Q&A with Second-Year Stanford MBA Students


[INAUDIBLE] from people who
are chatting in online, and I wanted to get started just by asking each
of you to briefly introduce yourselves and talk a little bit about your background. What were you doing before you applied
to the Stanford MBA program and what ultimately led you to
pursue an MBA at Stanford.>>Sure. I can start. So my name is Sara I graduated in 2010
studied economics from Chicago originally. And before the GSB I had tried two things. First I worked in the capital markets on
the banking side at Morgan Stanley and then moved over to consulting and
was with BCG for three years. The reason I decided to apply to
the business school in general and also the GSB was I really wanted
to get into impact investing, and it was something that I didn’t really see
a path toward, and also wanted to explore before I really dedicated myself to it and
so have gotten to do so while here.>>Awesome, thanks.>>And I worked for
a few years in consulting, two years in consulting in Atlanta and then worked for four years in in social
enterprise in Sub-Saharan Africa. Primarily within operations roles. What made me most interested
about coming back to GSP and NVA was I was interested in
moving back to the states. And the MBA seemed like a very
good way to move back stateside. And I was interested in developing
skills kind of beyond core operations supply chain skills. Specifically within leadership and
general strategy.>>Awesome. That’s really interesting. So we’ve got a few questions that have
been sent to us already via chat. Somebody’s asking us, what are the most common careers that
Stanford MBAs Pursue after you graduate. And I know this is a really personal
question, so maybe each of you can just talk about, what were your career
goals coming into Stanford? And what are you planning
to do after you graduate? And what are some of the resources
that you’re using at Stanford to help you navigate that path?>>[INAUDIBLE]
>>So coming into Stanford, I was very interested in working within
>>Entrepreneurship and a startup. Probably specifically within
a social enterprise space again. Over my time here I’ve pivoted a little
bit more toward being interested in healthcare. And upon graduation I’ll be working with
a very large medical device company in a merging market strategy, so
kind of combining two of those together. The resources I used
were on campus recruiting>>Which happens both in first year and second year. And I actually ended up taking a full
time offer with the firm I interned with this summer. But, before doing that, before accepting
that offer I also considered consulting, also through on campus recruiting. And then one or two other opportunities that came
through with speaking with other alumni. That were also working in the
>>In the healthcare space.>>Awesome and I mentioned that
I was interesting on testing my thesis on impact investing. And so to do that the GSB has a resource
called the impact labs program. And so I got to apply and intern for an impact investment fund,
which was exactly what I wanted to do. And, got to work at a fund,
during the year, tested that out, and actually realized that I wanted to try
more traditional early-stage investing, after that. Wasn’t really sure how impact investing
was defined, at least in my mind. So, through a summer internship,
I tried traditional venture capital. Really enjoyed that. Will likely also be returning
to my summer internship. And, would say, I think resources that
were helpful along the way, for me, also took advantage of our alum network in
terms of just learning about what they do. Helping recruiting and then our career
management office was really great too. Had a lot of one-on-one sessions
with our career advisors and they really helped me hone in on what I
was interested in and what I wanted to do.>>Amazing, that sounds great. We also have a question
about global experiences. I just talked earlier
about the requirement, as well as the portfolio of
opportunities that are available. Could each of you share kind of what your
global experiences look like and what the. Experience was like for you.>>Sure, so last year I went on two
of the trips that the GSTs that the Global Study Trips. My first one was in
the winter to Thailand. And then my second was to South Africa. And I would say both of
them were incredible. I hadn’t been to either
of those countries and the trips really help you
learn about the country. There’s a big cultural component
that goes into just learning about some the foods and some of the customs. You have to do meetings beforehand
which were really helpful in hitting the ground and knowing what to
do and not feeling like a total outsider. And I also loved getting to know
these very different economies. And there’s a sovereign nation in
Thailand that we had to think about, learning about agriculture there
was really fascinating and, those were probably two of
my favorite experiences. Is at the GSB in the first year.>>Wow.>>And I did a trip over spring
break to go to Brazil and it was specifically a social innovation trip
focused on health and education in Brazil. So likewise to Sara, there was just so
much that you could learn there. What I really like about it was we met
from everyone, from the former President of Brazil during a financial crisis
that was going on in the country, all the way through to a front line
clinic, in the northeast of the country. So, kind of getting in and everything in
between, so a wide breadth of experiences. The other thing I would add is it such
an amazing opportunity to really, or another amazing opportunity, to really
