Like many people, Daniel Schachne grew up loving sports. He loved to participate—playing baseball, soccer and, his favorite, basketball. But by middle school, Daniel realized that he was never going to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Unlike most people, however, Daniel stayed true to his first love and focused his passion and enthusiasm in a new direction. He concentrated on Sport Management at the University of Michigan and, after graduation, took a full-time position with the NBA. "It was a unique opportunity to turn what I'm passionate about into a profession. It's a rare and great thing when work doesn't feel like work," Daniel says.
Daniel laid the groundwork for his vocation through a series of sports-related internships in college. "Thousands of people apply for positions in sports," he says. "It takes a lot of networking and relationship building."
For Daniel, who "loves how sports bring people together," the experience continues to build connections. "Whenever I meet someone, they always want to know about my experience at the NBA. What did I do there? What players do I know? Even during Field II, our Brazilian sponsors wanted to know about my experience at the NBA."
But his enviable experience also inspires another frequent question: "Why do you want to get an MBA?"
Making a full time commitment to personal growth
"Frankly," says Daniel, "I wanted to get my MBA for the business education. Majoring in Sport Management set me up exactly as I hoped it would and helped me find a full-time role in the industry. But I wanted, and think I needed, something more to achieve my long-term goals. While I had a specific sales and marketing background, I wanted to hone my knowledge of accounting, finance, strategy and operations."
The desire for a deeper education also has a more personal motivation. Three of Daniel's grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and they pushed his parents toward higher education as an opportunity to better themselves in their new country. Daniel's parents, in turn, encouraged their children to follow their dreams. "Each generation," he says, "feels driven to do more with what is available to them."
Originally, Daniel was attracted to a part-time MBA program that would allow him to keep his position at the NBA. But he recognized that pursuing two significant commitments at once would inevitably lead to compromise. "I like to invest everything in my goals, and I thought it would be impossible to do it in a part-time structure. There would have been too many times when I would have had to sacrifice either work or school."
Daniel's mentor at the NBA, Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, is an HBS alum who encouraged Daniel to apply. Now in the second semester of his first year, Daniel finds that one of the things he loves most about sports—its ability to bring people together—is also what he finds most rewarding about HBS. ""Here I am, without any financial background, but there are so many classmates willing to sit with me and explain the concepts," he says. "It's a truly collaborative environment in which people help each other on class topics, on careers, on industries and more. The unselfish willingness of people to give up their personal time consistently rises above and beyond my wildest expectations."