Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Kailash Sundaram, Stanford GSB

Kailash Sundaram

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Inspired by those who challenge the status quo.”

Hometown: Boston, MA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have a camel driving license!

Undergraduate School and Major: Harvard University, Social Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Altos Ventures, Investment Team; The White House, National Economic Council

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? I care deeply about sustainable capitalism, or how we can balance the interests of shareholders with those of stakeholders. Stanford, being in the heart of Silicon Valley, seemed like the perfect place to explore that. I wrote my college senior thesis on the opioid crisis, and I was drawn to the story of Purdue Pharma. The company ran a highly successful marketing campaign that ramped up narcotic sales and generated huge profits, but fueled an opioid addiction for millions of Americans. Stanford GSB forces you to think critically about the impact corporations have on the world and how we can reconcile profits with societal goals — and restore trust in capitalism in the process. As first-year students we take a class on Leading With Values, and Stanford GSB has its own Corporations and Society Initiative that brings leaders to campus to discuss the very ethical dilemmas they face.

What has been the most important thing that you’ve learned at Stanford GSB so far? Leadership starts with authenticity. Often times, we show up to work with a different version of ourselves — one that we think we are expected to be. But people follow those who they trust. And the version of ourselves people trust is our most authentic selves.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Stanford GSB? View From The Top. It’s not every day that you get to hear from people whose work impacts millions of lives. 2-3 times each quarter, Stanford GSB students interview leaders on the lessons they have learned throughout their career. The most powerful part of View From The Top is realizing that ordinary people do extraordinary things.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far? Give an example why this is true. Inspiring. It’s hard not to look at my classmates and wonder how they seem to do it all — from the classroom to spending time with one another to building incredible companies from their dorm room. The best part of Stanford GSB is knowing you have classmates you will lean on for years to come, and who will push you to be the best version of yourself.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Writing speeches at the White House. When politics is done right, it has the ability to bring people together in pursuit of a bigger vision. A great speech tells a story that gets people to care and rally around a cause.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? Completing the Executive Challenge with my Leadership Labs squad. A big part of the MBA core curriculum at Stanford GSB is Leadership Labs, a class in which we learn to motivate others, build relationships, and influence outcomes. At the end of the quarter, we put what we’ve learned into action through the full-day Executive Challenge, completing role plays with senior-level alumni and faculty. It’s not easy to fire someone or successfully raise funding for a startup, but that’s what we practiced through the day.

The six of us became incredibly close over through the Challenge and developed some really valuable leadership skills along the way.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? Getting to know my classmates on a really personal level. It’s easy to often just know someone’s “baseball stats” — the highlight reel of everything they have accomplished. I’ve loved getting to know people’s stories — why they care about what they care about, what made them who they are, and their hopes and dreams for the future.

What advice would you give to a prospective applicant looking to join the Stanford GSB Class of 2026? Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and dream big in your application. As Steve Jobs said, it’s the “round pegs in the square holes,” the ones who see differently, that change the world after all.


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