Meet Arizona State’s MBA Class of 2018

ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business

Saagar Anand also fits the creative mindset so prevalent in the W. P. Carey School’s 2018 Class. A former semi-professional soccer player who speaks six languages, Anand takes his greatest pride from an engineering project he led at Caterpillar on a warehouse storage solution. “I came up with a unique idea of using cantilever beams rather than traditional racks for storage. After a month of designing new processes and collaborating with different teams, I implemented this solution. Not only did this save space and money, but it also improved safety conditions and increased efficiency of operations.” Wait, maybe this wasn’t his finest moment. After all, he won a game of Texas Hold’em with a Royal Flush. “The probability of getting a Royal Flush in poker is 0.000154%,” he gushes.

If you’re searching for the source of the class’ can-do spirit, you can start with Mardoc. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar, he took up the unenviable task of building a sanitation system for a 2,000 person rural community where only 25% enjoyed bathroom facilities. By the end of the project, he had tripled that number. “This was accomplished entirely with materials, labor, and finances from within the community.  I intentionally did not seek outside funding, for the sake of promoting attitudes of agency, self-sufficiency, and ownership of the project. My role was to provide motivation, organization, and technical education to help my community take effective action on their self-determined priorities.”


The tuition may be fully-funded at the W. P. Carey School, but students need to earn their way into the Forward Focus program. Make no mistake: the demand is far heavier than the supply. This has made the Class of 2018 perhaps the school’s all-time best. Not surprisingly, applications nearly tripled during the 2015-2016 cycle, going from 443 to 1,162 over the previous year. At the same time, Carey accepted just 166 students, an acceptance rate of just 14.2% — making it more difficult to get into the W. P. Carey School than Columbia (17.1%) or Chicago Booth (22%). To put it another way, you have a slightly better shot of being accepted into the W. P. Carey School than Harvard (11%). Even more, 119 of the 166 students accepted ultimately enrolled at the program. That’s a 72% yield that’s higher than what renowned programs like MIT Sloan and Wharton achieve.

That’s just the start. GMAT scores rose ten points to 682 from 672, while undergraduate GPAs made a similar climb to 3.54 from 3.37. In fact, the W. P. Carey School’s GPA average eclipses those from such higher-ranked programs asDartmouth Tuck, UCLA Anderson, and the University of Texas McCombs.

Even more, the Forward Focus scholarship resulted in one of the most diverse cohorts anywhere in the United States. The percentage of women skyrocketed to 43% from 30%. That’s just a point below Dartmouth Tuck and Wharton for the highest concentrations of women in a prominent full-time MBA program. The W. P. Carey School also began to attract more international candidates, growing that population to 31% from 29% the year before. The class also boasts students from 24 countries, double the total from the year before, with representation stretching from Brazil to Nigeria to Pakistan.

MBA students in the W. P. Carey School’s new Forward Focus MBA program. Photo by W. Scott Mitchell

This diversity also factors into student academic and professional backgrounds. Overall, undergraduate business majors account for 24.4% of the class. However, that bloc is nearly equaled by engineering and humanities at 20.2% each. Science and math (16.0%) and social sciences (11.8%) majors round out the rest of the students. The 2018 Class is even more segmented when it comes to their previous career choices. Here, the Not-For-Profit and Education sector edged out all comers at 15.1%. This category was closely trailed by Consulting (14.3%) and Financial Services and Banking (13.4%). Technology (9.2%), Manufacturing (8.4%), Petroleum and Energy (8.4%), Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals (7.6%), Media and Entertainment (7.6%) were also popular among the incoming class.


“The class exceeds all our expectations,” says Amy Hillman, Dean of the W. P. Carey School, in an interview with P&Q. “We are especially pleased with the diversity of the class and that was one of our main objectives. So much of this was really about getting greater diversity in the class. It was less about getting a big bump in GPA (grade point average) or GMAT. Our team was really optimizing on diversity of interests and experiences and getting the classroom as interesting as possible. So we sacrificed on GPA and GMAT for that purpose.”

