About

Perspectives: Why HBS SEI?

Stephen Chan

Chief of Staff, The Boston Foundation
MBA/MPA 2009

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“…we're all learning from each other and drawing on one another's connections and relationships. The power of that diversity comes out in classroom discussions, too.”

Background

People always tell you that business school isn't just about the available resources and what you learn in class—it's about the other students. My first experience with the social enterprise community at HBS was at an Admit Weekend dinner that the Social Enterprise Club had organized for prospective students. From that first encounter, I was really impressed with the caliber of people, their creative thinking, and their sense of urgency to see the world change.

Why SEI @ HBS?

A lot of what I expected to do at HBS was connect with like-minded people, which I did. But the Social Enterprise Club, where I served as co-president, is so much more than a group of people with experience in the nonprofit sector—there are more than 350 members with an incredible range of experiences and backgrounds. Every year the club hosts a conference that draws an amazing list of speakers and close to 1,000 participants. Beyond that, we're all learning from each other and drawing on one another's connections and relationships. The power of that diversity comes out in classroom discussions, too; you have to grapple with the fact that there's not just one way of approaching a problem, that there are a lot of different tools at our disposal.

Impact

Prior to HBS, I was Special Assistant to the President at the Boston Foundation a local grantmaking and policy organization with major initiatives across education reform, job training, health and wellness, and other regional economic competitiveness issues. After graduation, I took a position as Advisor to the Mayor for the City of Boston, sponsored by the HBS Leadership Fellows program. The role really fit well with my desire to advise and lead multi-stakeholder, multi-issue institutions that direct resources that can affect the lives of thousands of people, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalized. Following my year at the Mayor's Office, I returned to the Boston Foundation as Chief of Staff to deepen my impact at an organization whose mission I care deeply about. Returning in this senior role, I am able to draw on my HBS general management training to lead organization-wide strategy and operations planning and help coordinate and enhance the work of the senior management team.