Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Gmat
GMAT 690, GPA 73.45 % (No GPA in undergrad)
Darden | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Tuck | Ms. Nigerian Footwear
GRE None, GPA 4.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Low GPA High GRE
GRE 325, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Finance Musician
GRE 330, GPA 3.6
NYU Stern | Mr. Hail Mary 740
GMAT 740, GPA 2.94
Harvard | Mr. London Artist
GMAT 730, GPA First Class Honours (4.0 equivalent)
USC Marshall | Mr. Ambitious
GRE 323, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
SDA Bocconi | Mr. Pharma Manager
GMAT 650, GPA 3,2
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Mr. Young PM
GMAT 710, GPA 9.64/10
Wharton | Mr. Indian VC
GRE 333, GPA 3.61
MIT Sloan | Mr. Tech Enthusiast
GRE 325, GPA 6.61/10
Harvard | Mr. Midwest Dreamer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Foster School of Business | Ms. Diamond Dealer
GRE 308, GPA Merit
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Undergraduate GPA
GMAT 720 (Expected), GPA 2.49
Stanford GSB | Ms. Try Something New
GMAT 740, GPA 3.86
Darden | Mr. Military Missile Defense
GRE 317, GPA 3.26

Meet Washington Olin’s MBA Class Of 2021

Jennifer Sylves Lanas

Washington University, Olin Business School

“Curiosity-seeker with an inquisitive mind and creative disposition. Loves: “Why not?” + “How might we?”

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I lived out one of my childhood dreams when Classrooms Without Borders sent me to conduct an archaeological dig in Israel!

Undergraduate School and Major:  Saint Vincent College, B.A. Theology; California University of Pennsylvania, M.A. Teaching

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab – Consultant, Designer, Storyteller

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I took a big risk leaving a program that I built at a rural public high school in my hometown to reboot an innovative, mission-driven urban education startup in Pittsburgh. In my role as teacher and coordinator of educational and cultural affairs, I was part of the leadership team responsible for building a school culture from the ground up. The biggest takeaway from my experience is that “We begin by listening.” I didn’t learn that on my own—I had exceptional mentors coaching me on all sides of the equation.

It is only fitting, teaching cultural literacy and game design, that I leveled-up for three consecutive years with the same group of 50 students practicing human-centered design and restorative justice. Pressure makes diamonds—and when the heat was on, my team knew that they could count on me as I counted on them. The night that my seniors walked across the stage as Nazareth College and Career Prep’s first graduating class was one of the proudest moments of my career in education!

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I am not sure if I have ever spent this much time with such a diversely talented group of people—and that is the way that the WashU Olin MBA program is designed to be! For six weeks, we are sharing meals and metro rides on three continents. As someone who learns by asking questions, having conversations and doing research, Olin’s Global Immersion has been a delightful opportunity for me to indulge in all of the above. In addition to immense intellectual curiosity, my classmates have a genuine capacity for empathy, a team-first mentality and impeccable taste in paella.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I love cohort-based learning! My work with the team at CREATE Lab focused on four values essential for using technology and data in the service of teaching and learning: compassion, equity, authenticity, and agency. While recruiting, I was captivated by WashU’s approach, as it resonated with the #TheFluencyProject shifting the lens on empowering communities of learning by leading from a place of values. I spent a lot of time on the road driving to workshops thinking about the confluence of these forces. I needed to find my way to St. Louis to see it for myself.

Olin’s MBA program compels our cohort to take a values-based, data-driven view of the world. We challenge our assumptions, wrestle with uncomfortable truths and learn strategies to create better choices. My discernment process was simple—to belong to an alumni network aligning with my personal values, disposition toward learning and fully-invested in my leadership potential. I needed to claim my seat in the Olin Business School Class of 2021.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am really excited to roll up my sleeves and collaborate on projects with Olin’s chapter of Net Impact. Putting into practice community-centered design through the lens of social innovation is something that excites me to no end. My background in design thinking, coaching competitive speech and debate, and maker-mentality places me somewhere between “Swiss Army Knife” and “Little Black Dress” on the versatility and confidence scale. I am ready to take on the challenge!

