MBA News: Stanford GSB Experiences the Burden of Alumni Concentration

The Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) is generally known for its edge in the technology arena, given its location. Indeed, many Stanford MBAs choose to stay in the San Francisco Bay Area after graduation, in part to take advantage of the school’s vast alumni network there. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that more than 50% of the MBA program’s recent graduates have remained in the sunny state—and that doing so may be putting GSB alumni at a disadvantage.

Madhav Rajan, the senior associate dean for academic affairs at the Stanford GSB, commented to the WSJ, “Once [students] get here, they become pretty enamored of living here.” He explained that the concentration of graduates within the region means that fewer connections are available for the school’s alumni interested in starting or joining companies in other areas. In a possibly related decision, the school is offering up to 13 fellowships this year—each worth more than $140K—to international students who promise to return to their respective countries after earning their degree.

Tracy McCabe, the executive director for alumni relations at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, noted that having a saturation of alumni in one specific area can make a school too “dependent on the success and growth of business of that particular geography.” Yet the lure of the Bay Area tech world might prove too difficult for some to resist. Referring to the value of the exchanges he has had with local business leaders and fellow entrepreneurs, second-year GSB student David Adams told the WSJ, “There’s no place in the world where there’s such density.” Adams is the CEO and co-founder of a short-term apartment rental company. Gayatri Datar, who graduated from the Stanford GSB in 2014, has a very different take on the issue, however, and relocated to Kigali, Rwanda, to operate the nonproft group she cofounded. “I’m so much more excited about the stuff that’s going on the other side of the world,” she said.

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