“It gives you a deeper respect for the many variables that influence the way people think, feel and behave.”

Raised in Belmont, Massachusetts, Shawn Tuli is a local who has returned home after long stretches of education and real estate-related work in Atlanta, DC, New York and Philadelphia. “Real estate has been a theme throughout my life,” he says. “My father, who founded a community bank, Leader Bank, impressed upon me the importance of improved real estate within a community, and how proud he was to help people buy their own homes.”

After three years in an advisory role at Goldman Sachs, where he worked with many clients with significant investments in real estate, Shawn took a more hands-on role with Hersha Hospitality Management. “I loved that it had humble beginnings,” he says. Starting with one motel in central Pennsylvania, Hersha evolved into a public company with numerous hotels in gateway cities across the United States. “I enjoyed working on a small, corporate team. I got a lot of direct exposure to cultural and employment decisions, on which markets to enter, which assets to manage.” Yet even as real estate remained Shawn’s passion, “I wanted to broaden my experience, and have contact with people in government, nonprofits, and other industries.”

Balancing expectations in a beautiful environment

HBS stood out for Shawn because, “I wanted to experience different frameworks and ways of doing business, to which the case method lends itself very well. Overall, the school has an amazing faculty and impressive students – but the sum of the experience is more than that. You learn to think differently, with a more open mind. At HBS, you have opportunities for reflection that give you greater self-awareness. It gives you a deeper respect for the many variables that influence the way people think, feel, and behave.”

Shawn cites his FIELD 2 experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina in particular. “I have completed a number of school projects before, but there was so much balancing in FIELD 2 – between HBS deadlines, company expectations, team personalities, and a beautiful environment I wanted to explore, I felt stretched in a number of directions.” But the payoff is huge, Shawn believes. “Understanding how people do business in another country is impossible without being on the ground there.”

“One of the most important things about HBS is the incredible sense of community,” says Shawn. “We’re all here – students, faculty, staff – because we want to grow individually, but also, more importantly, to contribute to making the community better for everyone. This really came to light during the recent lockdown as local law enforcement authorities searched for one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Hundreds of students were confined to their dorms. But many staff members stayed on campus to serve food and help us function – it was just one of many things that shows how seriously community is taken here.”

While Shawn sees his degree as important preparatory work for a career in real estate and hospitality, he is deeply grateful for a very personal transformation HBS has facilitated. “I’ve never been closer to my family,” he says. “The self-reflection encouraged by HBS has helped me reprioritize my life and cherish my family.”