100 Best & Brightest MBAs: Class Of 2023

Dr. Rohit Singh Malan, IIM Ahmedabad


Others channeled their purpose through military service. Take Kacie Ryan, who’ll be re-joining the U.S. Army after a two-year hitch at Vanderbilt University’s Owen School. She trained pilots how to fly Black Hawk helicopters – just six years after completing the same flight school. Dr. Rohit Singh Malan is also returning to work for the Government of India’s Ministry of Defence after earning his MBA at IIM Ahmedabad. A neurosurgeon by training, Singh Malan was appointed to be a military officer by the President of India himself. Responsible for infrastructure projects, he even defended the government in front of the Supreme Court of India – an assignment that earned him a second Award for Excellence from the Minister of Defence. Now, among other responsibilities, Singh Malan will be responsible for handling inquiries from the upper and lower houses of the Indian parliament. Despite the notoriety, Singh Malan believes his biggest achievements involve efforts outside the limelight. This includes rebuilding a bygone government hospital and later fighting COVID-19 among troops in the Kerala state.

“It was especially challenging to prevent COVID spread among thousands of Army troops that also lived in my jurisdiction,” he writes. “My region recorded zero mortality and a very low incidence of COVID-19. Seeing my academic and professional experience in healthcare, I was inducted as a full-time member of the ‘Healthcare Committee’ in Ministry of Defence with the mandate to improve healthcare services on a national level.”

Raisul Chowdhury, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Not surprisingly, the Best & Brightest MBAs also feature unconventional candidates. Exhibit A: Taylor Rasmussen, a professional actor.  Rasmussen made the grueling transition from the arts to banking, ultimately earning a spot at JPMorgan Chase & Company. The odds were stacked even higher against Raisul Chowdhury, who’ll be walking the stage at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School in June. Growing up in Bangladesh, Chowdhury lacked basic necessities like electricity and fresh drinking water. He didn’t expect to graduate from high school, let alone work for Google. Instead, he turned into a role model MBA student known for his thoughtfulness and thoroughness, says Dr. Paul Corona, director of Kellogg’s Full-Time MBA Leadership Development.

“This made perfect sense after I learned Raisul’s life story of overcoming extreme adversity through hard and wise work: from being the primary breadwinner for his family since high school to assimilating and influencing cultures from rural Bangladesh to Toronto, to leading a 500-person local team with diverse members (most 10-20 years older), to leading a multi-continental team of colleagues who spoke 15 languages, to helping Google organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”


Speaking of unconventional, Jon Ilani spent time in a media firm that represented athletes, actors, and models before joining Johns Hopkins to pursue a healthcare career. He even partnered with Tyra Banks on a beauty campaign. INSEAD’s Rebecca Chandler actually worked as a model, hitting the catwalk for 500 shows across four continents. From there, she spent seven years in investment banking at UBS, last working in structured lending. Her claim to fame? She became a founding member of UBS’ Investment Bank Junior Executive Committee to tackle burnout and turnover.

Rebecca Chandler, INSEAD

“[I hosted] monthly talks with my team on workplace challenges and presenting junior talent retention initiatives to the Investment Bank CEO and senior management every quarter,” Chandler recalls. “In the JEC’s first year, we successfully implemented a ‘protected-weekend’ policy, improved training, and increased client-facing opportunities for analysts and associates, which had a noticeable positive impact on employee engagement and retention.”

Make no mistake, the Best & Brightest made a major impact long before they returned to business school. Neville Williams, a University of Minnesota second-year, was previously responsible for hiring executive leaders in Netflix’s product division. As an operations manager for Meta, HEC Paris’ Jay Yen combatted misinformation that could’ve tipped Taiwan’s 2020 election. At Amazon, Carly Wolberg earned a promotion to senior product manager after helping to spearhead the launch of Prime Video’s Live Sports platform in 2019.

“I wrote a playbook for launching live sports, drove operational efficiencies to scale live sport launches, and collaborated with product and tech stakeholders to launch customer-facing features for live events,” writes the Dartmouth Tuck grad. “Because of my expertise and hard work, I was often consulted by senior Amazon leaders and had strong influence in decision-making.”


