Meet Stanford GSB’s MBA Class Of 2023

GSB students, Photo Credit: Elena Zhukova

P&Q: One of Stanford GSB’s strengths traditionally has been helping MBA foster introspection and self-awareness? What are some ways that the GSB has been able to achieve this? How does this make students better leaders?

Oyer: “Helping MBA students foster introspection and self-awareness is integrated into many parts of the GSB experience, both in and outside the classroom. One of the most well-known ways is through a course called Interpersonal Dynamics, known to many as “Touchy Feely.” For the past few decades, this course has helped students unlock their true leadership potential by observing how individual behavior affects others in real time, practicing key leadership skills with peer feedback, and learning to connect across differences

Outside of the classroom, students work with the Career Management Center to articulate their values and create a unique career vision, lead clubs & activities, and travel with their classmates to develop a more global perspective.”

P&Q: Stanford GSB has become increasingly known as an entrepreneurial powerhouse. What types of programming and support does the GSB offer in this area that enables it to stand out?

Oyer: “Students at the GSB are encouraged to challenge conventional thinking and our entrepreneurial mindset enables innovation and cultivates a spirit of possibility. The GSB offers more than 50 different courses in entrepreneurship and innovation, taught by academic faculty, often in partnership with accomplished entrepreneurs and seasoned investors – allowing students to engage with the broader Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem.

This past year, the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (CES) at the GSB hosted the first Building Momentum: Diversity & Entrepreneurship conference, which addresses the unique challenges and opportunities faced by founders from underrepresented communities. Historically, the biennial Building Momentum Conference provided women, most of whom were affiliated with Stanford, with the inspiration, skillset, and networking opportunities to help them succeed as founders. That mission expanded in 2021 with a goal to reach founders from a range of backgrounds and make it accessible to entrepreneurs outside the university community. The conference included fireside chats, presentations, panel discussions and interactive breakout sessions that were focused on gaining knowledge, learning skills, and sharing personal stories of both success and failure.”

MBA students outside class, Photo Credit: Elena Zhukova

P&Q: Your school is located near the heart of Silicon Valley. What types of programming and support do you offer that enables students to tap into nearby tech powerhouses and startups, as well as leverage the larger Bay Area’s business ecosystem?

Oyer: “GSB is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, surrounded by an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship, innovation, and breakthrough technology. Our students benefit from having easy access to the seasoned investors at Sand Hill Road to the tech entrepreneurs in San Francisco, a short drive away from campus. Stanford GSB also attracts lecturers from both the Bay Area and beyond, who can provide invaluable real-world insight into business management and entrepreneurship. GSB’s Career Management Center also connects our students to our diverse group of alumni, many who have deep connections to the local tech and startup landscape.”

P&Q: What are your two most popular MBA student clubs? What are the biggest events put on by these clubs? Why do these clubs resonate so deeply with your students?

Oyer: “TALK is a hallmark tradition of the Stanford GSB experience, where students share their life stories with classmates in a vulnerable, intimate, and supportive setting. TALK supports GSB students in the process of self-reflection, encourages an appreciation for the vast diversity of experiences represented within the GSB student body, and strengthens our community.

Many of our students take leadership positions in existing clubs or start their own initiatives. Some popular student clubs include Women in Management, GSB Impact Fund, as well as fellows for the dean’s speaker series, View From The Top. This past year, three MBA students started a newsletter called The Gigaton, which aims to engage young professionals on climate change.”

MBA students outside class. Photo Credit: Elena Zhukova

5 REASONS TO CONSIDER STANFORD GSB

1) Entrepreneurship: I love the GSB’s culture of entrepreneurship. It’s infectious. The school offers classes like Startup Garage, Lean Launchpad, and Biodesign Innovation, where students can incubate their own ideas and connect with other students, mentors, and investors. I took Startup Garage this year to work on an idea that would help young people, who lost parents, navigate post-death logistics and administration.”
Anthony Kayruz (’23)

“The MBA coursework directed at entrepreneurship has been incredibly relevant as we iterate on our business model and raise funds. We have pivoted numerous times as we’ve learned more about the market and technology, adapting our business model and target market. Coursework that emphasized the business model canvas and Steve Blank’s emphasis on value proposition have guided these iterations in strategy. Coursework on venture capital financing and corporate finance have similarly given us confidence and saved precious time as we raised funds.”
Ted McKleeven (’21)

2) School Values: “Two main factors drove my decision. The first one is Stanford GSB’s mission to “Change Lives, Change Organizations, Change the World,” and how it aligns with my own values and what I consider to be my mission in the world. The second one is the school’s strong focus on values-based leadership and on interpersonal skills development. I believe that the best leaders are those who, despite their achievements and positions of power, maintain a humble mindset and share their core values through actions. Moreover, for me, knowing how to build, maintain and manage interpersonal relationships is the most powerful leadership skill. Intellectual knowledge can only take you so far; however, what truly allows you to thrive is being able to understand, inspire, motivate, and help others grow. This was what made the GSB unique from my perspective.”
Laura Calderon (’23)

