The first MBA/MPP and MBA/MPA-ID joint degree programs are 10 years old! 89% of HBS | HKS joint degree alumni have told us that they worked in a role allowing usage of both degrees. Learn more about a few members from the Class of 2011 (the first class) and find out what they're up to today.

Jevan Soo

Current role: Chief People Officer, Stitch Fix

Jevan Soo came to HBS and HKS with a goal of using his degree to build a career in human capital. As the Chief People Officer at Stitch Fix, a company with over 8,000 employees, he is doing exactly that and leading with a nuanced, cross-sector view of the challenges and opportunities facing his company.

“The last year has been filled with national and international crises in which the role of government and how that intersects with the business community has heightened and grown more complex,” said Soo. “Because of my joint degree, I have more reference points and it’s made me a better leader in navigating these issues.”

To tackle issues facing his company and employees, Soo considers the impact of policy, social change, health, and education in service to a culture at Stitch Fix that deeply cares about its people. A self-described “professional people person,” his work involves leadership development; talent management; diversity, inclusion, and equity; and more in creating sustainable competitive advantage through human capital. “The relevance of human resources as a strategic function has never been higher,” he shared, and presents a unique opportunity for Joint Degree graduates to make a difference.

Reflecting on his time at HBS and HKS, Soo’s memories center on the people he shared the classroom with. “Being in this cohort was something truly different and special. We all wanted to make the world better but from very different angles, and felt a deep sense of responsibility. Everyone has gone on to do amazing things and many of us continue to help each other a decade after graduation.”

Jennifer Rentas

Current role: Chief of Staff, Hospital for Special Surgery

Jennifer Rentas has dedicated her career to the field of healthcare in a range of leadership and advisory roles that have put her HBS and HKS education into practice. Her work has spanned the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and has made an impact on how healthcare is delivered across the country.

Recently, Renta’s made two career pivots within healthcare. After eight years in leadership roles at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Rentas joined the New York State Executive Chamber as Assistant Director of Health in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. She has since returned to Hospital for Special Surgery as Chief of Staff to the President and CEO where she utilizes her degree and experience daily. “Being in this role you inherently have to use both sides of the degree,” she noted. “On a day-to-day basis, I’m thinking through business plans for new programs, evaluating how new government regulations will impact us and the broader community, and then determining what influence we have to make change.”

Reflecting on her decision to join the Joint Degree Program in 2008, Rentas recalls recognizing an opportunity to build skills that would allow her to lead effectively. “I knew I needed the business background in order to advance my career, and at the same time I could see how policies and regulations were impacting what we did (at New York Presbyterian Hospital),” she said. “I wanted to be part of that conversation.” Rentas's experience at HBS and HKS has allowed her to do just that and she has fond memories of her three years spent with talented and interesting classmates and professors. “We all became really close,” she said, “and it was nice to know that there was a group of people who shared an interest in charting a path forward that would allow us to go back and forth between sectors.” Speaking to current students and alumni, Rentas highlights the opportunity the joint degree program creates to explore new possibilities and change course. “Last year, I took a risk moving into the public sector and then took time to reassess and ask myself ‘What do I want to be doing?’ and ‘What’s important to me in life?’ Those are big questions but especially in today’s environment it’s important to continuing asking them of ourselves.”

Ari Medoff

Current Role: CEO and Co-Owner, Arosa – a social enterprise that seeks to build new models of care for seniors.

Coming out of graduate school, I really wanted to buy a small company to create better jobs,” shared Ari Medoff. “We’ve had 30 or 40 years now of growing wage inequality and we have community institutions that have decayed. I think that one of the core factors is the erosion of job quality which includes the opportunity to earn a living wage and the sense of meaning and connectedness that people get or don’t get from their employment.”

What better jobs means in practice for Medoff and the team he leads at Arosa is a dedication to people. They have a culture of gratitude that shows up in weekly handwritten thank-you notes and birthday calls from Medoff to all of his employees. It’s also delivered by way of a program that creates access to earned wages before payday to alleviate the need for payday loans, a commitment to annual wage increases, and an emergency assistance fund to get people through difficult times.

HBS and HKS have played a critical role in Medoff’s path to leading Arosa and living out the mission he is dedicated to. The support of professors Jim Sharpe, Royce Yudkoff, and Rick Rubeck aided in Medoff in his search for the right company while in graduate school. Six years later, Jacob Donnelly (HBS | HKS Joint Degree 2011) reached out from Bain Capital Double Impact with an interest in investing in Medoff’s small company in North Carolina, helping scale it across the United States. He reflected, “The relationships that were built during the Joint Degree Program continue to bear fruit, to help me make the right decisions, and to be a wonderful part of what I do.” Medoff advises current students, “Invest time with this group. There’s no substitute for the time you’ll spend together.”

