Meet UCLA Anderson’s MBA Class of 2020

UCLA Anderson MBA Students


Two years earlier, the firm had publicized that it was removing artificial colors from its cereals, an act that made the media swoon. However, this commitment came with consequences: Trix – a $40 million dollar brand – experienced a 30% drop in sales. In researching the reasoning, Panzer gained a crucial epiphany: “the Trix consumer valued the taste and colorful fun of the old product over the absence of artificial colors and flavors in the new.” In other words, to reinvigorate the brand, General Mills would absorb a major PR hit that’d ripple across the organization. That was a risk that Panzer was willing to take.

“I understood that this proposal would be widely scrutinized so I needed not just a strong business case, but buy-in from my cross-functional partners and their leadership. Over the next two months, I would refine hundreds of executional details and business projections, building confidence from the cross-functional team as well as leadership within the cereal division. This confidence and trust then culminated the approval by our CEO.”

A bust of alumnus John Anderson outside UCLA's business school pays tribute to his near $49 million in donations.

A bust of alumnus John Anderson outside UCLA’s business school pays tribute to his near $49 million in donations.

Anderson’s third pillar is Share Success. That’s exactly what Emily Bestwick did at Prudential. At the company’s Product Innovation Challenge, she teamed up with peers to create a retirement product for younger generations – one that won her team an “Audience Favorite” award when they presented it. This same spirit can be found in Jessica Cheng, who sparked conversations around diversity and inclusion at Royal Caribbean Cruises.

“The company was introducing “employee resource groups” for underrepresented identities and so graciously supported me in launching one for young professionals. I loved that the platform connected millennials from across the company who normally worked in silos. More importantly, however, I believe it gave us a way to talk more insightfully about age-related topics at work, which aren’t practiced enough in school settings.”


Such pillars resonate with MBA applicants seeking impact and community. The first clue? Look no further than the data underlying the Class of 2020 profile. During the 2017-2018 cycle, UCLA Anderson received 3,423 applications. On the surface, this is just a 3.3% increase over the previous year. However, Anderson was also one of only two programs among the American Top 20 that enjoyed a bump in applications. By the same token, the school also reported a 24.3% acceptance rate, making it more selective than public programs like Michigan Ross, Texas McCombs, and North Carolina Kenan-Flagler.

The incoming class also averaged a 719 GMAT, up three points over the 2019 Class – and higher than programs like Virginia Darden, NYU Stern, Duke Fuqua, and INSEAD. Overall, GMATs ranged from 680-750 in the 80% range. While the school hasn’t reported undergraduate GPAs thus far, the averages run from 3.2-3.8 in the same range, with the 360 class members hailing from 157 undergraduate institutions altogether.

Last year, Anderson posted an all-time high with female students. However, the school was unable to match this feat with the Class of 2020, with the percentage falling from 38% to 35%. In contrast, the percentage of international students surged from 30% to 33%, with the percentage of minority students – 29% – rising a point as well.


UCLA Anderson’s Robert Weiler

Like previous years, the new class maintained a good mix of poets and quants. The largest segment of the class (25%) earned undergraduate degrees in business-related disciplines. That doesn’t count economics majors, who account for another 18%. STEM majors hold nearly a third of the class seats, with this area broken between engineering (18%) and math and computer sciences (12%). At 16% of the class, humanities majors also enjoy a strong foothold in the class. However, it is a 6% drop off from the previous year – a same margin of increase for STEM majors (24% to 30%).

Professionally, the largest segment of the Class of 2020 hail from finance at 25%. Another 22% most recently worked in high tech. Consulting (14%), public and non-profit (10%), and consumer goods (9%) are well-represented as well. The remaining 20% is made up of students who held positions in entertainment and media, healthcare and biotech, and real estate.

What can the class expect that’s new? You can start with the school’s expansion of its Leadership Development Program (LDP), says Rob Weiler. “This past year included a class in which prominent leaders (often Anderson alumni) shared their experiences as leaders, mastery of a set of leadership competencies, and development of a leadership plan,” he writes in a statement to P&Q. “Each participant works with a coach – Anderson staff members with years of leadership experience to draw upon – to ensure accountability and assist with choosing where and how to ‘practice’ being a leader throughout their time in school.”


The class can also expect new digs come late 2019 with the opening of Marion Anderson Hall (MAH). A four story, 64,000 square foot addition, the program will act as the “gateway to UCLA Anderson,” says Weiler.

Anderson Accelerator

“The entire Full-Time MBA student ‘lifecycle’ (Admissions, Student Affairs, Parker Career Center and Alumni Relations) will be housed there. Active learning classrooms will allow for flexible teaching models. Work and gathering spaces have been planned to foster the collaborative atmosphere for which we are known.  This building was designed to take advantage of our location with a focus on open, bright spaces that heighten a feeling of being part of the outdoors. MAH was built with a clear focus on our students, allowing them to learn and interact in ways that maximize their experience here.  This cutting-edge facility will benefit students for years to come.”

UCLA Anderson also fields some home court advantages that few MBA programs can match. That starts with the entertainment industry. For most, this would include the usual fare like Disney and Paramount Studios. However, entertainment takes on a more expansive meaning in LA. It can include event promoters like Live Nation, computer gaming like Activision Blizzard, rollercoaster and production designers like Landmark Entertainment Group, visual effects designers like Base FX, record labels like Capital Records, and media platforms like Uproxx – to name just a few.

In other words, Anderson students won’t just find opportunities with the brand names, but also the companies that support the movie business. Thanks to the diversity of channels available, Anderson MBAs enjoy a surplus of opportunities to gain critical experience and build a wide and deep network. This advantage is reinforced by the school’s Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment, and Sports – one of the few research centers geared specifically to this sprawling industry.