2021 wasn’t just another year. It wasn’t just another class of amazing MBAs at business schools around the world — talented students in school and confident and ambitious MBAs newly graduated. No, 2021 was the year of challenges and character, with the unrelenting difficulty of the first revealing the quality of the second. For so many of the people we write about at Poets&Quants, that quality is impressively high.
From Stanford’s “Trash Queen” to a former Miss India World … from a veteran working to help the country where he served, to a Paralympian whose dreams were put on hold by the worldwide pandemic … from working moms to ambitious entrepreneurs — 2021 had it all. We tried to choose 12 stories that captured the diversity of global graduate business education; for every one of these stories, we could have chosen five others based on our coverage during a tumultuous 2021.
It’s the most rarefied air in the MBA universe: admission to Harvard Business School, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford Graduate School of Business. In July, Poets&Quants profiled one of an unknown number of applicants who managed the feat.
We don’t know how many achieve the H/S/W triple crown each year, because the schools don’t communicate with each other about admissions overlap, and they don’t report individual names of admits, leaving any publicity to the admits themselves. But the fact is that it can’t be very many. Wharton’s acceptance rate for the Class of 2022 was a miserly 23%. Harvard’s was even lower: 9.2%, down from recent intakes. And despite opening its doors just a bit wider, Stanford last year continued its streak of being the hardest B-school in the world to get into, with an estimated admit rate of just 8.9%.
Ipshita Agarwal doesn’t have to imagine how hard it is to gain admission to even one of these programs, let alone all three. She managed the feat, joining the highly select club last year before deciding to defer for a year because of coronavirus. This fall Ipshita, a former investment analyst who currently works for a San Francisco-based credit reporting startup, will join Stanford’s Class of 2023.
In September, P&Q published a profile of Vanya Mishra as part of our annual Meet the Class series, and readers responded to the former Miss India World by reading and sharing the story tens of thousands of times over. So we asked Vanya, an MBA student at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, to write something about herself for our readers — who obviously wanted more, because they loved her October essay:
Ask a 22 year-old me this question: What do you want to do?
My response: “Change the world by building something that impacts millions of lives’’.
Ask a 12 year old me the same question…
“Change the world when I grow up after I win Miss World.”
Sometimes change is the only hope we carry. I spent my childhood in the town of Chandigarh, raised in a single parent household as an only girl child. Growing up, I saw my mother wading through many social and financial limitations, giving up on her dreams in the process. Still, she always encouraged me to fight for mine. As a testament to her sacrifices, I yearned to break the shackles, succeed, and make a difference in life, always carrying this unflinching desire to change things. I hoped to change my life and the circumstances of those around me. Why? Maybe it is because I related to adversity a little more than my peers. Responsibility and struggle came early in my life. Somewhere while growing up, I just recall being insanely passionate about my dreams – one of those being winning the pageant. In retrospect, most of my goals revolved around doing extraordinary things that impact people’s lives.
The driving force in Anchor Ebanks’ life is empowering others. Helping people realize their full potential. Helping them achieve their dreams.
A graduate of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas and a native Texas son, Ebanks himself has overcome so much that his story could be a book — and maybe some day it will be. But even when he talks about his plans, including his start at Harvard Business School in fall 2022, he couches them in terms of how he can help improve the lives of others, in the workplace and in society.
It’s one of many reasons one admission counselor has called Ebanks “a real superstar.” And it makes it easy to see why not only HBS but Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania — the three schools he applied to — opened their doors to him.
See the next pages for more stories about P&Q’s Favorite MBAs …