Dan Vallone

MBA 2015

Undergraduate Education

Master of Arts, Nanyang Technological University, 2008 Bachelor of Science, United States Military Academy, 2007

Previous Experience

Veterans Integration Program Participant, Goldman Sachs, Infantry Officer, US Army

Summer Internship

Office of Innovation & Improvement in the Department of Education, Washington D.C.
I have more faith in my ability to shape my destiny as I go.”

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.

Undergraduate Education

Master of Arts, Nanyang Technological University, 2008 Bachelor of Science, United States Military Academy, 2007

Previous Experience

Veterans Integration Program Participant, Goldman Sachs, Infantry Officer, US Army

Summer Internship

Office of Innovation & Improvement in the Department of Education, Washington D.C.