get to know your classmates well. Twenty people are on the trip and
you’re spending ten days with them and a lot time each of those days. And so it’s another great opportunity
to to build relationships within the community here.>>Great. So pivoting a little bit
to the campus experience, did either of you have a significant
other and can you talk a little bit about the experience of
coming to the GSB with a partner.>>Sure. My experiences might be
a little bit different, my boyfriend is also a student in Nick and
my class, also an MBA 2 currently, and so it’s the first time that we were
in school together, I would definitely say it’s tough because probably as
everyone’s heard, it can get really busy. So it’s important to set
aside time with one another. But I think for us, we really viewed,
and I think this is true for every couples, where one person is
a student and one person is not. It’s really a mutual growing
experience and there are so many opportunities for
your partner to be involved or not involved depending on what
kind of path you decide to carve. And it can be a huge
learning experience for both of you whether you’re
both students or not.>>And so I don’t have an SO
while being here but I will add there are a lot of other
resources that are available. There are actually clubs for SOs and
you get integrated within the campus. So, your SO actually gets a card to go to the gym and
the sporting events that are here. And then even some of the most
popular classes within the GSB your SO can take within their own section. So, for example, touchy feely is
a really well known course here and they have special sections for SOs. So I think there’s a lot of effort
to culturally integrate them in to the community. So it’s kind of one large class.>>We also have a question
about financial aid and is it offered to international students? So I can actually take that one because
I don’t think either one of you are international students. But we do offer need-based financial aid
for every single person who’s admitted to our program and we don’t differentiate
between international students or American students in terms
of access to financial aid. But maybe each of you could speak a little
bit of the cost benefit Thoughts that went through your mind when you were pursuing
an MBA and ways that you financed it and thought about investing in your
education here at Standford. So, I came from a background of
having done four years of living and working in sub Saharan Africa, so I was
a recipient of some of the need based financial aid, which very much made
that a positive MPV calculation for me. It’s amazing about how much recruiters
start coming to you, as a GSP student, all the way through on campus recruiting, to just random kind of cold emails
that happen during your second year. So, the bump in salary could
be pretty significant, and more importantly maybe the salary but the actual opportunities
that you can do while in some of these organizations makes it MPV
positive for me within one or two years.>>Yeah, I think for me I didn’t receive a
substantial fellowship, actually very low, and have been relying primarily on loans. And so I think the cost benefit for
me is actually still, the benefit is harder to measure,
at least in the near term. But for me, the GSB has opened up doors
as Nick mentioned, that I would never have been able to walk through before
coming, or even known that I wanted to. And I think before coming in, there was honestly a question
in my mind of This is expensive. You know, consulting is also general,
you can go to something else. And I think having this
hindsight by us now, I’m really glad that I
did make that tradeoff. And I just want to say too,
if you’re not a fellowship recipient, the school and
also their private resources are. That are. Both are really good in
helping you bridge that gap. And it’s what I rely on for my education.>>Great.
So, aside from great weather, someone is asking us what are some
of the benefits of our location? Where we are either geopolitically or
in terms of the valley. Have you taken advantage of local
resources that are around campus?>>From a lifestyle perspective,
I love hiking. And if you haven’t had a chance
to come to the Bay and figure out what redwoods are,
they’re these massive trees. Some of the most beautiful
hiking I think in the world, in terms of day hikes
are right around here. San Francisco is an amazing city,
just culturally, it’s great. Silicon Valley. So, I think the benefit of the school
is we get a lot of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that
come in to speak and teach classes here that you probably
wouldn’t get outside of the valley. Just because of
the resources that are here.>>Mm-hm.
>>I don’t know if you have.>>Yeah I would say Nick
pretty much covered it and just add that for a lot of industries like
venture capital which I’m interested in. Also tech but many more. Healthcare, consumer,
there are so many interesting and exciting companies within
an hour drive of us. And so, I think getting to visit them,
whether that’s through interviews or just learning, has been really exciting. And you’re kind of in the middle of it, so I would say something less tangible is
just the energy that you get from that. And you know I grew up in Chicago, went
to school in Boston, lived in New York. I do think it’s pretty
unique to this area.>>Skiing and surfing is also readily
accessible if you’re into those types of [CROSSTALK]
>>And on the same day if you
are really ambitious. [CROSSTALK]
>>Yeah, you can ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon.>>Yeah.
