2020 MBAs To Watch: Tim Brown, Stanford GSB

Tim Brown

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Husband, son, brother, uncle, and dogdad trying to follow his curiosity wherever it takes him.”

Hometown: Piedmont, CA

Fun fact about yourself: In addition to our two dogs, my wife and I have fostered more than a dozen dogs and cats over the last few years.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Dartmouth College (BA in Economics and Government)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Analyst at Slate Path Capital (New York)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? I worked on the strategy team at Aurora Innovation, a self-driving startup, in Palo Alto, CA.

Where will you be working after graduation? Along with a few partners, I am helping to start a hybrid public/private investment firm called XN.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-president of Stanford’s Future of Mobility Club
  • Teaching assistant for Professor Amit Seru
  • Siebel Scholar

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’ve loved my experience as co-president of GSB’s Future of Mobility Club. Launched last year, the club engages with entrepreneurs, executives, and investors who are transforming the transportation and mobility ecosystems. It has been fascinating and inspiring to learn about the cutting edge in mobility innovation – everything from self-driving cars to scooters to eVTOLs (aka flying cars) – directly from the industry leaders driving these changes.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I have immense gratitude for the wonderful people I’ve encountered at every stop of my career. My first co-workers became two of my closest friends and groomsmen in my wedding. And many of my other colleagues – young and old – remain friends, mentors, and role models for me. Taking a step away has helped me understand how lucky I am to have worked with such talented, caring, and high-integrity people.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Keith Hennessey. I took two of Keith’s classes last year – Open Road and Freedom, Democracy, and Capitalism – and both made a major impact on me. Open Road catalyzed my interest in driverless cars and motivated me to spend my summer at Aurora, a driverless car startup. Freedom, Democracy, and Capitalism gave me space to reflect on topics much bigger than any individual career – namely the critical importance and evolving nature of our foundational institutions and principles. Most importantly, Keith is an expert in his field and cares deeply for his students. Few can match his enthusiasm, commitment, and true “love of the game”.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Touchy-Feely – a class on interpersonal development and leadership – is a decades-old Stanford tradition. Almost every student takes it and almost every student comes out with a better and more subtle understanding of their capabilities as a leader. This class alone makes Stanford a remarkable experience.

Why did you choose this business school? I try to follow a simple rule for picking schools: go where the alumni are most passionate. Stanford clearly fit that bill – all the alumni I knew raved about the “best two years of their life” and the transformative impact GSB had on their professional and personal lives.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Stanford screens for self-aware applicants with clarity of purpose about what they want out of business school. Take serious time to reflect on your experiences, worldview, and driving ambitions – this will be critical to crafting an authentic and insightful application. It will also serve you well outside the application process.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Most of the myths about Stanford are positive and true! The culture is one that teaches, rewards, and reinforces kindness, introspection, and active self-improvement.

Coming in, I had a misconception that business school would be “relaxed” compared to the working world. To the contrary, I’ve never been more stimulated. Stanford is a playground for the curious – there is an almost unlimited supply of fascinating speakers, classes, and classmates. Learning to prioritize has been a steep learning curve.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? There are so many wonderful and interesting people at GSB. If I could slow things down, I’d love to spend even more time getting to know each of them. Alas, two years go by very quickly.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Tyler Maloney. Tyler came to GSB with a very different background than I have – he’s a materials engineer by training. Before Stanford founded Undercover Colors, a startup that developed a novel product for date rape detection. I’ve had the chance to work with Tyler on a few start-up ideas, including a chemical air filtration company and a sports media business. Seeing Tyler in action has been an awesome front-row education to the entrepreneurial process – and a ton of fun along the way. To me, my relationship with Tyler typifies my Stanford experience: learning from and forming deep bonds with exceptional classmates with very different but also highly complementary experiences, skills, and perspectives.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mom was the biggest influence on my decision to attend business school. Her enthusiasm for learning and education is infectious and has inspired me throughout my life. She was almost more excited about my opportunity to go to Stanford than I was!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I’d love to write a book. In many ways, writing a book is like the entrepreneurial journey – it requires a unique insight, deep commitment to a project, and a lot of resilience along the way. I’ve watched two of my closest friends and GSB classmates, Mike Lewis and Mike O’Leary, publish amazing books. I seriously admire them and hope to follow in their footsteps.

I’d also love to teach. To me, nothing is as gratifying as helping someone solve a hard problem or understand a new idea. I’ve been the beneficiary of many extraordinary teachers and would love to pay it forward.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a classmate that tried – and hopefully helped – to bring out the best in others. And had the best handlebar mustache for our annual Vegas trip!

Hobbies? Meditation, fostering animals, and rooting for Bay Area sports teams through thick and thin.

What made Tim such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“When I saw that Tim Brown was selected as one of the GSB’s five Siebel Scholars, I chuckled and said to myself “Of course he was.” Tim was a standout student in both my course “The Open Road: Innovation in Cars, Driving, and Mobility,” and my course “Freedom, Democracy, and Capitalism.” Tim is one of a very few students who add tremendous value every time they participate in a class discussion. He has earned the well-deserved respect of his peers, and mine as well, not just for his intellect, but also for his constructive, positive, strong tone and style. Tim is, quite simply, a stellar student, and I am fortunate to have had in my classroom.”

Keith Hennessey


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