Meet The Stanford GSB MBA Class Of 2025

Stanford GSB students

MAKING LIFE-LONG FRIENDS…BY THE 18TH HOLE

As their first year comes to a close, the Class of 2025 has already made so many lifetime memories. Nicholas Tobin reminisces fondly on a ski trip with 150 classmates to Whistler in British Columbia, where he watched Michigan claim their first football National Championship in 27 years. Kate Adams skydived with classmates over New Zealand. If you think that is scary, Rakiya Cunningham joined her classmates in performing a six-minute Comedy Night set in front of an audience. At the same time, Patricia Fernandez de Castro brought classmates to her native Mexico over Christmas, bonding over hikes and street fairs. In true business school fashion, many friendships were sealed over golf too.

“We don’t have class on Wednesdays – which we typically use to tackle our homework or group projects, participate in club meetings, and catch-up with our classmates,” explains Richard Hamrick, most recently a strategy and operations manager at McKinsey & Company. “Wednesdays are also great days to get off campus and explore everything the Bay Area has to offer. Earlier this quarter, the GSB Golf Club organized a group trip down to world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of the most famous golf courses in the United States. Sixteen GSB students went down and spent the day playing golf and exploring some of California’s most beautiful nature. Some of the most meaningful and stimulating conversations that I’ve had at GSB happen outside the classroom during outings just like these.”

True to their x-factor roots, the Class of 2025 brings a story that would jump off the page in an MBA application. Catherine Lacy has visited 49 of the 50 states, while Richard Hamrick has summited three mountains that were 14,000 feet or higher. Salome Mikadze is a trained opera singer with four-octave range – the same as Freddie Mercury and Mariah Carey. Before Jennifer Lawrence became a famous actress, she was Kate Adams’ babysitter. Kailash Sundaram actually possesses – wait for it – a camel driving license. And how is still for star power

“I had the incredible opportunity to serve as the co-protagonist in a theater production alongside Austin Swift, under the direction of Patrick Vassel, the Associate and Supervising Director of Hamilton,” writes Patricia Fernandez de Castro. “To top it off, we had Taylor Swift in the audience at one of our shows.”

Stanford GSB Classroom

A CLASS PROFILE

As a whole, the Class of 2025 includes 419 students, who hail from 55 countries. Women and international students make up 46% and 36% of the class respectively, with U.S. underrepresented minorities accounting for another 27% of the class. First generation and military students represented 11% and 5% of the class respectively. During the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, Stanford GSB accepted just 8.4% of applicants, making it one of the most selective full-time MBA programs in the world.

The first-year class averaged a 738 GMAT, with scores ranging from 630-780. 39% of the class also submitted GREs, where the averages reached 164 for both Verbal and Quant. Here, the lows were 149 (Verbal) and 150 (Quant), with the highs being 170. The average undergraduate GPA came to 3.77.

Academically, undergraduate STEM majors hold a 41% share of the class, followed by Humanities, Social Sciences, and Economics (39%) and Business (20%). Before joining the class, 19% of the class last worked in Investment Management, Private Equity, and Venture Capital. Consultants constitute 17% of the class, followed by Technology (13%), Government, Education, and Non-Profit (10%), Consumer Products and Services (9%), Healthcare (7%), and Financial Services (5%).

MBA students meeting

THE HIGHEST-PAID MBAS

Looking ahead, a Stanford MBA easily justifies the cost. In their first year, the Class of 2023 raked in $277,268 in starting pay and signing bonus. That’s a big jump from two years ago, where the $231,849. At that clip, the Class of 2025 can expect to earn over $330,000 in their first year after graduation. One reason: the market views Stanford GSB as the world’s top Full-Time MBA program. Over the past year, Stanford GSB has been ranked as the #1 business school by Poets&Quants, Bloomberg Businessweek, U.S. News & World Report, and QS (and finished 2nd with LinkedIn). While The Financial Times penalizes Stanford GSB over nominal issues, the school delivers on the critical measures. In the recent FT survey of students and recent graduates, the GSB earned the highest score for its Alumni Network and 5th for Career Services. Most important, the school achieved the highest score for Student Satisfaction – a 9.975 score on a 10-point scale. Oh – and GSB graduates enjoyed the highest pay within three years of graduation according to The Financial Times.