>>So, along the same lines having access
to all of these companies, do you have any concrete examples you really
wanted to explore in patent busting? And we have a question about access
to social entrepreneurship and having been previously involved
in social impact related work. Do you have any thoughts on resources for
that in particular? Either within the region or us in the Stanford MBA
Program, which want to touch briefly.>>Yeah.
So, I think you know, I briefly mentioned this before. But I think the impact,
both impact investing and then also just impact labs
program is a program offered by the GSB where your place,
either with the non-profit or an impact investment fund and you get
the intern for them for school credit. I would also say more generally
that social innovation is very very well resourced at the GSB and at Stanford broadly so
there’s a social innovation club. A student club but there are also
resources at the center that you can take advantage of to test
different Hypotheses that you want to.>>So, just to add on that the Center for Social Innovation actually
has GSB staff on that. They have trips so GST global study trips that will focus
specifically on social innovation. I was on one in Brazil and
then there’s another program called SEED which has an acronym I don’t
know what it stands for. But essentially is money that is set aside
to invest with social entrepreneurs. And that. That materializes a few ways
from a student experience. So, one is a lot of times those
social entrepreneurs from around the world will be here on campus and
you have access to them. And then secondly to that,
there’s a chance to take funding to work in social entrepreneurship
as part of your internship experience. So, if a organization can qualify through Stanford to accept funding It
allows you to get closer to market rate as a student to work in social
entrepreneurship over the summer. And then also they have a loan forgiveness
program to certain students should you launch a career with a non-profit
in social entrepreneur afterwards. So, I think there are lots of access and lots of resources, and I’d argue one
of the core competencies of the school. Great those are really
helpful concrete examples. So, Tom has a question for you guys about
aspects of your experience where you may have been challenged beyond
what you expected at the GSB. And what is the most important piece of advice that you would
give to your first year self? Looking back now.>>So, yeah. So, I think the first thing is be open and
ready to change. So, one of the great
parts of the curriculum here have to do with interpersonal
skills and leadership development. There are so many mental models or
there were so many mental models that I held coming
into the GSB about what leadership is. How people react in different situations
and being in such a diverse environment and having a very open culture of feedback
and the way the curriculum is set up. You really get to challenge
those mental models. And I think some of the most challenging
part were in a team situation or in some of these courses where you kind
of really get down to having to be vulnerable, to get to a point to change
and become a much more effective leader. So, being open to that process is really, really important and can sometimes take
a few weeks to get comfortable in.>>Hm. Yeah, I would say,
sort of along this same theme, before the JSV I wouldn’t
consider myself a leader. I was very good at getting the job
that was asked of me done and always at a junior level as an analyst or
associate And, at the GSV, it’s the first time I’ve ever, in my life, felt
like I have the confidence to be a leader. And, I think that’s actually been
associated with the things that have been challenging at the GSV. So, I’m one of the co-presidents
of Women In Management, this year. And, I help lead a board of 10 people,
we’ve planned retreats for the full class and
just thinking about things like how do you create a board culture, how do you
motivate people who are volunteers and your friends but
need to get a lot of work done. Among an already busy schedule and I think
those are real things that managers and leaders have to face. I’ve never gotten
the opportunity to do so, and I just learned so
much from that experience. I think my advice to my first year self or
any first years would be, be open like Nick said, but also just take the chance
and have confidence in yourself. I think having confidence sometimes
Just comes from doing it anyway even if you think you can’t do it. And asking yourself why not you. And I think the GSB has made me ask
myself that over and over again. And I’ve just taken on way more than
I would have thought I could have.>>That’s not only great advice for first
year but probably great advice for life.>>[LAUGH]
>>So I think I’ll probably
take that one with me. So you touched a little bit about
the challenges of being a club leader. Balancing that with a lot of
other obligations at school. So we’ve got a question
about a typical week. How are you balancing cut and
dry classwork, leadership opportunities through clubs, other initiatives
that you might be involved with? How does that break down and
how do you end up prioritizing your time?>>Sure, so I guess I’ll preface this
with I was given the advice, and I haven’t followed as
closely as I should have but it’s definitely good advice
to ruthlessly prioritize and do that by coming in, and
obviously being adaptive, and flexible. But coming in with a clear list
of what your priorities are, whether that’s academics,
or social, job related. Being pretty specific about them,
just coming in, because I think a big
struggle at least for me at the GSB is not letting the urgent
get in the way of the important. So I would say the topic of time
management has been tough for me because there are so
many interesting things to do here. In terms of a typical week, and
this kind of ties back to my priorities, which I think number one
we’re around meeting people. That’s one of the big reasons I came here,
just to get to experience the people here. And then I would say for me,
I might be in a minority here, but academics are really important to me. And I’ve loved the classes that I’ve been
in and the professors that I’ve had, so I would say I spend a fair
amount of time on academics. And then I mentioned Women Management and
a few other extracurriculars that I’m in. I would say I pretty much spread
my time among those three.>>Mm-hm.
