"I'm trying to find ways to make a living and make an impact," Jennifer Hurford says of her pursuit of the joint MBA/MPP from HBS and The Kennedy School. "Why do they have to be mutually exclusive? Why should having a life that's meaningful mean foregoing a decent income?"
In her search for reasonable answers, Jennifer had focused her attention on microfinance, "which led me to impact investing. How do we grow small- and medium-sized businesses that can have greater impact?" During her summers at Haverford College, Jennifer worked abroad in Peru, the Czech Republic, and Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, where she worked on impact investing, she "realized I needed more private sector tools, more private sector experience," in order to contribute more effectively.
After completing her undergraduate degree, Jennifer worked at Citigroup in New York, London, Frankfurt and Cairo, where she helped consumer brands and healthcare companies arrange short term financing for their suppliers, and at IDEO, a design consulting firm in which she designed new business applications for bitcoin and blockchain technology.
Discovering her worldview through active discussions
Jennifer applied to the joint degree program because the combination of the two schools "was an incredible opportunity to learn the instruments of public policy and the tools of business—they go hand in hand."
She describes the HBS experience as a "consistently engaging environment—there are so many opportunities you can't possibly take them all in. It's like drinking from a fire hose of awesomeness every day. You need to parse through what's important or vital—the same process you use in the case method: you need to synthesize information, distinguish what's relevant and what's not, and connect multiple factors in a nonlinear way, which is a lot like life. Life is messy. We're learning to work through the muck to get at the heart of issues as soon as possible."
"Everyone has such diversity of experience and perspective," Jennifer says of her classmates. "One person doesn't have the answer, but after ninety people have spoken, you've overturned so many stones—you approach every issue from many angles. Sometimes you don't know how you feel until it comes out in discussion; you discover your worldview through conversation."
After completing her joint degree, Jennifer will join a start up that, like IDEO, "focuses on human-centered design thinking and innovative technology to solve big problems." Her larger ambition, she says, "is to start a venture firm or an accelerator that invests in new disruptive technologies that empower people in emerging markets."