100 Best & Brightest MBAs: Class Of 2023

Who is Tyler Kelley? That’s tough to pin down in a few words. A first-generation student who grew up in a low-income home headed by a single parent? That’s where he started. The student president of the University of Virginia’s Darden School who’ll be joining McKinsey & Company after graduation? That’s where he is now. In between, Kelley was named the Outstanding Male Leader for Bloomington, Indiana, and won the heart of the eventual first runner-up for Mrs. America.

Come May, Kelley can add another feat to the list: Darden MBA (to go along with his MEd in Education Innovation).

Kelley describes himself as a “storyteller” who seeks to “build bridges and empower others” – an example of someone who “pushed past [the] odds.” More than that, Kelley is a Renaissance Man who embraces leadership and pursues service. In the process, he has fostered an environment where everyone feels “seen, heard, valued, and supported.” This track record of elevating talent and building consensus makes Kelley a force among the Class of 2023.

Tyler Kelley, University of Virginia (Darden)

“Tyler has exemplified the best of Darden and our values in his two years here,” says Marc Johnson, Darden’s associate dean. “Tyler has sought out ways to serve the school and have a positive impact since arriving, pursuing his passion areas of attracting, welcoming, and encouraging a diverse and inclusive student body; providing academic resources and support to enable every student to succeed; and finding ways to bring all members of the Darden community together…Tyler has been a change-maker in the best ways.”


The same could be said for every member of Poets&Quants’ Best & Brightest MBAs from the Class of 2023. Now in its 9th year, the Best & Brightest honors 100 full-time MBA graduates at elite business schools worldwide. In December, P&Q reached out to 77 graduate business schools to invite them to participate in this year’s Best & Brightest. We encouraged them to nominate students with strong academic, extracurricular, and professional achievements – high potentials with rare intangibles and compelling personal stories.

Overall, P&Q received 235 nominations from 74 full-time MBA programs. Like previous years, nominees were evaluated on extracurricular leadership, personal excellence, and the insightfulness of their responses and recommendations. In the end, 62 business schools are represented among the 100 students in the 2023 list. While 135 nominations missed the Best & Brightest cut, the top-to-bottom quality of these students means they will be profiled as MBAs To Watch this summer.

Like in previous years, women outnumber men among the Best & Brightest, though by a narrower 54-to-46 margin. Among the selections, 64 Best& Brightest grads hail from the United States, with 16 selections already holding graduate degrees beyond the MBA. That said, just 5 members possess military experience. In terms of employment, employers range from Google to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. As a whole, 14 Best & Brightest MBAs chose to work for McKinsey & Company after graduation. Another 6 picked Amazon, followed by the Boston Consulting Group attracting 5 Best & Brightest MBAs. Bain & Company, Deloitte, and Starbucks each hired 3 members, while Accenture, PwC, EY-Parthenon, and Microsoft each recruited 2. While 18 Best & Brightest MBAs hadn’t accepted an offer by March, many were either narrowing their choices or part of one-year programs operating beyond spring. Among the selections who’d landed a job, 51 returned to the firm that gave them an internship. This is up from 44 in 2022.

Jeff Yao, University of Chicago (Booth)


What makes Best & Brightest MBAs stand out? Call them the do-it-all difference-makers, the classmates who make things happen and move things forward. For them, no job is too small and no challenge is too big. They are optimists and risk-takers, advocates and sounding boards – the go-getter hustlers who are fueled by conviction and focused on results. They are the ones you count on to come prepared and come through, to set the bar and set the tone, always finding the good in others and sharing the spotlight with them. The Best & Brightest are the MBAs you want on your team. When situations get blurry or sticky, you’ll find yourself asking, “What would he or she do in this situation?

That’s certainly the case with Jeff Yao, a second-year at the University of Chicago’s Booth School. A U.S. Army Company Commander, Yao will be returning to West Point to teach economics and game theory after graduation. When reflecting on Yao, John Paul Rollert, an adjunct professor at Booth, was struck by Yao’s sense of ethics, duty, and family. His hard-won reputation brought to mind a famous slogan from E.F. Hutton.

