Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Nik Nayar, Stanford GSB

Nik Nayar

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Optimist with a sarcastic sense of humor; passionate about investing in and building at the intersection of tech & media.”

Hometown: Yardley, Pennsylvania

Fun Fact About Yourself: I‘m managing the GSB’s music playlist next year (yes, I am to blame for whatever plays on the outdoor speakers in Town Square)!

Undergraduate School and Major:  Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Columbia University

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Andreessen Horowitz, Consumer Tech Investing; Quibi, Chief of Staff; McKinsey, Management Consultant

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Stanford GSB’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? 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.

What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about Stanford GSB so far? I didn’t really consider how much the campus would have an impact on learning and lifestyle. So much of our time here is spent outdoors. The GSB Residences – where most of the first-years live – are well-designed spaces where you feel like you’re constantly bumping into classmates. The GSB campus itself is a stone’s throw across the street, and at all times of year people are sitting outside in the main Town Square reading, working on side projects, and hanging out. This open environment is really unique and I think is a factor in developing an inclusive and tight-knit community – and really helps us take advantage of the year-round blue skies and sun!

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Thoughtful. People come from diverse backgrounds and with unique experiences, but I’ve found that as soon as you get past the surface layer you’ll consistently find curious people who think deeply about the world around them.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: One of the more formative early moments in my career came while I was at McKinsey, where I co-wrote a report on AI/automation technology’s impact on jobs and inequality. It was the most read report published by the firm’s think tank. I then helped launch a new practice area focused on designing strategies for some of America’s largest employers. In my career since, I often refer back to our conversations about the transitions that will be required for the next wave of tech – both the positive innovation and the need to manage the effects to ensure these changes benefit people broadly.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Columbia, Harvard, and Wharton

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? I’ve learned that so much of being successful as a leader is about asking the right questions. I first saw this in my previous life as Chief of Staff to a seasoned CEO, where I realized that so much of the job was getting the right people in the room and asking the right questions. The GSB has done a good job bringing that insight to life for the 21st century: you may not be a data scientist, but you should be able to ask the right questions when you see a regression; you may not be a content creator, but you should know how to ask the questions that will move forward a creative team.

What advice would you give to a prospective applicant looking to join the Stanford GSB Class of 2024? 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.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.