Margo Cramer is a person of parallel, but not divided, loyalties. As an undergraduate, she majored in Women & Gender Studies, which gave her, she says, the opportunity to "understand inequality through a gender lens and within a variety of contexts." While her studies were intellectually fulfilling, "it wasn't a degree that took me in any specific direction."
Immediately after graduation, Margo worked as a merchandising team and sales account manager at Commando, a women's luxury apparel brand. She explored the idea of moving from women's retail to women's athletic/outdoor apparel and remaining connected to another area of interest, track and cross-country competition. Then she pivoted again to her passion for social justice, particularly on the issue of gender violence, by becoming a Victim Witness Advocate in the Suffolk County District Attorney's office. "I was the key point of contact to explain the system and connect people to resources," Margo says.
Crossing private and public sectors
After a year in the DA's office, Margo reviewed her work experience in an effort to clarify her future career path. "What I wanted to bring to my work was energy, an appetite for taking risks," she says. "I reflected on my private sector work at Commando, and my public sector work at Suffolk County and asked myself where I had been most creative. I realized I was at my best in the private sector."
Ultimately, she came to believe that she could be successful in both sectors—if she had the right skills. "The MBA," says Margo, "is the best way to get traditional business skills that can be applied across sectors."
At HBS, Margo continues to advocate for justice as she is pursuing her degree. "Addressing sexual violence is a priority for the administration," she says. Margo is active in a task force of students, staff, faculty and administrators who are collectively forming recommendations for concrete solutions; she presented a talk about the challenges to her section mates, almost all of whom attended. "I feel it's important to bring these issues up, and make it easier for others to talk about them." As part of a larger effort to "institutionalize these education pieces," she's currently working on a template other students can use to educate themselves and their section mates.
Personal interaction, Margo believes, is the heart of the HBS experience. "One of the things I've prioritized is building relationships with my professors," she says. "They're brilliant in their fields, and they really want to engage with students. They've been incredibly generous with their time, helping me understand their industries, and evaluate internship opportunities."
In the short term, Margo anticipates a return to apparel, this time in outdoor and athletic retail. Over the long run, she expects to be "very deliberate about maintaining my involvement in activist issues, in the private sector or with public organizations that have a more social bent."