2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Geoffrey Calder, Stanford GSB

Geoffrey Calder

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Hard-working Canadian. Always getting better.”

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Fun fact about yourself: Moving to Stanford, I drove from New York to San Francisco with all my belongings in the trunk of my car!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Ivey Business School at Western University (Canada), Honors in Business Administration

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Private Equity Associate, U.S. Buyout, The Carlyle Group (New York)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Summer Vice President, North America Private Equity, Bain Capital (Boston)

Where will you be working after graduation? Vice President, North America Private Equity, Bain Capital (Boston)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Siebel Scholar (awarded for academic achievement and demonstrated leadership) and President of Stanford GSB’s Golf Club.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My proudest extracurricular achievement during business school was shooting 68 on the Stanford Golf Course in October 2018. Having not played golf competitively since high school, it was a thrill to feel as if my swing was so under control. I haven’t posted a similar score since, but that’s OK. Every time I step on the first tee (beautiful downhill, dogleg left here at Stanford), I know it’s possible!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Setting deals aside, I’m most proud of the recruiting and training work that I was involved with at both Goldman and Carlyle. At Goldman, I helped lead the Canadian recruiting effort. At Carlyle, I helped lead the modeling seminar at our Global Associate Training. Giving back in these small ways, and helping to shape our corporate culture, meant a lot to me. I would love the opportunity to be similarly involved at Bain Capital post-grad.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor at the GSB was Charles Lee. He teaches Alphanomics, which is an elective course about stock screening, fundamental valuation, and portfolio management. Charles brought an outstanding level of energy, thoughtfulness, and patience to the class. Much of the content is highly-technical, but no one felt left behind. He is a rare talent in the classroom.

What was your favorite MBA Course? I’m going to double down on the above and say Alphanomics. First, the class validated my suspicion that financial markets are not always efficient. Human biases regularly drive gaps between price and value. Second, the class gave me a few new tools, grounded in academia, to identify opportunities. But I should also mention a few other fantastic courses: Accounting-Based Valuation, Investment Seminar, Practical Policy & Politics, Product Launch, Formation of New Ventures, and Building & Managing Sales Organizations. All are must-takes!

Why did you choose this business school? For me, Stanford’s biggest selling point was its flexible curriculum. First, there is flexibility within the business school curriculum (i.e., most “compulsory” courses are offered at the Base, Accelerated, and Advanced level). Second, there is flexibility to take classes “across the street” (i.e., can easily take electives at the Law School, Medical School, Engineering School, etc.). As someone who had already completed a 4-year undergraduate business degree, this meant I was able to avoid nearly all overlap and push myself intellectually throughout the program. But there were other draws: varied teaching method, small class size, proximity to Silicon Valley, great weather, collaborative culture, and so on.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? My advice would be to connect with a handful of current students or alumni to truly understand what makes the program so different. Stanford is a special place and the admissions office wants to see that applicants understand that. Make it clear that you are not only willing to subscribe to the culture, but that you are interested in contributing to it in meaningful ways. When asked “Why Stanford?”, get past the surface level (e.g., small class size) and get to the bottom of the GSB’s ethos (e.g., Talk, “Touchy Feely”, Lead Labs, Startup Garage, GSB Show, etc.). Convince them that there’s no place you’d rather be!

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Stanford is that it is a “business school for entrepreneurs”. Without a doubt, many students go on to start great companies and immerse themselves in the entrepreneurship track at the GSB. And there’s no doubt that Silicon Valley has had a palpable impact on the school’s culture, faculty, and curriculum. But that’s not to say that Stanford doesn’t have much to offer to those who are interested in more traditional opportunities after graduation, as was the case for myself. Think of the program as a “choose your own adventure”. No matter your career goal, you can chase it to the fullest at the GSB!

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? Coming into the program, I wish I had a better appreciation for how busy things would feel. Academic demands are only a small part of the equation. There are always so many social and extracurricular activities going on. It is impossible to do everything. You need to learn early on what matters to you and then you need to learn how to say “no” to the activities that don’t rank highly on that list.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are too many great ways to answer this question, but I’m going to go with Nick Jankovsky, my partner in crime on a pile of projects in my MBA1 year. Nick is smart, hard-working, and reliable. But what sets Nick apart is the way he treats people. He greets everyone with a smile and shows patience when it matters. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone at Stanford who has something bad to say about him. He’s a classic example of the guy you want on your team.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I chose to study business in college because I looked up to my mother’s career, and she had gone to business school. In fact, she completed the graduate program at the same school where I completed the undergraduate program! Looking back, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Studying business early on pushed me to get more comfortable with ambiguity (i.e., unlike math and science, it was very rare for our case studies to have “right answers”), which has benefitted me both personally and professionally.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…probably back at work as an investor or trying something new, like strategy at a consumer-oriented start-up. Fortunately, I loved the work I was doing before school. I didn’t come to Stanford to pivot, I came to accelerate my learning and improve my ability to lead high-performing teams.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? It’s hard to run the traditional “return on investment” math for business school. The investment is immediate and measurable, but the return is harvested over decades in ways that can make attribution difficult. That said, I am confident that what I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, and the perspective I’ve gained will all make me considerably more effective at work. Further, life is about experiences and I can’t think of a better two-year journey than the one I’ve been on here at Stanford. That alone has made it worth the price of admission.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? In the time I have left at Stanford, I hope to organize a student event (currently planning an MBA golf tournament) and to visit the Grand Canyon (currently scheduling a trip over Memorial Day Weekend).

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope to be remembered as thoughtful, hard-working, and caring. If I’m considered to be someone that others would be willing to work for or with, I’d see it as a successful outcome.

Hobbies? Three hobbies that I’ve invested in heavily while at the GSB are golf (try to play 2-3 times per week), working out (try to exercise 5-6 times per week), and reading (try to read 2 books per month). I’ve found all of them to be great ways to connect with classmates and unwind. I’m also an aspiring squash player and hope to invest a bit more time in the game while waiting out the winters back in Boston!



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