Meet Yale SOM’s MBA Class Of 2019

Some of the MBA students in the Class of 2019 at Yale SOM

Leadership has changed. A generation ago, a successful leader beat projections and pacified board members. Their performance was measured in market caps, strategy execution, and team quality. These days, CEOs worry about more than one bottom line. External constituencies are increasingly pushing them to factor the environment and social equity into their decisions. Such considerations are shifting how companies are defining success.

Forget margins and might. Now, leadership is an extension of mission and mutual benefit. That’s why the Yale School of Management’s motto – “Educating leaders for business and society” – resonates so deeply with Millennials. They are the future executives, entrepreneurs, and experts, the ones who’ll be driven to take social responsibility from the lecture hall to the board rooms. You’ll find this new model of leadership is a thread that connects Yale SOM’s Class of 2019.


Take Rakesh Saha, a “philomath” (lover of learning) and cocktail mixologist “who firmly believes that even the most complex, systemic societal challenges can be solved.” He lived up to this mantra at Make a Difference, a non-profit that provides education and career training in Indian orphanage and shelters. Here, Saha piloted an after school program that he scaled from one shelter serving 40 children to 67 shelters in 23 cities with 3.400 children – all in less than a year!

A similar passion for servant leadership led Britt Milano, a philosophy and psychology major at Colgate, to Teach for America. Milano, who is earning a dual degree at Yale’s top-ranked law school, takes her greatest pride in the growth of her students – with the hope that she helped them get to where she is now. “In my second year of teaching, my co-teacher and I led 100% of our students to proficient or advanced scores on the New York State Math Test,” she shares. “Their excellent results helped to build a foundation of success that will sustain them on their path to high school, college, and beyond. There is no better feeling than knowing that I played a role in inspiring that hard work.

Yale SOM’s Class of 2019

By day, Clara Schmitz worked as a project manager in Dusseldorf. After work, she applied her leadership-by-example principles to a more unheralded path: caring for refugees arriving in Germany. “I became Godmother to a young Syrian couple who flew to Germany because of the war at home. I supported them in finding work and a new home, and together we figured out how to tackle many of the obstacles they had to overcome in my country.”

Such students will find a like-minded community at Yale SOM, a program that celebrates a global mindset founded on giving back. The dual nature of the program’s leadership ethos perfectly aligns with the increasingly inclusive and purpose-driven nature of business, says Anjani Jain, the acting dean of the school in a 2017 interview with Poets&Quants.


“The world is also coming around to the mission more. Our aspiration to create leaders who have elevated lines of sight and have a sense of purpose tends to resonate more with aspiring MBA students and the generation now entering business schools. They identify with this larger purpose of business as being a good for society. It has helped the school become more prominent.”

The ideal is only part of the equation. What sets Yale SOM apart, says Sharon Oster, is the execution of this mission, particularly its embodiment with faculty, staff, and alumni. “It’s a message that requires consistency in action,” notes Oster, a former SOM dean and current professor of management and entrepreneurship in a 2017 interview with Poets&Quants. “It requires us to not only say it is what we do, but to make sure that we give voice and action to the bringing of values to management and leadership. I think that’s something the students hear about the school before they come — and they see it when they come. I think it creates recognition that we are about whatever future career people are going to have and what they’re trying to learn about is ways to bring social value to the fore.”

That makes Yale SOM a different type of management school, one that embraces the larger dimensions of local need and social good. As a result, the program is sometimes satirized as a “nonprofit management school” – a nod to its excellence in the area. However, Katy Mixter, a member of P&Q’s 2017 Best & Brightest MBAs, prefers to think of it as a “social impact management school,” one that is flexible enough to train students to lead from the c-suite – as well as NGOs, government, and academia.

This all-encompassing philosophy is what attracted Class of 2019 members like Saha to New Haven. “What I loved about Yale SOM was that the school clearly recognized that leadership is contextual (there is no specific preferred type of leadership) and leadership is essential to all aspects of society,” he explains. “So, it doesn’t really matter whether you are interested in non-profits or technology. What does matter is for you to be able to get a more holistic, deeper understanding of how complex, global organizations function.”


