“I learn as much from my colleagues between classes as I do from my formal education.”

It’s difficult to imagine Joe Blair standing still. A triathlete currently training for a “half-Ironman” in the summer of 2013, Joe runs self-timed marathons. In his former life as an engineer, he took a great deal of pleasure tooling around the test grounds in a piece of construction equipment his business unit managed: the famous Bobcat excavator.

Yet his experience at another manufacturer – FlexEnergy, a clean tech company that makes microturbines – inspired “a passion for start-ups and smaller businesses” that encouraged him to take a seat at HBS. “Coming from a tech background,” Joe says, “I wanted a general management MBA that would complement my work history.”

Interactions on campus and in Chennai

“When I first came here,” says Joe, “I was most impressed by the way students interacted with each other – that’s the way I wanted my education to be.” Midway through his first year, his classmates continue to impress him. “I learn as much from my colleagues between classes as I do from my formal education.” Case in point: in his section, Joe sits next to a friend from Saudi Arabia. “Having a background in clean energy,” Joes says, “I find it interesting to hear his perspectives on traditional energy, particularly on the intersection of energy and politics.”

In his FIELD 2 project in Chennai, Joe and his teammates “worked on Microsoft’s brick-and-mortar retail concept for India. We ran focus groups, visited competing electronics stores, and conducted one-on-one customer interviews.” In retrospect, Joe says, “I’m impressed by how quickly the Indian economy is developing. You could look down a city block and on one end there’s a run-down building with a thatched roof – but on other end, there’s a luxury fashion store. I left India feeling almost envious about the changes that would happen there in such a short period.”

Joe currently lives off-campus with his wife, Teva, an editor at Heinemann, and plans to do his summer internship with Cue Ball, a Boston venture capital firm.