Meet The MBA Class Of 2025: Inspiring, Inventive, Impactful

Hunter Wang, USC (Marshall)

BIG IMPACT ON THE BIG STAGE

Hunter Wang also represents the artistic sensibilities of the incoming class. A Beijing native and USC Marshall first-year, Wang claims he has lived three lives: professional ballet dancer, film composer, and artistic manager. As a business student, he hopes to add a fourth life: consultant. In the meantime, he can look back on his crowning moment a summer ago, when he published a debut album that turned an unknown artist into a celebrity.

“This album quickly topped the new music chart, experimental chart, hip-hop chart, and R&B chart within the first month of its release in China and Hong Kong,” Wang explains. “The leading single alone amassed over 6 million streams in the first week. This success captured opportunities for TV show appearances and collaborations with established talents and attracted multiple record deal offers. Once unsure about pursuing this career, the artist became extremely thankful for sticking with our plan and can now make a good living doing what he loves.”

Wang joins a long list of highly accomplished MBAs in the Class of 2025. Before starting at Chicago Booth, Folasade Runcie launched DoorDash’s fresh meat program. In contrast, NYU Stern’s Aishani Majumdar pushed an initiative at Rodan + Fields to develop skincare products for consumers with melanin-rich skills – a first for the company, she says. At Nike, Brianna Ross spearheaded the development and launch of the footwear team’s DEI strategy.

“This experience was truly a catalyst for me because it illuminated what I wanted from my career,” explains the Michigan Ross first-year. “It became evident that I was hungry for greater impact and fueled by a desire to be a positive force for change in society. It also gave me the confidence to not settle where I wasn’t having the impact I wanted.”

READY AND RESOURCEFUL

For such effort, class members were honored. Three years ago, Ruben Antonio Quesada was named a recipient of the John Wiebenson Award by the American Institute of Architects and the Washington Architecture Foundation. The award recognized Quesada, a first-year at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School, for his philanthropic work in the DC area. At Amazon, you’ll find Adrian James Peters on the company’s 2021 Wall of Fame (along with being honored as a Star Performer).

“During Prime 2021, an amazon site witnessed its biggest jeopardy as it ran out of Amazon trailers to ship its inventory putting ~200K customer facing packages at risk,” recalls the Yale SOM MBA student. “While Amazon thrives on its customer obsession, I swiftly analyzed and reacted to the problem by strategizing to support the site with Amazon trailers around the whole region for a long term solve and optimizing stationed third-party trailers for a short term solve. The strategy resulted fruitfully, and the site was out of jeopardy in 4 hours and the inventory was shipped out of the site on time keeping customer promise.”

Indeed, the Class of 2025 brings a little bit of everything to the table. When the University of Virginia’s Nicolas Martinez wasn’t devising strategy for Deloitte clients, he was assisting DC-area immigrants with issues ranging from health to finances. In the Houston Independent School District, Rebecca Conchos, a Dartmouth Tuck MBA, designed a district-wide program that enabled 900 new teachers to receive mentoring from seasoned counterparts. MIT Sloan’s Jack O’Brien sold his business-to-business software company after building his client list to 5,000 companies. At Climate Neutral, Isabella Todaro became a self-taught expert in corporate carbon measurement.

Isabella Todaro, Columbia Business School

“Last year, I was invited to speak on 1A, a National Public Radio show broadcast across the US to more than 4.5 million listeners,” writes the Columbia Business School first-year “It has been the accomplishment of my career to be able to teach others what I’ve learned. Spending the hard hours teaching myself carbon measurement, forming an opinion on the practice, has enabled me to succinctly represent complex concepts to volunteers that I’m training, sustainability leaders at companies, and my teammates who looked to me to shape out our organizational thought leadership on the subject.”

The class even features students like Aki Kiyomiya, who’ve been involved in scientific breakthroughs. “I was researching corneal stem cells and found a combination of ingredients that could decrease the damage of cells caused by oxidative stress,” explains the Indiana Kelley MBA. “Then, I collaborated with members from other departments, and we developed this technology into a new eye drop. We also did new trials in the process of promotion, such as calling out buyers from drugstores to the laboratory and directly explained the technology and our passion to buyers. This product sold out very well and became the top brand in the premium eyedrop market soon after its release and still remains the top sellers until now.”

A DISTINCTIVE CLASS

The Class of 2025 also includes members with some colorful backgrounds. Some highlights? Jasmin Rainbow studied French, Latin, Dutch, and Polish languages as an undergrad at the University of Cambridge. For the past decade, the NYU Stern first-year has been the lead singer for Colonel Spanky’s Love Ensemble, a 10-piece function band. Folasade Runcie played violin beginning when she was four years old – and choreographed hip hop dances for her college dance group. How did Jonathan Santoso “ace” his history exams? He watched Hamilton clips on YouTube! UCLA Anderson’s Maria Carolina Travieso runs a half-marathon each day, while Caroline Campbell’s husband is joining her as a first-year MBA student at Carnegie Mellon. If you’re looking for good stories, you may want to reach out to Duke University’s Monserrat Etcheverry.

