2018 Best MBAs: Sarah Anne Hinkfuss, Stanford GSB

Sarah Anne Hinkfuss

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Lifelong, horizon-bound sailor. Passionate Wisconsinite. Bridge Builder. Community investor. Partner. Sister. Friend. Stranger. Supporter.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Fun fact about yourself: President Obama kissed me on the cheek!

(I introduced him at a campaign event at George Washington University in 2010 and he kissed my cheek after he walked on stage.)

Undergraduate School and Degree: Harvard College, AB Economics, Environmental Science & Public Policy

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), Senior Vice President Client Services

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? KKR’s Next Generation Technology Growth Fund in Menlo Park, and China Growth Capital in Beijing

Where will you be working after graduation? Investor at KKR’s Next Generation Technology Growth Fund

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Siebel Scholarship; Co-President Venture Capital Club; CFO / COO Women in Management; Student Alumni Committee Member; Global Study Trip Leader to Finland & Denmark; Trainer with Project ReMADE

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I spearheaded a powerful campus event, #gsbUsToo, focused on confronting workplace sexual harassment and discrimination. The first part created the space for our classmates who have experienced sexual harassment at work to anonymously share their stories to close the distance between the stories we see on the news to the felt and lived experience. The second part turned to action, as we discussed and role played scenarios covering the spectrum of gender interactions from mansplaining and double standards to groping. I was proud that almost half of the students who came were men, and we created a safe space to engage in ways to respond to black and white, as well as gray, scenarios. We are now more equipped to be advocates for and creators of gender-safe workplace environments. As someone who’s previously experienced workplace harassment, this was a big step forward for me as well.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I launched and led the public sector practice of delivering software to state and local governments, as well as the pro bono social sector practice of providing data dives to non-profits. Both programs continue to successfully make real impact for the world, while also driving growth and profile for APT.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Becky Lester, my Accounting professor during my first quarter at GSB and the faculty advisor on my Global Study Trip to Finland and Denmark. She made my first “real” business skills class accessible and so much fun. What makes her different is her path to academia: she worked as a professional accountant for many years before taking a trip around the world and realizing that her calling is to teach. Becky’s passion and real-world perspective shines through in every lesson and interaction with her.

What was your favorite MBA Course In the autumn quarter, I took “Leading with Mindfulness and Compassion” with lecturer Leah Weiss. The class emphasized the foundational importance of self-care as a precursor to personal and professional leadership, and taught the skills of this life-long practice, including daily meditation, self-compassion, and leaning into vulnerability.

Why did you choose this business school? From the beginning, I was attracted to the GSB’s focus on educating the complete person: hard skills and “soft skills.” GSB cultivates admiration and respect among an intentionally-diverse group of classmates. I knew this was a place where I could continue to develop both professionally and personally.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Make the application process meaningful for you regardless of the outcome. A countless number of my classmates have spoken to the legitimate introspective process that the application provides. Take the time to step back from your work and life and consider what gives you energy and what takes it away, what conditions help you be your best self, and what the purpose of your work actually is. If you can do this, chances are your best self will shine through, too!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Kenny Diekroeger because he brings a diverse and blended perspective as a former professional baseball player, private equity investor, and dedicated yogi, all against a backdrop of California cool. He leads mindfulness and meditation work at GSB, and is committed to expanding the accessibility of these disciplines after GSB.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I didn’t pursue business in college, and actually didn’t work in business until after I graduated from college! In undergrad, I studied economics and environmental science & public policy. I focused on water pricing in the Middle East. This was an incredibly complex and critically important area that could only be understood and resolved by integrating multiple disciplines.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working in city government on economic development issues with plans to run for public office to serve my community on a broader stage.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would make tuition free for all students.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Write a book on the economics of cheese (why are cheddar and mozzarella the most popular varieties in the U.S.?)
  2. Raise and run my own fund with a focus on urban resilience and community development

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like to be remembered as a caring, thoughtful, and trustworthy friend and classmate who carried myself with grace.

What would your theme song be? (Include song name and artist) ***Flawless by Beyonce – I love her empowering and take-no-prisoners message, the sampled voice and words of the feminist writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and the intense, deep beat.

Favorite vacation spot: My favorite place to vacation is sailing with my family – it doesn’t matter the harbor or the waters, it’s all about the people and the activity!

Hobbies? Sailing, baking, cooking to bring community together, skiing, running, reading the news, exploring cities, engaging politically, listening to music, and anything that involves a challenge.


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