Meet MIT Sloan’s MBA Class Of 2022

Students meeting inside MIT Sloan School of Management

PURSUING BUSINESS AS AN ALTERNATIVE WAY TO PUSH CHANGE

That’s really not Foreman’s claim to fame. What is?  “I once made a 13.1-mile error on what I thought was a half marathon registration and accidentally ran my first – maybe last – full 26.2.”

That’s not the only happy accident from the Class of 2022. Exhibit A: Sarah Black. Her bright idea in college was to work to “change the oil and gas industry from within.” The result?  She accidentally spent two years working on an oil rig (where she was often the only woman).

Two years ago, Diane Martin backpacked the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada. During the journey, she had plenty of time to reflect on her passions. Heading up content development for a DC-based strategy outfit, Martin’s work had helped hundreds of millions of dollars to fight gun violence, spur equity, and elect the first Latina to the U.S. Senate. As politics have produced gridlock, she decided to take a different tact to creating results. For her, that process begins with business school.

“I’ve felt those limitations as I’ve watched corporations increasingly take on the role of change-makers in our society. Retailers, like Patagonia and Nike, are leveraging their vast resources and marketing platforms to raise public consciousness on issues like climate change and diversity in sport. They are pushing progress far more effectively than our elected officials. I am determined to be on the leading edge of that change, and with an MBA from Sloan, I will have the tools and experience to access business channels that have potential for broader impact, by orders of magnitude.”

That same sense of malaise also pushed Luis Guillermo Vernet to leave a high-paying banking role and move to Cambridge and pursue his MBA. “After six years at J.P. Morgan, I finally started to feel comfortable: every year I was making a little more money, working a little less and eventually starting to feel the learning curve plateauing. I began to crave change and became obsessed with the idea of joining a community with the same interest in learning.”

SLOANIES HELPING SLOANIES

And Vernet hasn’t been disappointed since joining the MBA Class of 2022. “Sloan is known to attract humble, curious and incredibly intelligent individuals from all over the world, but the quality that has most surprised me about the classmates I’ve met is their genuine passion: Passion for learning, passion for building deep relationships and passion for achieving their dreams.”

MIT Sloan Classroom (Pre-COVID)

This passion is also steered to helping classmates get theirs. That’s the motivation behind “Sloanies helping Sloanies” – an impulse and expectation to help ease the path and enrich the experience of their fellow classmates. Jerry Hong witnessed this philosophy in action when COVID-19 created uncertainties in travel and visas.

“I saw a camaraderie and team spirit particularly within the international Sloanie community in the Class of 2022, and I was truly encouraged by the sheer number of people who were willing to go above and beyond to help other Sloanies who need help. This was certainly something special for a group of people who live in multiple time zones and have never met each other in real life, and it has galvanized me to do more to contribute as part of this community.”

The one quality that unites Sloanies, however, is that they are all doers. They are students with plans to foster change – and support classmates looking to do the same. “While engaging with the Sloan community, I have met people with backgrounds in non-profit, sports and politics,” writes Valerie Kutsch. “Despite the diverse experiences, everyone is curious about the world around them. I am excited to be surrounded by people who want to learn more, and see how they can play an active role to make a positive change. I would also say my classmates are all humble overachievers. It’s not until deep into a conversation you learn about the incredible things people have accomplished!”

APPLICATIONS AND CLASS SIZE WAY UP

There is a joke that the best time to launch a successful business is during a recession. After all, American recessions have yielded juggernauts like General Electric, Disney, Microsoft, Uber, and Airbnb. Another corollary is that the best time to head to business school is during a recession. MBAs escape the bloodshed – and gain insights on pros-and-cons and do’s-and-don’ts from the comfort of a lecture hall.

Well, the Class of 2022 at MIT Sloan is certainly taking full advantage of a contingency within a contraction. During the 2019-2020 cycle, MIT Sloan received 6,350 applications – up 1,090 from the previous year. This 22% increase ranked second only to Northwestern Kellogg among the M7. Better still, MIT Sloan boosted enrollment from 416 to 484 students, a 16% uptick. The downside? MIT Sloan was a bit less selective in 2020, with acceptance rate climbing from 14.6% to 22%. Compared to two years ago, this number also represents a 10% increase.

Boosting enrollment also produced a trickle-down effect. Median GMAT, for one, slipped from 730 to 725 (with median undergrad GPA inching down .04 of a point to 3.54). The percentage of women also dipped from 41% to 38%. COVID also wreaked havoc on the international student population. It tumbled nine points to 33%.

Beyond that, the 2022 profile remained eerily similar to previous classes. Academically, a third of the class holds undergraduate degrees in Engineering – no different than the Class of 2021. Economics and Business majors hold 19% and 16% of the class seats – each down two points. Math and Science (10%), Social Science (8%), Humanities (4%), Computer Science (2%), and Law (1%) round out the rest of the class. None of these percentage deviated by more than one point from the previous year.

In terms of profession experience, Consulting again leads the pack at 26% — down four points from the last incoming class. Financial Services (17%) held steady, while Technology (15%) fell three points. Government, Education, and Nonprofit (13%) and Healthcare (9%) maintained their spots, followed by Energy (5%), Manufacturing (4%), Consumer Products (4%), and Automotive and Defense (4%).

