01 Oct 2002
A Change of Life
The New York Times, never afraid to tackle the Big Questions, recently looked
into the matter of Rob Waldron (MBA '92) and pondered thusly: Does his career
switch represent a societal change in America, or is it just Rob, doing his thing?
Waldron, formerly of Kaplan Educational Centers, turned that firm's tutoring
company, Score, a $2 million acquisition in 1996, into a $50 million operation in
five years, the Times reported (July 14, 2001). In so doing, he caught the eye of an
executive search firm that tried to interest him in running Jumpstart, a program
designed to boost the classroom performance of disadvantaged schoolkids. It would be
a big change, said Waldron, who recalled, I wondered whether I should run a big
company and make a ton of money doing it. I felt it was one way you proved you were
smart, accomplished, a success.
Then came September 11, and the fears and uncertainties of the weeks that
followed. I had this terrible need to feel like I was fixing something,
Waldron revealed. Last March, he accepted the president and CEO position at
Jumpstart, where he earns one-third of what he made at Kaplan. I still want to
win, he noted, and my whole life has been about solving problems.
But now, he said, his wife reminds him that helping children read, that's
solving a problem and winning, too.
Is Waldron's move, the Times wondered, indicative of a growing interest on the
part of private-sector executives in nonprofit management? Some observers quoted by
the paper thought so, some disagreed, and still others said it was too soon to tell.