Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Catherine Lacy, Stanford GSB

Catherine Lacy

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Quick-to-laugh recent Coloradoan passionate about financial equity and cooking for her friends.”

Hometown: Darien, CT

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve been to 49 out of 50 US states and their capitals!

Undergraduate School and Major: Yale University, Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: I was a director at Capital One on the New to Credit team, which focuses on expanding credit access to underserved groups.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Stanford GSB’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Stanford GSB’s offerings in the social impact space were the deciding factor for me. It’s one thing to talk about impact in an academic setting, and there’s plenty of great impact-related classes here. But as someone who learns best by doing, I wanted a place where I could dive into social impact in a hands-on way. In courses like “Analysis and Measurement of Impact”, students partner with local governments, NGOs, and other organizations on social impact projects aligned with the course’s learning goals. That is exactly the kind of field-specific learning experience I was looking for from business school. Stanford GSB also puts its money where its mouth is and has multiple ways to fund social impact-oriented summers—from Seed internships in emerging economies to SMIF grants.

What has been the most important thing that you’ve learned at Stanford GSB so far? To stay focused and stay true to myself. We are lucky to have a lot of shiny things here: classes taught by well-known professors, selective companies interviewing on campus, trips to all sorts of places – the list goes on. People talk about FOMO a lot! But we only have two years to get the most out of GSB. At the end of the day, some of those shiny things will not be aligned with your personal interests and goals. I’ve learned to say no to certain opportunities so I can be all-in on saying yes to the ones that I’m most curious and excited about—from classes and interviews to weekend trips.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Stanford GSB? I recently took a great class taught by Matthew Bannick called “Assessing High Impact Business Models in Emerging Markets”. The course was case-based, so each session we’d dive into a different business to evaluate how it operated and whether it successfully drove social impact. What made the class really special, though, was that the protagonists of the cases visited us in person or over Zoom to share their perspectives and answer our questions. The students were also a deeply thoughtful group with tons of relevant experience; I learned just as much from my classmates as I did from the professor and protagonists.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far? Give an example why this is true. Up for anything. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a random request or proposal in a group chat that is met with a couple dozen enthusiastic yeses. Whenever it comes up in conversation that I’m a rock climber, the most common response I get—usually from folks who have never climbed before—is, “Can I join you sometime?”. People here chase new experiences and are always thrilled to share those experiences with their classmates.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My most meaningful accomplishment has been leading a team at Capital One that identified and collected a new piece of customer data that will enable more expansive credit underwriting for underserved segments. Credit access is something that I’m passionate about, so working on a project that could so directly impact credit policy for a major banking institution was incredibly rewarding. My time on that team has also greatly informed my goals at the GSB and the kind of work I hope to be involved with afterwards.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? Being elected to the Academic Committee on the Student Association. I’ve never been on any kind of student council, so running for election was pretty outside my comfort zone! The Committee meets weekly with the deans and is charged with identifying ways the academic experience can be improved—from inviting speakers with more racial and gender diversity to adjusting degree requirements to be more relevant to student interests and needs. I’m proud to act as a voice for my classmates and to have the opportunity to shape GSB for the future.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? The winter break road trip I took with five GSB friends to Mammoth Mountain. I’m an introvert, so the bigger GSB trips aren’t really my speed. This group was just the right size and was made up of some of my closest female friends on campus. We spent our days skiing and our nights reading or playing board games by the fire (don’t ask how long it took to build a fire every night—none of us would survive in the wild), which was the perfect way to recharge after our first quarter. I also moved to California from Colorado, so getting back into the mountains felt like coming home.

What advice would you give to a prospective applicant looking to join the Stanford GSB Class of 2026?

1) Think about exactly why you want to get an MBA and whether it’s consistent with your goals. Be honest with yourself; GSB is most valuable to you if you know exactly what you want to get out of it. Your application will also come together more easily if you know your “why”.

2) Use your own voice. Every single sentence in your application should sound like something that you, and not anyone else, would say.


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