Meet MIT Sloan’s MBA Class Of 2021

SIT Sloan Interior


The Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship is the spoke of Sloan’s startup efforts, with programming that includes classes, competitions and grants, advisors and speakers, and accelerator space and resources. Another investment is the Legatum Center, which connects impact-driven entrepreneurs with opportunities to boost economic development in the developing world. In fact, sustainability and global impact have grown into two of Sloan’s most underappreciated strengths.

“Sloan has active student organizations across impact-related fields, observes Eilon Shalev. “Sloan has one of the largest impact investing student organizations across MBA programs. Sloan also has a huge array of opportunities in social enterprise, where students have the opportunity to work with world-renowned entrepreneurs and professors. Additionally, through my work with Hack for Inclusion, I have been able to connect with students across Sloan and greater MIT who are incredibly passionate about making a change in our world.”

MIT Sloan Exterior

MIT Sloan’s mission is to “develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice.” Achieving this end is a community effort. For José Luis Ramos, such trademark Sloanie support simply brings out the best in everyone involved. “I’ve never experienced an environment where when you have an idea and share it with someone, they reference you to at least two or three other people that you should speak with,” Ramos explains. “It feels like people want me to pursue my ideas as opposed to immediately shutting them down and telling me why I am wrong.”


That sense of freedom is embodied in two of Sloan’s signature programs. The first is the Sloan Intensive Period, popularly known as SIP. Think of it as a week in both October and March where the MBA program stops cold turkey. Instead of taking normal classes, Sloan MBAs bid for ungraded modules and seminars, featuring simulations, executive roundtables, and reflection time. In the past, the SIP has addressed topics ranging from crafting TED Talks to honing creative instincts to creating value from food waste. Along with SIP, students also enjoy an Independent Activities Period (IAP), with students often using the time to travel and pursue passion projects.

Clare Frigo, who is part of the Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program, has already plotted out her plans during her January IAP.The LGO first years travel around the US visiting our partner companies’ plants for domestic plant trek (DPT). I’m looking forward to seeing all the plants across a number of different industries and bonding with my classmates.”

The other defining event is the Action Learning Labs. This year, Sloan MBAs can choose between 15 labs, which are broken out in categories like region (China, India, Israel), function (finance and operations), and industry (healthcare, sustainable business, analytics, digital product management). Over the past 20 years, Sloan has hosted over 2,500 lab projects, with the 2019-2020 cycle featuring 125 host companies that include Fortune 500 firms, startups, and even NGOs. What’s more, students can take more than one lab.

Classroom lecture

The labs provide a platform for students to take what they’ve learned into the real world to solve real problems. Working in teams, students are able to step up into leadership or collaborate across various roles, testing ideas, weighing variables, and developing solutions much like consulting projects.

Faina Rozental, a 2019 graduate, lists the S-Lab (Sustainability Lab) as her favorite MBA course. The experience reinforced a key lesson that MBAs know in theory but sometimes fail to incorporate in practice.

“My team worked with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on financing a more resilient Puerto Rico,” she writes. “The work was both messy and timely in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria… Our goal was to analyze how EDF could establish itself as an influential partner in mobilizing financing to rebuild Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure. We engaged deeply with experts on finance, energy, and Puerto Rican politics to shape actionable recommendations for EDF…One of the biggest insights I gained about business was that there is no substitute for hearing the customer voice when designing a business-led solution to a complex social or environmental challenge; people on the ground know better than anyone what solution would be most helpful to them.”

Zoya Ajani is looking forward to several labs – along with other opportunities to partner with the larger MIT community. “I am also eager to develop solutions through the Global Entrepreneurship Lab, which allows students to take on problems in developing international markets, and the Development Lab, which approaches issues of global poverty with a design mindset using hands-on classes and workshops. I am also excited about Innovation Teams, in which I will learn about the process of innovation as a scalable practice and have the opportunity to apply these learnings to existing MIT technologies.”

Like all doers, the Class of 2021 has set an ambitious agenda for the next two years. Still, they are setting aside for some fun too. For Parisa Movahedi, that means joining the Sloan Runners Club to bond with classmates and get in some runs along the Charles River. That will come in handy after participating in a second organization: the Happy Belly Club. Here, she is certain to rub elbows with Becky Blanchflower. “I’m looking forward to getting to know my classmates over some great food,” Blanchflower says. “I want to expand my palette and the club organizes cooking classes and outings to unique restaurants. It sounds fun!”

What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates.



MBA Student Hometown Alma Mater Last Employer
Zoya Ajani Toronto, Canada Trinity College, University of Toronto Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development
Daniel Ballesta Quintana Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Santander Bank
Becky Blanchflower Anaheim, CA United States Coast Guard Academy United States Coast Guard
Caitlin Braun Chagrin Falls, OH Washington University in St. Louis Stryker Medical
Carlos Delgado González Madrid, Spain Universidad Carlos III Madrid Amazon
Maura Fitzsimons Farmington Hills, MI University of Michigan U.S. Senate Committee on Finance
Clare Frigo Milwaukee, WI MIT Johnson Controls
Parisa Movahedi Calabasas, CA University of California, Berkeley ZS
Andres Paz-Ares Madrid, Spain CUNEF Nomura
José Luis Ramos Mexico City, Mexico University of California, Irvine MIT Martin Trust Center
Adam Swartzbaugh Camden, ME Brown University U.S. Army Special Forces
Sam Walsh Cabin John, MD University of Texas National Basketball Association

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