US Military Academy, Political Science/Government, 2005
Intel Corporation; US Army
Allies Club co-president, Section I L&V Rep, L&V Co-chair, SA Committee, Armed Forces Alumni Association, Tech Club, Wine & Cuisine Society
“I'm getting straight, no-BS advice from every corner of every industry you can think of.”
Ben Seipel told his wife he was applying to business school "over Google chat, from the library" at Cornell. He may have surprised himself as much as he had startled her. At that point in his career, Ben was an Army officer assigned to the university's ROTC program. He had successfully progressed from West Point to aviation training, and had served two 12-month tours of duties in Afghanistan where he lead helicopter companies of the 101st Airborne.
Most importantly, he had just received notice of a pending promotion from Captain to Major. "I was conflicted by this," Ben says. He had recently visited a West Point friend at HBS, where Ben was "blown away by how down to Earth everyone was, and how impressed they were with my background. I could see that my friend was getting everything he needed—the knowledge, the skills, the networking—to succeed in business."
Ben realized that if he was going to shift careers, this was the time. And HBS would be the place.
Being his real self, getting real insight
Initially, Ben "assumed it would be difficult getting close to people outside the Army. But I found that my classmates came from a similar place—they all valued strong friendships and authenticity. Early on, I felt I could be my real, whole self here."
"On the professional level," says Ben, "I can explore career opportunities just by talking to people around me. I'm getting straight, no-BS advice from every corner or every industry you can think of, everything from finance and consulting to mining in Africa or pursuing a social enterprise." The combination of personal and professional insight has been exceptionally useful. "I came to HBS with the notion that a lot of military people go into finance, but most of the finance people I trusted helped me see that I probably wouldn't find it fulfilling—I'm not a guy who can sit behind a computer screen for ten hours straight, I'm a people person."
Last summer, Ben interned with Intel in Santa Clara. This summer, he and his wife, Kate Georgen, are seizing a post-graduation, pre-child-raising opportunity to cycle across the country. When they return, they plan to settle in Boston where Ben has accepted a sales development role with Google and Kate has found a law firm position. "I'm so grateful for the HBS experience," he says. "I can't imagine a better way to transition from the military to the rest of the world."