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Let’s be real—who doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with this question: “What do you want to do with an MBA?” I know my strengths include making meaning visible and amplifying learning agility, critical skills for the future of work. However, those skills apply to a myriad of roles and experiences.

Experience is the greatest teacher—which is why a question like, “What do you want to do?” is difficult to answer with both sincerity and clarity. To harness my potential and find paths that fit my knowledge, skills, and disposition, I used the “Odyssey Plans” in the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans…I found the exercise so helpful that I have since gifted this book to mentors, former students, and family members.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? We are at an inflection point where tech innovation is pushing the limits of human potential. I want to influence the shape and discourse of the future. An MBA will help me to have a platform to do that, opening the doors to new opportunities for lifelong learning. With unprecedented access to industry experts, the chance to build new skills, models, and habits of mind, I am enthusiastic about building my professional network with the help of the MBA experience. My career in education was nothing short of incredible—I helped my students launch the first Gay-Straight-Alliance in our county, rallied a team of 50 students to build virtual reality-inspired Empathy Apps on their phones, and found myself leveraging numbers and narratives to host data storytelling workshops in three states. Once a teacher, always a teacher—you can tell just by looking at my sensible shoes. But I am ready for my next assignment. For that opportunity, I need to increase my scale factor. I need an MBA.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Tepper, Kelley, McDonough

How did you determine your fit at various schools?  If you want me to say I read Poets & Quants … yes. And I found support via the Forté MBA Launch program. The process helped me to learn my preferences and go after what I was seeking—such as targeting programs within a range of sizes, leveraging contacts for informational interviews, and signing up for webinars and info sessions.

Forgive me for being philosophical, but the best way to determine if a school fits you and your career goals is to “Know thyself, Socrates!” Assess your situation: Try asking a few basic questions.

  • Where are you in your life and what are your career goals?
  • What type of life do you want to live while in the MBA program—do you have a partner or family that you are factoring into the equation?
  • Are there geographical preferences that you have or industry considerations that make one school much more compelling than another?

After you build a matrix around the questions that matter to you, do the work. Whenever possible, go to campus and ask questions, have conversations, and always eat the food. Bonus points for taking public transit to and from the airport. If geography or work prevents you from making an in-person visit, be sure to schedule an informational interview or virtual coffee chat using a video platform. Human connection is key.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? After my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, our entire family sat around a kitchen table, stunned in bewildering silence. I broke the ice, informing my grandmother that I was “another one of those millennials looking for a roommate.” Gram and I always had a special bond, but this experience helped us to become girlfriends on another level. I paired our multi-generational trips to the hospital with sightseeing drives to see Pittsburgh’s panoramic vistas to fortify my mom and Gram. If we were going to help Gramps through his treatment and recovery as a team, we needed to show ourselves compassion.

The learning curve was steep. I was launching a new career as a high school teacher and finishing grad school—while studying the intricacies of the healthcare system at Gramps’ bedside as a live-in caregiver. They don’t make instruction manuals for this … We were building the plane in mid-flight. There were many late nights—prepping breathing treatments, building websites, staying up well past a teacher’s bedtime to listen to the baseball game with my octogenarian roommate and best friend, whom I would later take turns caring for in the end.

Ultimately, the decision that I made at my grandparents’ kitchen table influenced my thinking and the course of my life. Rarely are the things worth doing easy, or the results immediate. But it is perfectly natural to make a difficult choice with such clarity and precision immediately. Just trust yourself, and go for it.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I want to be a problem-solver in a society that offers equitable and inclusive futures. That means working for the creation of “real life” alternatives for “real people.” This is inclusive of the diverse communities that I served as a teacher, but also the intersectionality of age groups and identities that will be hit hard by rapid change. The United States is in the midst of a major demographic shift and undoubtedly the effects of AI and disruptive technology will take hold and be felt pervasively.

I am a techno-optimist, who advocates preparing processes and models to help communities navigate changing landscapes. Companies that capitalize on innovation in an ethical and inclusive way can create groundbreaking business opportunities and generate economic and social empowerment for everybody. I envision my thoughts and actions building a better life for individuals, organizations, and communities. The future is being written at the speed of trust—it is up to us to give voice to that story.