. Five years after moving to his grandparents home in Memphis and a previous ding from HBS, he enrolled as a full-time MBA.
10. Daria Danilina, London Business School
If this were a list of “MBAs Most Likely To Survive A Week In The Wilderness,” Daria Danilina would be on top. The Russian-born MBA from London Business School was attempting a three-month long hike of the Great Himalayan Trail when disaster struck. Literally. It was April 25, and a 7.8 magnitude smacked Nepal, leaving thousands dead and millions displaced.
Danilina was about 110 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter and only about 10 from the Mount Everest base where 12 mountaineers were killed in earthquake-triggered avalanches. After the earthquake, the 23-year-old was faced with the decision to turn around about a week into her trek or risk a very unknown and potentially dangerous remainder of her hike.
It wasn’t easy, or quick, but Danilina eventually made it out of the country and is now in her first year in the full-time MBA program at London Business School.