Our Favorite MBAs Of 2017

Some of our favorite MBAs of the year

Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.

Carl Sagan was the ultimate Poet and Quant. He poetically made scientific complexities understandable to the masses. Through his writings, he captured the human experience and what it means to be one in billions, yet connected through the space matter that our DNA and blood is made from.

We wrote about many unique MBAs this year — each different in their backgrounds and passions. This year some of our favorites are musicians, leaders in finance, and athletes. One has chosen to live out of her van and guide groups of women up some of the world’s highest peaks. Another is attempting to launch a rap career. And another is training to make the national Canadian rugby team for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Below is a list, in no order, of our favorite MBAs of 2017.

Ashley Lannquist (left) and Caitlyn Driehorst are the co-presidents of the Berkeley Haas FinTech Club, which was launched last fall. Photo by Jim Block for Berkeley-Haas

Ashley Lannquist and Caitlyn Driehorst, UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business

2017 saw financial technology (fintech) continue to sweep across B-school campuses. MBA programs across the world created fintech courses, specific tracks or concentrations, and student-run clubs. One of our favorites that we saw this year is the Haas FinTech Club at the University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business. Founded in 2016, it’s one of our favorites because the first two co-presidents were two women MBAs — Ashley Lannquist and Caitlyn Driehorst. Lannquist also was a co-founder alongside four second-year MBA students. Considering its roots in finance and technology — two of the bro-iest industries on the planet — we appreciate that the Haas club not only had two women co-founders, but at the time we published the article in March, was one of just four clubs at Haas with an all-women leadership team.

“About a fifth of the first-year full-time MBA class joined the FinTech Club within six months of its founding, putting it among our most popular new clubs in recent Haas history,” Bill Rindfuss, the club’s faculty sponsor, said in an article published by Berkeley Haas. “There’s a growing career interest in fintech among our students and we’re fortunate that the Bay Area is a hotbed for these jobs.”

Lannquist — a lifelong East Coaster — told us at the time of publication that the thought of creating a fintech club during her time in B-school was the big draw to move coasts. Driehorst, who had an early career in consulting, got interested in the industry after a stint in impact investing. For now, the two plan on continuing fintech leadership roles to establish a pipeline of women role models in the industry.

clyde kelly

Clyde Kelly Atkins will earn his MBA from Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 2018. He’s also an accomplished hip-hop artist. Courtesy photo

Clyde Kelly Atkins, Wharton

Each year, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School enrolls close to 900 new MBAs. In the fall of 2016, they enrolled one who would produce two hip-hop albums within his first year of studying at Wharton. P&Q readers, allow us to re-introduce you to Clyde Kelly Atkins, who goes by Clyde Kelly while on stage. A former McKinsey analyst, Atkins says hip-hop music naturally speaks to MBAs and other business-minded individuals.

“I think people who identify as business people or entrepreneurs probably have an instinctive liking for hip-hop music,” Atkins told us last May. “Because I think it has that message of hustle and grit that those people like. It’s becoming more common.”

Atkins took the tragic, too-soon passing of his father and turned it into motivation and an outlet when he took a poetry class early in high school. “That’s where I first started to realize what it felt like to be inspired creatively and to use a creative outlet as a positive way to channel my emotions,” he said. What started as a hobby and thing to do with friends quickly turned into a passion while on the road traveling for McKinsey.

Atkins has a Spotify page, where his first album, Not Rich Yet, has millions of plays after being released a little more than a year ago.

“When a listener listens to it, I want them to feel simultaneously determined and feel like they have motivation, grit, and strength,” Atkins explains. “But I also want them to feel at-ease and OK with the fact that life has its ups and downs.”

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