“Who’s reinventing the world? Who will you be working for in 20 years? In short, who under the age of 30 matters?” – Forbes, 2012
When Forbes launched its iconic 30 Under 30 series in 2012, the bright young talents who made the cut certainly got a grand introduction.
Today, over seven years later, we investigate whether Forbes’ class of 2012 really did go on to make a mark. Spoiler: some of them certainly did.
Donald Glover (Entertainment)
What they said: Community actor Glover has a hit on his hands with his new hip-hop album, Camp, by his alter ego Childish Gambino.
Forbes were onto something when they named Donald Glover one of their 30 Under 30 in the field of entertainment. To be fair, Glover was already successful by the time he made the list for 2012, with achievements to his name including writing credits on 30 Rock and a star turn in the HBO series Community.
From that point on, Glover’s career as an actor, writer and musician went stratospheric, arguably reaching its highpoint in 2018, with the release of his single “This is America”, under his Childish Gambino alias. The release brought together Glover’s talents for music, acting and dance to create one of the most memorable pop culture moments of the year.
Danielle Fong (Energy)
What they said: Developing compressed-air energy storage system to complement wind farms. This prodigy graduated college age 17.
Danielle Fong co-founded the Berkeley-based startup LightSail Energy in 2009, off the back of her research in the field of energy storage.
Despite raising approximately $80 million of funding over eight years, the company has not yet succeeded in bringing Fong’s innovations to market.
According to Fong’s LinkedIn profile, the physics expert is “currently not working on anything in particular”. In our view, a well-earned sabbatical beats procrastination, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Fong’s talents come to fruition in years to come.
Jill Donenfeld (Food & wine)
What they said: For the busy (or just downright lazy), Jill and her team of ‘culinistas’ offer weekly home cooking services.
Imagine if those fancy food subscription boxes you get through the post came with a super-talented chef attached. That’s pretty much the gist of Jill Donenfeld’s business, The Culinistas.
Founded in 2006, The Culinistas hooks up well-heeled American households with in-home private chefs, promising an enhanced experience of food, based around market-fresh, seasonal ingredients and recipes created by Donenfeld and her team.
The service has been a hit with fashion, design and entertainment high-fliers through the States, and Donenfeld’s star has risen too. The former Forbes tip currently has four cookbooks to her name, including a book of toast-based recipes. Our pick of the bunch: vegan scallops on toast!
We consider Donenfeld a shining example of how to simultaneously build a brand for yourself and for your business.
Joseph Altuzarra (Art & design)
What they said: CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner’s fierce designs, laser-sharp tailoring compared to Azzadine Alaia and Tom Ford.
The fashion industry is notoriously difficult for young talents to break into. That’s what makes the story of women’s clothing designer Joseph Altuzarra all the more inspiring.
Drawing from a palette of French, American and Chinese influences, Altuzarra creates high-end, ready-to-wear clothing and accessories. His clients have ranged from the likes Meghan Markle, Rihanna and Nicole Kidman to upmarket consumers.
Altuzarra’s inclusion on the inaugural Forbes 30 Under 30 Art & Design list proved to be far from his last or greatest accolade. The designer earned the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear Design in 2012, followed by a further CFDA gong in 2014.
Vlad Khandros (Finance)
What they said: Increasingly influential voice on market issues like HFT. Earned 2 Rutgers degrees at age 20 while working full time.
Finance whizz Vlad Khandros hasn’t made quite so many headlines as some of his peers from the Forbes 30 Under 30 2012 – but his career in the finance world has been impressive nonetheless.
Since August 2011, Khandros has worked as Managing Director and Global Head of Market Structure & Liquidity Strategy for the Swiss investment banking giant UBS. In 2017, Business Insider described Khandros – who was still under 30 at the time – as “Wall Street’s king of liquidity”.
Main image © Eli Watson on Flickr.