Motivated to make a difference in the world, Blake Landro seriously considered law school. But while working at a law firm after college, Blake found that he “liked the business side of the firm more than the law itself.” He felt a career in business could best help him make a positive impact.
Making a dramatic shift in both industry and location, Blake decided to make a difference at Google, in Mountain View, where he worked on Google Checkout, an online payment platform for small- to medium-sized businesses. “It had just launched,” Blake says, “so it had a start-up feel within a large company.” There, Blake focused on the intersection of technology and the delivery of marketing messages. “The experience taught me the importance of being able to articulate value to your customers,” says Blake.
Like many MBA candidates, Blake considered pursuing an MBA as a way to expand his horizons. “I didn’t have the skills to launch a start-up,” he says. “I needed capabilities outside of sales and marketing – like finance, strategy, and accounting. I wanted to acquire abilities that would make me more valuable, more competitive.”
Pursuing broad responsibilities
At HBS, Blake looks for opportunities to “show how business can do incredible things for all its stakeholders. Stakeholders aren’t just investors. They’re your customers, your community, your employees. A business leader is responsible to so many people – more so than any other profession.”
Blake’s FIELD 2 experience in Chongqing, for a café business called Nenlu Tea, brought the point home for him. “In China, often three to four generations live in one small apartment,” he notes. “Social spaces are hard to find. Nenlu Tea cafés include small rooms with sliding glass doors that can be reserved to meet clients, friends, or dates. In effect, Nenlu sells privacy and community, not just tea.”
Today, Blake seeks opportunities for combining his creative side – as an actor and performer --with his analytical skills. “Helping direct the HBS Show is interesting because it unites my performance experience with the organizational skills I’m learning in business school,” Blake says. Looking ahead, Blake is interested in a career “where entertainment meets technology,” either as a content partner manager or within an agency that specializes in reaching multicultural communities. “With online technology,” he says, “you can direct relevant ads to specific audiences – ads in which consumers can see themselves, ads that reflect who they are.”