Meet Stanford GSB’s MBA Class Of 2021

Stanford GSB Graduation File photo


Yang won’t be alone in scoring startup success. Alokik Bhasin, for one, has built one of India’s largest electronic medical record platforms. At Anheuser Busch-InBev, Anderson Alvaro Gava Muller oversaw the profit-and-loss of the Paraguay market’s entire operations. How versatile is Soha Yasrebi? She studied electrical engineering as an undergrad, transitioned into IT consulting, and ended up in venture capital! In Goldman Sachs’ Asset Management arm, Wes Adams partnered with senior management to make diversity a core part of the division’s hiring strategy. Speaking of diverse, as an attorney, Marie-Cristine Kaptan spearheaded the expansion of a Swiss NGO into ten countries, stretching from Panama to Ethiopia to New Zealand.

Think that’s complex? Try being Nadine ElAshkar. As a consultant, she integrated two major Middle Eastern retailers across several countries, a merger she says created over $50 million dollars in synergies. Based on retention and satisfaction, she adds, the merger has stood the test of time. However, it was an initiative that tested every skill in her toolbox.

“I had to connect with a group who, at least on the surface, were as different from me as possible. More importantly, to succeed, I had to align our interests (including polarizing interests within the client’s teams). The circumstances were not in my favor: the client team was under a lot of stress due to the uncertainty of the merger, I was working in a nation foreign to me, and with a group of 40-year-old Middle Eastern men…as a 21-year-old woman.”


And a woman who has already visited 80 countries too. That’s just one fun fact about the Class of 2021. Alokik Bhasin can’t smell, something he considers a “superpower.” At Howard University’s commencement ceremony, for example, Wes Adams was the opening speaker…for Sean “Diddy” Combs. Speaking of celebrity brushes, Morgan Wiley once cooked for Emma Watson.

“I was more nervous that night than I was for any job or school interview,” she jokes.

Stanford Graduate School of Business MBAs

A semester into the program, how would the Class of 2021 describe their peers? Despite their accolades, Joshua Yang found his classmates to be humble and self-assured. “Until coming to the GSB, I had never been in an environment with such a high density of accomplished and successful people,” he writes. “Unless you looked at everyone’s resume or LinkedIn profiles, you would never know it.”

The culture – which prizes openness and vulnerability – also gives students a comfort level with thinking and being different…and appreciating others for doing the same. Inclusive, yes – but even more curious, says Nadine ElAshkar. “They invest time and energy in getting to know their classmates on a personal level, before a professional level. They are curious to get one’s perspective on past, current, and future events: historic, economic, or social. People are constantly bouncing ideas off of each other: ideas that would change lives, organizations and the world. I remember on our GST (Global Study Trip), the tour guy told me, “How come you guys are always chatting about something important?”


That’s not to say the Class of 2020 didn’t experience some surprises during the first semester. Although the program is built on students answering questions about themselves, some still assume GSB MBAs have it all figured out. Reality is, says Joshua Yang, no one really has it figured out yet.

“I expected more people to know exactly what they planned to do after business school and use their time at the GSB strategically to help them reach those specific goals,” he admits. “In reality, the vast majority of my classmates, including myself, are still finding ourselves, discovering who we are and will be not only professionally but personally. For both, the resource leveraged most effectively has been neither the coursework nor the career services, but each other. It is through chats over coffee, impromptu dinners, and walks around campus with my fellow classmates that I have found the greatest learning opportunities.”

The GSB motto is “Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.” Quite ambitious in scale, no doubt – but that’s what draws top talent to the school. What students don’t expect, observes Olivia Sayvetz, is how many people outside the GSB bubble buy into the school’s promise as well.

Stanford GSB is one of two top-25 schools with the most women in its full-time MBA program. Stanford, and Wharton, report 47% women this year. Tricia Seibold/Stanford


“I have been stunned by what “” can do, and how willing and excited so many people are to spend a few minutes of their time talking about anything under the sun. Whether it be professors, local VCs, founders, or institutional CEOs, the university is a golden ticket into most conversations. What strikes me is that this privilege only exists because of the consistent and repeated caliber of the person that one encounters when they engage with the GSB. I must also mention the access that the university provides just by the guest speakers and practitioners that they attract. In the last few months, I’ve heard from executives at Microsoft, Netflix, AB InBev, numerous PE firms and VCs, and entrepreneurs. If education-by-osmosis is real, GSB is the jackpot.”

Of course, cultural wrinkles weren’t the only eye-openers at the GSB last year for the Class of 2021. Joshua Adeoye was stunned by how cold Palo Alto can get. “I came here thinking I would be wearing swimsuits all year,” he writes. And then there is the matter of the local wildlife…

“The black squirrels,” adds Nadine ElAshkar. “[They] are conquering the campus.”


By the numbers, applications fell by 5.9% during the 2018-2019 applications cycle. Despite the decrease, the Class of 2021 closely resembled past classes, with average GMAT holding steady at 734 and average GPA slipping slightly from 3.73 to 3.70. By the same token, the school’s acceptance rate inched up from 6.1% to 6.9%. Among students taking the GRE, the class averaged a 165 in both the verbal and quantitative sections.

The most telling stat: 83% of students who receive an acceptance letter from Stanford GSB ultimately enroll there.

Another number that stands out, however, is the percentage of women. This year, 47% of the class are women. That’s a five-point improvement over the previous year (and a nine-point jump over the past decade). The percentage of international students also climbed a point to 43%, with the class hailing from 66 countries. The percentage of minority students remained the same at 27%.

Academically, the class comes from 160 American and international educational institutions. 50% of the class majored in Humanities and Social Sciences, with STEM (33%) and Business (17%) majors rounding out the rest of the student body. Experience-wise, the Class of 2021 had worked in nearly 300 companies, with the largest segments employed in Consulting (20%), Investment Management, Private Equity, and Venture Capital (19%), Technology (14%), and Government, Education, and Nonprofit (10%).


For many, Stanford GSB is the top MBA program in the world. It is hard to argue with the annual rankings, as the GSB holds the top spot with U.S. News, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Financial Times, and Poets&Quants (and #2 with Forbes). At $168,226 in starting pay, GSB grads earned the second-highest pay packages in 2019. Better yet, these same grads can expect, at minimum, a $164,000 boost in pay over the next five years according to Forbes.

That return on investment isn’t just reflected in dollars. In Bloomberg Businessweek’s survey of corporate recruiters, Stanford GSB ranked as the top program in Brand Value, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Training. Among alumni surveyed by Bloomberg Businessweek, the school earned the highest marks in the world for Career Development, Prestige, Innovation and Creativity, and Entrepreneurship. Academics have been equally impressed. In a U.S. News survey of business school deans and MBA directors, the school ranked among the Top 4 in Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Management, Production and Operations, and Project Management (and 6th in Information Systems, Analytics, and Finance).

Not surprisingly, Stanford GSB has produced a deep host of leaders from every imaginable industry, including General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Capital One Founder Richard Fairbank, Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard, Authors Seth Godin and Jim Collins, and Presidential Candidate Tom Steyer. Over their careers, GSB alumni have grown organizations like Nike, Lazard, General Mills, Time Warner, Anheuser Busch InBev, Kimberly-Clark, Cummins, and Warner Brothers.

Go to Page 3 for a dozen in-depth profiles of the Class of 2021.

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