MBAs To Watch: Class Of 2023

You can believe it. You can want it. Nothing happens until you get involved. That means stepping into the arena, to paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt. You confront the cynics, harness the masses, and elevate the stragglers. In the process, you shoulder the criticisms and learn from the mistakes – just like every leader before you.

Destinée Mentor-Richards personified leadership at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School. That’s why her MBA classmates elected her to serve as Student Board President – the first African American woman to hold the post in the school’s 123-year history. Even more, Tuck faculty and Dartmouth trustees asked her to advise them on an initiative to make college-wide financial aid policies “more equitable and inclusive.” Her work contributed to the college replacing loans with grants in packages to low- and middle-income candidates.

A 135 MEMBER ‘MBAs TO WATCH’ CLASS

Destinée Mentor-Richards. Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Of course, leadership wasn’t new to Mentor-Richards when she started her MBA in 2021. Before then, her skills had been honed at decorated firms like Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, Boeing, Anheuser-Busch, and Edward Jones. Slated to join Bain & Company, Mentor-Richards distinguished herself in the Class of 2023 by being an “infinite source of positive energy” – in the words of J. Ramon Lecuona Torras, an associate professor at Tuck. Beyond her “magnetic personality” that draws people to her, Mentor-Richards brings an optimism and authenticity that make her an MBA to Watch in the coming years.

“It is such a pleasure to run into Destinée at school,” Lecuona Torras adds. “She always has ideas to share, ranging from ways to engage her peers in co-curricular activities to a master plan to make the world a better place. What is most unique about Destinée is that she genuinely cares about the well-being of others. Her thoughts are driven by a desire to make everyone better-off.”

This selflessness is a defining feature of the 135-member “MBAs To Watch” class. To compile the 2023 list, P&Q reached out to 77 top-ranked, full-time MBA programs in January. Ultimately, P&Q received 235 nominations, which were split between May’s Best & Brightest MBAs and MBAs To Watch. Overall, the 2023 MBAs To Watch hail from 72 programs, including Chicago Booth, Wharton School, INSEAD, and MIT Sloan. This year, women again outnumber men by a 72-to-63 margin (Down from last year’s 76-to-55 mark). Non-American students top their American counterparts by the same 72-to-63 difference. As a whole, McKinsey & Company was the largest consumer of MBAs To Watch talent, hiring 6 members from the Class of 2023. Trailing closely behind, Amazon and Microsoft each hired 5 MBAs To Watch. The Boston Consumer Group and Deloitte added 4 members to their rolls, with Bain & Company, EY-Parthenon, and JP Morgan Chase onboarding 3 MBAs from the class.

THE “COMMUNITY GLUE” AND “ULTIMATE SERVANT LEADER”

What makes an MBA To Watch? In a word, they are “unforgettable.” They are more than a name without a face in their schools. Their classmates knew exactly who they were and what they did – and often what they hoped to do too. They remember their passion and how their encounters kindled that same spirit in themselves. The MBAs To Watch seized every opportunity and pushed their peers to be their best too. Somehow, the conversations were richer and the operations ran smoother when the MBAs To Watch were around. For the optimism they inspired and the grit they modeled, they earned universal praise from classmates and faculty alike.

Take Reggie Greathouse, an NYU Stern grad who built a tool that integrated data from Salesforce, Jira, and telemetry during his internship. He is described by a faculty member as the “community glue” – the guy who brings communities across the university together. At HEC Paris, the academic affairs executive director believes Thandiwe Mkhetshane serves as a “reminder of why you have chosen a career in education” thanks to her “never say no attitude.” Compare that to Duke                University’s Fuqua School, where they can’t attach enough superlatives to Jennifer Sibel. An Amazon hire, Sibel is called the “ultimate servant leader” by Steve Misuraca, the school’s associate dean.

“Jen’s initial instincts are always to support those most impacted,” he writes. “In times of challenge, she prioritized being present, listening with openness, and checking in on classmates, while simultaneously ensuring that the spotlight remained focused on finding solutions to help make the community better and more inclusive for her peers.”

