Neither Jeff Surette (MBA 2010) nor Mike Peters (MBA 2017) expected to be drafted onto a team with Tom Brady after business school. However, the perspectives, experience, and skills they each brought to the table were exactly what Tom Brady was looking for as he and his team grew TB12, the health and wellness company dedicated to helping people do what they love – better and for longer. Now they both are key leaders in the growing company that is making a positive impact on athletes around the world.

Building a Winning Strategy

For Surette, now Senior Vice President at TB12, his journey to the company started in management consulting. After graduating from Harvard College in 2005, Surette joined Parthenon for three years before matriculating at HBS in the fall of 2008. Amid a global recession, his business school experience allowed him the opportunity to observe how leaders across multiple sectors were managing through crisis, while building his own business acumen.

Post HBS, Surette rejoined Parthenon for four years focusing on education and consumer goods consulting. Then when it came time to make another move, he felt a strong pull to get into an operational role and decided to leave the firm in 2014. “I left without a job prepared to engage in a period of exploration and a long term job search. I knew I wanted to do something small, entrepreneurial, mission driven, and with great potential to make a global impact.”

However, that long search quickly shortened when two weeks later Surette was connected with TB12, a brand new company at the time, through a fellow HBS alum. He joined the company as a freelance consultant to help establish the business plan and grow the impact of TB12 over time, including leveraging partnerships and ecommerce in what was currently an entirely brick and mortar body coaching business. Several months later when it was time to implement the plan Surette developed, Brady asked Surette to join his team full-time and drive progress forward.

Growing the Team

Before Peters joined TB12 as VP of Ecommerce Operations, he was also in the driver's seat – of a submarine. For six years he served as a Nuclear Submarine Officer in the Navy and then made the transition into consulting for three years with EY. While at HBS, Peters took advice from his professors and reflected on different paths forward, as an operator, advisor, or investor. He felt drawn to the operator role and specifically wanted to work for a small, entrepreneurial company that aligned with his interests.

Peters found that company in TB12 two months after graduation, and six weeks after his first child was born. The Career & Professional Development Office helped connect him to HBS alum and former TB12 Strategic Advisor, Danny Haluska (MBA 2018) to learn more about the company’s path forward. “TB12 was nearing an inflection point, going from an enigma happening in Foxborough, Massachusetts to codifying these methods for the masses. When I joined in 2017, we were looking to build the company into a sustainable health and wellness business, round out product offerings, upgrade ecommerce merchandising, and build out the team to support these goals,” says Peters.

The HBS Advantage

To make the vision of co-founders, Tom Brady and Alex Guerrero, a reality, when Surette joined TB12 he was focused on bringing in adaptable and talented business leaders who could develop a strategy for growth and execute on that strategy. Peters was a key addition to a team that started with 5 employees and has now grown to nearly 80 including 30 body coaches, who Peters refers to as “the engine of our business.” As the company continues to grow, both Surette and Peters reflect back on how their HBS experience has influenced their work as leaders.

“Over the course of six years at the company it’s been a cross-functional multidisciplinary experience that has combined much of what I learned at HBS,” said Surette. “There is some TOM, TEM, FIN 1, FIN 2, and if there is one skillset that rises above the rest it is leadership.” The team is continually facing new challenges and opportunities, particularly in the wake of COVID-19 while training plans move entirely online, and Surette is embracing his role as an organizational leader.

For Peters, the key learning at HBS was changing his way of solving problems. “In the Navy and in regulatory consulting, there was a very direct approach to solving problems and typically one acceptable answer. HBS helped me to approach problems from many different directions and learn there can be many right answers. This mindset has helped me approach problems in a more flexible way in an entrepreneurial business setting.”

Surette and Peters continue to face situations filled with ambiguity daily as leaders in a rapidly growing company, and they have worked closely with their team to ask the right questions, provide cross-functional perspectives, and make decisions that help the company succeed.

What’s Next for TB12?

As football fans well know, Tom Brady recently left his longtime home in New England for Florida. However, the business he co-founded had been scaling beyond Foxborough years before he changed uniforms.

The TB12 team launched the TB12 Method book in 2017 and it quickly became a New York Times Bestseller. Two years later, the new TB12 center in Boston opened its doors welcoming in athletes to work with body coaches on training, nutrition, and cognitive health. Meanwhile, the team is also focused on product development in the consumer goods space and growing their e-commerce business. In addition, the company has a mobile app and has begun offering virtual services and an at-home workout program.

“We have spent a lot of time over the past couple of years laying the foundation for growth. There are pieces of our business that would be easier to scale, but no part is more representative of Tom’s experience than our body coaches,” Surette says. “We have focused our energy on codifying training and content in the right way and as we do that, I’m confident in the business’ ability to unlock growth and scale quickly.”