In the summer of 2006, visitors to the late Senator Edward Kennedy's office might have been somewhat puzzled to find themselves guided around the Capitol building by a young man with an accent distinctly not of Boston — or of the U.S. at all. "I think," says Jonathan Bailey of his experience, "that they were quite delighted and amused to get their tour from a Brit."
Giving tours was the entertaining side of serious Senate business, "writing memos," Jonathan says, "for senior staff on the Senator's positions." Jonathan obtained his internship through an English/U.S. exchange program and had earned it by being a champion debater at Oxford and by helping found a nonprofit that paired college mentors with high school students.
For a person deeply interested in "the roles of government and business in progressive global change," the internship provided a key leadership lesson as well. "The Senator's senior team was very impressive," Jonathan says. "I learned the difference that having top talent on your team can make to your cause."
Combining improved public governance with private sector growth
After nearly two years at McKinsey & Co. in London, where Jonathan had a chance to "build core skills in business and management" and work on the firm's Climate Change Special Initiative, he worked with Tony Blair in establishing the former Prime Minister's Africa Governance Initiative in Rwanda. "Mr. Blair would serve as a confidante or advisor to the president," says Jonathan, "while I lived in Kigali training senior Rwandan staff on policy design and implementation."
"The overwhelming thing I found in Rwanda," he says, "is that we needed to work on improving goverance and building the capacity of the private sector at the same time. Few people seemed to understand both sides." Seeking a career "bridging both perspectives," Jonathan entered the joint HBS/Harvard Kennedy School MBA/MPP program.
"The rigor and the longer-term perspective really distinguish HBS from other business schools," Jonathan believes. "The school sets a higher bar. It's not easy and requires considerable thought and preparation. There's a great deal of attention to bringing different subjects and skills together: finance plus leadership plus accounting plus macro economics. You're always looking at problems, not as an analyst, but as a manager who must put them in the context of ongoing leadership."
Expanding his reach
Ultimately, Jonathan says, "I think the things I am learning at HBS will help me not just during my first job after graduation, but for many years to come." For Jonathan, that future involves bringing the best of his past forward. Having spent his last summer at the World Bank working on infrastructure investment in Kenya, for his HBS internship he will work at Vice President Al Gore's sustainable investment fund, Generation Investment Management. "It will give me a great opportunity to connect the hard skills that I've been learning at HBS with the sustainability and development expertise that I have built up professionally," Jonathan says.
When he completes his joint degree, Jonathan sees himself returning to Britain and "continuing to find ways to build a more progressive global economy." In time, he suspects, it may mean "working in British government."