What MBAs Love Most About B-School

Federico Mossa of the Stanford Graduate School of Management


Carolyn Escobar Kent gained a hunger for learning after starting her MBA at MIT, quickly learning that her day-to-day requirements had blinded her to the larger trends shaping the business world. “Once you start working at an organization,” she acknowledges, “it can become incredibly insular. Your world becomes engulfed with KPIs, performance reviews, management trainings, and calendar invites. There’s an ever-changing world out there and it’s amazing that my responsibility as a student is to learn about the world and society’s development.”

Just the swift pace and ever-changing activities made business school a defining time for Stanford’s Federico Mossa. “On any given day, you might have an inspiring coffee-chat with a classmate, a “View from the Top” with an incredible speaker, an engaging discussion in class with the case guest, a tough homework problem to solve,” he adds. “It is exhausting at times, but the feeling of constantly learning something new is priceless.”

At Georgia Tech, Kevin Boldt was spurred on by the variety he enjoyed in the program. “I could work on an information technology project, recommend strategy to a non-profit, conference call with a Fortune 500 company halfway across the world, and then compete in an intramural sport all in one day.”


The Class of 2017 was enchanted by more than just a potpourri of overseas trips and campus activities. Arizona State’s John Masline, for example, relished being able to “exercise so many different parts of my brain,” which enabled him to be “a jack-of-all-trades” thanks to the breadth of the curriculum. Even more, says the University of Florida’s Katherine O’Hara, the MBA’s expansive nature exposes students to potential interests they may have otherwise overlooked.

“Coming into business school, I thought I knew what I wanted to do and study, but I really had no idea,” she claims. Some of my favorite classes have been pretty unexpected, and I know that I will take bits and pieces of all of them with me into the professional world.”

Julia Paykin

Best of all, adds London Business School’s Julia Paykin, business school offered her the time and safe place to test out ideas and roles — without the specter of damaging her career looming over her. “I enjoyed the risk-free environment to try new things, whether it’s playing rugby for the first time, taking Hebrew lessons, or learning about a completely different industry,” she notes. “My study group and I also established that our group was a judgment-free zone where we could try different working and communication styles.”


Perhaps the best part for this year’s Best & Brightest MBAs were the classmates — the peers who challenged their assumptions and championed their ambitions. Entering Babson, Ross Chesnick worried that his classmates might turn out to be the Type A, hypercompetitive, and ego-driven corporate climbers that he’d encountered. Instead, they turned to be the opposite: unconditionally supportive. “If I ever needed to think through a business concept, venture or even pick someone’s brain for market research, my classmates would drop everything to support me,” he observes. “I had never experienced this level of loyalty and enthusiasm at any of my previous jobs or academic settings.”

When it comes to her peers at IE Business School, Andrea Fouché describes them using a philosophy from her native South Africa: Ubuntu. “Loosely translated, it means “I am, because you are,” or rather, that our own well-being is deeply tied to the well-being of others,” she explains. “This is what I have experienced amongst my classmates and enjoyed the most – the camaraderie, mutual growth and exchange of perspectives.”

The philosophy served as the glue that held Fouché’s class together in good times and bad. “In my class, we fostered a culture of collaboration and a spirit of family,” she adds. “Being there for each other during the good times to celebrate, but more importantly during the tough times — sharing study notes, arranging peer-to-peer review sessions before exams and raising money to replace a colleague’s computer, to name a few. We made sure that no man was left behind!”


Charles Gallo

You would also find this spirit of family at Boston College, according to Katie Philippi. For her, the best part of business school was being able to forge friendships with peers from diverse backgrounds around the world. “The world is changing at a rapid pace so it is extremely important to understand different and unique perspectives,” she asserts. “It has been an extremely rewarding experience to see the power of these diverse groups when they work together to solve problems.”

Of course, the Best & Brightest loved more than just their classmates. At Georgetown, Charles Gallo lauds the alumni for their willingness to help and sense of community they showed him. “When I started exploring FinTech,” he recalls, “I had informational interviews with approximately 40 Georgetown alumni in the sector. Everyone was so open because they knew that my objective was to learn. I would not have had such frank conversations if I was not doing an MBA and was, in this way, free of any alternative agenda.”

In the end, business school turned out to be a journey for the Class of 2017. Better yet, it was more of an “adventure,” in the words of Babson College’s John Kluge — “a true laboratory for entrepreneurial experimentation—a bit like what I imagined Hogwart’s might be, except instead of making potions, we launched companies.”




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