08 Oct 2015

Christine Schoppe - Girl Scouts of the United States of America

Christine Schoppe
(MBA 2015)

How did you get involved with the Girls Scouts?

I was a 13-year Girl Scout, myself, and the experience was hugely influential in helping me develop my character and leadership qualities. I look back fondly on it. When I left GSA at 18, I continued to be an active volunteer right up until I started at HBS. I also did investment banking before HBS, and wanted to use my two years in school to think through how I wanted to spend my working life and how to integrate my values into my work more going forward. The Girl Scouts’ mission is to build girls’ confidence and character and that’s something that really spoke to me and something I felt was especially important and timely given the focus on women’s issues at present. So the Fellowship was a natural fit.

How has your experience been so far?

All the people I work with are incredible women and they’ve all had successful careers. So it is exciting to get to learn from them. Of course, it’s always hard to start a new job where you want to prove yourself while learning a new culture and trying to set yourself up for success. It’s been interesting to see that no matter what field you’re in, that all remains the same. My previous career in investment banking was very execution-oriented, where now I’m working on strategic initiatives that are going to affect how an entire movement is organized. It feels more daunting than anything I’ve done in the past, but also very motivating.

What do your responsibilities look like and how do you prioritize them to be most effective?

The projects I’m working on seem so much bigger than a year. One of our challenges is there are 30,000 girls on the waitlist to join GSA. I was shocked at that number. We believe that’s partially because women who had previously been volunteers have been heading into the workforce, particularly in the inner cities. My top priority is to reconfigure the volunteer model to help solve that issue. We also need make sure we are constantly infusing our organization with new approaches that keep pace with demographic changes.

How does what you studied and learned at HBS inform your experience?

The number one thing is change management. GSA is a 100-year-old organization formed in 1912 with a deep, rich history. The corporate structure is a federation; I work at corporate headquarters in NYC, but each council operates autonomously. So a persistent question for us is: how do you get everyone rolling in the same direction behind new initiatives? I feel that HBS, and its focus on change management specifically, is something that’s been really important to reflect on to keep everyone behind the new ideas we’re trying to employ.

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