“From the first week of class, he displayed the qualities I have come to admire in him: honesty, intellectual curiosity, and a knack for personal introspection,” Rollert writes. “More than winning the argument, he has a passion for coming to the right conclusion, which means he listens more than he talks, and when he talks, people listen.”


At UC San Diego’s Rady School, Gautham Chandrasekar gained a reputation for being someone who could work with anyone as the president of the Student Association Board. Not surprisingly, he was compared to a building’s structural columns by a faculty member – “From outside the building, they are hard to recognize, but they are essential to sustain the building.” Alexis Greco has garnered similar accolades at the University of Texas’ McCombs School. In some corners, Greco – a political organizer before business school – would be described as a force multiplier. However, Jeffrey Hale, one of her professors, likens her impact to a sports star.

Alexis Greco, University of Texas (McCombs)

“In basketball, a triple-double refers to when a player demonstrates excellence during a game along three distinct dimensions of performance. That’s how I think about Alexis. Her triple-double is that she is a dreamer-provocateur-doer…She’s out there doing exactly what she believes in, whether through her involvement in Tuner MIINT or in co-organizing and fundraising for a major event like ClimateCAP. She’s making things happen and bringing others along with her.”

A triple-double infers versatility. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a more versatile MBA than Benoit Dubief from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. Think three master’s degrees covering business law, management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. That doesn’t count stints at Capgemini, Facebook, and McKinsey & Company (where he’ll be returning after graduation). An entrepreneur at 18, Dubief formed a pop band that headlined Berlin’s Karneval der Kulturen festival. As an MBA student, he gained further notoriety by preparing classmates for case interviews and organizing a tour of prestigious wineries in Bordeaux and Saint-Émilion. In his spare time, Dubief even launched a promising side hustle, RightPick, a startup that connects European students to exclusive job offers in areas like consulting, technology, and finance.

“Starting from Oxford, word of mouth spread so well across European universities that it triggered a significant user traction on the early access portal, to the point where the project got incubated at OX1, Oxford’s incubator program,” Dubief writes. “I really look forward to expanding RightPick to the wider Oxford community and beyond in order to aim at helping hundreds of thousands of qualified professionals find opportunities that suit them better across Europe.”


Faith and freedom are central to Alfraz Khan’s mission. A UC-Berkeley Haas School MBA ticketed for Bridgespan, Khan created a social enterprise that supported interfaith and interracial couples – even officiating over 100 weddings himself. At Haas, he educated classmates on homelessness and racial equity issues. As a former outreach coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union, Khan’s activism enabled him to tackle a statute that deepened the “school-to-prison pipeline” that haunted one community.

Alfraz Khan, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

I led our team’s outreach efforts to legally challenge a punitive North Carolina statute that criminalized over 2,000 students of color for youth-like behavior,” he explains. “In connecting differently impacted groups together, we successfully helped facilitate a coalition of partners focused on diminishing the influence of police in schools and building alternative methods of intervention. After several additional months of organizing and advocacy, this coalition successfully lobbied the Greensboro City Council to divert $500,000 from school police toward mental health services.”

Khan wasn’t alone in choosing a political-oriented avenue to serve. Before enrolling in the Cambridge Judge Business School, Taylor Barden Golden worked as a director of scheduling in the U.S. Senate. From there, she branched out, launching a consulting practice to help Congressional offices enhance their operations. In contrast, Alexis Greco started her political career at the grassroots, toiling on Senate campaigns west of the Mississippi – when she wasn’t managing events alongside the Obamas and Bidens. In 2018, she even served as the chief of staff to the campaign manager for Claire McCaskill’s re-election bid for the U.S. Senate – a role that entailed overseeing a $7.1 million dollar budget and communications with 150 staffers. Initially, Greco questioned whether her political background was relevant to business. Turns out, it gave her quite an edge.

“Political campaigns are really similar to startups: you’re building an organization almost overnight, raising funds, and hiring rapidly,” she explains. “The difference is in the end goal: winning an election vs. exiting via IPO or acquisition. My time on campaigns and at a civic tech startup taught me how to be gritty and proactive to get things done, and that skillset translates in any business environment.”

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

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