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Real Humans of the Stanford GSB MBA Class of 2020

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Hannah Ringel, Stanford GSB MBA Class of 2020

Age: 28

Hometown: Jupiter, Florida

Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Miami (FL), international finance and marketing

Pre-MBA Work Experience: Six years in the U.S. Navy as a supply officer

Why business school? Why now? Once I decided to separate from the Navy, I weighed graduate school against entering the private sector. After attending several career fairs and conducting informational interviews, I quickly realized which types of jobs were available to me. I could have landed a role in operations or defense, but I wanted options and something new. Business school will open an entirely different set of doors. It will also allow me to properly demilitarize, learn a new skillset, and formally reflect on my career and future.

Why Stanford? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? On paper, Stanford was my ideal match. It has a close-knit community, an amazing location, and it’s deeply focused on personal development. What ultimately sealed the deal was my visit to campus. I had coffee chats with three separate students. Each student was drastically different, yet I was impressed by and connected with each of them. Our conversations quickly progressed from surface-level to introspective, discussing our passions and what motivates us. I believe that’s indicative of Stanford’s ethos.

Stanford GSB MBA Class of 2020
Hannah Ringel, Stanford GSB MBA Class of 2020

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020? I’ve led several diverse teams, which has taught me how to relate to people from different backgrounds. For example, when I was stationed in Japan I supervised a team of American sailors and Japanese nationals. I discovered that I could connect with an 18-year-old sailor from Vicksburg, Mississippi, by discussing SEC football. I could also bond with a 60-year-old Japanese forklift driver by discussing local soba noodle shops. I understand that before you gain buy-in from your team, you’ve got to find that commonality.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? I didn’t have wifi from 2013 to 2016. I also don’t watch/stream TV.

Post-MBA career interests? I honestly enjoyed working in defense logistics and distribution. Now, I’m interested in private-sector logistics. Automated trucking and drone delivery are on the verge of disrupting the entire industry. I would love to work in such a cutting-edge field.

Advice to current prospective applicants:

–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? I spent a lot of time on my essays. I saw it as the best opportunity to be genuine and unique. Being deeply personal in an essay intended for strangers is highly uncomfortable, but it’s also cathartic. Once I hit “submit” on my applications, I was at peace with the ultimate outcome because I had portrayed my authentic self.

–One thing you would change or do differently? I did self-study to prepare for the GMAT. Looking back, I would have taken a virtual prep course. At the time, I couldn’t justify the cost. I now realize that a course would have saved me time and better prepared me for the strategy component.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? The military requires that you provide notice nine to 12 months before separating. After I gave written notice, I was ready to mentally move forward from the Navy, but I was still there physically. In order to get through it, I participated in countless transition programs geared toward veterans. I also developed civilian mentors, read business periodicals, and researched industries that appealed to me.

What is your initial impression of Stanford’s students/culture/community? I believe that you’ll emerge as a knowledgeable and polished professional from any top business school. But at Stanford, you’ll also emerge as a more empathetic and reflective person. Every alumna that I have spoken to gushes about the GSB. They love that it not only developed them as a business leader, but that it transformed them into a better person.

One thing you have learned about Stanford that has surprised you? I originally thought that there would be pressure to join a top tech firm or ground-breaking startup. I’ve since learned that Stanford is genuinely focused on finding what you’re passionate about and doing everything it can to help you achieve that goal.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? Stanford has a number of courses and programs that require you to be vulnerable and thoughtful (e.g. “Touchy Feely,” GSB-TALK, Leadership Labs, etc.). I’m not used to an introspective setting. Although I’m a tad apprehensive, it’s one of the reasons that I chose Stanford—I don’t want a comfortable or familiar environment.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year? I’m most excited to meet my ~415 remarkable classmates, but that’s fairly obvious. I’m also excited to learn and develop a different style of leadership. For example, Stanford has a phenomenal program titled Arbuckle Leadership Fellows. As an MBA2, you’re assigned a small team of MBA1 students with whom you apply coaching and mentoring concept and tools.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.