100 Best & Brightest MBAs: Class of 2022

Ardelia Djati Safira, National University of Singapore

In the aftermath of COVID, where the MBA experience was upended by keeping distance and moving online, sometimes restoring can be just as valuable as creating. “Being on the Darden Student Association during a rebuilding year has been a true honor,” notes Isabel Fortuño Seitzer. “Coming out of a hybrid school year and having to recreate traditions without having ever attended the events has been a challenge, but one that has yielded great results. I have greatly enjoyed working with this team and having the opportunity to shape the Darden culture.”


Along the way, the Class of 2022 also made history. At the National University of Singapore, Ardelia Djati Safira became the first woman — and first Indonesian — elected to be president of the student council.  Along the same lines, Francesca Sally became the first Black President at Georgia Tech’s full-time MBA program. “I felt honored that my classmates believed in my ability to represent the program and effectively lead the student body moving forward. It felt encouraging that Scheller is not only talking about making systemic changes but is building an environment where people of all backgrounds not only feel comfortable in this space but feel comfortable stepping-up to lead it.”

Richard Williamson, Georgetown University (McDonough)

Those weren’t the only achievements racked up by this year’s Best & Brightest since they returned to campus. Rotman’s Peter Zhang had a paper accepted by the British Medical Journal Global Health. At INSEAD, Priya Mangat created WalkSead, an online group where students “buddy up” for personal safety on campus. In one MIT Sloan class, Kenny Groszman was part of a team that helped a non-profit produce an algorithm that enabled its volunteers to deliver over 100,000 meals last year. In this same spirit of service, Richard Williamson helped over two dozen former convicts earn a Certificate of Business through Georgetown University’s Pivot program.

“One example from this experience is the opportunity that I had to engage with corporate sponsors who were actively looking to recruit people of this demographic,” Williamson writes. “We conducted numerous conversations regarding the capabilities of the organizations to hire our Pivot Fellows for a variety of roles. As a result, we were able to secure both internships and full-time offers at Deloitte, Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and many others.”

Before starting her MBA at Stanford, Suhani Jalota launched the Myna Mahila Foundation, a nonprofit that provides health services and employment opportunities to women across the world. By 2025, the organization hopes to reach 2 million women for services like feminine hygiene products. For her efforts, Jalota and her team became finalists for Cisco’s Global Citizen Prize, which honors individuals whose efforts have made an impact against extreme poverty.

“We received more than 100k votes for it from India and all over the world! Our team was working so hard – we had even made it to Twitter’s top hashtag in India for seven hours with our momentum. We had people who had never heard of our work before reach out to me in support along with their own communities. It was like a domino effect with so many networks coming together to make us realize how loved and supported we were in our mission. The outcome almost didn’t matter, since we’d won the process as is.”


Maram Albutairi, ESADE

This year’s Best & Brightest also features graduates with big personalities, great stories, and major achievements. You’ll find all three with ESADE’s Maram Albutairi. A single mom, Albutari is a corporate finance executive with Saudi Aramco, where she once closed a $2 billion dollar deal. However, her passion is football — so much so that she became the chairperson for Saudi Arabia’s first female club. In the process, Albutairi was recognized by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for her contributions to the sport.

In fact, her expertise is so respected that she served as the head coach of ESADE’s football team…the men’s team. “Her dream is to become a role model, not only for her daughter, but for other women in her country by boosting their self-belief and showing that you should never be afraid of taking up a challenge,” says Laura Bonavia, ESADE’s MBA programme director.

Alexia Sabogal also made her name in soccer. Before joining the University of Michigan’s Ross School, she worked in business development for Major League Soccer (MLS). Here, she helped secure one of the largest brand partnerships in league history, She made history again in business school, launching the first-ever Michigan Ross Sports Tech Conference in 2021. Over five months, she led a team that brought together sports professionals from across the globe, including speakers from companies as diverse as Google, Fan Duel, and WHOOP. It was an event, Sabrogal says, that firmly established Ross as a leader in the intersection between technology and sports.

Phil Brabbs, managing director of Business+Tech at Ross, agrees with Sabrogal’s assessment. “Starting from scratch, Alexia built a plan then used her relational skills to build a team. In short, the conference, which took place in the middle of the pandemic, drew over 500 virtual attendees. In addition, there were close to 50 panelists and speakers for a one-day event.”


Jacob Schrimpf, Vanderbilt University (Owen)

Sabrogal wasn’t alone in deepening their programs’ ties to emerging industries. At New York University’s Stern School, Angie Siefert co-founded CannaNetwork, which connects the business school to cannabis-related resources in legal services, health policy, and business development across the university. In addition, she raised over $45,000 through a gala to support the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut.  It is a condition that propelled Siefert’s move into the alternative and holistic healthcare space.

“After I had my first unexpected grand-mal seizure at age 24, my professional dreams took a back seat for four years as I navigated my health and underwent several failed treatments. Following a miraculously successful neurosurgery at NYU Langone, today I am seizure free. I have been given a second chance to not only let my career take the front seat again but also dedicate myself to others with healthcare difficulties.”

Some Best & Brightest MBAs come from non-traditional paths. That includes Samuel Deason, president of HEC Paris’ MBA Council. Before he was dissecting business cases and financial reports, Deason had earned a doctorate in Musical Arts at Northwestern, where he became a professor. By the same token, Jacob Schrimpf may be joining the Boston Consulting Group this summer. Two years ago, the Vanderbilt Owen grad was a professional actor who found his greatest fulfillment as an arts educator.

“Through organizations such as Music Theatre Philly, Walnut Street Theatre, and the Kimmel Center, I developed and led acting curricula, directed music, and taught private lessons for students ages 2-to-adult in settings ranging from weekly theatre school to public school residencies to summer intensives. I taught hundreds of students over the course of my arts education work and firmly believe that this experience improved the creativity, positivity, and empathy of my students. It deeply enriched my life, and I hope it brought joy and growth to my students as well.”


Sodontuya Nerguidavaa, University of California-Davis

At the same time, the Class of 2022 also emerged from the most remote corners of the world. Take Nikita Acharya from Nepal. A decade ago, she founded Urban Girl, an online platform that sells products like jewelry, clothing, electronics, and home décor. A few years later, Acharya expanded her empire into an online bakery serving cakes. Now, her UG Bazaar acts as an eBay for the Himalayas. For her work, Acharya was listed among Forbes’ 2020 30 Under 30 in 2020.

“I am proud to have built a team of 60 youths at my business,” writes the Warwick Business School MBA. “In Nepal, more than 1,500 youths leave the nation every day for better opportunities abroad! Many never come back. By creating jobs, especially for females and people from marginalized communities, I feel I’m helping them stay with their family in Nepal. They too are contributing to the local economy.”

Sodontuya Nerguidavaa describes herself as “a Mongolian nomad, the youngest CFA charter holder, entrepreneur, publisher, former judo wrestler and basketball player.” You could add author to the list after she published her autobiography to inspire young women. Now ticketed to the Bank of New York Mellon as a VP in its risk and compliance division, the UC Davis MBA looks back fondly to her education startup — and its impact on her home country.

“I personally trained over 500 industry professionals for the CFA designation exams, the globally-respected professional designation in finance. By enhancing the knowledge of industry participants and regulators and increasing the standards of ethics, my team has contributed notably to Mongolian developing financial markets.”

See Pages 4-5 for 100 in-depth profiles of this year’s Best & Brightest MBAs 

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