A WHARTON AND HARVARD MBA IN THE SAME FAMILY?
Like many Whartonites, Troye Bullock Jr. chose the road not taken after graduation. Rather than pursuing a lucrative business career, he started GOODProjects and GOODPartners, social impact ventures based in his hometown, Washington, DC.
“Over the years, we were able to impact over 3,000 families in the communities whom I grown up in in many different ways. My favorite part was creating a mentorship program for youth in the juvenile justice system, many of whom were young men involved in gang violence. Being able to help them finish school, find jobs, and attend college was special, as many of their peers who were not involved ended up incarcerated for long periods of time (or dead). It felt good to see how their participation essentially could have saved their lives.”
When Bullock isn’t busy giving back, he is pursuing his love of music. During the pandemic, he started a record label and released 20 songs. Rehan Ayrton has ridden ostriches in South Africa, while Sukrit Chadha has rafted down the Nile and climbed volcanos in Rwanda. And do you get a sense that there might be a sibling rivalry surfacing in Natasha Ramanujam’s family?
“I have a twin sister! She’ll be at Harvard Business School this fall,” Ramanujam jokes.
CLASS OF 2023 PROFILE
But Ramanujam may have bragging rights, just by looking at the Class of 2023 profile. In every measureable, the arrow pointed up for the Wharton School. You can start with the big news: gender parity. This year, women account for a 52% share of the class. That represents an 11% increase over the previous year, with the Class of 2021’s 46% share being the high water mark over the past decade. At the same time, Wharton is the highest-ranked MBA program to achieve this result, with Northwestern Kellogg and Dartmouth Tuck both hitting the 49% mark in the past two years.
“As we do every year, we made a conscious effort to ensure female applicants felt wanted and welcomed at Wharton, and showed them the many resources and communities in our program where they can connect, collaborate and feel supported,” said Maryellen Reilly, deputy vice dean of the Wharton MBA program, in a statement. “Diversity, equity and inclusion are central to our efforts, and while we are extremely proud to welcome this record number of women to our MBA community this year, we do hope that equitable gender representation soon becomes the norm among business schools, rather than the exception.”
In addition, 36% of the class hails from outside the United States, nearly double last year’s total (and the school’s highest mark since 37% with the Class of 2014). Overall, the class includes students from 83 countries. Another 15% of the class is African American or Hispanic, with LGBTQ+ students making up another 7%.
In sum, the Wharton School received 7,338 applications for a spot in the Class of 2023, ultimately enrolling 897 students. The former represented a 2.5% increase over the previous class (and a 21% jump over the Class of 2021). The higher percentage of women and international students also helped drive a rise in GMAT scores. This year’s class averaged a 733 GMAT, up 11 points over the previous class. Along the same lines, the class posted a stellar 740 median, with GRE Verbal and Quant both coming in at 162. The average undergraduate GPA is 3.6.
True to Wharton’s interdisciplinary mission, the Class of 2023 includes 181 students pursuing dual degrees. They are headlined by 80 MBAs enrolled in the Lauder MBA-MA in International Studies and 71 students who are part of the joint degree in Health Care Management. As undergrads, 39% of the class majored in Humanities-related field. Another 33% earned degrees in STEM-related fields, with the remainder studying Business. Professionally, 23% of the class last worked in Consulting. Financial Services and Private Equity/Venture Capital each hold a 14% share, with Technology and Nonprofit/Government tying at 10% a piece. The remainder of the class includes segments who held positions in Health Care, Energy, Investment Banking, Consumer Products, Media and Entertainment, Retail, and Investment Management.
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT
“A finance school.” “A CFO factory.” “Wall Street Prep.”
Those tags have all slapped on Wharton. Even in popular culture, from Trading Places to Two Broke Girls to Billions, the brainy bean counter often possesses a Wharton pedigree. Make no mistake: This “hyper-quant” reputation can be a sore spot for Wharton MBA alums.
“I would say the biggest myth is that Wharton is just a finance school,” writes Ayanna Kennedy, a 2021 grad and P&Q Best & Brightest MBA. “I have met people from different walks of life who plan to transition into many different arenas besides finance. There are entrepreneurs starting up their ventures, marketing gurus, and people who are just trying to save the world one nonprofit at a time. And of course, people do come to Wharton with Finance backgrounds to continue in that space and that’s great too! But everyone has a different story and no one person’s journey is alike, which I love. Wharton is truly a diverse place and my classmates are proof of that.”
A WELL-ROUNDED PROGRAM
That’s not to say Wharton Finance isn’t top notch. It consistently ranks as the top MBA finance program in U.S. News’ annual survey of business school deans and MBA directors. In the same survey, respondents ranked Wharton #1 for Real Estate, #2 for Marketing, #3 for Accounting and Business Analytics, and #4 for Management. At the same time, it finished among the ten-best for Entrepreneurship, International Business, Information Systems, and Operations. In other words, MBAs will find elite faculty and resources in nearly every imaginable discipline.
A well-rounded program produces versatile talent. That’s one reason why Wharton is popular with employers. Notably, 99% of spring graduates had received an offer within three months of leaving Wharton. Median base also rose $5K to $155,000. Call it a Wharton tradition, as total median pay (base and bonus) has climbed from $115,900 to $174,300 in the past 20 years. That said, finance-related hiring made up the largest share of employment for the Class of 2021 at 35.1%. Still, you’ll find heavy demand for Wharton talent in consulting (27.2%) and Technology (18.2%) too. In fact, you won’t find finance among Wharton’s top employers. Last year, nearly 20% of Wharton hires were concentrated in six companies: McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Gain, Amazon, Deloitte, and Google. Translation: Wharton’s size creates large alumni networks in a range of industries and companies.
