Where are you now and
what are you doing?
I’m the president of UP Education Network in Boston. We
serve as a third party administrator for our district clients, charged with the
responsibility for turning around failed or failing schools.
Can you tell us about
the path that led you there?
After graduating from Columbia, I worked for a year with a
nonprofit. I was deeply committed to the mission, but I realized the
administration didn’t have the strategy, management, and organizational skills
necessary to maximize impact. Also, I was only 23 and wanted to explore other
So I jointed LEK Consulting in Boston where I gained a lot
of basic business, analytical, and strategic skills, and exposure to a wide range
of industries from airlines and retail to biotech and P.E. But fundamentally,
I wasn’t passionate about the mission of some of these projects. That’s when I
helped LEK join Inspire, a consortium of strategy consulting firms who
organized a team of pre-MBA consultants who volunteered five to ten hours a
week to educational nonprofits. After a year, Inspire asked me to serve as its
executive director. In that role, I saw the tremendous power of applying
business thinking and management skills in the service of nonprofits in the
What influence did
HBS have on your ambitions?
I came to HBS for two reasons. First, in my nonprofit work,
I noticed that effective organizations were led by executives with a broad set
of skills, not just in strategy and finance, but in leadership, operations, and
marketing—and in how they all fit together for high-performance. That’s what
attracted me to HBS's general management approach.
Second: the case method. It helps you develop functional
expertise, yes, but always within the
broader context of the entire organization.
Once on campus, I was surrounded by diverse and talented
people, many of whom I remain friends with to this day. Special events were
important, too. At the Social Enterprise Conference, I saw the depth and breadth HBS has in applying management and strategy skills to a wide range of areas in the social
Does any particular
class have special relevance for you?
In my 1st year, I took Entrepreneurship in Education
Reform—and it was transformative. In case after case, we saw systemic injustice
in so many US cities, school system after school system failing. After many
classes, I walked out angry or disappointed or frustrated. But our professor
said something that I’ll never forget: “If we only engage your mind, we have
failed. I want you to bring your full self—your mind, your heart, all that you
are, to every class.” I think that’s why, in the end, I ultimately left class
with hope and a vision of what might be possible.