01 Jun 2000
Going Public: Scott C. Bolick
Profile in Encouragementby Nancy O. PerryTopics:
"Ranger Bolick, you have the heart of a lion, but your body just isn't keeping up. Hang in there; you have what it takes."
Scott Bolick will never forget those words. In 1990, fresh out of West Point, he was struggling through the Army's premier leadership-training Ranger course, taking more than twice the 67 days usually needed to complete the arduous battery of simulated combat missions. The ordeal left Bolick 36 pounds lighter than when he started and further weakened by viral infections that required two overnight hospitalizations. His instructor's supportive words not only made a lasting impression, they marked a turning point in Bolick's education as a leader.
Bolick was born in Germany and grew up in an Army family that moved every couple of years. In his five-year career as an Army officer, in two years as a consultant with Andersen Consulting, and as the January cohort's Student Association president, Bolick has put his personal imprimatur on the Army's notion of motivating people and achieving results. Above all, he remembers the encouragement of that Army instructor who reinforced his belief that people should be continuously motivated and recognized for their outstanding efforts. Twice Bolick has spearheaded awards programs to honor worthy achievers and to inspire others to reach similar heights: in the Army, where he helped establish the Hurley Awards to recognize leadership and community development efforts in the squadron in which he was serving; and at HBS, where he instituted the Student Association/MBA Awards to complement the annual Dean's Award for exceptional leadership and service.
"HBS students are just fantastic people," remarks Bolick. "I felt that it was important to have a mechanism in place to reward students who quietly and selflessly better the HBS community." Nine of these awards were given this year. His other achievements as cohort president include serving as an advocate on academic and student-life issues, building an increased sense of community, providing feedback to administrators and faculty on their strategic goals, and supervising the funding of various Student Association events.
The good-natured Bolick's affinity for people reflects a deep interest in cultural diversity developed as a child living abroad, reinforced as an undergraduate majoring in Soviet studies, and expanded as a platoon leader with international peacekeeping forces in the Sinai Peninsula. "I love languages, traveling, and seeing different cultures," he notes, "as well as the excitement of change and challenge, in both my personal and my professional life."
Eager for new challenges, in 1995 Bolick severed his lifelong tie to the Army and embarked on a "steep learning curve" at Andersen Consulting in San Francisco, where he joined the company's Media and Entertainment division. Technology became his newfound passion at Andersen, leading him to HBS to pursue his MBA and setting the stage for his post-HBS role as a consultant with McKinsey & Company in Silicon Valley.
"I am excited to be at an innovative organization in the heart of the new economy," Bolick says of his next assignment. His long-term career aspirations center on starting his own company, with "people and a product that get me excited when I wake up every morning." For those who know Scott Bolick, there's little doubt that he has what it takes to make that happen.
Photography by Webb Chappell