>>And right now, for me at least, the extracurriculars are taking
a bigger role in my life. I think through prioritization, I try
to go back to my list that I created. And update every now and then to say,
I said that this is more important to me. Let me not cancel on a meeting
with a friend because of this particular thing which I
know is less important.>>Mm-hm.>>And yeah.
I’m trying to think about also how that changed my first year to my second year. So first year, I think academics
probably require a little bit more work outside of the classroom than
they do your second year. In your second year you
have all electives. So also because you’ve chosen every single
class you want to be in, working for them doesn’t really feel like work. It’s intellectually
stimulating on all levels. And so I probably, I don’t know,
could give an hour break down, but there is a decent amount of time for
class prep meeting other classmates and building relationships with classmates did
take a significant amount of time, but I mean, that’s something I love doing. I also need a lot of personal time for
myself. So I block out at least
an hour a day just to, that’s on my calendar that no
one else can schedule over. There’s a great way to balance academics, recruiting takes up a lot of time
depending which cycle you go through. And then yeah, just prioritize at what quarter which of those are most
important for you to go through.>>Have either of you thought about
pursuing a joint or dual degree?>>I have not.
>>Okay.>>I thought about doing
the Masters of Education.>>Okay.
>>And I decided against it.>>Yeah. I mean, and
the reason I wanted to do it was so that I could get an extra quarter so
I could get two internships. And that really just kind of
came back to prioritizing, because I was kind of thinking,
did I want to do health or education? And just did kind of a cost benefit
analysis and decided against it.>>Yeah.
>>But we have obviously lots of
classmates that are doing JD/MBAs, that are doing MD/MBAs, and
they seem to really enjoy it.>>Yeah and
it an important personal calculus to make. Just like everything else with a GSB. It’s kind of a choose your own adventure,
and you always need to think through the trade
offs of what do I gain from this, and what are the advantages of doing it or
not doing it? Did you dip your toes into the water of
maybe taking classes at the add school or have either of you taken classes,
what we call, across the street at any of
the other grad schools at Stanford?>>I have not yet, I’m hoping next
quarter to take what’s called bio-design, which I think is actually a med school
class, but it’s cross-functional between engineering, medicine, and business
to launch a medical device product.>>Interesting.>>Yeah, I would say I’m in the same camp. I’ve just found there to be so
many interesting GSP classes. That being said though,
something that I came in really wanting to get a better grasp
of is computer science and obviously Stanford is one of the best
computer science programs in the world. And so for next quarter I am signed up for
a computer science class and I think, something that I would also like to try,
it’s just more with a design school, which I think has that very unique type
of thinking that we can all benefit from.>>Great.
>>I’m also taking rock climbing next quarter,
I forgot to throw that in there. So there are lots of PE classes that are
available [LAUGH] everything from hip hop, to rock climbing,
to horseback riding, to golf. Golf is a very, very popular
across this [INAUDIBLE] elective.>>It is.
