Inside My Second Term at Stanford Graduate School of Business | TopMBA.com

Inside My Second Term at Stanford Graduate School of Business

By Niamh O

Updated May 28, 2021 Updated May 28, 2021

Entrepreneur Martin Aguinis says: “I am now able to approach starting a business differently; having a much better sense of the pieces that need to be configured both from a management and operational side. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to get this MBA.”

Taking the leap of faith to undertake an MBA can be a difficult decision at the best of times – let alone in the middle of a pandemic.

Last year we spoke with Martin Aguinis, a Stanford Graduate School of Business first-year MBA candidate, to find out what business school was like in a new virtual world.

We caught up with the Forbes 30 under 30 entrepreneur to find out how his second semester at the Stanford GSB is going.

First year lowdown  

Martin admits his MBA at Stanford has been more than he could have imagined, but one thing that has left him in awe is his classmates’ constant willingness to help.

He said: “Regardless of the request, there always seems to be at least a handful of friends eager to jump in right away.

“Whenever I’ve had to learn more about a specific class concept, connect with a business leader, or even borrow a cooking tool, within 10 minutes of posting in our shared Slack channel I get two or three classmates responding.

“This quality can be applied more broadly and will continue beyond our two years here. It shows how powerful the friendships we form at the GSB become; 400+ people willing to support you.”

As the COVID-19 situation has improved somewhat, Martin says the campus has started to open up more – including their first in-person hybrid classes. 

Martin says being inside the classroom has allowed greater interaction and has made absorbing certain concepts like negotiations easier as the in-person component makes a difference: “I'm impressed with our professor’s ability to also engage the online participants and integrate this new form of teaching -- they're crushing it.”

More than anything else, Martin says his first year on the programme taught him the importance of embracing uncertainty. He said: “I am constantly surrounded by rockstars and often feel ‘imposter syndrome,’ but that is the best way to grow.

“I love the quote, ‘If you are the smartest person in the room, go find another room.’ However, that’s never a problem at the Stanford GSB.”

One thing that stands out for Martin from his first year was a spontaneous concert where he played the piano and guitar in front of many GSBers. He said: “Being able to have a beautiful moment of connection through music continues to warm my heart. It was a moment of hope that illustrated the bright future ahead both for our GSB program and for the world.”

Entrepreneur at heart 

Martin recently sold his company AccessBell to the Tata Group – one of the world’s largest conglomerates – to be used for telemedicine. 

He said: “They are helping in the fight against COVID-19, particularly in India, where things are not great. It's nice to know that our software is playing a small part to help with the situation and that Tata can now further expand and scale our tech to more use-cases.”

But AccessBell isn’t Martin’s first company, nor will it be his last, as he recently started working on Engram, an interview platform that guides your loved ones through prompted questions and allows them to record, store, and share memories with others instantly.

Martin said: “Imagine you want to record your grandmother's life story. You go to myengram.com, customise the interview in a few clicks, record it using our native video platform, and then can have all the clips permanently saved or transcribed into a book.”

And now that everyone is more comfortable with video conferencing, Martin thinks a platform like this is particularly important in a post-COVID world as people realise how fragile life can be. He said: “I'm excited to use this myself and hope my classmates and others will spread the word.”

During his time at Stanford, Martin has spoken at several panels. One panel was hosted by Ladder, a pandemic-related community for students seeking job opportunities and another was through the global Product Marketing Alliance.

He said: “It is rewarding to offer some perspectives about the MBA experience and starting companies during the pandemic, but I also feel I often learn just as much from audience participation and Q&A as they do from me.”

Advice for prospective Stanford MBA students 

Martin advises to take risks by choosing the option your gut tells you to take rather than the safe route.

He said: “If you are between starting a new company or an offer that has guaranteed salary and benefits...choose the company.

“There will never be a better time in your life to take a risk and go all-in. With a degree from Stanford GSB, you will always be able to go back to the safer option later on.”

Hopes for second year 

As an entrepreneur at heart, Martin already has a new business venture in the works – but beyond working on the new business, he hopes to continue having memorable moments with his friends.

He said: “The MBA is an incredible journey to embark on which truly widens your global perspective. I learned an incredible amount from simple conversations at dinners or in the hallway.”

Martin says he came to Stanford to sharpen his business skills and continue on his entrepreneurial path. 

He said: “The MBA has helped me refine skills in finance and VC that I did not have previously -- better preparing me for the role of CEO.

“I am now able to approach starting a business differently; having a much better sense of the pieces that need to be configured both from a management and operational side. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to get this MBA.”

This article was originally published in May 2021 .

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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