Whitney Wilson
Home Region

Coos Bay, Oregon

Undergrad Education

University of Oregon

Previous Experience

Amazon, Retail Leadership Development Program

HBS Activities

Outdoors Club Vice President; Member of VCPE, Technology, and Entrepreneurship clubs

“I was ready to get my hands dirty by being more directly involved as a decision maker.”

Whitney Wilson began her career in international development, assuming a role with the American Chamber of Commerce in Jordan during the midst of the Arab Spring.

“I was introduced to CEOs involved in international trade,” Whitney says. “Through them, I was exposed to the business world and the business problems they were solving.” After the Chamber, she accepted a consulting position with Deloitte in Washington DC where she “worked in the strategy and analytics practice for public sector clients. I focused my work around emerging tech and innovation – new processes that could align with their strategic missions.”

“I really liked the mission and work,” says Whitney, “but I was ready to get my hands dirty by being more directly involved as a decision maker.”

Seeking direction and depth at business school

As she applied to business schools, Whitney saw herself “as a business leader who could have more impact. What I’m trying to figure out at business school is where to make that impact.”

“One of the main reasons I chose HBS is the case method. I sat in on a class and was just really impressed by the diversity of comments and backgrounds in a single classroom. More than that, I realized that defending your point of view in front of really smart people is great practice; as a leader, you need to use your words to be compelling and influential.”

Whitney has also been impressed by “the thought and care HBS professors put into every class. The cold call is never random: maybe you’re called because you have a background in the industry, or live near the location of the case. There’s a huge level of preparation.”

“The composition of the sections creates the right mix of experiences,” Whitney adds. “How an engineer thinks about tech is very different from the way a consultant thinks about it.”

To stretch herself even further, Whitney participated in the week-long Start-Up Boot Camp during the winter break. “You come up with an idea – you either found or join a team – and during the week, you iterate on your idea under the supervision of faculty. I was a founder.” Whitney’s business idea centered on high-end shoes for the female professional. “Heels wear down fast,” she explains. “I was spending $200 to $300 for shoes that wore down in a month. Our business would design shoes to be long-lasting and comfortable, with easily replaced heels.”

The culmination of the Boot Camp is a pitch before a panel of VC and equity investors. “Two of the three investors were women who said they’d like to be our customers!”

“I’m still figuring out what I’d like to do after school,” Whitney says. “I would love to start a business or join an early-stage company that uses technology to improve people’s lives. I want to be part of an industry that is creating disruption in a positive way.”