>>It’s sunny all the time here.>>Yeah it’s a beautiful driving range. [LAUGH]
>>So I’ve gotten a few questions for admissions so I’m just going to
address those really quickly. One was for
students who apply from college directly. So if you’re currently
a senior in college, you are more than welcome to apply. You go through the exact same application
process and you, actually we’re looking for the same three criteria that we
talked about earlier in the presentation. So, we’re not looking for
anything different. If you’re thinking about
letters of recommendation, you might want to think about
your summer internships. Faculty members tend not to be
the best recommenders in our view. We’re looking for
people who really can highlight your professional competencies
as well as your leadership. So if a professor was an adviser to
you for a club, for example, or for your research,
that would be really helpful. But if it was just a student-teacher
relationship, typically that’s where I see college seniors benefiting more from
using your internship supervisors, or other people that you’ve kind
of been held accountable to. Once you get in, we typically ask
you to defer your enrollment, so you actually go and get some work
experience for a couple years, and then matriculate into the GSP
after those two years. In terms of making yourself
competitive as an undergrad, the same advice actually goes
to everybody, which is you know, we are looking for people that demonstrate
a lot of intellectual curiosity. So take tough classes,
challenge yourself, perform well in them. Get involved in activities
in your community and demonstrate your leadership potential. Those are things we’re looking for
across all our candidates. Similarly for joint and
dual degree programs we’re not looking for any separate admissions criteria. We’re looking for
the same three things for our program. However, you will also have to meet
the admissions requirement for those other programs. So, whatever the requirements are,
say for law school or for medical school, those are not things that we would
be looking for in our candidates but they are things that you would obviously
have to meet for those other programs. We also had a question about placing
weight on every component of the application itself. For example,
do we weigh the GPA versus tests, versus recommendation letters differently. And I wish I could tell you that
there were some secret formula for how to read an application and create. A calculus for it,
it would make my job way easier, but actually it’s an art and a science. So we don’t have any sort
of equation that we use, so by definition there is no weight
placed on any one component. We talked a little bit earlier about how
we have a holistic application process. And what that means, fundamentally, is that we look at every single
piece of your application, so every single thing counts, and everything
is a part of our review process. We try to weave all three criteria
of intellect, leadership, and personal qualities into our
evaluation of you as a candidate. And we really pour a lot of time and
energy and appreciation for how much you invest in your application
by taking a holistic approach to it. So there’s no one piece of your
application that kind of makes or breaks it. Even if you’re invited to interview, it’s
not like the interview tips you in or out. That goes back in to your application,
which is re-evaluated as a whole. So every single piece matters, and
not one piece matters more than the other. So we’re coming up on
the last five minutes, and we had a student ask a question that
I think would be, or not a student, a participant, ask a question that
could be a good capstone for us. And that is have you had one monumental
experience so far at the GSB? And I could phrase it another way,
which would be, can you talk about your favorite memory so
far? And it can be anything, it doesn’t have to
academic, or if it is that’s great, but anything about your experience
that you would say stands out as your favorite part so far?>>Ooh, tough question. [LAUGH]
>>You can only pick one.>>Only one.
[LAUGH]>>Actually I have one, I have mine. I mentioned that I am co-leading
Women in Management this year. It’s been a really challenging experience. Part of the reason that it was so challenging was planning
our annual fall retreat. 160 women come together for a weekend,
and really it’s ours to plan. We have last year’s curriculum, but
we decided to go rogue this year and do it from scratch. And it was incredibly stressful,
the months leading up to it. And I would say it was
the most fulfilling moment for me at GSB because of what happened that
weekend, and also just the, I would say, the discussions, but really the sense
of community that came out of that. I think when you get to the GSB,
especially your first year, it’s just kind of crazy, in good ways,
but also in not so great ways. And the opportunity to provide a retreat
where particularly first year MBAs could hit the reset button and say,
hey, let’s breathe, let’s pause and let’s remember why we came here, and
also talk about what’s holding us back from being our fullest selves,
and really be authentic and honest. I got to facilitate those sessions for
the first time, and just hearing those discussions come out of that
made all of the effort really worth it. And I think just the community element to,
interclass, which I wanted more of last year,
was really special for me.>>I think there had been a lot of
profound or impactful moments that have happened within a lot of
the interpersonal dynamic classes and leadership classes that I’ve had, but
those are going to take awhile to set up. So I’d say probably one of the more
pinch myself moments was I was in a class with Dr. Condoleezza Rice,
who was the former US Secretary of State. And we had a case simulation that she was
running about what to do from a business standpoint in eastern Europe, assuming
this fictitious country invaded this, and you had resources in that country,
and ended up getting in to like, a very, very small pseudo debate,
about the trip wire theory of NATO.>>Wow.
[LAUGH]>>Which was crazy that this is one of the architects for some of this,
and an actual policy maker, and still very prominent on
the world stage on that side. And I think that speaks a little
bit of the resources, or the access,
you can get in this type of environment. Not in the habit of like the first
week of class, my first year.>>Wow, that’s pretty memorable.>>Awesome.>>Yeah, that’s really exciting. Well, I want to than both of you so
much for taking the time. I know we’ve talked about priorities and
how busy you guys all are on campus, so I just want to thank you so much for
sharing your experience and really bringing the Stanford MBA experience
alive to everybody who’s been joining us. And to all of you who’ve been online
with us, I really appreciate you spending your time with us, as well, to
learn more about the Stanford MBA program.

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