Niyati Gupta

Current role: CEO and Co-Founder, Stealth Mode Food Startup

Becoming an entrepreneur was not Niyati Gupta’s original plan coming into HBS and HKS. However, she knew she wanted to make an impact in agriculture and found that starting her own businesses was her ideal path forward. Now, as the CEO and Co-Founder of a Fork and Goode, Gupta is building on her experience in corporate VC, starting two food based companies, and her joint degree to make a difference in the world.

Gupta shared, “I was in corporate VC looking at technology in agriculture, specifically for the African context which led me to start thinking about innovative models to address food production. I co-founded my first company in Singapore in urban farming — Comcrop is growing herbs and vegetables with a fraction of natural resources and no pesticides on rooftops. Once this was profitable I moved to start my second venture, Fork & Goode, a cultured meat company in New York City.”

Looking back on her career to date and the impact of the joint degree, the connection between her work and her education is clear. “You can't talk about farming without the government entering the equation, whether it's thinking through complex stakeholders through producer associations or working with government bodies for grants, space, or food safety regulation,” said Gupta. “At the same time, the MBA toolkit of leadership, running a business (interpreting accounts, evaluating investments, hiring, etc.), and decision-making has been really helpful in starting and operating businesses.”

Like many of her classmates, Gupta notes that beyond the lessons learned in the classroom, one of the big takeaways for her has been the people she met throughout her three years on campus. “The long chats and debates I had with my classmates, in the joint degree seminar classroom and in the dining halls and cafes around campus, are some of my fondest memories. We would wrestle with big policy questions, define what we wanted to achieve, weigh tradeoffs about what we cared about. Some of those conversations really helped shape my path as well as who I am as a person.” For current students, Gupta shares a valuable piece of career advice. “Don't stress out too much on the perfect position post-graduation — you will figure it out over a longer arc of time. I didn't take a single entrepreneurship class at HBS and now I'm a serial entrepreneur!”

Justin Reed

Current role: Deputy Chief Investment Officer, Brown Brothers Harriman

Justin Reed had a clear vision coming into the HBS | HKS Joint Degree program. “My goal was to help individuals better invest their money – that was my North Star,” he said. Fast forward ten years, and Reed is living out that vision managing the asset allocation for the oldest continually operating private-owned bank in the U.S. In this new stage of his career, Reed is building on his experience at JPMorgan, the Princeton University endowment, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the joint degree program that helped land him his first role after graduation. Reed shared, “One of my internships during the program was at the Princeton endowment and I remember my boss at the time saying ‘Listen, we’re giving you this opportunity not because you’re an MBA student, but because you’re in a joint degree program.’ He saw having an MPP in addition to an MBA as giving me a more worldly thoughtfulness and ability to think through issues from multiple dimensions.”

Reed’s time at HBS and HKS taught him skills in valuation, communication, and understanding policy implications for investments that come into play in his work regularly. In addition, he credits both the HBS and HKS networks as key to his career success. “It comes up time and time again in terms of finding new opportunities, finding new investments, learning from different investors, doing reference calls,” said Reed. “You always can find someone who’s in your network or someone who knows someone else. It’s been very helpful.”

Plus, the close bond of classmates within the joint degree was invaluable. He noted, “I found this group is where I belonged. They didn’t judge me for wanting to be an investor. They got the fact that I cared about wealth inequality issues and helping people better invest their money. I think the camaraderie of the folks in the Joint Degree Program was really what made my experience.”

To students currently in the joint degree program, Reed offers some very tactical advice. “Utilize the fact that you have two internships. You get a chance to take a risk even if you’re not risk-oriented with at least one summer.” This opportunity to take on not one but two new and different opportunities over the summer can propel your learning and open up new possibilities for your career in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Luke Winston

Current role: Chief Business Officer, Formlabs

When Luke Winston came to HBS and HKS he brought with him an undergraduate degree in chemistry, nonprofit leadership experience, and an entrepreneurial spirit. His interests and skills took him in several different directions during and after graduate school including working in clean tech, environmental innovation, and consulting, before eventually leading him to his current role at Formlabs, a 3D printing manufacturer committed to making technology accessible.

While at HBS and HKS, Winston was eager to learn about for-profit business models since he had spent his career to date in the nonprofit sector. He also learned a great deal about how to think through problems tactically and holistically and that continues to come into play in his career. “Finance classes at HBS helped me to lead the finance department at Formlabs and international relations classes at HKS gave me a deeper understanding of public policy,” he said. “As healthcare becomes a huge part of our business at Formlabs it’s important to know the public policy side and how that impacts our product strategy.”

Formlabs has been an ideal fit for Winston because of the company’s mission: “Expanding access to digital fabrication so that anyone can make anything.” That translates to engineers, designers, and medical professionals’ accessing 3D printers at a fraction of the cost available elsewhere to innovate and make an impact.

Recently, Formlabs partnered with USF Health to design a COVID-19 testing swab and 40 millions swabs were created with the technology. Winston said, “I admire companies that have a tremendous impact on the world by making technology more accessible. There’s a real opportunity to drive change by getting products into the hands of people who can solve problems.”