Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Arie Kouandjio, Wharton School

Arie Kouandjio

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

“I direct my life by attempting to find the fun in everything I do.”

Hometown: Beltsville, MD

Fun Fact About Yourself: I make a mean beef pastrami.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Alabama, Finance-undergrad, Economics-master.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: NGP Capital, Summer Analyst.

What word best describes the Wharton MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Creators – the students I’ve met have great ideas and immediately act on them.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the Wharton School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Aside from my classmates, I chose Wharton because of its tradition. Wharton was the first business school in the world and has maintained a standard of excellence since.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at the Wharton School? I’m excited about the possibility of taking a class taught by Adam Grant. I read his book, Give and Take, about 4 years ago and it has advised how I view both professional and personal relationships since.

When you think of the Wharton School, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Tradition, because of Wharton’s history of being the first and the best. I feel humbled when thinking of the individuals who have walked through the same halls in the past.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Fulfilling a lifelong goal of making it to and playing in the NFL.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? They say life is short and you never know how much time you’ll get on this planet. COVID highlighted this thought in a dramatic way and has forced me to slow down and reexamine my priorities in life.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? After 5 years in the NFL, I wanted to polish what I learned in undergrad and take my learnings to the next level. I felt the best way to do this was through pursuing an MBA. Post-graduation, I hope to expand the space-based startup I’m currently working on.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford GSB, Booth, Sloan.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Wharton School’s MBA program? Finish. There may be times when you doubt your ability to get into Wharton. In those times, finish your applications the best you can and let the chips fall where they may.