17 Stanford Business Students Who Are Going To Change The World

Patrick Martinchek

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business is the most selective MBA program in the world, accepting only 7% of the people who apply. Harvard accepts 12%. It’s ranked 1st by US News and Business Insider, and 2nd by the Financial Times.  

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, it’s surrounded by the companies and minds that have created some of the most influential companies in the world.

Students don’t just come to get a job that pays more after school, but to create disruptive companies and change the world. We’ve picked out some of the most impressive students there right now. 

They include a former NASA engineer who worked on the Mars Rover; the deputy campaign manager for Julian Castro, last year’s keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention; and the youngest fine art specialist ever employed by Christies.

Their dreams are as impressive as their experience. From disrupting health care and law to creating artificial intelligence machines, all of these students plan to have a serious impact.  

Patrick Martinchek was a NASA engineer before going for his MBA and wants to disrupt the space industry.

Age: 24

Year: 1st

Hometown: Petoskey, Michigan

Undergrad: University of Michigan

Patrick got an early start working with NASA as an Aerospace Engineering student at Michigan, where he worked with classmates to design spacecraft systems that were tested by NASA using one of their aircraft.

After graduating, he worked as a systems engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Mars Exploration Rover mission. He was responsible for maintaining the health and safety of the spacecraft on the surface of Mars, and leading emergency response activities as Flight Director.

Patrick is now an entrepreneur, currently working on a knowledge graph start-up which is backed by prominent venture capital firms Sequoia, Accel/IDG, and Farallon Capital. After graduating, Patrick plans to continue starting and growing companies. His long-term goal is to contribute to the disruption of the space industry.

T.J. Duane plans to use technology to displace the antiquated law firm model.

Age: 35

Year: 1st

Hometown: Originally Highland Mills, NY, now Dallas, TX.

Past Education: Cornell University '99, Harvard Law School '02.

T.J. got his start as an entrepreneur in high school when he started a graphic design business. At Harvard Law, he built a student networking website out of his dorm room, HL Central, that's still changing the social life at the law school today. He practiced corporate law for several years before serving as Deputy Campaign Manager for the Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro. Most recently, he co-founded Lateral Link, a legal jobs platform that has connected over 40,000 attorneys around the world.

T.J.'s next goal is to revolutionise the legal industry by developing technology that replicates the historic value proposition of big firms, providing solo and boutique attorneys the benefits without the drawbacks of big law. By freeing up attorneys to collaborate more broadly, he hopes the cost of legal services will be significantly reduced, increasing access to high-quality counsel and making the legal industry more efficient.

Gayatri Datar wants to build better institutions in government to close the world's massive opportunity gaps.

Age: 27

Year: 2nd year of a three-year dual degree program with the Harvard Kennedy School's MPA/ID program.

Hometown: Weston, MA

Undergrad: Harvard University

Gayatri first realised her passion for international development when she took a leave of absence from Harvard College to do tsunami relief work in India. Since then, she has been focused on discovering how to better use the world's collective resources to eradicate extreme poverty.

In college, she spent summers and two additional leaves of absence working with NGOs in Namibia, Albania, Nicaragua, and the United States. Before Stanford, she also worked with the World Bank and an international development consulting firm to maximise social impact.

She is currently enrolled in a dual degree program with the Harvard Kennedy School's MPA in International Development and Stanford's MBA program. At Stanford, she is Vice-President of the Social Innovation Club leadership team and currently working on a project to design affordable ways to make homes healthier for Rwandans.

After she graduates, Gayatri plans to help build better institutions in developing countries so their growth includes everybody, not just the rich. She believes that innovations within governments can close the opportunity gap between the haves and have-nots, and promote broad-based development.

Elad Ferber and Pierre-Jean Cobut want to create a device that analyses blood components for nutrition, fitness, and metabolism.

Age: Elad is 27 and Pierre-Jean is 30.

Year: Both are in their first year.

Hometown: Elad is from Nesher, Israel; Pierre-Jean is from Namur, Belgium.

Undergrad: Elad went to Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Pierre-Jean received his Bachelors and Masters from Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management.

Elad and Pierre-Jean both come from backgrounds in hardware, but the similarity stops there.

Elad has a space background, having designed and led the development of innovative aviation systems for the Israeli defence Forces. He then spent two years as head of systems engineering for SpaceIL, a non-profit in the running for the Google Lunar X-Prize.

Pierre-Jean has developed financial and strategic models for brand launches and pan-European expansions for Procter & Gamble. Separately, he founded a company that manufactured and sold environmentally-friendly hand dryers.

At Stanford, both are very involved in the entrepreneurial community. Elad leads the Jewish Business Student Association; Pierre-Jean mentors formerly incarcerated people in entrepreneurship.

Together, they are working on developing a wearable technology that allows for constant non-invasive monitoring and analysis of blood components that can track key indicators of nutrition, health, fitness, and metabolism.

