WDYDWYD?Why do you do what you do?
My great-grandmother, a Swedish immigrant, left her homeland at the age of twenty to pursue her American dream; my grandmother, a WWII nurse, outranked her own husband in the Army; and my mother, a purposeful entrepreneur, started her own business while she was pregnant with me.
Such success undoubtedly required sacrifice, and yet, if I could ask them why they did these things, I know that each of these women would selflessly answer, "For you."
Though scholars, pundits and business practitioners may think otherwise, I have never considered being a woman a disadvantage. For this outlook, I thank the incredible women that share my blood and have taught me, through their example, that I can charter my own way.
And when those critics shout, I remind them that I am here, working on the technologies of the future. I am here, just as my great-grandmother was on that boat, and my grandmother was at that battle, and my mother was in that boardroom.
Be it as a mother, a mentor or a model of success, I want to honor my ancestry while inspiring confidence in the women who will follow me — confidence that they can accomplish what others might only dream and what still others might only question.
Most of all, I want the consequences of my work to outlast my life so that when I am asked why I do what I do I, too, can answer,
— Caren Kelleher
Photography by Tony Deifell, MBA '02
San Francisco, CA
Google; Songkick.com; IBM; Sony Music; Paste Media Group
Tony Deifell (MBA 2002) created WDYDWYD?, a social media meme of people answering the simple question, “why do you do what you do?” by combining an image and text. To honor the 50th anniversary of women students at HBS, the Women’s Student Association Alumni Team (Annie Wheeler, MBA 2013; Danielle Slutzky, MBA 2013; and Tara Hagan, MBA 2014) partnered with Tony and asked alumnae to answer the question, “why do you do what you do?”