Photo credit: Phil Flynn

Photo credit: Phil Flynn

Wharton’s admissions teams work hard to attract applicants from various industries, countries and personal backgrounds. We can see that in the traditional measures. The full-time MBA Class of 2013 was a record-setting 45 percent female. One-third were U.S. students of color. Thirty-six percent were international, representing as many as 73 countries. The Undergraduate Class of 2013 entered Penn nearly 42 percent female with natives of 44 different countries and 43 states among its members.

Photo credit: Phil Flynn

Photo credit: Rai Poquiz

When Andrea Mitchell, CW’67, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, spoke about the diversity of the Wharton MBA class during her commencement speech on May 12—particularly the fact that Wharton’s classes have been greater than 40 percent female for four years running—the audience cheered. She also pointed out that the Class of 2013 represented the 80th Wharton class with female representation.

Andrea Mitchell, CW’67, addressed the 2013 MBA Commencement. The newest members of Wharton’s alumni community. Photo credit: Phil Flynn

Andrea Mitchell, CW’67, addressed the 2013 MBA Commencement. Photo credit: Phil Flynn

Alex Gorsky, WG’96, CEO and chairman of the health care and consumer-products firm Johnson & Johnson, explained during his address at the 2013 Wharton MBA for Executives Commencement in Philadelphia that the School does not just teach fundamentals. It teaches students how to thrive, manage and lead in a fast-changing environment. A diverse student body is essential for this.

Wharton students are diverse according to nontraditional measures as well. More than two-thirds of Wharton MBA students studied subjects other than business in undergrad. About 41 percent had prior experience in the government, military or not-for-profit sectors. And three out of four members of the MBA Class of 2013 entered the School fluently speaking a language other than their native tongue.“We need the best of you, the best of everybody everywhere, and having that kind of collaboration from diverse, different perspectives … I think is going to be the catalyst for the…changes that we’re going to need to solve some of the issues affecting humanity,” Gorsky said.

When he was a student in the Wharton MBA for Executives program, Gorsky recalled, his study group was a heterogeneous body. It continues to be. Today, members of this group serve as director of the Brooklyn Public Library, CEO of University of South Florida Health, president and CEO of Transportation Systems, a CEO succession candidate with Honeywell and CFO of heavy-industry firm Varel Systems.

Inder Sidhu, WG’91, senior vice president of strategy and planning for worldwide operations at Cisco, represents multiple facets of the diversity of the Wharton community. Speaking at the San Francisco commencement ceremony for the Wharton MBA for Executives program, Sidhu recalled his first trip to Philadelphia from a remote Indian village, where he thought it might be impossible for his family to afford the Penn tuition.

“The word ‘impossible’ is in the dictionary of fools. If you have the courage, you can do anything,” his mother told him then.

With multiple definitions of diversity in mind, Wharton is in essence educating the next generation of business and public leaders who must be ready for a global world where change approaches at an ever-quickening pace.At Wharton, Sidhu learned to take a chance on himself—and to take chances on others who “look and feel” very different than oneself. He joined Cisco in 1995, a Wharton pioneer blazing pathways in the then-less popular tech space. Recent data shows technology as the number three field of choice for Wharton MBAs, according to 2012 numbers.

Eric Bradlow, the K.P. Chao Professor and vice dean of the Wharton Doctoral Programs, toasts the newest class of Wharton Ph.D.s. Photo credit: Tommy Leonardi

Eric Bradlow, the K.P. Chao Professor and vice dean of the Wharton Doctoral Programs, toasts the newest class of Wharton Ph.D.s. Photo credit: Tommy Leonardi

“As Wharton graduates, you will be ready, you will be resilient and you will succeed in whatever comes your way,” Dean Thomas S. Robertson told the Class of 2013 during commencement.

As you will see in reading the following six profiles below, the School doesn’t attract statistics. It recruits, matriculates and graduates interesting, clever and endearing individuals:

Laird Adamson, WG’13: Our representative from Wharton MBA for Executives in Philadelphia built lasting bonds with the School and his classmates, while gearing up for a huge step in his career. Read his profile.

Kathleen Fleming, WG’13: Intense and wonderful experiences abroad gave her a taste for what could be done in the global health care space. Wharton has given her knowledge to get it done. Read her profile.

Lauren Gibli, W’13: Our undergraduate leader was surprised by the diversity and constructive creativity of campus experiences, and how connected she became to it all. Read her profile.

Gwendolyn McDay, WG’13: Attracted at first by the “great aura” of Wharton, an MBA graduate leaves the School prepared to pitch social responsibility to the C-suite. Read her profile.

Himanshu Nagpal, WG’13:  This Portland, OR-based marketing and analytics professional knew how to maximize the value of an executive MBA. Read his profile.

Jarrid Tingle, W’13:  An undergrad built a respectable résumé across campus. Expect to hear about his impending, real-world accomplishments in finance soon. Read his profile.