Mary Katherine Flanigan plans to bring technology to health care so patients and doctor incentives are actually aligned.

Age: 26

Year: 1st

Hometown: Leawood, KS

Undergrad: Dartmouth College

Mary Katherine Flanigan previously worked as a consultant for consulting firm, McKinsey, and was product manager for a London-based startup developing financial planning tools for the National Health Service. She also implemented a 10,000-patient clinical trial to test the best way to coordinate care for diabetes patients in Queensland, Australia.

At Stanford, Mary Katherine is President of the Healthcare Club and an Arbuckle Leadership Fellow. She recently won the Stanford Student Biodesign Health IT start-up competition for her startup that provides a platform for doctors to push multimedia education materials to patients after a major surgery.

Mary Katherine is passionate about using technology to transform the health care industry, particularly to improve the patient experience and measure outcomes. She wants to design solutions that align patient and physician incentives so that patients use only the services they need and doctors provide the best care at the lowest cost possible. In the near term, she plans to start her own consumer-focused health care company. In the long term, she aspires to bring private sector solutions and experience to public service.

Alexandre Carel was Christie's youngest art specialist, and wants to transform the global art world.

Age: 29

Year: 1st

Hometown: Paris, France

Undergrad: Sciences-Po

Before Stanford, Alexandre spent six years at Christies in New York and Paris, rising to the position of the head of the contemporary art department in Paris. As the youngest specialist ever hired by the company, he focused on the works of Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, and younger artists, and was profiled in The Wall Street Journal as a 'prodigy.'

Carel is currently focused on bringing art and technology together. His long-term goal is to start and lead a firm which allows artists from all over the world, especially from emerging countries, to bring their work to the attention of a global audience.

Kadir Annamalai plans to build technology products to close the distance between the privileged and the unprivileged.

Age: 25

Year: 1st

Hometown: Saratoga, CA

Undergrad: Princeton University

As a high school student, Kadir did research at NASA Ames Research centre where he studied development of nanowires. At Princeton, he studied Electrical Engineering and minored in both Finance and Engineering Management. In between, he spent a few years consulting for major technology firms at Boston-based Keystone strategies, then decided to pursue an MBA so he could start building products for himself.

Kadir believes that technology, if used appropriately, has the power to change the world in a way unparalleled in other sectors. Technology also acts as an essential tool to separate the distance between the privileged and the unprivileged.

His vision for changing the world is to continuously build technology products and businesses that reduce friction for people and ease their living. After completing his MBA, Kadir plans to drive product development and innovation for technology products that makes processes that were once complex simple. His current focus is learning how to do that with mobile technology.

Desiree Strozier is a seven-year veteran of the U.S. Army who wants to fight climate change through innovation in the energy sector.

Age: 29

Year: 1st

Hometown: Buffalo, New York

Undergrad: West Point

Desiree Strozier was a captain in the United States Army before deciding to pursue an MBA at Stanford. During her seven years of service, she completed two combat tours to northern Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, including a 15-month deployment during the Iraq surge of 2006-2007. During her years overseas she developed a passion for exploring how populations in developing economies access clean, reliable energy; how various nations fulfil their energy needs; and how the pursuit of energy contributes to climate change.

At Stanford, Desiree is in charge of new applicant outreach for the GSB Veteran's Club, serving as a point of contact and resource for veterans interested in pursuing an MBA. Desiree is also actively involved with increasing climate change studies at the GSB. Last winter she traveled with the GSB to Antarctica to discuss the role of business in mitigating climate change, and is teaming up with three classmates to plan another similar trip to the Arctic.

Desiree's long-term career goal is to find solutions for mitigating and adapting to global climate change through innovative business practices in the energy sector.

Bowen Pan wants to build his native New Zealand into a startup and entrepreneurial hub.

Age: 26

Year: 1st

Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand

Undergrad: University of Auckland

Bowen was an early comer to the world of startups, founding New Zealand's first student social network while still in college. After that, he launched multiple new products at TradeMe, New Zealand's largest and most successful online business, and founded an online legal aid site that's been acquired.

At Stanford he's a co-founder of Startup Mafia, a group of engineering and business school students who help and support each other in their own startup endeavours, and is on the founding team of ATÖLYE, a project spawned out of the Stanford d.school that seeks to empower young Turks to shape their own and their country's future through the creation of an innovative co-working space in Istanbul.

In the near term, Bowen will spend this summer as a product manager intern for DropBox in San Francisco. Longer term, he wants to devote his life to creating products that 'have meaning and value to billions of people around the world,' to disrupting inefficient incumbents and creating new markets, and continuing to build the small but vibrant entrepreneurial economy in his home country of New Zealand.

Rob Katz wants to use entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty.