MIT’s Sloan School of Management in Cambridge (Photo by John A. Byrne)

ACTION-BASED LEARNING

One number that sticks out? Just 45% of the class holds STEM degrees – a number that dispels the myth that MIT Sloan is all about math and engineering. “MIT is much more than that, though most classes are data-oriented., concedes Alfonso Martinez, a 2020 grad. “MIT is an engineering school and it applies an engineering-like approach to many fields. I’ve been particularly impressed with the quality courses taught in communications and leadership. A course called Leading Creative Teams focuses on optimizing your leadership style. However, it comes with a quantitative aspect to it, basing the class on research and quantitative tests. Obviously, there are plenty of strong data analytics causes, but there are also strong finance courses, an entrepreneurship curriculum, solid macro and micro-economics courses, and even marketing courses that are unique to Sloan like Pricing.”

More than quantitative science, experiential learning is the real bedrock of the MIT Sloan experience. This takes one form in the required Action Learning Labs in the spring. Here, students can take deep dives into project-based programming centered around disciplines (Analytics, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Healthcare, Operations, Project Management, Sustainability) or locations (China, India, Israel). Overall, MIT Sloan offers 14 labs to students, enabling them to apply the lessons of first semester core to real companies. These may range from breaking down supplier and production bottlenecks at SpaceX to helping an African private equity firm break into the nation’s vocational education market.

For Alfonso Martinez, the Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab) acted as a defining experience in the Sloan MBA. “This course pairs MBA students with startups in emerging markets to work together and spend 3 weeks onsite at the startup’s location. My team and I were paired with an e-logistics startup based in Nairobi, Kenya. I was fortunate to have an incredible team of culturally curious, hard-working colleagues who taught me about logistics, data analytics, and people management. G-Lab resulted in one of the highlights of my experience at Sloan, opening my eyes to the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Africa and establishing new close relationships that will endure.”

The Action Labs only hint at the program’s versatility. In a 2020 survey of business school deans and MBA directors by U.S. News, MIT Sloan ranked among the 10-best programs in seven concentrations, including #1 in Production and Operations, Information Systems, Business Analytics, and Project Management (and Top 5 in Supply Chains, Finance, and Entrepreneurship). Sloan graduates also produced the second-highest scores from MBA recruiters according to a different 2020 survey by U.S. News. At the same time, MIT Sloan faculty scores ranked among the best in a 2019 Economist survey of students and alumni, with several MIT Sloan professors being listed among the most influential leaders in business.

AN INTERVIEW WITH MAURA HERSON

Disruptions often spark innovation. That’s true with business schools in a time of pandemic. What are some of the latest developments happening at MIT Sloan? P&Q recently reached out to Maura Herson, assistant dean for the MBA and MSMS program. Here were her thoughts on the state of the Sloan MBA.

Maura Herson

P&Q: What are the most exciting new developments at your program?

MH: “In early 2020, on the recommendation of a faculty, alumni, staff and student task force, MIT Sloan appointed Professor Ray Reagans as Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and expanded the appointment of Professor Fiona Murray as Associate Dean for Innovation and Inclusion. When the death of George Floyd sparked a national reckoning about systemic racism, these leaders stepped up with a mandate to ensure that MIT Sloan is diverse and inclusive, acknowledges the continued presence of systemic racism, and energetically opposes it. Incoming MBA students will see this commitment beginning in orientation and revisited in every core class with material and conversations consistent with the various disciplines.”

P&Q: What is the two most unique or differentiating features of your full-time program? How do they enrich the MBA experience? (Describe in detail)

MH: “Action Learning is a pedagogy MIT Sloan uses across 20+ classes that engages students in addressing critical issues for a variety of local and global companies and organizations. Each class takes a particular focus, for example analytics, entrepreneurship, operations, or sustainability. Student teams work directly with senior leaders, and as they work on their project have the unique opportunity to observe leaders, organizations, industries and economies.

MIT has continued to focus on building analytical competency in our MBAs. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are woven into the core semester and then students have a rich set of electives that allow them to build up their skill and comfort level with analytics and the technologies that enable them.   Interested students can opt for advanced training and earn a certificate in Business Analytics.”

P&Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your business school?

MH: “COVID-19 has required MIT Sloan’s faculty, staff and students to re-imagine the traditional MBA. In the spring, there were some wonderful (and terrible) organic experiments at all levels as we moved on-line during the full quarantine in Boston.  Now, as we look forward to the fall term, we are taking a more systemic approach, understanding the building blocks of the MBA program, both in and outside of the classroom. Practically, it has meant spreading our classes Monday – Saturday from 8 am to 9:30 pm to allow all of our students who want the opportunity to be physically on campus. The personal struggles of students, staff and faculty as a result of a pandemic have also brought our community closer together even as we are more geographically separated.”

P&Q: How does Sloan tap into the larger MIT academic resources and Boston startup ecosystem?

MH: “Sloan is MIT’s school of management and we are integrated into the larger Institute. The Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship is located in a MIT Sloan building and brings innovative undergrads, PhDs and everyone in between into regular contact with Sloan students. MIT and MIT Sloan are central to the innovation found in Kendall Square, which is undergoing a renaissance itself as new buildings and walkways open to create seamless transitions between classrooms, labs commercial and living spaces.”

* To access a dozen in-depth profiles of the Class of 2022, go to Page 3. 

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