Meet UCLA Anderson’s MBA Class of 2019

Some members of the incoming MBAs in the Class of 2017 at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management

Think Fearlessly. Drive Change. Share Success.

This mission binds MBAs at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. It is a call that defines the program. At most schools, students are challenged to break free and experiment. However, Anderson demands something more from students: Imagination. The program is geared towards looking ahead, imbuing a can-do spirit where students size up the possibilities and commit to making them reality.


You’ll find this same passion is core to the Class of 2019. Take Jorge Santana, a Princeton grad and “champion for human capital development, technology, social impact and educational equity.” In 2011, he joined the management team at Teach for America. During his tenure, he developed fellowship to sharpen the leadership skills of teachers through experiential learning. Since launching four years ago, the program has reached over 400 New York City teachers – and its success has reverberated beyond the classrooms.

“When I became the head of programs in Manhattan, my team applied various components of the fellowship to our work functions,” Santana beams.

UCLA Anderson students. The UCLA Anderson School of Management will launch its MSBA this fall, says Executive Director Paul Brandano. Learn more about UCLA Business Analytics

Business students studying together in the courtyard of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. Courtesy photo

By nature, banking is a conservative industry, with every move dissected for the reverberations it may cause. That’s what makes Hoonki Hong’s biggest accomplishment so special. At Deloitte, he developed a new accounting standard for South Korea’s largest savings bank. However, his work on impaired loans revealed it would impact 30% of total assets. Rather than dismissing his standard, the Financial Committee of Korea instead postponed its implementation by five years. In fact, Hong’s work drove the committee to change national policy by tightening up capital regulation.

“It was a valuable experience that helped me realize the social effect and social responsibility of my job,” Hong adds.


If you’re looking for an incoming student who isn’t afraid to think fearlessly and act boldly, start with Prateek Gupta. His moment of truth came when he worked as a manager at Flipkart, India’s eCommerce answer to Amazon. The company’s leadership team decided to execute a sales event tailored after “Black Friday” with the goal of generating $100 million dollars in one day. Gupta’s job, he says, was to design the dashboards so the company could track and manipulate offers in real time. Just one problem: Consumer traffic crashed the analytical systems – and the company had no idea how it was performing.

Gupta, however, held onto his wits, working with analysts to field the best offers and the logistics team to reduce pressure on their hubs. In the end, Flipkart hit its $100 million dollar goal – and Gupta came away with an important lesson…and new-found confidence.

“No matter how much you plan beforehand,” he explains, “when you’re trying to do something brave for the first time, especially at a national scale, things will go wrong and when they do, you have to stay calm and focused. And on a day, when most of the senior business leaders panicked amidst the chaos, I stayed calm and stepped up to avert the crisis.”


 You could describe the Class of 2019 as dreamers – ones hell-bent on making things happen. This impulse to invent and innovate is what led them to Westwood for their MBAs. “Anderson’s value of sharing success promotes a community where students are empowered to challenge themselves and support each other in doing so,” says Santana. “Since arriving on campus, I have felt that Anderson is a place where I can have a transformative experience and take risks such as the types of classes to take, clubs to join and leadership experiences to pursue.”

Looking across the Class of 2019, a common theme emerges: They’ve already been making an impact – usually outside business. By day, Adi Rajapuram ran the operations for Oracle’s software contracting division. During her free time, she volunteered with the Rape Crisis Center of San Antonio, launching a “Start by Believing” campaign that focused on reducing the stigma attached to being sexually assaulted. In Los Angeles, Denice Gonzalez-Kim worked to provide homeless children with education through the School on Wheels program. At the same time, Luiza Niemeyer – who already holds her MPA from the London School of Economics – worked for an agency that developed policy recommendations for the President of Chile. Here, she spearheading a project designed to help 900,000 women successfully enter the workplace, an effort that could potentially boost the country’s GDP by 6%.

