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Making A Difference

Making connections at Harvard and beyond

Ralph James (MBA 1982)

In his role as executive director of External Relations at HBS, Ralph James (MBA 1982) takes the work of developing connections to a whole new level. While embracing the work of building lasting relationships between the School and its alumni, James also sees his job as a chance to connect people, organizations, and ideas—at the Business School and beyond—in ways that will maximize their positive impact on the world.

“One of the things I admire most about our graduates is their tendency to go wherever there are opportunities to make the world a better place,” notes James, whose career has included a number of senior administrative roles at HBS, as well as 10 years in the private sector as president and COO of the First Marblehead Corporation. “The world’s critical problems are not one-dimensional,” he continues. “Improving public education or tackling health care are challenges that require leadership in technology, negotiation, finance, and a host of other areas where our MBAs are having a significant impact.”

Following his strong belief in the power of “one Harvard,” James contributes support and guidance to initiatives across the University. As cochair of The Harvard Campaign at the Graduate School of Education (HGSE), he looks for ways to build stronger connections between HGSE and the many HBS students, graduates, and faculty who are intensely interested in education reform. Through his work on the Dean’s Council at Harvard Divinity School, he is in close touch with initiatives in ethics, leadership, and values that complement research and teaching at HBS. And as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council at the Radcliffe Institute, he supports a long tradition of convening scholars from many disciplines who collaborate on pathbreaking ideas.

“Harvard is bigger than the sum of its parts,” James observes. “Its impact on the world is greatest when all the parts work together.”

(Published June 2015)

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