2018 Best MBAs: Samanthe Tiver Belanger, Stanford GSB

Samanthe Tiver Belanger

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“New Jersey native, first-generation college graduate, happiest by an ocean.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Lumberton, NJ

Fun fact about yourself: For our honeymoon, my husband and I drove to 26 states.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

The College of William and Mary, BA in Economics

Stanford University, MS in Environment & Resources

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I started my career at Danville Regional Foundation before completing a year of service with Americorps. Right before coming to the GSB, I worked at Goodwill Industries of South Central Virginia completing special projects for their mission services.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Annapolis, MD

Where will you be working after graduation? Associate at McKinsey, Washington DC

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: 

2018 Siebel Scholar

Arbuckle Leadership Fellow

Impact Labs Associate & Student Leader — Impact investing associate at The CAPROCK Group

Sustainable Business Club leader

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the research I produced about the impact of nuisance flooding on businesses. While earning my MBA, I also earned a Master of Science in Environment and Resources. I had the privilege of working alongside a PhD candidate, Miyuki Hino, to conduct a case study of the impact of minor flood events for businesses. This work continues to challenge me academically and has enabled me to apply my business and science training to the pressing problem of sea level rise on our coasts.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2013, I worked with nonprofit leaders from across southside Virginia to found the Dan River Nonprofit Network. The Network helps the region’s social impact organizations better share resources, access training for staff, and coordinate with local funders. For the next two-and-a- half years, I had the privilege of facilitating this group and helping it grow into an independent organization. I’m most proud of this work because the Network’s services don’t just benefit the staff and funders—our work also yielded improved results for the clients and customers of these impactful member organizations.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted to be challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone during business school and for me, Stanford did just that. I moved across the country and surrounded myself with people from dramatically different backgrounds and experiences. I am constantly amazed by how much I learn about others and how they see the world differently than me. I think it’s made me a kinder, more empathic person.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Spend more time reflecting on your motivations for business school and life. My classmates at the GSB overwhelmingly had a clear sense of the fire in their bellies. They may not know what job they want next, but they do know who they are and what their values are. This internal work will help provide clarity on “what matters most to you and why” as well as help you make the most of your time at the GSB after you’re accepted.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about the GSB may be that we’re all focused on tech. We’re lucky, being in Silicon Valley, to have great relationships with local tech giants, but I think everyone would be surprised to know how few of us actually land in tech, particularly with the big five.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The GSB is incredible because of its students. If I have to pick just one, the MBA classmate I most admire is Valerie Rivera (GSB ‘17). First, Val is not a traditional MBA. She served in the Air Force for 15 years as an enlisted service member, finished her bachelor’s in her thirties, and is the mother of amazing twin boys. Val knew the stiff hierarchy of the military didn’t always benefit its members or its goal, so she used design thinking to promote creative workforce development within one of our most entrenched systems. Today, Val is living her dream by starting her own consulting practice helping organizations develop workplace cultures where people thrive. I am constantly learning from Valerie’s ability to know what drives her, break out of the mold of what others expect, and take courageous leaps toward her goals.

 Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My undergraduate mentor, Dr. Anne Charity-Hudley. At the time, I was only considering environmental master’s programs but she encouraged me to broaden my search and look at joint programs. She helped me consider not where I wanted to be when I graduated but where I wanted to be in twenty years and that’s when an MBA made perfect sense.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…helping nonprofit organizations in Virginia build better, more impactful programs (I loved what I did!).”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I’d play something other than smooth jazz in Town Square. Can I get some bluegrass?

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Visit all 50 states (only 6 remaining!) and go hiking in New Zealand

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope they remember me as kind but willing to challenge the norm.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Big Short. Business decisions are human decisions. They are susceptible to the same biases as the human mind — making it difficult to reverse our commitments and to disagree with the overwhelming majority.

What would your theme song be?Talkin’ bout a Revolution” by Tracy Chapman

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere by an ocean

Hobbies? Hiking, kayaking, tidepooling


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