The Best and Brightest Business Majors – Class of 2016

Studying at the NYU Stern School of Business - Ethan Baron photo

Studying at the NYU Stern School of Business – Ethan Baron photo

CAN’T BE SUCCESSFUL IF YOUR TEAM DOESN’T BUY INTO YOU

Over their four years, the Class of 2016 has absorbed many key business lessons – ones that even the most seasoned professionals sometimes forget. At Georgetown, Vaibhav Agarwal learned what leadership is – and isn’t. “The best leader isn’t necessarily the person with the loudest voice or the greatest intelligence,” he writes, “but rather the person who can effectively delegate, make calculated decisions with limited information, and elevate the abilities of everyone around them.”

Notre Dame's Carol (Left) and Christina (Right) Gutierrez

Notre Dame’s Carol (Left) and Christina (Right) Gutierrez

Teamwork was another lesson that hit home with the graduating class. “Above all else, value your team,” warns Indiana’s Walker. “Our curriculum is all built around teams and groups, and I quickly learned that you can have the best idea in the world, but if team members are not all bought in, it’s hard to be successful.” To build this consensus, SMU’s Myles Lee encourages students to invest in building relationships with their peers. “Once we understand what motivates others,” he explains, “we can figure out how we might work together to achieve a common goal.”

At Notre Dame, Carolina Gutierrez learned to approach problems by focusing on the details. “You have to make sure you don’t overlook minor things that might have major impacts down the road,” she emphasizes. “Whenever you don’t understand something, start again by looking at all the details and eventually you’ll place the pieces together and achieve greater understanding of the problems and pitfalls, so that an effective solution can be designed.” Along the same lines, USC’s Joshi discovered the importance of diving below the surface. “In order to truly analyze and solve the issue, it requires a comprehensive understanding of your environment, information at hand, and resources available. To develop this “comprehensive understanding,” we have to rationalize and logically think about every aspect of a problem and weigh its options. This often times comes with challenging oneself to go beyond your first thought or assumption about a problem.”

University of Texas' Rachel Huynh

University of Texas’ Rachel Huynh

Even more, the 2016 Class realized that running a business comes with serious accountability – not just to stakeholders, but to the greater good as a whole. We are all stewards,” stresses Brigham Young University’s McKenzi McDonald. “As a business professional I will have the responsibility to look after and care for a lot of people. One decision can affect several different groups, so it is important to understand who those groups are and how to best serve them.” In fact, one of the benefits of a business major for seniors was demystifying it altogether. “I don’t see business as a discipline confined the boardroom,” states the University of Texas’ Rachel Huynh.It’s extremely applicable in everyday life because it’s simply about making smart, strategic decisions that drive value.” And such decisions are often made by people who are as frazzled and fallible as everyone else. “Behind every organization or company there are ordinary people making decisions and learning from their mistakes,” adds Wisconsin’s Mariscal. “Businesses aren’t “big and scary” but made up of individuals just like me, who can be convinced, swayed, or learned from.”

SPRING GRADUATES LOOKING TO CONTINOUSLY LEARN AND HAVE A SAY

As the Class of 2016 prepares to say goodbye, what do they want out of a job as their careers progress? One thing is for sure: Most are united in their desire to serve others in one form or another. The University of North Carolina’s Stetson Starkey, for example, dreams of becoming President of the World Bank to spur innovation in developing countries. Illinois’ McAuliffe imagines franchising dance academies across the country to transform the lives of children and communities. Carnegie Mellon’s Fowler hopes to someday lead humanitarian aid projects. Each expects their business degree to be the foundation for advancing their credibility and experience. Like Boston University’s Emily Tillo, they plan to better the world using the influences that helped to shape them. “My dream job is to be the first female commissioner of the PGA Tour, states Tillo, the top female golfer in the Patriot League. “I want to increase golf’s accessibility to those who normally would not have been exposed to the game and use golf as a tool to teach universal core values and life lessons to future generations.”

University of North Carolina's Stetson Starkey

University of North Carolina’s Stetson Starkey

At the same time, the class is seeking a respite from the 9-to-5 desk job of yesteryear, where people were plugged into a role and conformed to its contours. Instead, the best-and-brightest are craving variety and impact, where they have autonomy and growth opportunities. Cornell’s Ashini Ganesalingam describes her dream job as a place where she can “work on different things every day, continuously learn something new, connect with people across the world, and contribute positively to society. And Emory’s Walker envisions an “intimate team of very talented individuals that feel empowered to voice their opinions and speak candidly.”

However, the Class of 2016’s aspirations are best expressed by Emory’s Max Mayblum, who recognizes the fluidity of business, along with the nobility of its broader mission. “My career aspirations are not bound to a particular company or position, but are instead fueled by my desire to make an impact. I hope to find myself in a job that demands constant innovation and learning, as well as part of a team that challenges me to continually think creatively, solve problems, and move the world forward.”

Congratulations to the Class of 2016! Have a great final semester.

What were the biggest accomplishments of the Class of 2016? What are these students’ long-term goals? How do they describe their personal brand (in terms of the animal that best represents them)? And what do faculty and staff have to say about these high performers? Go to the next page to check out our in-depth profiles of over 50 of the best and brightest undergraduate business majors.