Those aren’t the only areas where the GSB excels. In a 2024 U.S. News survey of business school deans and MBA directors, the school earned the 2nd- and 3rd-highest marks for Entrepreneurship and Management respectively. In addition, Stanford GSB ranked Top 5 for Marketing, Finance, Non-Profit, and Production (and Top 10 for Accounting and Supply Chain). In a 2023 student survey conducted by The Princeton Review, the school also posted the top scores for Classroom Experience and its programming related to Marketing, Management, and Non-Profits (and ranked 4th for Finance).

Ask the general public what they associate with Stanford GSB and you’ll probably hear Silicon Valley. Sure enough, Sand Hill Road – a collection of many of the wealthiest venture capital and private equity firms – sits a few miles off campus. And it’s a 15-20-minute drive from Stanford to the offices of Meta and Apple. The public would also recognize many of Stanford GSB’s most famous alumni, which range from Nike co-founder Phil Knight to General Motors CEO Mary Barra to author Seth Godi. Of course, there is the GSB’s world-famous faculty, be it marketing guru Baba Shiv or The Knowing-Doing Gap author Jeffrey Pfeffer. Of course, there is the school’s unique courses, headlined by Touchy Feely, a tour de force of exercises, coaching, and reflection designed to accelerate leadership self-awareness.

“What really stood out to me about Stanford GSB is the commitment to offering courses in a wide variety of formats and learning experiences,” writes Richard Hamrick. “No two classes are taught in precisely the same way – in the span of a week, I might have a few case-based discussions, participate in a situational role-play with peers, tackle a business analytics challenge, and then hear a guest CEO share their approach to leadership in industry. GSB faculty choose the class format and learning experience that they believe best suits their course content based on decades of research and teaching experience. As someone who gets bored easily, I knew that I would constantly be challenged and pushed in the classroom. In my first few months here, I can confidently say that the experience hasn’t been a letdown in the slightest!”

THE TRUE TAKEAWAYS FROM A STANFORD MBA

Thus far, the Class of 2025 has gained some unexpected takeaways from the GSB classroom. Before business school, Stefano Schiappacasse viewed vulnerability as a weakness. After completing his Leadership Laboratory in course during the first quarter, he now considers it to be a tool to grow and connect.

“This unique setup [of the Leadership Laboratory] —meeting weekly in a small group of six classmates and a second-year MBA student, without a traditional instructor—created an environment ripe for deep, personal development. The course is designed ingeniously to spotlight our weaknesses, encouraging us to confront and refine them actively. The exchange of direct, unfiltered feedback among peers was both challenging and incredibly rewarding. It pushed us to look inward, to assess and articulate our areas for improvement, and to practice giving constructive feedback in return.”

The Leadership Lab also forced Avis Chan to confront the toughest question posed to anyone who wants to make an impact: “Why would anyone follow me?” For Chan, this meant reflecting on the gap between who she is now and who she ultimately wants to become. Indeed, you could argue that the GSB curriculum is a two-year exercise in facing what’s uncomfortable and scary. Mubarak Alliyu, for one, has learned to welcome failure as a means to growth. At the same time, Salome Mikadze has internalized that “nothing is impossible” and “any challenge can be overcome.”

The GSB experience has instilled this same confidence to take action in Rakiya Cunningham. “The entrepreneurial energy at GSB has taught me to have radical belief in myself and my ideas…Even outside of classes, the desire to create something is in the air. I can now apply this mentality in any of my endeavors and know that it’s not a matter of “if” I can do something but rather “how.” GSB has exponentially expanded my view of what is possible.”

If anything, the Stanford GSB experience reinforces the value of time – and how to make choices that yield the biggest return on that time. “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,” writes Catherine Lacy. “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.”

In fact, Stanford MBAs use a different acronym than FOMO to describe their situation, adds Richard Hamrick. “Instead of worrying about “FOMO,” the fear of missing out, we try to embrace “JOMO,” the joy of missing out, which happens when you make intentional choices about how you want to spend your time. JOMO is all about celebrating the choices that we intentionally make, recognizing that each decision contributes to a fulfilling experience.”