After spending six months in the W. P. Carey MBA program, the Class of 2018 appreciates this diversity more than anything else. “W. P. Carey has a culture that strives to create a sense of inclusiveness for students from all walks of life,” says Simmons. “Through regular cultural celebrations and opportunities to give back to the Phoenix community, W. P. Carey encourages the creation of strong bonds among its students.”

Cavalin echoes Simmons’ sentiments. “It’s this diversity and group of people from differing backgrounds as well as cultures that attracted me the most because I was excited at the prospect of getting to hear and learn from these awesome, talented people from around the globe.” For Mandy Kiesl, a Scottsdale native, this diversity encompasses a welcome attitude towards new ideas too. “The W. P. Carey School of Business has a culture that promotes the value of an individual in creating a business world that is open to change and diversity of ideas. This thought process resonated with me.”


The W. P. Carey School didn’t just overhaul their structure and admissions with the advent of Forward Focus. The program also revamped its MBA curriculum. For starters, the program boosted the graduation requirement from 48 to 60 credit hours. In addition, it surveyed everyone from alumni to industry executives to gain a better insight on how to make their graduates better prepared and more valuable to employers. As a result, the W. P. Carey MBA is far more experiential, with a stronger infusion of analytics, global perspective, and real-time decision-making.

“We know the skills of the future have to do with flexibility, agility, being able to scenario-plan, think through the changes that might happen and consider how they might go about adjusting their organization or strategy for those changes,” Hillman told P&Q.

ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business

The W. P. Carey School’s motto is, “Where Business is Personal.” For the Class of 2018, an MBA degree is a step towards something larger than just a slot at Google, McKinsey, or Goldman Sachs. For some, the MBA opens a path of service. Jordan Johnson, who admits to once dreading new challenges, is looking to start a business to help others land work or build their own social ventures. Green hopes to build on the success of her children’s series to make an even bigger impact. “My dream is to revitalize art education, inspiring a generation of innovative, global thinkers,” she says.

At the same time, Mardoc plans to integrate his passion for helping the underprivileged with the needs for investors to measure performance. “I hope to make sustainability performance more transparent and accessible to investors, through sustainability accounting and reporting (i.e. SASB, GRI, etc.). My goal is to bridge the information gap about the social and environmental impacts companies create alongside their financial performance, empowering investors to make informed decisions in line with their values.”


Another segment of the class, however, is looking to “push the boundaries of innovation” in the words of Anand. Cavalin, for one, envisions himself “bridging the gap between technology and business” by working as a project manager in the aerospace or tech industries. In contrast, Simmons intends to ply the lessons of the W. P. Carey School to the film industry. “My dream job would allow me to bring a more strategic business approach to the independent film industry aimed at creatively expressing the right messages to the right audiences. This opportunity would allow me to infuse business analytics and creative expression to increase the profitability of independent film production and distribution.”

In the meantime, the 2018 Class is channeling its energy towards making a difference at the W. P. Carey School. When it comes to how they want to be remembered, the answers are as diverse as the students. When classmates picture Kiesl someday, she hopes they view her as a “trusted source of information and advice, a creative contributor and team leader, and a dedicated individual with the drive to go above and beyond to get the work done.” Burcin Dogan, on the other hand, would like to be associated with passion and relentless pursuit of her dreams.

For Anand, the best legacy he can leave is inspiring a sense of community through word and example. “I want my peers to say that they learned something from their interactions with me throughout the program. Be it something about my culture or from my discussions in class. I also want them to say that if they need me for anything, they can be rest assured that I will be there for them. This is not just a b-school, this is home. They are not just peers, they are family.”


To read profiles of incoming students at the W. P. Carey School — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.

Matt Allbee / Eldora, IA

Saagar Anand / Bangalore, India

Moshe Cavalin / Los Angeles, CA

Burcin Dogan / Istanbul, Turkey

Sarah Green / Various Locations 

Jordan Johnson / Phoenix, AZ

Mandy Kiesl / Scottsdale, AZ

Zachary Mardoc / Enfield, CT

Chuka Ndukauba / Lagos, Nigeria

Reghenae Simmons / Germantown, TN

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