Meet Wharton’s MBA Class Of 2021

Stanislav Zolotukhin

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Passionate venture capitalist who is constantly on the lookout for talented entrepreneurs who can change the world.”

Hometown: Kyiv, Ukraine

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was born in a small town in Ukraine historically named New York.

Undergraduate School and Major:

International Economics (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv)

Special Metallurgy (National Technical University of Ukraine “Ihor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute”)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Associate at Chernovetskyi Investment Group, CBDO at ZAKAZ

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I led a large decentralized team as part of a project to modernize the broadband network of a telecom operator in Ukraine. Later, the project was recognized as one of the most extensive in Europe in terms of the number of clients. Yet, my achievement was not just in managing a very diverse team, but in teaching people to work towards common goals, be involved and invested in the result. Finally, I managed to assemble what it seemed to be a number of independent players into a squad that achieved excellent results.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? So far, all the classmates that I have met are very curious and purposeful. It looks like if someone faces a problem, he/she will not rest until there is a solution. I think that the constant search for new questions and answers is a quality that distinguishes Wharton students.

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? At various stages of my admission process, I met with many Wharton graduates, and they all are extremely successful and talented. I think their answers to my questions and their career achievements along with one of the largest networks of alumni among business schools (almost 100K) were instrumental in my decision.

Talk to us about the team-based project you completed during the application process. What did you do that helped you stand out during it? First of all, be yourself. It is you who prepared the case. There are no wrong answers here, only opinions. Second, try to draw from your own experience. Usually, the project is about something familiar to you, so find some examples of approaches that worked in your career (and those that didn’t) and offer them to your team. Third, be supportive. You are a team, not competitors.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am very excited about the upcoming Quantico Intensive. I’ve met an alumnus at one of Wharton’s events who told me: “I am not going to give you a lot of details about this simulation, but you have to do it – it is great!” For me, the way decision-making and leadership are exemplified in the Marine Corps is extraordinary.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most difficult one, in my opinion, was the “Why Wharton?” question. Despite the fact that the question seems to be harmless, it requires deep insight from the applicant. Your task is to connect all the dots and try to explain how exactly Wharton, with its overwhelming amount of resources, will help you to fill the gap that is in front of you. You have to be as accurate as possible and give examples of courses, teachers, and events that would help your career. Try to be specific, and not be an abstract applicant to an abstract business school.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Working with startups and entrepreneurs every day, you often come to the conclusion that your knowledge and skills can be applied more effectively. However, you have to learn how to do this. In the end, I realized that an MBA degree in my case will not only give me access to new markets and geographies but also help to develop the leadership skills and subject expertise that we all expect from an effective manager and investor.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? UCLA, UC Berkeley, Stanford GSB, HBS, Chicago Booth

How did you determine your fit at various schools? The most important thing in choosing a school is to understand your own goals and determine how each school can help you achieve them. For me, an important factor was my conversations with current students. They are your best guides to the campus culture. Social media can be a great tool in preparing for your admission too. If you are interested, for example, in the technology sector, just go on LinkedIn and filter for alumni of your school by industry. You will immediately understand which industries source from which schools.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I think that my defining moment was starting to work with technological entrepreneurs when I just got into VC. This is hard to convey, but the vast majority of founders radiated very positive creative energy. Since then, I realized that this was going to be the type of environment I want to be in, and I began to look for more developmental opportunities as a venture capitalist. I think that this search for new ideas is something that brought me to Wharton.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?  In ten years, I wish I be doing what I love: finding amazing tech entrepreneurs, investing in their projects, and helping them make people’s lives easier and more interesting.


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