Better Late Than Never: The Class of '93

This article appeared in Stanford Business magazine in December 1991.

The folks who make up the MBA Class of 1993 are a hardy bunch. In fact, they survived the most competitive year ever, says former admissions director Karen Nierenberg. The 342 matriculating students were selected from 4,592 applicants.

They come from 93 U.S. colleges and 47 foreign institutions. First among feeder schools are Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, Brown, Princeton, MIT, Dartmouth, and the U.S. Naval Academy, followed by a four-way tie between Cambridge, Duke, University of Michigan, and University of Pennsylvania. Engineers make up one-third of the class.

Thirty-one percent are women, 25 percent represent ethnic minorities, and 25 percent hail from 34 different countries outside the United States. At least one class member was born and raised in a hippie commune. All have been out of undergraduate school for at least a year — many for much longer. Ranging from 23 to 40, their ages average 27.7 years.

But that’s all that’s average about them. They include legislative assistants and press secretaries; a psychiatrist, a surgeon, and an internist; teachers, CFOs, economists; a sawmill supervisor, a nuclear submarine officer, and the executive director of the Iowa Soybean Association. Not to be forgotten are a national horse champion, a Junior Olympics gold medalist in diving, and a female Ironman triathlon world champion.

What did it take to get into this multifaceted, multitalented group? Well, it required more than one attempt for 18 percent of the class. Another 5 percent was admitted to an earlier class but deferred admission to this year.

Of the latter, five new students share an especially good excuse for being late for school. They are Corporate Executive Fellows, recipients of a national competitive work/study fellowship for ethnic minorities, arranged through National Urban Fellows, Inc., a nonprofit agency in New York.

The five Fellows, all admitted to Stanford GSB a year ago, deferred until September in order to work for their sponsoring firms. They will return to their sponsors next summer as interns. The firms pay a stipend while the Fellows are working, plus full tuition when they are in school.

Paul Corona, 29, Garden Grove, Calif.

BS ‘84, University of Southern California, Business Administration/Accounting

When Paul Corona was a sophomore at USC, he lived and studied in Madrid for a semester. A decade later, he still recalls how he thrived on the mixture of cultural perspectives in his dormitory and the daily challenges (and, yes, even the frustrations) of life in a foreign environment. Paul’s been traveling ever since in his spare time.

Now a certified public accountant, a former corporate accounting manager for a large real estate developer, and a veteran of two Big Eight accounting firms, all in Southern California, Paul hopes to broaden his professional horizons. First, he plans to add finance and marketing to his solid background in accounting. Then, noting that there is increased need for managers who understand and can adapt to the complexities of a global economy, he intends to make a career in the international business arena. First stop on his journey: New York City, where he worked in municipal finance for his corporate sponsor, Citicorp.

David Boucree, 26, New Orleans, La.

BS ‘87, Notre Dame, Mechanical Engineering

Born into a large, close-knit family in Louisiana, David Boucree has always believed that people come first. At Notre Dame, he realized the school had an extremely high attrition rate for minorities in engineering and the sciences and convinced the administration to establish a program to reverse the trend. At Booz, Allen & Hamilton, he recommended an orientation program for new hires that increased their morale as well as their retention rate.

David’s job at Booz, Allen was to help plan an international space venture between NASA and Japan, Canada, and the European Space Agency. As a senior engineer on the Space Station Freedom project, he worked on the configuration and design for both the orbiting station and its supporting ground systems. True to form, David found the technical problems challenging, but not half as interesting as the organizational perplexities posed by the various cultures and politics of everyone involved. David looks forward to electives in organizational behavior at Stanford GSB. He is sponsored by Apple Computer.

Eric Gonzales, 24, Los Angeles, Calif.

AB ‘88, Harvard, Economics

Eric Gonzales grew up commuting between two worlds. Days he was a scholarship student at a private school in tony Palos Verdes, Calif. Nights he returned home to his mostly black neighborhood, where he spoke jive with his friends and dodged the local gang that hassled him because of his fair skin. Eric grew up fast. He entered Harvard at 16 and graduated magna cum laude. He married at 21. With two years’ experience as a financial analyst for a small investment bank in Boston, Eric was admitted to Stanford GSB at age 23. “I was too young,” he says.

By Eric’s reckoning, nothing could have been better for him than spending the year before business school in a mentorship program like the one that came with his fellowship. Bank of America has already rotated him through three areas — human resources, operations, and retail operations — giving him a valuable first dose of managerial experience. “If I’d known how to do it, I would have gone to a firm and asked for just this kind of internship,” he says. Eric returned the favor. He received an employee achievement award for suggesting and implementing a change in strategy that, in two months, halved the non-earning assets of B of A’s consumer banking division.

Tracy Howard, 24, Wilmington, Del.

BSIE, ‘90, GMI Engineering and Management Institute, Industrial Engineering

Tracy Howard, who is also sponsored by Bank of America, is no stranger to the concept of work/study. Tracy’s five-year undergraduate program alternated between the GMI classroom in Flint, Mich., and increasingly responsible positions in the General Motors assembly plant in her hometown of Wilmington. By graduation, Tracy was supervising 30 production workers, some twice her age. Her thesis, a report analyzing the use of an expert system to improve a robot-driven assembly operation, steered her toward a career in information systems and an interest in their effects on processes and people.

Tracy’s concern for people is longstanding. During her undergraduate years, she founded and chaired the GM Wilmington Tech Club, an organization that helps incoming students adjust to the transition from school to work and sponsors a community outreach program that provides tutors for plant employees’ children.

Clark Warner, 27, Cambridge, Mass.

AB ‘85, Harvard, Applied Mathematics/Computer Science

Clark Warner gives credit where credit is due. His extended family back home in Cambridge provided him with “tremendous role models and a truly phenomenal support system,” he says. And he can’t say enough about the fellowship that brought him to Stanford GSB. For one thing, Clark couldn’t have afforded Stanford without it. For another, he can’t imagine where else he’d have found the sort of professional mentorship that his sponsoring firm, Apple Computer, offers him.

Clark’s no job-hopper. In his first five years out of Harvard he had exactly one employer, Data General. He left as a senior software engineer working on Data General’s proprietary operating system, AOS/VS II. Clark’s tour at Apple is giving him the chance to learn an entirely new company and provides access to levels of management he could never reach on a regular internship. It also adds value to his classmates, Clark believes. “Anything a student can do to bring in a larger range of experience can only add to the collective memory of the class,” he says.

Four more Corporate Executive Fellows who were admitted to the Class of ‘93 have deferred until next year. They will work for Aetna Life & Casualty and Pacific Telesis before joining the Class of ‘94 next fall. Of all the MBA students who arrived late for school this year, John Hurley has the most original excuse. Instead of reporting for duty to the Class of ‘92, Lieutenant (now Captain) Hurley spent six months last year in Saudi Arabia and Iraq as a battalion fire direction officer for the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division.

The Princeton ROTC graduate was winding up four years’ active military service and preparing to enter Stanford GSB when Operation Desert Shield began. The Army had already cut orders for his release, and Hurley had to volunteer three times before he was allowed to rejoin his unit. Why did he do it? “There are a lot of reasons,” he says, “but the main one is that I couldn’t have enjoyed Stanford knowing that the guys I trained with were in combat without me.” John does not regret his choice, but he’s happy to be in school — finally — developing new skills that will serve him well in civilian life.