Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business today (March 23) turned to a familiar face to fill the job of MBA admissions. The school named Harvard MBA Kirsten Moss the new assistant dean and director of MBA admissions and financial aid, effective June 1.
For Moss, the new assignment represents a full return to Stanford’s business school where she had spent six years, including one as director of MBA admissions between 2009 and 2010 under the person she is succeeding, Derrick Bolton. Bolton, who had been assistant dean for MBA admissions and financial aid for 15 years, is now dean of admissions for Stanford’s new Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program.
Moss will lead admissions at the most selective full-time MBA program in the world. Last year, Stanford admitted just 6% of its applicant pool, enrolling a class with the highest GMAT scores of any prestige business school. Only 489 of the 8,116 candidates who applied for admission to Stanford’s GSB last year were admitted.
A LEADERSHIP FACILITATOR FOR STANFORD’S POPULAR TOUCHY-FEELY COURSE
Though Moss left Stanford seven years ago to join the global innovation practice of executive search firm Egon Zehnder, she kept returning to campus as a leadership facilitator for the core MBA course Interpersonel Dynamics, popularly known as the GSB’s touchy-feely class. Her appointment marks the first time one person will have held top MBA admissions jobs at both Stanford and Harvard Business School, where she preceded Brit Dewey and Dee Leopold as director of MBA admissions and financial aid for two years between 1999 and 2001.
For applicants to Stanford, the big question is what kind of changes Moss is likely to make to the school’s MBA application process. “You can never tell, but her long-standing involvement in Stanford’s ‘touchy-feely’ course makes it highly unlikely she will muck around with Stanford’s iconic ‘What Matters Most To You & Why’ question,” believes Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com. “This strikes me as an ‘if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it appointment,’ he added. “I don’t see anything in her resume that supports her being a ‘disruptive’ personality.”
Stanford said it selected Moss, 51, after conducting what it called “an extensive search” led by Senior Associate Dean Yossi Feinberg. The search process included interviews with faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Moss, who personally met with all those stakeholders before being offered the job, will report to Feinberg.
‘NO GUARANTEE YOU ARE THE ONE TO BE SELECTED’
In an interview with Poets&Quants, Moss said she is eager to start the new job. “When Derrick announced he was leaving I saw the job and thought this would be fantastic,” she says. “If you put your resume in there for a big job there is no guaranteed you are the one to be selected, so I am incredibly grateful. It is really an honor and a privilege.”
Admission consultants who know Moss praised the school’s decision. “Kirsten has an ideal profile for this job – she has a long history in admissions, both at the GSB and HBS, and is very much a safe pair of hands,” says Caroline Diarte Edwards, a co-founder of Fortuna Admissions. “She is greatly liked by Derrick Bolton, who has nothing but great things to say about her. It is hard to imagine someone better qualified for this job. In person, she immediately impresses with her intellect, charm and thoughtfulness; she will be an outstanding ambassador for the school and will no doubt do great justice to Derrick’s legacy.”
Adds Betsy Massar, founder of Master Admissions, a top MBA admissions firm: “There’s almost no one more capable and experienced than Kirsten for this position. She basically wrote the evaluation criteria for MBA admissions at the GSB.”
FROM HARVARD TO STANFORD
It was a job opportunity for her husband, Alan, that originally brought Moss out to the West Coast. She had enrolled at Harvard College in 1982 at the age of 16, earning her bachelor’s degree from Harvard in economics, government and society in 1986. While an undergrad at Harvard, Moss briefly tried modeling and quit after discovering how hard it was. “When I look in the mirror,” she told the Harvard Crimson in 1984, “I never see anything but my faults anymore. I worry about little things that never used to matter, the kind of things you can’t change anyway.”
With her undergraduate degree from Harvard, Moss joined J.P. Morgan’s investment banking practice as an associate, a job she held for four years before returning to campus in 1990 to get her MBA from Harvard Business School. Her husband, a vice president of Americas online sales at Google, is also an HBS graduate, having earned his MBA in 1992, the same year she got her HBS degree.
Moss then moved to New York to media giant Bertelsmann in a strategy role for the company’s billion-dollar international music business as assistant to the CEO from 1992 to 1994. “I loved being able to solve puzzles and quantify things,” she says. “Investment banking is a numbers-driven world so I enjoyed that and then I have been gravitating toward the leadership universe.”
KIRSTEN MOSS’ CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
|1982-1986||Harvard University, AB in Economics, Government & Sociology|
|1986-1990||Investment banking associate J.P. Morgan|
|1990-1992||Harvard Business School, MBA|
|1992-1994||Assistant to the CEO of Bertelsmann|
|1995-1999||Director of Career Services at HBS|
|1999-2001||Managing Director of MBA Admissions at HBS|
|2004-2005||Consultant for MBA Admissions at Stanford GSB|
|2005-2009||Associate Director of Evaluation for MBA Admissions at Stanford GSB|
|2009-2010||Director of MBA Admissions at Stanford GSB|
|2010-2012||Consultant in Egon Zehnder’s Global Innovation Practice|
|2012-Present||Founder & CEO of Moss Consulting|
|2012-Present||Leadership Facilitator for Stanford ‘Touchy-Feely’ Course|
|2012-2017||Doctor of Psychology, Organizational Leadership, William James Colege|
|2017||Assistant Dean & Director of MBA Admissions & Financial Aid at Stanford GSB|