The Class of 2019 could be described as cosmopolitan, to say the least. They speak 50 different languages, according to the school, ranging from Hindi to Old Norse. In fact, 70% of the class speaks two or more languages. They come from 48 countries, with nearly half the class holding dual passports. They’ve worked for an array of employers, including big names like McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, Google, and the World Bank. Their resumes are dotted with roles ranging from hedge fund manager to tank commander. Outside the office, you’ll find an NCAA champion in swimming and diving, while another earned a gold medal at the World University games. One student – Andrew Mulherkar – earned a dual degree at Tufts and the New England Conservatory for environmental economics and jazz performance. Another double majored in neuroscience and saxophone performance as an undergrad! Chances are, Will Ryan will snag some votes as class president. Before Yale, he commanded 150 paratroopers, who were involved in “six major exercises in five different countries.”

The class’ personalities are as diverse as their backgrounds. Minnesota’s Katie Sierks calls herself “an agricultural sustainability practitioner and enthusiast, avid hiker and moose lover, lifelong learner.” Mulherkar is also an outdoors enthusiast, “a product of the Northwest and New York: equally content in the forest and downtown.” If you’re looking for the class underdog, consider Ashutosh Khetan, whose resume includes finance, analytics, and sales roles at Bloomberg and Houlihan Lokey. “I’m just a small(er) town boy with aspirations greater than I am supposed to have,” he says.

A class at Yale School of Management

Each brings their endearing quirks and great stories with them too. Swimming against the tide? Not if you’re Ifeanyi Okafor. For some reason, he can only swim backwards. “When I try to swim forward, I sink,” he jokes. Sierks spent four months backpacking across India. Pretty impressive, right? Then, you haven’t met Andrea Zurita, who endured a hellish trial by fire in the wild. “My first ever hike was a 32 kilometer long, 1 kilometer high trek to Trolltunga in Norway, and most of it was spent trying (unsuccessfully) to not get caught up in a storm,” she chronicles.

Speaking of the great outdoors, how is this for a memorable image? “A black bear once ate my lunch Yogi Bear-style,” details Lisa Robinson, a USC grad who climbed the ranks at General Mills.


Saying that Yale SOM has been on roll in recent years would be an understatement. Some of the credit can be given to Ted Snyder – currently on sabbatical – who arrived as dean in 2011. During his previous stop, Snyder had turned Chicago Booth into a top five program, buoyed by rising GMAT scores, consistently high job placement, and prolific fundraising. Snyder also envisions Yale as a top five program – distinguished by its global outlook, interdisciplinary approach, and broad definition of leadership. During his first six classes, Snyder drove a 60% increase in applications – more than any other full-time program. In the process, Yale SOM has joined the conversation as a Top 10 American business school, tying with Columbia at 9th in the most recent U.S. News ranking. You can expect to continue its ascension based on the Class of 2019, which ranks among Yale SOM’s best ever.

During the 2016-2017 cycle, the school received 4,098 applications, an 11.2% jump over the previous year. In the process, the school enrolled 348 students, up 14 over the Class of 2018. To put the class size in context, the program featured just 228 students in Dean Snyder’s first year, a further indication of the program’s surge in popularity since he arrived. In fact, Yale SOM receives 11.8 applications for every open seat, making it harder to get into the program than fellow Ivies like Harvard, Columbia, and Wharton. Even more, the program accepted just 17.3% of applications this time around, meaning the program is more exclusive than either Wharton or Chicago Booth.

Those weren’t the only inputs where the Class of 2019 excelled. The class also boasts a 727 GMAT average – a record for the school and a number that eclipses peer programs like Berkeley Haas, MIT Sloan, and Columbia. At the same time, the class’ 730 median average ties it with Harvard’s incoming class. Along with a 2 point rise in average GMATs, Yale also experienced a bump in GPAs averages, going from 3.63 to 3.67. Overall, 20% of the class took the GRE, tying it with Michigan Ross and Notre Dame Mendoza on the high side. Overall, the largest feeder schools to Yale SOM were found in the Ivy League: Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and Princeton. USC also ranked among the top five American feeders. Another distinguishing feature of the class is its education level. Nearly a fifth of the 2019 Class hold graduate degrees, with another 13% pursuing dual graduate degrees.

Go to page 2 to see in-depth profiles of incoming Yale SOM MBA students.

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