Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Conor O’Meara, Stanford GSB


“Irish passionate about strong tea and strong opinions. Former opera singer, current aspiring spin instructor.

Hometown: Galway, Ireland

Fun fact about yourself: Trained in classical music and opera for almost 20 years, but the biggest claim to fame once was singing backing vocals for U2.

Undergraduate and major school: Bachelor of Economic & Social Studies, Trinity College Dublin / Master of Global Affairs, Tsinghua University

Most recent employer and job title: Partner, Department of Investment and Enterprise, United Nations Trade and Development

Apart from your classmates, what was the key element of the Stanford GSB MBA program that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? A key component of the Stanford GSB curriculum is leadership development, including unique courses like Leadership Labs and Touchy Feely. When reviewing business schools, this intersection of professional and personal development was unique to GSB. I wanted an MBA program that would allow me to not only explore my professional development, but (more importantly) explore the type of professional I want to be. As someone who cares deeply about not only who we serve as business leaders, but also how and why we serve them, GSB has offered a perfect platform to examine how we can become focused leaders. on values. Having the opportunity to question and understand my values ​​as a professional, while learning from my classmates while doing the same, was extremely important. This type of program will hopefully be in the eyes of GSB graduates in the most difficult professional and personal moments of our careers. For this I am truly grateful.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about Stanford GSB so far? Context is everything. At Stanford GSB, like many other business schools, we engage with people who challenge you to see bigger and better what’s possible and what impact you can have on the world. Of course, this is an exciting time and place to embrace a growth mindset. But, at the same time, it got me thinking. I realized that taking on new challenges and exploring the art of the possible depends more and more on the people, places and context you find yourself in. For this reason, I think deeply about people who are not fortunate enough to be. surrounded by support and opportunities like we have at GSB. How to raise the voice of those who do not have the opportunity to benefit from the same context? Why are we here if not to seize and then extend the opportunities we have to those who need them most? While it wasn’t a realization that surprised me at Stanford GSB, it is one that has crystallized for me since I moved to the Bay Area. As we aspire to be significant leaders in the world, it is important to consider not only how lucky we are to be in our current context, but (more importantly) to consider how we are raising those who do not. ‘may not be so lucky, but just as powerful.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you have met so far and why? Tenacious. It takes a special kind of person to take on a new challenge, in a new place, at a time when a global health pandemic is taking hold of the world. The Class of 2022 is a group of incredibly tenacious and talented individuals who have embraced new learning formats and new ways of making friends, and overcoming new challenges never faced by any other GSB class. In every classroom discussion, kick-off workshop, and guest speaker conference, I am inspired by the tenacity of my classmates as they seek to do more and better no matter what problem they face. As we move from GSB to our future careers, I have no doubts that they will bring the same courage, optimism and appetite for change to the organization they create and the issues they tackle.

What advice would you give to a potential candidate looking to join the Stanford GSB class of 2023? There is no cookie cutter candidate at Stanford GSB. On the contrary, the GSB rewards and promotes those who are themselves shameless: the dreamers and doers, the fearless and the uncertain. The GSB is a place for those who are willing to push the boat, embrace differences, and do more than you initially thought possible. When considering your application, don’t be afraid to present the most authentic version of yourself, because that’s not just what Stanford GSB wants to see, but because that’s what will make you the most. success personally and professionally.

Describe your biggest career achievement so far: After undergraduate I joined a growing tech start-up that used behavioral science and ML (Machine Learning) to help make people happier and more productive at work. At Potentialife, I created and led a new partnership to bring our technology to 1,000 social entrepreneurs across Ireland, helping them become happier and more productive leaders as they tackle critical social issues. more anchored in my country of origin. Too often new technology only reaches those who can afford it, but I was thrilled to lead an initiative where a small business could help entrepreneurs and small communities that are often forgotten or lack the same resources. Social entrepreneurs have shown an extraordinary change in their daily habits, creating not only more resilient leaders, but also happier and more resilient communities in which they work.

Describe your greatest achievement as an MBA student so far? As a Knight-Hennessy Fellow at Stanford University, I am incredibly grateful to be part of a community of intelligent, motivated, fearless and kind graduate students focused on making change in the world’s most complex problems. . The cost of higher education in the United States is astronomical and is not something that I have experienced before as an international student. Indeed, a more in-depth conversation is needed on how we can extend access to higher education to those who need it most. For me at Stanford, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program has been incredible support – not just financially, but also because of the range of leaders who support me and challenge me to be a better citizen of the world.

What other MBA programs have you applied to? Harvard Business School

What has been the biggest revelation you have gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? The world is bigger than you think. Often people talk about the small size of the world. Coming from the west of Ireland, I have often thought this to be true. But at GSB, I challenge myself and my classmates to consider people, places, policies beyond our immediate surroundings. Too often, entrepreneurs and investors in places like Silicon Valley are too obsessed with the trends that are popular in the valley, but pay little attention to the companies and policies that have real impact, or could have an impact. real, in places that are often forgotten, like tech start-ups in Addis Ababa, economic policy in Shenzhen, or new investment theses in Bangalore. With reduced global travel and fewer international voices than normal due to the global pandemic, the Class of 2022 has limited global exposure. For me, it’s more important than ever to bring an international perspective to our conversations at GSB, considering how this will significantly shape our outlook as business leaders going forward. For this reason, it’s important to remember that the world and the impact you can have on the world is much bigger than you might think.

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