Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Lennart Funke, Stanford GSB

Lennart Funke

Stanford Graduate School of Business

MBA @ Stanford Graduate School of Business

MA in Education @ Stanford Graduate School of Education

“Compassionate leader. Results-driven entrepreneur. Family-oriented board game enthusiast.”

Hometown: Münster, Germany

Fun Fact About Yourself: I built parts of a detector used at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I thought black holes were super cool. Thus, I interned with my local university’s Nuclear Physics department. They were involved in the research at CERN, which is why I got to build parts of the detector. While this story does make for a fantastic fun fact, I did not turn out to be a great physicist. Hence, I transitioned into business thereafter.

Undergraduate School and Major:

  1. B.Sc. Business Administration @ University of Münster;
  2. M.Sc. International Management and CEMS Master in International Management @ University of Cologne, and Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Head of Program Management @ Mercedes pay (Corporate FinTech of Mercedes-Benz Group)

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? What led me to Stanford was the unique opportunity to pursue both an MBA and an MA in Education at one of the world’s leading universities.

Education and mentorship have played integral parts in my life ever since I was 16 years old. At that age, I had the opportunity to spend a High School Year abroad in Nashville, Tennessee. In retrospect, this was the single best decision of my life. All my future success is rooted in it. For the first time, I experienced the importance of dedication, the excitement of cultural differences, and the power of mentorship. This experience was so life-changing for me that I wanted to share it with everyone. Since returning from the US in 2012, I have been volunteering as a supervisor, teacher, and mentor for 150+ German high schoolers taking part in the same program. To me, helping others grow is most meaningful. It brings me deep joy.

Here at Stanford, I am now able to broaden my horizon by combining my passion for education with my strengths in business in this world-class program. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to follow my dreams.

What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about Stanford GSB so far? I knew Stanford had a lot to offer; however, I didn’t expect such a plethora of opportunities. A day here at the GSB might very well look like this:

In your first class in the morning, you learn about the intricacies of psychological biases in hiring decisions taught by one of the most cited researchers of the past year. In your second class, a former Federal Reserve Governor joins as a guest lecturer to explain the Fed’s current actions to fight inflation. Over lunch, a company tries to recruit you for their CEO-in-Training program. They legitimately want to put you into a CXO-role for one of their companies as soon as possible. In the afternoon, you work on a group project with your fellow classmates – an Olympic gold medalist, a Y-combinator-backed startup founder, and a former White House employee. Thereafter, you listen to a speech by the US Secretary of State, which your parents will mention to you the next day because it is being featured on National Television News in Germany. At night, one of the world’s most renowned VC funds hosts a mixer to get early access to your startup ideas.

Prioritizing and being able to say “no” are two crucial skills here. The Paradox of Choice is real at GSB.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far? Give an example why this true. Supporting. Despite all the crazy schedules we have, everyone tries to support one another when need be. Whether it is a late Friday night session at the campus pub where I get a two-hour crash course on Financial Valuation or a rainy Saturday morning where someone needs a jump-start for their car, everyone tries to help.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest career accomplishment is getting accepted into Mercedes-Benz’s International Leadership Development Program “INspire – The Leaders’ Lab” (sub 1% acceptance rate) and subsequently becoming one of the youngest managers at Mercedes-Benz Group. Among the many rotations I did through INspire, one is particularly memorable: I became part of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team for the 2020 season when we won both the Drivers’ & the Constructors’ World Championship.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? Along with engaging in all the classes, social, and professional events, I have significantly invested in my physical and mental health, and built many strong relationships with my classmates, all while maintaining strong relationships with my loved ones in Germany 5,000+ miles away.

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? In Germany, I was mainly focused on overcoming limitations; at Stanford, I am learning to focus on possibilities. The only limit to what is reachable is your own imagination. If you can dream it, you can reach it.

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

My classmates at GSB are exceptionally intelligent, genuine, and curious. The admissions team does a phenomenal job at identifying candidates excelling in all three of these areas.

Really ask yourself: Who are you? Why have you made the decisions in your life the way you did? What do you really want in life?


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