The past two years have been a bit of whirlwind. The birth of my first child (Ryan), beating the GMAT (finally), business school applications, deciding to leave the military, moving to a new city, starting business school, the birth of my daughter (Kate), and a summer living in Philly and commuting to work in New York.
When I made the decision to apply to business school, I had (what I thought at the time) a pretty specific plan. I loved the foreign military advising work I had done in the Marine Corps, and I wanted to bring my passion for this kind of work to the business world. I wanted to combine business training and skills with my skills from the military to become a leader in the global development space. While this seemed clear prior to Wharton, through the fog that is the first semester of b-school, my path felt anything but.
Luckily, a team from Inspiring Capital came to campus to recruit for its summer MBA fellowship. The program brings together a cohort of MBA students from top business schools, provides professional development training and networking opportunities, and pairs the MBA fellows with nonprofits, social ventures and companies’ Corporate social responsibility (CSR) departments for a 10-week consulting engagement. I signed up—thanks in part to funding from the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.
For me, this was perfect. Hands-on experience. Practical training. Consulting. Social enterprise. A strong community of like-minded individuals. All things I felt I needed and/or was interested in. I was paired with an incredible organization (The Doe Fund) doing great work to fight the cycles of homelessness and addiction in NYC. Working closely with the organization’s new CFO, I dove headfirst into financial statements and Excel to develop a set of metrics and a new monthly financial report format to integrate financial performance into the organization’s mission and change how the executive staff views and utilizes financial data.
This project was meaningful and rewarding, but thanks to the Inspiring Capital program and network, the summer was so much more than just a consulting engagement. Some highlights include:
• Learning from and getting to know an amazing group of MBA fellows (and one law student) from top programs across the country, as well as a group of equally impressive undergrads from Inspiring Capital’s training program. Together, we formed a collaborative community of ambitious professionals who aspire to become leaders in the rapidly developing social enterprise space.
• Pursuing my interest in using sports as a force for good by attending Beyond Sport’s Sport United Conference–an event that brought together commissioners and top athletes from the NBA, MBA and NHL to discuss how sports can be used to drive social change. The following day, I visited NFL headquarters to meet with a leader from its CSR department.
• Getting to know the founder of Weinstein Carnegie Philanthropic Group, an innovative consulting firm that advises athletes, celebrities and brands on how to utilize their enormous and influential platforms to make the world a better place, as well as nonprofits on how to best partner with celebrities.
• Exploring NYC so much more than I did while growing up. (I grew up across the river in New Jersey.) Inspiring Capital’s “Training Tuesdays” had us traveling to very cool places across the city—Warby Parker, Fast Company, Bloomberg, Citibank and Brunswick to name a few—to hear from these host companies and other leaders in the social enterprise space.
While I’m not 100 percent certain I know what I want to be when I grow up (do we ever?), I’m excited to drive toward my next step. Walking back onto campus for Wharton MBA year two, I’m grateful for everything I’ve had the chance to experience. It has pushed me to be a more confident, curious and thought-provoking leader in this post-Marine Corps world. Most importantly, I’m thankful for the people who have made it all possible (especially my wife, who has spent far too many baths and bedtimes wishing she had an extra hand).