Chris Grantham and Ashley Ver Burg Soukup were selected as two of 100 Poets & Quants’ Best and Brightest MBA students in the Class of 2018.

The 100 honorees were chosen from a pool of student nominees representing 60 leading full-time MBA programs worldwide. The winners exemplify the best of their programs by demonstrating academic prowess, leadership in extracurricular activities, and personal excellence.

See the full list.

Chris Grantham

Chris Grantham, ’18 MBA, arrived at the Carlson School already an accomplished diplomat. For nine years, he served as a U.S. diplomat, spending time in the Middle East and in Washington, D.C. While in that field, he worked alongside the lead U.S. negotiator for the Iran nuclear deal as talks were beginning in 2011-12. He also served as the chief of staff for information technology at the University. 

Chris Grantham

He chose the Carlson School because of the MBA program’s hands-on learning experience, global study, and the types of students the Carlson School attracts.

“I knew this was a huge life transition and I wanted to be around a group of fun, smart, talented people looking to make equally big changes in their paths,” he told Poets & Quants. “With so many Fortune 500 headquarters in town, I have been able to learn a lot from my classmates.”

While in the Carlson MBA program, he worked for the Graduate Volunteer Consultants and was a recipient of the Sands Fellowship. He was also part of case team that won a national competition working alongside Pfizer to improve access to vaccinations in underserved populations.

After graduation, Grantham will join Boston Consulting Group in Washington, D.C., as a consultant after graduation.

Read Grantham’s full profile on Poets & Quants.

Ashley Ver Burg Soukup

Ashely Ver Burg Soukup, ’18 MBA, wants to leave the world in a better place. At the Carlson School, she worked with the Diversity and Inclusion Office and helped launch Project Emerge, a program that introduces women and diverse undergraduates to business as a possible career path. 

Ashley Ver Burg Soukup

Before joining the MBA class, Ver Burg Soupkup worked to better the world as an urban planning consultant. While working in that sector, she collaborated with the state of Minnesota to plan the next 20 years of $20 billion in highway investments — a project that required collecting input from more than 12,000 people. Her work was recognized with five state and national awards, including a Government Innovation Award.

“Government and innovation aren’t two words people from the business world often associate together, but my experience is quite different. Just as new product development in business has moved to lean, agile, consumer-first models that go beyond making design decisions in a boardroom, the same evolution is happening in government,” she told Poets & Quants. “While working as an urban planning consultant, I was a champion for design processes that creatively engaged citizen input, which led me to become a national resource on innovative ways to reach people.

After graduation, she will be working as an associate marketing manager at General Mills.

Read Ver Burg Soukup’s full profile on Poets & Quants.