01 Jun 2007
Profiles from the class of 2007
Stepping Outby Garry Emmons;Julia Hanna;Lewis I. RiceTopics:
Photographs by Webb Chappell
Now in its twelfth year, the annual student profiles feature has become something of a Bulletin tradition. As editors, we look forward every spring to meeting these outstanding members of the MBA graduating class — and who wouldn’t? Their personal and professional stories embody what makes HBS such a remarkable community and hint at the potential contributions these talented young people will make as alumni.
While we always enjoy talking to these students, we can’t say that selecting them is an easy process, given the dizzying array of experiences and achievements represented by the Class of 2007. And once a handful has been chosen, it can be even more challenging to craft a representative portrait in 300 words or fewer. As a result, you could read Libbie Landles-Dowling’s profile and never know that she has sung and recorded as a professional soprano with Boston’s Trinity Church choir. Or that you can read an essay by Sachin Jain in The Soul of a Doctor, a book written by medical students on their transformation into physicians.
In any case, we hope you enjoy meeting these newest members of the HBS alumni body. As in years past, their portraits were taken by photographer Webb Chappell, who did his excellent work in the Stamps Reading Room in Baker Library.
To Your Health
“Starting when I was about six,” Sachin Jain recalls, “I’d watch the evening news with my father, a physician, and we’d discuss the issues of the day. I wanted to be a doctor, but over time I became interested in larger health-care systems issues, too.” After graduating from Harvard College, where he started a health clinic for homeless people in Harvard Square, Jain completed three years at Harvard Medical School, during which his interest in health-care policy issues remained strong. He enrolled at HBS because he believes that, more so than policymakers, “managers who lead health-care systems are the ones today who are introducing needed changes.” At the School, Jain has done three health-care field studies with Professor Michael Porter. He has also cofounded a health-care systems education site (www.improvehealthcare.org) at HMS and a discussion group composed of students at the Medical School.
“We need to focus on wellness and not on unreasonably prolonging life,” Jain observes. “There also needs to be full transparency around health-care quality and outcomes. Consumers need to have that information to make good decisions.” Jain believes that any health-care system should center on a strong doctor-patient relationship and allow physicians sufficient time and opportunity to fully care for patients. “The importance of having a physician who motivates patients to take better care of themselves is often overlooked,” he notes.
In the fall, Jain plans to begin his final year of medical school while also spending time at HBS working with Porter. His residency ideally would allow him the flexibility to continue studying health-care systems. As if he weren’t busy enough, Jain is also involved in expanding the services and facilities at a health center his family started years ago in its ancestral village in the state of Rajasthan, India. “We’ll soon have a dialysis center there,” Jain says proudly. “It’s making a real impact on people’s lives.”
The Business of Peace
In the summer of 1998, while working as a fellow with an Israeli human-rights organization, Brandeis student Forsan Hussein interviewed a young Palestinian whose West Bank home had just been bulldozed by the Israelis because it was believed his family had ties to Hamas.
“He was a normal guy my age,” recalls Hussein. “After chatting for a while about soccer, girls, and food, he told me that his father has been in ‘administrative detention,’ or unacknowledged imprisonment, for almost five years. He’d dropped out of university, his mother was dying of cancer, and he was caring for his grandparents. A younger brother had been killed in crossfire between the Israeli army and Palestinian police.”
That fall, back at college, Hussein opened up a newspaper one day and saw the young man’s photo. He had just blown himself up in Tel Aviv, killing 36 people. “I’m convinced he wasn’t a terrorist when we talked,” says Hussein. “I think Hamas came to him and promised to take care of his family if he’d do this one thing for them. I believe that is when, out of hopelessness, he agreed to become a terrorist.”
For Hussein, an Arab Israeli who speaks fluent Hebrew, Arabic, and English and who has long been involved with peace-related initiatives and nonprofits, that experience convinced him “to work on the business side of peace.” “Peace in the Middle East,” he says, “will not be sustainable if people aren’t economically empowered.”
After HBS, Hussein will work and gain experience in private equity and venture capital in New York or London, with the long-term goal of setting up his own firm in the Middle East to connect Israeli and Arab companies and help the region become more economically interdependent.
“At HBS, I’ve grown in so many ways in terms of who I am, where I come from, and what I want to do,” Hussein concludes. “My goal is becoming a reality.”
As a veteran sailor (she began competing internationally at age 11), Laura Dillon understands how to work with unpredictable factors like wind and water. “There are strategic and tactical elements to sailing,” says Dillon, a native of Ireland. “You need to decide where you want to go and what your competitors are doing. It’s kind of an interactive game that’s ultimately quite similar to business.”
Off the water, Dillon has shown a similar ease when it comes to changing course. Although she studied chemical engineering at University College Dublin, she went to work for McKinsey & Co. in 2001. Stints in private equity and commercial banking followed, as well as volunteer work in Africa in community and economic development.
