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Meet Stanford GSB’s MBA Class Of 2019

For only the second time in 23 years, Stanford Graduate School of Business captures the No. 1 spot in the Financial Times global MBA ranking

With risk comes reward – and the Class of 2019 have already notched achievements to spare. As a student at American University in Cairo, Ahmad Ibrahim co-founded one of the city’s first student-run consulting firms, which catered to young entrepreneurs and small-to-mid size businesses. Impressed? As a consultant, Boerma revamped a client’s manufacturing process, expanded its “global footprint” and tripled its profits. Hafner participated in the 2015 Paris Climate Change negotiations as a representative for the Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

If you want to learn about real responsibility, set up a coffee chat with Yarlagadda. She ran Unilever India’s largest ice cream plant, which included managing over 400 people.

RECORD APPLICATIONS BOOST STANFORD’S PROFILE

When I took over the role, I did not speak the language of my workers and connecting with them was a challenge,” she admits. “By drawing inspiration from my dad’s servant leadership, I led my team with compassion and quickly became their close ally! This helped me in negotiating a long-term wage settlement with the workers union and I cherish this as a character-building experience.”

Joining the Stanford GSB can be a humbling experience, says Wood, whose 2017 class included “former Navy SEALs, professional athletes, Wall Street hot shots, even the guy that created Google Alerts.” It is unquestionably the world’s most selective full-time MBA program, offering a spot to just one out of every twenty applicants. Kate Archibald, a Poets&Quants Best & Brightest MBA and a classmate of Wood, calls her classmates a “community of pragmatic romantics – people who want to empower others and in doing so change the world.” Not surprisingly, the Class of 2019 possesses these same virtues…in spades.

The tower entrance at the end of what Stanford calls the Arrival Walk which was intentionally designed to align with the Bass Center.

Looking at the big picture, during the 2016-2017 admissions cycle, Stanford received a record 8,173 applications, a 21.7% increase over the past five years. To put Stanford’s popularity in context, Stanford enjoyed 26.6% fewer applications than Harvard Business School…but its 418 member class was also half the size of its Boston rival. To look at it another way, 89% of applicants who received a Stanford acceptance letter ultimately enrolled – just a shade under HBS’ 90.8% mark. In short, Stanford has increasingly emerged as the “cool” school – the go-to destination for the brainy, laid back, and spunky alike.

STANFORD POSTS TOP MBA GMAT AND GPA AVERAGES

Record applications wasn’t the only big news from the class, which notched a 737 GMAT – another high mark and a four point improvement over the previous year. It was also six points better than HBS and seven points above Wharton and Chicago Booth. Overall, the class’ GMAT scores ranged from 610-790. In addition, the class also mustered a 3.74 GPA average as undergraduates, also the highest performance among the top business schools. Many class members didn’t ditch academics after commencement either, with 15% of the class boasting advanced degrees.

Demographically, women comprise 40% of the class, the same share as the year before. By the same token, 41% of the 2019 class hails from overseas, up a point over the second year class. U.S. minorities also take up 29% of the class. That doesn’t tell the whole story about how diverse this class really is. Students come from 61 countries, 164 undergraduate programs, and 301 employers, providing a rich mix of cultural, regional, and professional differences.

Think Stanford wannabes get accepted for their skill with crunching waves of data and building complex models? Guess again! 44% of the incoming class actually majored in the humanities and social sciences as undergraduates. Another 37% studied engineering, math, and natural sciences. In fact, less than 20% studied business. That’s not to say they didn’t practice it. The largest bloc of the class – 21% – is represented by students who worked in investment management, private equity, and venture capital. Another 19% worked in consulting, with the tech sector accounting for another 15%. Beyond that, the class is deeply segmented, with the largest shares found in government, education and nonprofit (8%), consumer products and services (7%), and financial services (7%).

A LOCALE WITH SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

GSB students would be hard-pressed to find a better place to spend two years than Palo Alto. Just 35 miles from San Francisco – and 10 minutes from Sand Hill Road – the region is paradise, with breezy 60 to 80 degree days where students can run “The Dish” or hike, golf, bike or play tennis year-round. Go north and students can choose between big city nightlife or rural wine country. Go south and it is Silicon Valley, home to everything from the Googleplex to the Y Combinator. Head east and it is the Lake Tahoe’s mountains and skiing. Of course, west takes students to the Pacific Ocean. That doesn’t even count Menlo Park, Stanford’s friendly neighbor and home to legendary angels like Andreessen Horowitz.

Such resources foster a virtuous cycle for students. For one, the school is able to attract the crème de la crème of guest speakers and adjuncts. Students are also just a coffee chat away from potential investors, experts, and mentors. Not surprisingly, Stanford has produced 27 of the top 100 startups over the past five years – more than any other MBA program. Indeed, Silicon Valley has become the new American dream, a place where upstart go-getters can make an impact…and a few million dollars while they’re at it.

Stanford University Graduate School of Business – Ethan Baron photo

Ibrahim is one of those dynamos who intends to leave his legacy through his ventures. Told that Stanford was “the kitchen of the future,” Ibrahim plans to learn the ingredients and tools needed to cook his startup masterpiece. “Stanford’s MBA program is the perfect Launchpad,” he argues. “In my view, it is the combination of two things. First, it is part of an institution that places so much value on entrepreneurship. Second, it is close to Silicon Valley, where many of the world’s most influential companies are built, which is unmatched in other programs. The energy and conviction that flows around this place is simply contagious!”

The GSB’s reputation and results, coupled with its tech- and capital-rich locale, also drew Tien to the Class of 2019. “I wanted to spend my two years at the epicenter of innovation and as such, it was a natural choice for me,” she asserts. “The proximity to VCs, leading tech firms, and hyper-growth startups only helped make it easier for me to decide to come to the GSB.”

Despite the legends of billion dollars firms popping out of garages and talks of “pivoting” in Town Square, just don’t mistake Stanford GSB as an entrepreneurship school, says Federico Mossa, a 2017 alum and member of P&Q’s Best & Brightest MBAs. “The focus of the majority of students is on general management,” he notes. “The first year provides a solid foundation across key business disciplines, and the second year allows you to dive deeper in your specific areas of interest.”

Go to page 3 to see in-depth profiles of first-year Stanford students.