That includes entrepreneurship, an area where Wharton is increasingly carving out an impressive niche. Already the alma mater for the founders of Warby Parker, Harry’s, NeuroFlow, and Burrow, the Wharton ecosystem has produced 60 unicorn executives. In addition, the school will soon be opening Tangen Hall, a seven story and 68,000 square foot building that will house its Venture Lab, test kitchens, and even a pop-up retail space for students to test concepts with real customers. That doesn’t count its San Francisco campus, which offers a semester where MBAs can take startup-themed coursework or enjoy internships and networks with Bay Area startups and tech players.
Manuel J Godoy, a 2021 MBA grad, co-founded his cross-border payment platform, Félix, as a Wharton student. He credits his success to the feedback he received from the program’s gifted faculty and classmates. More than that, he appreciated the variety of support he enjoyed through the Venture Lab.
“The program gave us access to a community of like-minded students and allowed us to participate inside the VIP-X accelerator. Additionally, Venture Lab organized the Startup Challenge where we won the Most Innovative Startup and Wharton AI for Business providing us with grants that enabled us to continue building our product. We also participated and won other entrepreneurship competitions in the school like The MBA Fund and Dorm Room Fund which have been amazing in this journey.”
The best part of Godoy’s Wharton experience?
“Everyone at Wharton was rooting for us!”
AN INTERVIEW WITH BLAIR MANNIX AND DR. HOWARD KAUFOLD
Of course, Wharton boasts other perks, including a grade non-disclosure policy and Fridays off. What are some other differentiators at Wharton? What can MBAs expect in the coming year at the school? Recently, P&Q reached out to Wharton to answer these questions (and others). Here are the thoughts on the state of the school from Blair Mannix, Director of MBA Admissions, and Dr. Howard Kaufold, Vice Dean of the Wharton MBA Program.
P&Q: What are the two most exciting developments at your program and how will they enrich the MBA experience for current and future MBAs?
Kaufold: “First, the Wharton MBA Program is committed to building an inclusive and dynamic academic community that aligns with our values and strengthens a student’s experience. When students join our program, they become peers with classmates that together constitute what will probably be the most diverse group our students will ever be part of. This is quite intentional on our part. Wharton MBA students each bring a unique set of experiences and perspectives that collectively make Wharton a vibrant learning environment. We also strive to create a community where each student can be their true selves and support others to do the same through open and respectful dialogue. Opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom foster engagement and growth to help students become leaders who can manage across difference and create inclusive communities both while in the program and as alumni.
Second, we want to make sure that each of our MBA students gets the best possible experience during their two years at Wharton – and beyond. There are more opportunities at Wharton than a student can possibly take advantage of: courses, career tracks, leadership development options, and clubs. The MBA Program staff personalize each student’s approach to choices they need to make, ensuring they have access to complete information about the available options and receive the support to find the pathway that best fits their individual goals. Current initiatives to provide personalized data-driven content include assessment and individual development plans via People Lab; connecting academics, careers, leadership, and student life by providing each student with a team of advisors from each of these areas; and the ability to explore career paths with our online careers platform, My Action Plan (MAP).”
P&Q: What is your biggest differentiating feature of your MBA program? How does it enrich the learning of your MBA students?
Mannix: “Our flexible curriculum is a big differentiator for Wharton. We provide students the ability to choose their own academic path so they can tailor their curriculum to their specific career goals and intellectual interests. Students can spread out their flexible core courses over two years, allowing them to take electives earlier in the MBA experience. We recognize that MBA students already have a well-developed sense of what it is they want from the MBA experience, so our curriculum accommodates personal background, interests, and goals.”
P&Q: In recent years, there have been several areas that have gained increased prominence in business school programming, including STEM, analytics, artificial intelligence and digital disruption. How does your full-time MBA program integrate these concepts across its curriculum?
Mannix: “With one third of our current MBA class coming from a STEM undergrad background, it only makes sense for our program to offer STEM MBA majors. Six of our majors are designated as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors, which help students excel in high-demand roles that require both business and technical acumen.
When it comes to analytics and digital disruption, Wharton is home to several research centers, including Wharton People Analytics, The Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance, and The Harris Family Alternative Investments Program. MBA faculty, in collaboration with these research centers, work with students and companies to pursue innovative research, gain expertise in state-of-the-art technology, and share key insights with companies that emphasize actionable next steps.”
P&Q: What have you learned during the pandemic and the shift to hybrid or remote learning and how will they impact the MBA experience going forward?
Kaufold: “In many ways the global pandemic was an accelerant for reimagining what the Wharton MBA experience can be. Wharton faculty, staff, and students navigated and led best practices in building relationships, networks, and community in a virtual setting. We still feel strongly that being in-person is optimal, but COVID-19 pushed innovation in creating new modes of interactive learning using technologies that enhance virtual delivery. The Wharton MBA community will continue to define and implement disruptive changes to build lifelong management training to support career skill building and post-graduation reflection.”
Next Page: Profiles of 12 members of the Class of 2023.