Here at P&Q, we get to know a lot of MBAs from many different backgrounds and countries. A year of reporting involves thousands of conversations with MBA candidates from across the world. And because of the nature and prestige of schools we cover, the conversations we have end up being with some of the world’s most talented and intelligent future business leaders. For many of those we speak with, business school is just one aspect of their lives. There’s usually much more to them than where they are going to school and what they plan to do after graduation.
This year, we had the privilege to feature musicians, artists, government leaders, activists, entrepreneurs, community leaders, and military veterans. Below, in no particular order, you will find some of our favorites. They come from different countries and schools. They’ve had different professional backgrounds and are they setting off on different career — and life — paths. We hope you enjoy as much as we did getting to know a bit about them.
At 38 years old, Christopher Schlidt is not your typical full-time MBA student. For one, he’s old compared to the majority of his classmates at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. His work experience and age are both more than a decade above the class average. He also comes from an agency not many in MBA programs come from. For the 15 years between graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics and international studies from Yale and enrolling in the one-year MBA program at Oxford, Schlidt held numerous roles for the CIA within the U.S. government.
Schlidt worked across departments at the CIA and held roles in leadership, communications, product management, and tech. “I loved it — it was a fantastic career,” Schlidt told us in May. “More of a career than most have, because I worked across the whole agency. But it was either ‘in for 20 more years’ or ‘leave now and go do something else.’ And being a technical operations officer, I kept seeing these amazing things the private sector was doing tech-wise and wanted to be a part of that.”
In an in-depth interview from last spring, Schlidt talks about his decision to pursue an MBA, why he chose to do one in Europe, and offers advice for similar candidates considering an MBA to transition careers.
It’s no secret the world of venture capital is grossly under-represented with women. About a quarter of major VC funds in the U.S. do not have a woman as a partner. Only about 9% — or about 170 — venture capitalists in the U.S. are women. Jaida Yang and Preeti Sampat — two recent graduates from the full-time MBA program at MIT’s Sloan School of Management — are aiming to make a dent in those stats. Together, they have launched and are continuing to grow their venture capital fund, Infinite Road.
“We both have been working with many startups over the past two years and have been tracking the startups process from the beginning to today,” Yang said last June. “We understand who those founders are, why they are working on the startup, how are they are working together, and what they are thinking about in terms of further expanding,” Yang says. “So we thought, why don’t we just create an institutional fund to help those companies grow further.”
Despite not having significant backgrounds in VC or raising funds, the two do have backgrounds working in finance and with startups. We chose them as two of our favorite MBAs for their trail-blazing attitudes and the impact their path and business could have on landing more women into the world of VC.