Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Shaan Bhatnagar, Wharton School

Shaan Bhatnagar

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

“I am a former Marine Corps Intelligence Officer who is interested in defense technologies.”

Hometown: Vienna, Virginia

Fun Fact About Yourself: While deployed, I sailed from San Diego to the Red Sea, a voyage that spanned over 20,000 nautical miles.

Undergraduate School and Major: James Madison University, Intelligence Analysis

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton

What has been your first impression of the Wharton MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Wharton story so far. I have been impressed by every single student I have met. My favorite Wharton story involved meeting a Penn MD/MBA student who is currently in his heart surgery residency while also in his first year of the Wharton MBA program. He told me about how he aspires to combine his medical experience and business education to create medical devices related to heart health. I was impressed not only by his background but how thoughtful and precise he was in terms of the future impact he wanted to have. I told him whenever he starts a company, I’ll be there!

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the Wharton School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Since I come from a non-traditional military and defense consulting background, the quantitative rigor of Wharton’s MBA program appealed to me. As I continue my civilian transition, I have realized that to build credibility in the business world it is essential that I learn more about how businesses operate and grow.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at the Wharton School? I am most excited to do a leadership venture. The same motivations to push myself physically and mentally that led me to join the Marine Corps still exist. I want to continue to push myself, this time with my peers at Wharton in a demanding environment overseas. There are so many clubs I am looking forward to joining – particularly the boxing club. I love how it gives you access to incredible trainers, and I might even train to participate in Penn fight night!

When you think of the Wharton School, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Acceptance. Wharton is a school that has built an environment where people of all backgrounds feel comfortable working together and even sharing intimate information about their lives with each other. Every interaction I’ve had has been characterized by mutual interest and respect. I was worried that a military background may not resonate with my classmates, but everyone I have spoken to has been very interested in my Marine Corps experiences and accepting of me in general.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Directly after finishing my military training I was selected to lead a 45-person intelligence team that supported Marines deployed in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. This assignment was incredibly difficult not only because of the stress of ensuring we are providing quality and timely intelligence to forces in combat zones, but also because I was challenged to lead highly intelligent and experienced Marines as a new, inexperienced Officer. It was a crash course in how to learn complex concepts quickly and in how to build credibility with senior subordinates as a junior manager.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? Work at MBB and apply what I learned as a Wharton MBA, as an Intelligence Officer, and as a defense consultant to build out strategy for defense clients.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I recently read the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. The first few chapters discuss how sapiens came to dominate the world, and how our ancestors transitioned from being hunter-gatherers to agriculturists. I think this book is valuable for MBAs to read, because many of us want to be leaders in the business world, which means we will manage large teams of diverse people. It’s critical to understand how humans evolved, how early societies formed, and how this all may affect how we act today.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Columbia

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Wharton School’s MBA program? Conduct research into what makes the Wharton School’s academic and experiential offerings unique. Reflect on how these experiences can help you close critical gaps in your knowledge. Reflect on your life so far and explain how a Wharton MBA is the bridge between where you are now and where you want to be. Speak to current students and alumni and learn about their experiences and how they have given back to Wharton.


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