The Best & Brightest Executive MBAs Of 2023

You might not expect Tejinder Singh to pursue an MBA. After all, the married father of two already holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering – not to mention six U.S. patents. Some may wonder how Singh can even find time to study.  Working for a semiconductor firm, Singh has seen his unit’s revenue quadruple in just two years. As a products and technology director, Singh is responsible for a billion-dollar portfolio, traveling across North America, Europe, and Asia to support clients.

Many executive MBA students come to business school to learn how to scale and lead. For Singh, becoming a leader hasn’t always been easy. For much of his career, he viewed himself as a contributor – a manager at best. That changed at the Wharton School, where coursework and coaching showed him how to foster teamwork and bring out his team’s best. Singh’s transition has been so successful that his peers gave him the Ben Franklin Award – which recognized his leadership contributions ranging from tutoring peers to planning prom. Along the way, he notched a near-perfect GPA and landed a work promotion to match.

“CONFIDENCE, COMMUNICATION, COMMITMENT, AND CONNECTIONS”

Tejinder Singh, Wharton School

“I never knew that I wanted to do an MBA, but for me personally, I’ve grown up so much in the last two years and I am not the same person anymore,” Singh explains. “I’ve got so much more confidence. I would say the 4 C’s that will stay with me are confidence, communication, commitment, and then connections and I’ve built every single one of them. I’m hoping that this is a platform where I can take the next stage of my career.

Leadership wasn’t the only dividend that Singh cashed during his Wharton MBA. The experience also stirred a passion for entrepreneurship. Partnering with a classmate and applying classroom lessons, Singh is readying to launch a venture. For him, the path forward will involve making a larger impact.

“In the words of Peter Drucker, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” I hope that I can apply my learning at Wharton to shape our future,” Singh adds.

106 STUDENT LEADERS FROM 56 TOP BUSINESS SCHOOLS

Singh joins 105 other EMBAs as members of P&Q’s Best & Brightest Executive MBAs from the Class of 2023. Entering its 9th year, the Best & Brightest honors EMBAs whose academic excellence, extracurricular leadership, and professional achievement represent the best of business education. The students were chosen from the 56 highest-ranked programs in both the Poets&Quants and Financial Times Executive MBA rankings. Their ranks include 2023 graduates from the University of Chicago, MIT Sloan, INSEAD, and the London Business School. Overall, this year’s class range in age from 30-56, achieving an equal 53-53 male-to-female split.

Among this year’s Best & Brightest, you’ll find feel-good underdog stories like Robert Griffith, a ’23 grad of Fordham University’s Gabelli School. Among many NFL fans, Griffith is a household name – a 13-year league veteran who started as an undrafted free agent before emerging as a three-time All-Pro. In 1999, his teammates elected him as their Ed Brock Courage Award recipient for his leadership. A year later, the Minnesota Vikings named Griffith as their Man of the Year for his work in education and non-violence. An engineer by training, Griffith has emerged as a shrewd investor and founder in his post-football career, producing companies that successfully operate in spaces like artificial intelligence, blockchain, ecommerce, cloud computing, and genetics.

In contrast, the class also includes Lara Adesokan from Rice University’s Jones Graduate School. Born in Nigeria and educated as an engineer in the UK, Adesokan has spent over two decades working for Shell. Her first assignment out of university? Well, picture being the only woman among 122 male colleagues on a rig in the North Sea!  While those numbers might intimidate some, Adesokan stayed in the role for three years. Since then, she has moved onto deepwater drills in the Gulf of Mexico. Her claim to fame? She served as the lead drilling engineer for three of Shell’s biggest oil field discoveries in the U.S. Gulf.

A BRIDGE, A SOUNDING BOARD, AND A SUPERSTAR

Yaremi Alicea Morales, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

What set the Best & Brightest Executive MBAs apart? Like Griffith and Adesoka, they were leaders in their organizations – and that leadership just carried over to business school. Insightful and energetic, a cool head and a can-do spirit – always present and always willing to help. They took ownership and held themselves to the highest standard – and their peers followed. When they spoke up, everyone paid attention too. While the Best & Brightest were already seasoned professionals, their classmates understood they had so much yet ahead of them.

At Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, Professor Alyson Carrel calls students like Yaremi Alicea Morales a “bridge” – “someone who listens and seeks to understand[and] is willing to adapt and adjust when working with others.” That instinct to connect also defines Suzanne Bergeron, a Sodexo talent manager by day and a student at the McGill-HEC Montréal EMBA on evenings and weekends.

“You might not think it’s possible for one person to be a mentor to 44 classmates, but Suzanne would prove you wrong,” notes Marianne Vandenbosch, the school’s program director. “Her classmates really valued Suzanne as a sounding board, a port in a storm, a source of new perspectives, and a generous and humble ally. It’s no surprise that she was selected class Valedictorian.  She’s very good at meeting people where they are and figuring out how best to support them no matter what journey they’re on.”

At Georgia Tech’s Scheller College, the Class of 2023 is equally bullish on Greg Gibbs, whose client rolodex includes Procter & Gamble, Bank of America, and General Motors. In fact, he is described as a “superstar” by Jonathan Clarke, the college’s senior associate dean of programs.

“Every class, [Gibbs] brings his wealth of experience as a senior program manager at Microsoft into class discussion,” Clarke adds. He is widely regarded among his peers in the program as a servant leader, a problem solver, and a great communicator. In my core finance class, he was able to relate class content to current events in a way that benefitted everyone in the class. I can’t wait to see what Greg accomplishes next in his career!”

Cietta Kiandoli, University of Maryland (Smith)

POLICY AND DIPLOMACY

What are they doing now? Think public service, for one. When Cietta Kiandoli wasn’t busy taking classes at the University of Maryland’s Smith School, she was heading up external affairs for Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer. As part of her role, she coordinated Schumer’s public communications on the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. At Arizona State’s W. P. Carey School, Sean Bowie transitioned from being a state senator to a professor in the public service school. By the same token, Pamela Wilson, a ’23 graduate of Georgetown University’s McDonough School, worked as executive director of strategy and innovation for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Before that, she served as the Deputy White House Liaison with the Department of Defense.

Johnny Scarlett, London Business School

“I represented the interests of the Secretary of Defense in high-level workforce discussions with the White House and communicated outcomes to the Secretary of Defense and to the appointee workforce,” Wilson explains. “My responsibilities included directing a complex inter-agency process to identify, recruit, and place over 280 Presidential appointees ranging from Senate-confirmed senior executives to junior-level support specialists, into positions across DoD.  My experience taught me how to operate at the C-suite level of government and develop key leadership skills such as executive communication, the ability to navigate complex organizational structures, collaboration across diverse stakeholders, and organizational behavior.”

Outside the London Business School, Johnny Scarlett is a British diplomat and father of three, who was wounded as a platoon commander in Afghanistan. Across the pond, the Wharton School’s Kunal Khatri is the deputy HM Trade Commissioner for North America at the British Consulate in New York. Before that, Khatri operated out of Beijing in the British Embassy. ‘

“I’m proud of learning fluent Mandarin in my spare time to drive influence and economic outcomes that can only come by developing personal, culturally aware, and close relationships,” he writes. “The prize achievement was negotiating to secure the launch of the London Stock Exchange – Shanghai Stock exchange Connect Programme. The experience that my wife, my children and I had, is uniquely valuable at a time of rising geopolitical tension.”

Pages 4-5: 106 profiles of this year’s Best & Brightest Executive MBA grads.

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