3) Leadership: “The GSB’s focus on personal leadership development. Long-term, I intend to serve as a general manager, board director, partner, and parent. To be most impactful in these roles, I need to establish a leadership foundation that I can continually improve upon over my life. Hence, the experiential leadership development opportunities at the GSB through courses (e.g., Leadership Labs, Interpersonal Dynamics) and extracurricular opportunities (e.g., Personal Leadership Coaching, Arbuckle Leadership Fellows) were really appealing. I was particularly excited about the Arbuckle Leadership Fellows program. As a Fellow, I’d get the chance to apply my leadership style in group and individual contexts, receive feedback from MBA2s, MBA1s, and a leadership coach, and derive new learning about my leadership from those experiences.”
Mohammad Jama (’23)

“I was attracted to Stanford GSB primarily because of the school’s unique focus on developing students as leaders through the honing of their soft skills. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I know that this will be very useful in my career and life, and I appreciate that I can prioritize this aspect of my self-development at the GSB. I’m currently enrolled in Interpersonal Dynamics, also known as “Touchy Feely” (the most iconic class at the GSB), where I’m learning about the different roles that I can play in group settings and the impressions that I leave on others. I have felt that the class is a safe space where I have been able to receive candid feedback, and the lessons I’ve learned thus far have already begun to shape the way in which I interact with others.”
Pedro Gonzalez (’23)

4) Location: “I was drawn to the pull of Silicon Valley, and Stanford GSB’s unique place in it. “Starting something new” is almost like a tagline here, and there’s a distinct culture that supports taking calculated risks and building toward the future you want to see.

I also feel that the GSB is in a central place during an important moment in the tech ecosystem’s development. So much of the innovation of the past few decades has been happening in and around campus, and many of the most consequential decisions in the business world in the coming years will be made here. Stanford is a unique institution that brings together leaders from across the globe to think about the big picture critically and practically. At the GSB specifically, this comes to life through seemingly weekly conversations with leaders in the space: through guest lecturers, guests in the View from the Top series, and small group lunches with many of the leading voices in tech, policy and beyond.”
Nik Nayar (’23)

5) Traditions: “The GSB Show. It is a comedy musical entirely written, run, and delivered by GSB students with lots of humor and fun singing and dancing acts. To me, the GSB Show is a space to be creative and it reflects the ability of GSB students to laugh at themselves (even during a global pandemic).”
Mariana Martins (’21)

“My favorite GSB tradition is TALK – I think it encapsulates what makes this community so special. Every week, two of our classmates share a 30-minute version of their life story in public — usually in front of more than 150 people (and attendance has only grown via Zoom). They share the life experiences that have shaped them into the people they are today. These stories often go much deeper than the resume highlights we know. I consistently leave these sessions in awe of my classmates’ resilience, and inspired by their courage and trust in all of us. In this period of relative isolation, TALK has deepened the unique feeling of community at the GSB.”
Brian Aoyama (’21)

MBA team meeting. Photo Credit: Elena Zhukova

ADVICE TO PROSPECTIVE APPLICANTS

“Let your passions and personality shine in your application. The GSB asks the infamous essay question “What matters most to you and why?” because the school doesn’t just want impressive students. It wants individuals — people with unique motivations and aspirations. You are unique. You have a story worth telling. Find it and put it forward with pride.”
Anthony Kayruz (’23)

“Allow yourself to take a deep introspection through the application process. You don’t need to have all the answers and a detailed plan of what the rest of your life should look like, but rather understand who you are and what drives you. Be as honest and authentic as you can in your application. A lot of people believe that only consultants or investment bankers pursue MBAs. At the GSB, you will find the most diverse group of people with incredibly different backgrounds and professional aspirations. There is not a unique mold in which they all fit; however, what is true is that they are all uniquely authentic and true to what they believe in. If you give yourself such an opportunity for introspection, getting through the application itself is a true achievement (with so many learnings!), even if you are accepted or not.”
Laura Calderon (’23)

“As you’re telling your story in the application, think deeply about why you’ve made all of the decisions you did in both your professional and personal lives. It’ll help you articulate things about yourself and what drives you that you’ve known, but haven’t quite thought about before – which is great for an essay with a word limit and also for life, more generally.”
Nik Nayar (’23)

MBA Student Hometown Undergrad Alma Mater Last Employer
Taleha Aftab Karachi, Pakistan Institute of Business Administration, Pakistan Riverwood Capital
Laura Calderon Bogota, Colombia Colegio de Estudios Superiores de Administración (CESA) Patria Investments
Robert DeWitt Pasadena, CA Northwestern University U.S. Marine Corps
Pedro Gonzalez Cali, Columibia Icesi University The Economic Development Office at the City Hall of Cali, Colombia
Louise Hannecart Gent, Belgium KU Leuven University Belgium Federal Government
Sowa Imoisili Ellicott City, MD Northwestern University Accenture
Mohammad Jama Ann Arbor, MI University of Michigan Microsoft
Anthony Kayruz San Antonio, TX Yale University McKinsey & Company
Nik Nayar Yardley, PA Columbia University McKinsey & Company
Antonella Pallares Mexico City, Mexico Universidad Iberoamericana Alta Growth Capital
Louise White Darlington, SC University of South Carolina Bain & Company
Tanvi Nikita Vikas Raje London, UK Imperial College London Rothschild & Co.

 

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