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSOCIATE DEAN

It has been a newsworthy spring at Stanford GSB. In April, Dean Jonathan Levin was named the new president of Stanford University. Two weeks later, Erin Nixon joined the school as its new assistant dean of admissions and financial aid. A month later, Stanford GSB introduced its interim dean, long-time finance professor Peter DeMarzo. What’s on the horizon at the GSB? This spring, P&Q reached out to Paul Oyer, senior associate dean for academic affairs. In this interview, Oyer shares the newest developments at the school, along with exploring its sustainability and leadership curriculum (and the advantages of its Silicon Valley location).

P&Q: What have been the two most important developments in your MBA program over the past year? What type of impact will they have on current and future MBAs?

Stanford’s Paul Oyer

Oyer: “We believe that today’s leaders need to be prepared to tackle the transformative issues facing our world. Over the past several years, we have integrated an understanding of the relationship between business and governmental institutions into the GSB educational experience.

Our Business, Government & Society (BGS) initiative reimagines how a business school and leading university can build a vibrant society and prepare responsible leaders for the next century. Leveraging the school’s leadership expertise, the initiative is dedicated to supporting new models of cutting-edge research, bringing changemakers together, and enhancing the Stanford GSB curriculum to prepare responsible leaders for a dynamic world.

Another exciting development is the integration of AI into our curriculum. Faculty are teaching and researching a wide range of applications, such as the economic effect of AI on labor markets and its implications for democracy. We are in a period of tremendous experimentation and discovery in this field, with a lot of new classes and students working to acquire skills that will enable them to start AI ventures when they graduate. We are excited to be at the forefront of both the new innovations and the new responsibilities that developments in AI will bring forward.”

P&Q: Give us your one-minute pitch for your business school. What makes you unique?

Oyer: “We believe that what differentiates the GSB is a commitment to training students in the craft of leadership. Our curriculum embeds the core principle that leadership is a craft, one that blends discipline and logic with intuition and feeling. We do not simply aim to transform our students by deepening and broadening their grasp of general management functions and disciplines, although that is critical.

We also push our students to work on honing the craft of leadership, to balance and integrate reason and imagination, the insights gained from first principles and the lessons won from experience. We strive to amplify students’ existing strengths and give them the opportunity to recognize and develop their relative weaknesses, so that they emerge as more balanced business leaders who are ready to take on the world’s greatest challenges.

We also believe that the collaborative culture at the GSB is unique. This culture fosters teamwork and innovation both inside the classroom and elsewhere at the GSB. Our students also have close access to world-class faculty and prominent leaders from across the globe through a variety of campus events. Whether in the classroom or at clubs, activities, and beyond – this collaborative spirit establishes strong relationships that persist and evolve well past our students’ time on campus.”

GSB Student Housing

P&Q: Sustainability has emerged as a major attraction to prospective MBA students. How does your full-time MBA program integrate sustainability across its curriculum?

Oyer: “Our commitment to sustainability is reflected in our classes, pioneering faculty research, and impact-focused programs. It is a focus of several areas of management that we teach and study: from accounting to finance to operations to marketing. Our sustainability curriculum is growing rapidly.

Collaborating across the university is also an important part of this work. The historic opening of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability in 2022 has enabled new opportunities to teach, research, and work with leading experts in various fields. Several of our professors share appointments between the Stanford Doerr of Sustainability and the GSB. And of course, we are also inspired by the many Stanford GSB alumni who are working on sustainability and climate change.”

P&Q: What are some key elements in your teaching of leadership? What types of options does your school offer that deepens student experience with leadership and makes them more competitive in the marketplace?

Oyer: “The mission of the GSB is to develop principled and purposeful leaders who will ‘change lives, change organizations, and change the world’. As a school, we share a commitment to the importance of both the art and science of leadership.

We think that great leaders not only have broad general management skills, but also grasp the craft of leadership and are able to blend art and science. We believe this means empowering bright young minds to become responsible, impactful leaders who motivate, inspire, and lead with empathy and compassion.” 

Next: Profiles of 12 Members of the MBA Class of 2025.

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