Age: 31

Year: 1st

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Undergrad: Georgetown University

Rob started his career with the Markets and Enterprise Program of the Washington DC-based World Resources Institute (WRI), where he researched, wrote and spoke about 'base of the pyramid' business approaches to poverty alleviation. At WRI, he co-founded www.NextBillion.net, a website and blog about enterprise and development.

After that, he served as the Knowledge Manager at Acumen Fund, a non-profit venture fund that uses entrepreneurial methods to solve the problems of poverty. Rob was responsible for applied research and writing efforts across the firm, in addition to the fund's knowledge management systems. He spent his last two years at the fund working in Kenya.

At Stanford, Rob is researching emerging markets payments systems, and will spend his summer interning at PayPal's Latin America division.

Vincent Yang is building an artificial intelligence machine that can understand 16 different business signals.

Noga Eshed wants to leverage her MBA to empower women in technology.

Age: 30

Year: 1st

Hometown: Ramat Hasharon, Israel

Undergrad: Tel Aviv University

Noga discovered her passion for empowering others as an intelligence officer in the Israeli army, organiser at Club Med, and a consultant for McKinsey & Company. She is particularly focused on gender diversity, having been the only woman on her engineering team at Intel.

At Stanford, Noga was selected as a leader of the TALK program, a Stanford tradition where GSB students share their personal life stories with other classmates. Noga is also the chair of Women in Technology and an active member of Women in Management.

Noga will leverage her MBA to continue promoting women in technology. She plans to implement technological education and mentorship programs for women in male-dominated environments, while raising awareness of general women-related topics among executives and managers at all levels.

Dennis Negron grew up in group homes in Long Island, and is now helping the organisation that raised him.

Age: 25

Year: 1st

Hometown: Long Island, New York

Undergrad: SUNY Stony Brook

Dennis was abandoned by both parents and raised by his grandmother until age fifteen. When she became too ill to serve as his guardian, he lived in group homes operated by a Long Island non-profit, Family and Children's Association.

At 19, Dennis landed a position in wealth management at Citigroup. Over the following five and a half years he advanced within Citi while simultaneously completing his undergraduate degree, graduating Summa Cum Laude from SUNY Stony Brook.

Now Dennis works with Family and Children's Association to develop the organisation's next generation of board members, improve its business development initiatives, and expand services to underprivileged youth throughout Long Island.

In addition to continuing his passion for non-profit management, Dennis is interested in high-impact entrepreneurship in emerging markets. He will spend the summer in Southeast Asia working on infrastructure projects in Myanmar and helping an incubator in Manila develop local businesses.

Katy Elkin plans to use technology to radically change US education.

Age: 27

Year: 1st (also pursuing a joint Master of Education).

Hometown: New York City

Undergrad: University of Michigan

Katy started her career at McKinsey, and spent two years with clients in China, Mexico and the U.S. After that, she went to work for the New York City public school system, leading a program that delivered technology to low-income, high-poverty neighborhoods as a Director in the City's Office of Innovation.

Katy is pursuing a joint degree with Stanford's Business and Education schools, with a focus on educational technology. Through the design school, she has collaborated with engineering and computer science students to design apps that improve student engagement in the classroom.

After graduation, Katy plans to develop and scale technology solutions that improve the quality of classroom teaching and reduce the costs of instruction.

Omar Saleh wants to close the skills gap in the Northern Africa region.

Age: 30

Year: 1st

Hometown: Cairo, Egypt

Undergrad: Cairo University

Before business school, Omar Saleh worked with and managed technical teams on major oil and gas projects in the U.K., Tunisia and Egypt. He later managed a commercial team for Dow Chemical in Africa, while running job readiness courses and employment fairs in some of Cairo's poorest neighborhoods. He is also a two-time Egyptian boxing champion.

As a native Egyptian, Saleh has made it his goal to improve the lives of his friends and neighbours in North Africa by driving regional socio-economic change. He plans to start a private vocational training establishment to develop medium-level-educated local talent into high standards of professionalism and reliability. He hopes his school can become the benchmark for employers seeking recruits in medium-complex job markets locally and in neighbouring economies.

Kirsten Stasio wants to implement low-carbon solutions for businesses and push for innovation in the face of climate challenge.

Age: 25

Year: 1st

Hometown: Sunnyvale, CA

Undergraduate: University of California, Davis

Kirsten grew up on her family's ranch in the Sierra Nevada foothills, where she developed a crop watering system able to withstand the droughts in California. While she was at UC Davis, she spearheaded a campus sustainability program with the university's administration. She continued her work with the environment at an environmental think-tank in Washington DC, working closely with the U.N. and national governments around the world to address climate change.

At Stanford she is pursuing a dual degree with the business school and its interdisciplinary graduate program in environment and resources. She leads a weekly spring speaker series that fosters cross-campus dialogue on the subjects of climate and energy. This summer, she will be working on energy efficiency at Apple through the EDF Climate Corps program.

After Stanford, she plans to work in clean energy and develop the business case for low-carbon technologies.

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