You graduated from
West Point, which is famous for leadership, and served as an infantry officer
for five years. What did HBS add to your understanding of leadership?
In the military, I was accustomed to thinking five to ten
years in advance. After two years at HBS, I’m much more comfortable with not
having to plan things so far ahead. I’ve learned from my colleagues here that
you can have an impact in a much shorter time period. I have more faith in my
ability to shape my destiny as I go.
Have you made
adjustments to your ambitions since beginning the MBA program?
When I came to the Business School, I was primarily
interested in finance—that’s why I did my summer internship in investment
banking. My larger ambition was to help underserved and underbanked
communities gain greater access to capital. My firm was great—a fantastic team,
terrific mentors—but the work didn’t resonate with me the way I hoped that it
would. I wanted to be closer to the ground.
That launched me on a journey to get closer to the
communities I want to serve. As part of that exploration, I looked into the
Leadership Fellows program. With help from the Social Enterprise Initiative and
the Career & Professional Development office, I found a position with the
Office of Innovation & Improvement in the Department of Education in
Washington. It’s a relatively small team, but they play a key role in applying
evidence-based approaches to education. I’ll be serving as a Special Advisor
for Innovation; it’s a great fit with my goals: to widen equality and close
achievement gaps. That’s how I want to spend my time.
How do you think HBS
has prepared you for your new role?
In classes, the case method motivates you to develop and
refine your perspective. You always need a point of view and you have to be
prepared to defend it while remaining open to learning from other perspectives.
There’s also a very big thing here, what I call an
interaction with the entrepreneurial spirit. There are so many ideas here, so
much willingness to take risks and implement them. It creates an environment
that encourages you to expand your box of ideas.
On a personal note,
what’s your biggest takeaway from your MBA experience?
I’m now much more focused on placing people as my objective. Rather than concentrating on what I want to
do or where I want to be, I’ve learned to place more value on who I want to serve or work with as I
try to make an impact.