John Nordin
Home Region

Cambridge, MA

Undergrad Education

Columbia University, BA Economics, 2012

Previous Experience

My Town Solar Co. (dba Flipswitch), Solar Engine (subsidiary of Soligent Holdings), Soligent Holdings (Soligent Distribution & Solar Engine), Booz & Co. (now Strategy&)

HBS Activities

Rugby Club

“The people, the clubs – they're the most important part of my experience.”

John Nordin majored in Economics and was in the first class of students graduating with the Sustainable Development concentration at Columbia University. The root of his interest? "My aunt had a farm in Ontario that I used to work on in the summer,” John says. “She is a free spirit and an important person in my life. That's where environmental issues became important to me."

So important, in fact, that a year before John entered HBS, he founded his own company, Flipswitch, a web application for solar companies that unites CRM functions and proposal design. First he got customers; then, in January 2018, he got a buyer for the company; today, it's the customer interface for 180 South Solar in Massachusetts.

Emphasizing the personal

Many students, when asked about their MBA motivations, will cite ambitious plans and/or the desire for new management skills. But for John, "It felt right. One of the biggest reasons was that I had a mentor who was an HBS alum. And a lot of my friends encouraged me, saying that I would love the experience."

Not surprisingly, personal relationships have proven the most salient aspect of John’s HBS education. "The people, the clubs—they're the most important part of my experience," he says. "The composition of the sections is intentionally more diverse than a random group; it's great to get to know such a wide variety of people. But you can find forums for meeting people with shared interests, too."

The personal element drives the quality of the classroom experience. "Our professors really care and bring an element of theater to the classroom," says John. "At first, I thought the idea of working ninety people into a conversation was ludicrous. If their teaching was the same as my undergraduate lectures, it would be a disaster. But the professors put in so much energy and encourage us to share our personal experiences—there's a lot more emotion to it. We had a number of people moved to tears last semester because we talk about real issues."

Regarding the future, there's one thing about which John has certainty: he will co-lead the Rugby Club next year. Everything else is fluid—and he's comfortable with that. "I'm still interviewing for my internship," he says. "I really want to get more perspective, do something different for the summer."

Long term? "I've really enjoyed being an entrepreneur. I think I'd like to be involved in early-stage companies. I don't know that I have a stake in the ground yet, but there are lots of things I could be happy with."