That’s just the start. At Unilever, Esther Adusei was responsible for $10-$13 billion dollars worth of top line reporting across North America, including all costs associated with 13 factories. Over her five-year career, she handled projects ranging from divesting from brands like Country Crock to determining whether to launch Dollar Shave Club in retail environments. Nicholas Heyward, who’ll be joining NextEra Energy after earning his MBA at UNC Kenan-Flagler, also made his name in finance. He constructed a financial model for measuring American sales across various Frito Lay lines. This enabled the firm to better analyze trends across a $500 million dollar marketplace. Before enrolling in the Wharton School, Zoddy Imoisili held a position created for her by PepsiCo: Engagement Coordinator in their Public Policy and Government Affairs division. The title, she says, was kept deliberately nebulous to cover the wide scope of her responsibilities. One example…

Zoddy Imoisili, Wharton School

“I led the undertaking of the PepsiCo CEO of Africa, Middle East & South Asia into the additional role of Chair of the Board of Directors for the US-Africa Business Center, housed under the US Chamber of Commerce. Within five months of beginning to work in international affairs, I solidified and fulfilled a public-private partnership that helped boost trade and investment opportunities across Africa while promoting and working towards sustainable ways of working, including work with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.”

And how is this for an achievement? At just 22, Washington University’s Elle Berger will have earned her MBA and a Master’s in Engineering, not to mention a position as a commercial advisor for ExxonMobil!


The Class of 2023 carried this momentum into their careers. Esther Adusei and Ashmita Dutta, who earned their MBAs at Georgetown McDonough and IE Business School respectively, were among the 25 leaders chosen to speak at the 2022 MBA World Summit, which brings together 100 of the world’s top MBAs. At ESADE, Kimia Koushesh was known for holding talks on difficult topics and tirelessly helping classmates with their job searches. For such efforts, her peers chose her to receive the ultimate honor: delivering the valedictorian speech at graduation.  Ben Krebs actually taught classes while earning his MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School. As a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, he served as an assistant professor of Military Science, where he instructed 90 cadets. However, the ROTC program wasn’t the only place where Krebs taught leadership.

“Ben made his presence known from the moment he arrived at Kelley,” observes Emily Stern, the Kelley MBA’s Director of Student Services and Global Programs. “Ben has quietly assumed many behind-the-scenes opportunities to lead his peers, such as volunteering to have challenging classmates on his team so that he can help coach them into greater success.”

Reneé Sewell, Columbia Business School

The Best & Brightest also made their presence known during their summer internships. At Amazon, Rishabh Kakkar, a graduate of Arizona State’s W. P. Carey School, developed an automated tool designed to reduce repetitive motion injuries in fulfillment centers. By the same token, UCLA Anderson’s Stephen Jesus Mendoza developed KPIs and market strategies to launch a Jordan retail store – even delivering a final presentation to company leadership.

“I received positive feedback on my presentation and in March 2023, I was able to visit the new Jordan retail store named “World of Flight” in Tokyo, Japan. It was incredible to see first-hand the store come to life and to see the impact of the work I did during my internship.”


Others made their impact on campus. At Columbia Business School, Reneé Sewell co-founded its Beauty Club, which eventually led to an annual Beauty Summit. Similarly, John Pontillo made headlines at the University of Michigan’s Ross by co-founding the first student-led VC club targeting ClimateTech. Paolo Luciano Rivera – who once launched Uber One across six Latin American countries – continued his penchant for building by organizing two new artificial intelligence conferences at MIT’s Sloan School. Ridhima Raina masterminded a first-ever product management case interview boot camp at UC-Irvine’s Merage School to give classmates an edge in landing internships and jobs. When Cynthia Vargas Hernández was elected to be the Global Business Association president at the University of Washington’s Foster School, one of her first acts was starting a Spanish conversation group. Here, her classmate found a space where they could sharpen their Spanish skills and learn more about Latin American culture.

Mika Shang, UC Davis

“It was this event that inspired me to plan a class trip to Mexico City where I took 40 of my fellow MBA students,” she tells P&Q. “Seeing my classmates enjoying culturally rich events, learning, opening their minds, getting to know one another, and getting not only positive feedback but gratitude and requests for more, made me realize that I achieved my goal of making people curious about global and international business culture.”

In fact, you might even find a couple of future professors or deans among the Best & Brightest mix. As a second-year MBA, UC-Davis’ Mika Shang authored a four-week financial literacy curriculum to support women and minorities within the local community. Looking for the most fearlessness member of the class? Meet Eric Saldanha. Alongside the dean of faculty affairs, Saldhana developed a workshop for business school faculty to help them “create a more equitable and inclusive classroom.” Sure enough, the faculty bought into the concept, writes the Georgetown McDonough MBA.

“The workshop highlighted best practices from the literature, showcased examples of current teaching at McDonough that exemplify inclusion, and provided time for the participants to collaborate and apply the principles to their actual class materials. It was meaningful to see about 20% of tenure-line faculty attend and engage in a substantive conversation about how to improve the inclusiveness of our classrooms for all students. This semester, we will be re-running the inclusive pedagogy workshop, as well as introducing a new workshop on inclusive curriculum.”

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

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