These days, leaders are expected to be humble guides and advocates, to put others first, always looking toward the long-term and the greater good. That’s why “servant leader” has become the biggest compliment among MBAs. Such students are considered role models who lead with purpose and inspire by example.
At Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, Terrell Hunt is often described as a servant leader. His career has been shaped by a mission to create opportunities and empower others. At Converse, he managed a marketing campaign centered around Black History Month, where Chuck Taylor sneaker sales were earmarked to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. Ultimately, the organization raked in over $100,000. In South Bend, Hunt again partnered with the Boys and Girls Club. Along with classmates and faculty, he developed programming that trained young people on financial literacy and entrepreneurship – a program that will be maintained by Mendoza MBA students long after he graduates.
“Terrell is driven and ambitious,” writes Joshua Scoresby, one of Hunt’s classmates. “His desire to make the world a better place is embedded in the values that he lives day-to-day. Terrell is somebody who will continue to change the world after graduation.”
TAKING SERVANT LEADERSHIP TO THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Come summer, Hunt will channel his servant leader philosophy onto the global stage. He will be joining the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer. This role, coupled with his track record of putting others first, makes Hunt an MBA to Watch – a potential difference-maker and force-multiplier in a rapidly-changing world. For Hunt, this path was enriched by business school, a time he used to step back and prepare for the bigger hurdles to come.
Hunt isn’t the only MBA worth watching from the Class of 2019. Think of these students as the ones who don’t always check all the boxes, the works-in-progress who are still coming into their own. Take Svitlana Niskoklon, a Ukrainian who earned her MBA from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. A banker by trade, Niskoklon became “fascinated” by the tech sector, Blockchain in particular. Within a year, she had emerged as an expert in the field – even speaking at a European FinTech Conference in front of 1,000 people (with 50 of her classmates raising funds to pay her airfare). At the same time, she co-founded the school’s Blockchain Club, which signed up 120 members, along with organizing its first Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence Conference. Niskoklon even partnered with one faculty member to help develop a FinTech elective.
“From novice to thought leader – following her own instincts, making her own opportunities, engaging our community and others, extending the UNC Kenan-Flagler brand, gaining and offering insights in equal measure – all amazing accomplishments,” writes Tim Flood, Associate Professor of Management and Corporate Communication, about Niskoklon.
For the University of Wisconsin’s Jenna Herr, just making it to business school was a huge accomplishment. The Iowa-born Herr grew up in poverty, with her mother incarcerated for much of her childhood. Despite being tagged as an “at-risk” kid, she earned near-perfect grades in high school. She also became the first in her family to graduate from college, moving into community and economic development soon after. As a single mom, the odds were equally stacked against her in business school. Despite this, she was renowned as one of the most active students on campus, serving as co-President of the Graduate Women in Business along with being selected as a teaching assistant in three classes. With that track record, you can expect her to rack up many more successes in the coming years.
“Jenna is one of the most involved students I have known in my more than 30 years on the faculty,” says Joan T. Schmit, Department Chair for Risk and Insurance. “Jenna is both a magnificent mother and an outstanding student leader. We heard from many of her fellow students that Jenna reached out to them individually for one-on-one conversations, listening deeply to them, and developing ideas for their individual and collective success. These students speak to Jenna’s ability to instill courage and determination in others, her deep critical thinking skills, and her gentle humanity.”
WOMEN (AGAIN) DOMINATE THE RANKS OF THE MBAs TO WATCH
Terrell, Svitlana, and Jenna are among this year’s 100 MBAs To Watch. These students were selected from the 243 nominations submitted for the 2019 Best & Brightest MBAs, which was released on April 28th. This year’s list – which features 102 MBAs, technically – includes students from 62 business schools, a mix that includes Wharton, Stanford, and INSEAD alongside ESMT Berlin, Penn State, and U.C.-Irvine. Overall, the list boasts 60 women and 42 men, akin to the 56-to-44 ratio favoring women in this year’s Best & Brightest. American business schools account for 78 of the MBAs to Watch, with non-U.S. students holding 44 of the spots. In terms of employers, Bain & Company hired the most MBAs To Watch with five, followed by Amazon and Microsoft (four each), and Ernst & Young, JP Morgan Chase, and PwC (three each). Another 20 members were still fielding offers (as of February).
What makes an MBA To Watch? That can be hard to define. Many times, they are colorful career changers with high ceilings. You’ll find this spirit in Michigan State’s Kelly Huston, a “dynamo” and “change agent” who made the switch from consulting to entertainment. Similarly, the MBAs To Watch were defined by their versatility and volunteerism. Case in point: Kenan-Flagler’s Reinaldo Caravellas, the proverbial “go-to student for anyone seeking (too often at the last minute) a speaker, panelist, advisor, idea generator, sounding board, instigator, collaborator, someone to get things done or to just pass the time as a pal.”
They are also students who possess a knack for seeing what’s possible…and making it happen. At BYU’s Marriott School of Business, Steve Martin wowed faculty and peers alike with his ability to see beyond the status quo. “I often wonder how Vincent van Gogh saw the world—his colors and shapes are different from mine. Steve is a van Gogh of the business world,” says Grant McQueen, who heads the school’s MBA program. “We all look at the same economy, industry, company—but Steve sees them differently, artistically, creatively. Steve insights frequently wow me. They are often eccentric, but when you pause and ponder, you realize that they are not only unique but also spot on target.”
See pages 4-5 for 100 in-depth profiles of this year’s MBAs to Watch.