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.


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