After graduation from HBS, Dillon will start a job at Apax Partners, a private-equity firm in London. Once she has more experience, she dreams of launching or buying a business in Ireland. (Her heart is still in her homeland, as evidenced by a T-shirt she wears to an interview; adorned with a shamrock, it reads: Green with Envy.) “Entrepreneurship is not only a great way to enjoy the work you’re doing as the owner of a business,” says Dillon, “but it’s a really great way to add value to society.” Although she’s not yet certain what shape her future venture will take, Dillon has a strong interest in renewable energy. “It’s an area we’re going to have to tackle over our lifetime,” she notes. “From my perspective, there’s going to be a huge number of opportunities in this area going forward.”
Recently, she made a more immediate difference by organizing a sold-out St. Patrick’s Day party in Boston that raised more than $2,000 for the Irish Hospice Foundation, a nonprofit based in Dublin that supports the development of hospice care. It’s part of an active off-campus life, which is dominated by her love of sports. In addition to running the New York City Marathon and playing rugby in the MBA World Championship, she’s taken home numerous sailing awards for Ireland and is the only woman to win Ireland’s Helmsman’s Championship in the event’s sixty-year history. “My passion for sailing and the desire to win have driven me to understand what it takes to excel and to be the best,” says Dillon, who plans to bring that same focus to her private-equity career in London and future athletic endeavors.
When Libbie Landles-Dowling went to work for Kaintuck Capital Management, she was 22 years old and had just finished a master’s degree in sociology at Oxford University.
“I didn’t even know what a ticker was,” recalls Landles-Dowling, who double-majored in math and music at Wellesley College. “But it turned out that analyzing companies was something I was relatively good at.” In 2004 she was the top performer for Kaintuck, a hedge fund.
Since coming to HBS, Landles-Dowling has led in other ways: as president of her section; as copresident of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Association; and as a member of the Joint Committee on Diversity. She cites Bill George’s course Authentic Leadership Development as being particularly influential. “Professor George asked us to examine who we are and how our life experiences shape our view of the world and influence the type of leader we become.”
One such experience was coming to understand the influence of her father, who struggled with substance abuse throughout his life and spent fifteen years homeless on the streets of Las Vegas, far from their California home, before he died in 2003. “My father gave us the biggest gift he could have, which was to leave,” says Landles-Dowling. “I escaped a potentially tough childhood because he knew he had a problem, and he stepped away so that our family could function. Professor George helped me realize that my passion for making change in the world is driven by this experience of watching my father’s struggle and by my strong sense of responsibility to give back to the world for all the gifts I have been given.”
To that end, Landles-Dowling’s first stop after HBS will be at The Boston Consulting Group in San Francisco, with an ultimate career focus in nonprofit management. “I hope my experience in consulting will prepare me to run a nonprofit effectively and to tackle the inequalities I saw watching my father’s life on the streets,” she says. “Being able to put words around my experience with my father has given me a better sense of clarity about my priorities and how I want to make a difference.”
A Passion for Change
As a first-year student, Anthony D’Avella arrived at HBS just a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina had devastated much of the Gulf Coast. In January 2006, he traveled to New Orleans on a student-led trek with 56 other MBAs to apply their HBS skills to projects ranging from rebuilding homes to public education. They returned again in 2007 as part of the School’s New Orleans Service Immersion. “We knew we wanted to go back right after we returned from that first trip,” says D’Avella. “This year we did a pre- and post-immersion seminar with faculty to tie in the experience with what we’ve been learning in the classroom. You couldn’t ask for a better in-the-field education.” A team of students will return again in January 2008.
D’Avella’s early commitment to service began at the Delbarton School in Morris-town, New Jersey, where he became involved with Operation Smile, a nonprofit that provides reconstructive facial surgery for children around the world. That volunteer work evolved into a full-time position: From 2000 to 2005, D’Avella worked in the organization’s offices in Virginia, Rome, and London to support its missions in various countries and to build its sustainability. “I realized the first time I traveled with the doctors that there really wasn’t any rhyme or reason why I couldn’t have been one of the kids we saw,” D’Avella recalls. He continues to work with the organization on a volunteer basis and is currently collaborating with HBS assistant professor Noam Wasserman on a case that focuses on Operation Smile’s succession planning.
Wherever his path leads after leaving Soldiers Field, D’Avella feels certain it will involve either social enterprise or his other passion, music. As manager of the New York–based indie rock band Carlon (www.carlonmusic.com), he’s had ample opportunity to apply skills acquired in marketing and entrepreneurship. “How do you reach consumers of this product, music, and maintain strong relationships with them?” he asks. “Something I’ll take away from my time here is that you’ve always got to hustle to create environments in which you can touch people, whether that’s in music or in service.”
Class of MBA 2007, Section J
Class of MBA 2007, Section G
Class of MBA 2007, Section F
Class of MBA 2007, Section B
Class of MBA 2007, Section A