Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Robert DeWitt, Stanford GSB

Robert DeWitt

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Marine Corps veteran and outdoor enthusiast exploring social impact innovation in the built space.”

Hometown: Pasadena, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: After college I once lived in the Oregon forest as the campground manager for a group of 200 migrant mushroom hunters.

Undergraduate School and Major: Northwestern University, B.A. in Economics; UCLA, Master of Quantitative Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Marine Corps, Reconnaissance Marine & Scout Sniper

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 applied to business school to pursue a career in entrepreneurial real estate and affordable housing, so it was important to me that entrepreneurship and social impact are unique curriculum strengths of the GSB. It’s hard to find a more vibrant community of founders searching for ways to solve our society’s problems than Stanford, and I thought resources like the Center for Social Innovation and the GSB Impact Fund were the perfect chance to gain first-hand exposure to social impact in the urban environment. Given my limited industry background, I also loved that the GSB offered a variety of ways for me to explore less traditional roles in the real estate space, from proptech startups to urban development VC firms. These parts of GSB’s programming – its entrepreneurship curriculum, social impact resources, and varied opportunities for real-world application – really stood out and drew me towards the school.

What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about Stanford GSB so far? The approachability of GSB professors and practitioners has definitely surprised me. Professors give a pretty ridiculous amount of their time to students, from casual lunches in Town Square to advising student startups, and I’ve really enjoyed having the chance to form relationships with faculty outside of the classroom. Students also enjoy a pretty amazing amount of access to the practitioners that teach courses. I took a couple classes with Scott Brady, who’s also an entrepreneur and partner at VC firm Innovation Endeavors, and it still blows me away how far out of his way Scott would go to help and support students.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Curiosity is probably the most common trait among my classmates. It pervades every part of life here, and I’ve seen GSB students bring an incredible amount of intellectual and personal curiosity to everything they engage with. It takes a little getting used to (conversations can get deep… quickly), but I think you experience the best version of the GSB when you bring a lot of questions and an open mind.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My time building a capable and deployment-ready Marine Reconnaissance team is a big source of pride and confidence for me. We easily had the youngest Recon Marines out of the teams in my unit, so it was important that the team leader and I develop our four junior members into an effective, trustworthy team ahead of our deployment. It was a challenging process – our small team needed to master a broad range of capabilities and learn to operate autonomously behind an enemy’s lines for extended periods. Fortunately, we had a lot of excellent role models in my senior leadership, who helped us carefully tailor each Marine’s unique skillset and develop their ability to make mature and sound decisions under pressure. By the time we deployed, our effort had produced one of our unit’s top performing teams, and, as a result, I was privileged enough to be selected as the Combat Element Marine of the Year.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? Honestly, surviving Professor DeMarzo’s infamous Financial Modeling class. I had opened Excel maybe twice a year in the military, so this class was a rude awakening.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? University of Chicago, Berkeley, USC, and UCLA

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? I think I’ve gained a sense of confidence around entrepreneurship that I didn’t have before the GSB. I arrived with very little understanding of how startups worked, and the idea of starting a company was a little intimidating. Having the chance to talk to founders and study startups up close has given me a much deeper understanding of what the creation process realistically looks like. It’s a cool inflection point when you start thinking “I could do this.”

What advice would you give to a prospective applicant looking to join the Stanford GSB Class of 2024? Put a lot of thought into what really interests you and what you want to get out of the GSB. Time flies once you’re here and it’s easy to get spread thin in a lot of interesting directions, so it helps to know early on what you want to prioritize.


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