New York, NY
University of PA, Social Sciences, 2009
The Parthenon Group; Teach For America; National Human Services Assembly; United Neighborhood Centers of America
HBS/HKS Joint Degree Leadership Council, Board Fellows and SE Consulting Club, African American Student Union
“To speak truth to markets, I need to use the language of markets.”
For many fans of classic network television, New Rochelle, New York will forever be the home of Rob (Dick Van Dyke) and Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) Petrie, television's first upwardly mobile suburban sophisticates. But for Hayling Price, who is pursuing the joint MBA/MPP through HBS and Harvard Kennedy School, the real New Rochelle he lived in differed greatly from the broadcast fantasy.
"I grew up in the middle of two 'New Rochelles' and lived between two worlds," says Hayling. One of those was close to the television ideal, a community of prosperous professionals who commuted into the city. The other was an impoverished community of poor people who had hoped to step up from even more dire circumstances in Harlem or the Bronx. "I saw the birth lottery up close and personal," he says. "We all lived within a few miles of each other—but some went to prison, and others to college. What sets us on different trajectories? That's what I want to study in school and in my career."
"Given the privileges I've had, it's only right that I use them to extend privilege to others," says Hayling. True to his principles, Hayling pursued work in the nonprofit sector "that would enable economic opportunity and mobility in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty." But while his career experiences in the nonprofit sector were rewarding, they were also limiting. "I found that government programs alone were insufficient for achieving outcomes. When you look at neighborhoods of persistent poverty, you see failures, not just of policy, but of markets. To lead the kind of change I see, I needed a different set of skills. To speak truth to power, I need to use the language of markets to promote opportunity."
Making the business case for change
While Hayling could make "compelling ethical and normative arguments for social and economic justice," he felt driven to go further, to learn how to "make a business case for change." He sees the joint MBA/MPP degree as a way to integrate "the economic and statistical skills developed at HKS with the finance, strategy and other core business skills taught at HBS. Together, they give me a 360 degree view on how we, as a society, can tackle our most intractable social challenges."
HBS has become both a place to learn new approaches—and test underlying assumptions. "Digesting complicated topics through the case method has really sharpened my analytical toolkit," says Hayling. "I'm able to methodically unpack complex challenges and apply more intensive analytical rigor to systems, to business models and to social problems. Sparring with my HBS classmates who don't always share my political views has broadened my worldview and made me a more effective communicator."
Similarly, Hayling challenged himself by taking on an internship in an entirely new field, consulting with Parthenon in their private equity practice. "I deliberately wanted to go as far from my comfort zone as possible; I wanted to understand the calculus underlying the decisions that drive our economy." At Parthenon, Hayling had to "develop recommendations that I could back up under intense scrutiny. It was a great challenge. In the nonprofit world, you preach to the choir; because you're so aligned on mission, there's not the same level of interrogation of strategy or resource allocation. I want to apply the same level of precision to challenges in the social sector; we should be as strategic with social issues as we are when profits are on the line."