“I swam with hammerhead sharks in Galapagos, went freeriding on a snowboard in Niseko, Japan, and got proposed to on a millennia-old glacier in Patagonia.”

…Or you could strike up a conversation with Georgetown McDonough’s Gio O. Tantoco.

“I’m a Certified Rescue Scuba Diver and I am more comfortable in water than on land. Scuba diving has become a way for me to care for the environment as well. I do bio cleanups where I help remove the “crown of thorns” starfish: a poisonous invasive species that harm coral reefs.”

Martha Wong, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

“I HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE”

Thus far, business school has made a positive impression on the Class of 2025. When Kate Woods began meeting her USC Marshall classmates, her first thought was, “Wow! I have found my people!” By that, she meant that they were “highly motivated friendly, yet totally different.” After spending six years in finance, Martha Wong found it refreshing that many of her classmates didn’t know – “or care” – what EBITDA was. Compare that to Sasha McNair, who has high hopes for her Emory classmates.

“The beauty of an MBA is the network you create. After only two days of getting to know my classmates, I’m convinced that we have the next CEOs, presidents, local leaders, tech savants, and innovators in our cohort. All of us have such unique backgrounds from military vets to entrepreneurs to nurses that I know that we each will have such a strong presence in the corporate workforce in 2025. Most of all, I’m surrounded by people that want to do good in the world. It says something about Emory that each of their selected students don’t only want to be successful in business, but want to be the changemakers making waves on an international scale.”

The Class of 2025 has also found inspiration from classmates and alumni alike. During her INSEAD interview, Catherine Dimitroff met with an entrepreneur, whose transformation into someone who recognized his personal possibilities and industry opportunities resonated with her. Similarly, Devanshu Ganatra was riveted by a story of how two Duke Fuqua roommates supported each other during their interviews with the same company. More than that, the story reflected how Ganatra hopes his next two year’s will play out.

“I want to be able to spend my time at Fuqua in the same way—being extremely ambitious, but also taking my peers along and helping them grow—whether it’s through introductions to my network, sharing interview tips and resources, conducting mock interviews, or providing genuine constructive feedback. The “supportive ambition” philosophy to me is to have a stake in my peers’ success and thus contribute towards making it happen.”

MEN AND WOMEN ON A MISSION

Beyond the unity, the Class of 2025 has been struck by the diversity of their classes. Just ask INSEAD’s Ana Maria de Carvalho Pavanello, a McKinsey consultant from Brazil. “This mix of cultures and backgrounds is like a treasure trove of insights. For me, “business education” goes beyond learning about industries, finance, markets and business strategies; it’s about understanding different viewpoints, problem-solving approaches, and ways of working from a global perspective, and those things are maximized when you have diversity. This exposure will undoubtedly enrich me, making me a more adaptable, culturally aware, and effective professional.”

Karolina Adamkiewicz, INSEAD

Make no mistake, the incoming class isn’t streaming to campus for a 21-month vacation. For Isabel Milton, a chemical engineer by trade, a Yale MBA is a means to integrate her technical skillset with business fundamentals so she can deliver sustainable energy in an equitable fashion. Similarly, INSEAD’s Karolina Adamkiewicz, a medical doctor, is joining her family’s pharmaceutical firm. For Jake Daniels, business school is a time to plot out how he can further disrupt the entertainment industry.

“I think there will be a desperate need to redesign many of the existing business models and workflows – I aim to be a part of that process. Tangibly, this either means a new, tech-focused version of a strategy role at a studio, or a hands-on role shaping new tools within a venture of my own or at an entertainment-facing startup.”

TRUST YOURSELF AND THE PROCESS

Of course, not everyone has already laid out ambitious plans during their first month in business school.  Some are looking more towards living in the moment. “I’m focused on successfully pivoting my career and securing a full-time job post-MBA,” explains Emma Nosofsky, a Georgetown McDonough MBA who was previously a Google researcher. “I’d also love to make many new friends, travel abroad, and become a more experienced and well-rounded leader.”

What advice does the Class of 2025 offer to applicants hoping to get accepted to their dream school for next fall? They’ll tell you there is no magic formula, though strategies like maintaining a journal and being “different” can give applicants an edge. In the end, the application process is a leap of faith, says Duke Fuqua’s Gabrielle House – a test of self-awareness, planning, and ultimately perseverance.

“As simple as it may sound, just DO it—even if you’re scared, you don’t feel impressive enough, or you have a thousand reasons not to,” House tells P&Q. “The only outcome that is certain is if you don’t apply, and we both know what the best outcome could be. Betting on yourself is one of the bravest things you can do, and I can’t think of a better bet to make than Fuqua. Trust yourself, the process and that you deserve opportunities like this… you just have to be brave enough to leap.”

Page 3: Profiles of 28 MBA candidates from the Class of 2025, including INSEAD, Northwestern Kellogg, Columbia Business School, and more. 

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