UCLA Anderson Classroom

So who is the incoming class beyond their achievements? Rajapuram calls herself a “philosophical daydreamer navigating a pragmatic world, working to turn her passions into reality.” Bharti Bhargava, an economics forecaster, is the sportsperson of the group. “I take the wins with humbleness and the losses with resilience,” she says. Looking for a combination of poet and quant. Meet Kartik Jain, a native Texan who successfully transitioned from being an engineer to a tech entrepreneur. His 15 word description of himself? “Curious, creative, always testing new ideas to make life easier using technology and design.” If you’re looking for a legendary night out, be sure to look up Gupta. “I’m the friend you have to explain to your other friends before they meet me,” he jokes.


That’s only the beginning. This is a class, shall we say, that has always been ahead of its time and never afraid to live life to its fullest. Esther Njuguna, a U.S. Army specialist and Booz Allen Hamilton senior consultant, learned how to fly before she could drive. That pales in comparison to Bhargava. She earned her black belt when she was seven – an achievement recognized by the Guinness World Records. Speaking of precocious, Gupta started his first business when he was four. “I used to buy candies at bulk from the wholesale store and sell them at a premium in my housing colony,” he shares. “Even a one-dollar profit a month seemed like a sweet deal 20 years ago.”

The class is also quite a cosmopolitan mix. Rajapuram can “communicate” in seven languages:Kannada, Hindi, English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, and Portuguese.” Jain has run with the bulls in Pamplona and Santana has cage dived off South Africa’s Seal Island – which boasts the world’s biggest concentration of Great White Sharks! Then again, Santana can be grateful that he has better luck with animals than Niemeyer.

“Animals love me,” she observes. “Maybe too much. I have been bitten by a sloth in the Amazon rainforest, a monkey in Bali, and a goat in Chile.”


In recent years, UCLA Anderson has been a model of consistency, taking in roughly 360 MBA students who averaged a GMAT hovering near 715. And the 2016-2017 cycle was no different. Last year, the school received 3,314 applications, up 24 from the previous class. By the same token, Anderson enrolled 360 students in the 2019 Class while managing a 22% acceptance rate, making it harder to snag a spot here than leading public programs like Michigan Ross and Virginia Darden. Overall, the class arrives with a 716 average GMAT, up a point over the previous year. This also represents a 12 point uptick over the past five years.

The big news, however, involves the percentage of women, which rose six points to an all-time high of 38%. However, this was balanced out by a steep fall in the percentage of international students, which plummeted from 38% to 30% — the school’s lowest performance in seven years. That said, nearly a third of the class – 30% – are American minority students, making this the most domestically diverse class in seven years as well.

anderson mba pros

The UCLA Anderson School of Management

Technically, business majors compose the largest source of MBA candidates for the Class of 2019. 27% of the class hold undergraduate business degrees, with another 16% hailing from economics. That said, STEM backgrounds are also heavily represented at 24% — with engineering majors making up 15% of the class. Another 22% of the class studied in humanities-related fields – a 6% jump over the previous year.

Last year, students who worked in technology comprised the largest bloc of the class. That could hardly be considered an anomaly, considering that tech firms had signed a larger share of Anderson MBAs than any other industry. In this class, finance squeaked out a larger percentage than technology – though only by a 25%-to-24% margin. Consulting (17%) and consumer goods (11%) each gained two points, while the public sector and non-profit sector (10%) gained one point. Healthcare and biotechnology and entertainment and media each represent 5% of the class.


The MBA program has kept plenty busy over the past year. Gary Fraser, assistant dean of student affairs, notes in a statement to Poets&Quants that the school recently introduced an experiential-driven impact investing program. It includes, he says, both “hands-on experience in impact investing, measuring and reporting through the creation of an impact investing fund, and real world experience in consulting to early stage social ventures.”

What’s more, the program has added Impact Immersion Experiences, which offer “field study projects, consulting engagements and global immersion courses that expose students to societal challenges and encourage them to study these problems.” Such programs are expected to reinforce Anderson’s credentials as a leading voice in in social impact.

“These efforts provide an approach to impact creation that involves multidisciplinary thinking and multiple stakeholders to create shared learning that elevates best practices,” he explains. “It is a pipeline for social impact projects established in partnership with other schools on campus, enabling student teams and faculty counsels to contribute to solving real world challenges being addressed by global organizations, such as the UN, World Economic Forum, WHO and Clinton Global Initiative.”


Go to page 2 to see in-depth profiles of incoming UCLA Anderson MBA students.

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