Jorge Daniel Atuesta Pizano, University of San Diego (Knauss)

A PROSECUTOR AND A DIPLOMAT

Sibel wasn’t alone in pursuing service. At 27, Jorge Daniel Atuesta Pizano left a career as a professor and clinical psychologist to tend to victims of human trafficking in the United States. After graduating from the University of San Diego’s Knauss School, he has reinvented himself as a data and intelligence analyst. Up the interstate, USC Marshall’s Adewale Oduye admits to being a “recovering prosecutor.” Now a charter school founder, Oduye was previously a senior prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. While he earned a feature in the Los Angeles Times, Oduye notes that his best moments involved exonerating 10 people who were wrongly charged by his office.

“My biggest fear as a prosecutor was to put innocent people in prison. I worked tirelessly to make sure that didn’t happen. Surprisingly, my office did not make it easy for me in many instances. Despite the obstacles and resistance, I always found a way to get to justice. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

Indeed, the MBAs To Watch have made an impact across the globe. At the Central Bank of Paraguay, INSEAD’s Paula Heisecke drafted regulations that helped her country overcome liquidity shortages during COVID-19. Before joining CEIBS, LI Jing served as the acting head for China’s first energy exchange. At the same time, Katherine Dellar held roles as a diplomat, trade negotiator, and lawyer for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“I had an incredible experience as a diplomat in Geneva, representing Australia in global negotiations in the World Trade Organization and World Intellectual Property Organization,” explains the University of Oxford MBA. “I am most proud of my contributions to resolving deadlocks in the fisheries subsidies negotiations, which concluded last year after 21 years of negotiations, delivering on one of the specific targets of UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, ‘Life Below Water’.”

PUBLIC SERVANTS AND ENTREPRENEURS

Jennifer Cain, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

The class also includes Northwestern Kellogg’s Michael Manzano, a U.S. Green Beret Officer and IIM Ahmedabad’s Umar Mujeeb, a retired Lieutenant Commander in the Indian Navy. At the same time, Robert Reed oversaw an air assault demonstration for an American President before earning his MBA at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School and transitioning to marketing at Johnson & Johnson. And it wasn’t just MBA veterans who served the greater good before business school. Exhibit A: Jennifer Cain, ’23 grad of Southern Methodist University’s Cox School. Now a Kearney associate, she had previously been responsible for humanitarian programs worth $480 million dollars that served over 800,000 people!

Among the MBAs To Watch, you’ll find several business builders. During the pandemic, Daisy Moraa Ong’angi – now a Cambridge Judge MBA – launched an EdTech firm that has swelled to 2,500 customers across over 80 countries. That doesn’t include over 100,000 social media followers too. In India, Sukhreet Singh bootstrapped a pharmacy that expanded to three locations. Even more, the Emory Goizueta grad’s venture was selected by state government to be part of a medication distribution pilot during COVID. Among intrapreneurs, the University of Rochester’s Sophia Leung designed a process to recycle sample fabrics, keeping over 14,000 pounds of waste out of landfills. By the same token, Monica Shavers developed a program for non-English speakers for a media company.

“As the daughter of a Filipino immigrant and someone who comes from a big immigrant community, I think education is an incredible tool for creating pathways and opportunities,” writes the UC Berkeley Haas grad. “For folks living in the US, where English is not their native language, I believe a course like what we launched could fundamentally alter someone’s life path for the better. It was a proud moment to help build something that could open doors for others and marginally help toward closing opportunity gaps.”

Among MBAs, many ventures are centered around changing the word, coated by DEI and ESG (or equity and sustainability for those who loathe acronyms). Not HEC Paris’ Tamar Forman-Gejrot. In a refreshing twist, she has been laying the groundwork for a pole dance group fitness studio, The Peach. “I ended up dedicating multiple class projects as well as my capstone toward developing the business plan,” she tells P&Q. “I also set aside a week early on and instead of going on vacation made a long to-do list and vetted the idea with a variety of experts in marketing, finance, and business. I’m now on the cusp of opening the first studio in Paris.”

Pages 3-4: 135 profiles of the MBAs To Watch (Class of 2023)

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