From its home base in London, the Reimers family traveled the world, instilling curiosity, an interest in economics, and "a strong service orientation," in Cait and her two sisters. Back in the United States, Cait attended Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs where she studied international development and wrote her thesis on "microfinance and health insurance product integration in Uganda."
"When I was graduating," Cait says, "microfinance was just beginning to rise and some new things were beginning to take shape in private/public sector partnerships. There was increasing talk of how the two could work together to address issues, similar to how Novartis worked with the World Health Organization to tackle malaria in developing countries." Cait's academic work, plus the experiences earned in summer internships, sparked an interest in business. "I recognized I needed analytical skills and a deeper understanding of market structures in order to look into workable international development opportunities," says Cait. With a desire to be more "conversant in the language of business," she assumed consulting roles, first at The Parthenon Group, then at Strategic Value Capital Management.
Reaching beyond technical skills
After years of consulting, "I was getting too comfortable and wanted new challenges," says Cait. An MBA would help her transition back to public service by, "accelerating my operations skills and knowledge; it would put some structure on things I'd learned in the workplace." Choosing HBS, "was not a challenging decision. Going to class with a diverse and interesting group of ninety people every day was very appealing."
When it comes to leadership — to a deep understanding of how peers and colleagues see problems — the case method is really powerful," Cait says. "You see three or four problems every day and with them, thirty or forty different approaches to those problems — it's the most exciting, most compelling way to learn how to lead. The case method helps you define your own values within a universe of ideas."
"I'm continually surprised by how thoughtful, caring and family-like my section is," says Cait. "Here, people take care of each other inside and outside of the classroom."
Hands-on international development work
In January, Cait had an opportunity to pursue her interests in international development by participating in the India IXP. "A huge benefit of the IXP is that it's project-based," Cait says. "People opt into the work; they're genuinely interested in studying new types of financial models — it leads to a very vibrant level of engagement and discussion."
Cait worked with three HBS peers on Intellecap, an organization providing banking and consulting services for microfinance institutions. "We looked at ways Intellecap could help investors understand where they should invest," she explains. "The overall goal is to attract more lower-cost capital to microfinance."
For the summer, Cait will continue her development track through an internship with I-Dev International in Peru, consulting with social enterprises "building business solutions for addressing poverty." After completing her MBA, Cait wants to explore intersections of business development and government policy. "How do we take financial innovations to scale?" Cait asks. "How can we get governmental support for innovative private sector efforts?"
Reflecting on what HBS has taught her about leadership, Cait says, "I'm struck by leaders who combine on-the-ground knowledge with a deep, personal understanding of people. I've learned that integrity means not only understanding your commitments, but not being fearful of acting on them, however challenging they may be."