01 Jun 2000
Going Public: Shari P. Hubert
Returning the Favorby Deborah BlaggTopics:
It's impossible to talk for long with Shari Hubert without hearing her mention the importance of "giving back." In fact, when she is asked to reflect on her most significant accomplishments to date, she doesn't at first mention that she won a city-wide college scholarship contest and beauty pageant in her hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana; that she graduated cum laude from Dartmouth; or the fact that she garnered several sales and marketing awards at Merck & Company, Inc., where she worked for five years before coming to HBS.
Instead, this engaging young woman with a direct manner and a ready smile talks about her experience tutoring a single mother on welfare as a volunteer in Boston City Hospital's Adult Literacy Program. "This woman was smart, motivated, and capable," recalls Hubert, who met with her student twice a week, helped her study for the GED, and then assisted her in successfully applying to a local community college.
"I have definitely benefited from the support and advice of some wonderful mentors," Hubert continues. "Helping that woman is the closest I've come so far to repaying those who have been so generous to me."
Chief among Hubert's mentors has been her mother, a single parent who has made considerable sacrifices for her daughter. "Everything I've been able to accomplish thus far, I owe to her," Hubert states simply. "When it came to choosing a college, she told me to make the decision based on what I really wanted, not on what I thought we could afford." During Hubert's sophomore year at Dartmouth, her mother took a severance package from General Motors and accepted a job as a live-in nanny in upstate New York to cut down on her living expenses. "I was working more than twenty hours a week as a work-study student, but without my mother's sacrifice, I would not have been able to continue at Dartmouth," Hubert says.
Having the freedom to shape her own destiny has always been important to Hubert. At the age of 19, she reestablished contact with her estranged father after fifteen years and has worked hard to forge a positive relationship with him. As a French major at Dartmouth, Hubert pursued a lifelong passion for travel and spent a semester living abroad in Lyon. "Being blessed with the opportunity to live in France and immerse myself in a different culture," she says, "was one of the most memorable experiences of my life."
After Dartmouth, Hubert moved up the ranks at Merck and was working as a customer segment manager in employer marketing when she decided to apply to HBS. The most crucial lesson she has learned at HBS is the importance of knowing how to motivate and influence people, skills Hubert has demonstrated as copresident of the African American Student Union (AASU), as a panel chair at the 1999 HBS Entrepreneurship Conference, and as a member of the Finance and Management Consulting clubs. She has also worked with the Admissions Office and the Women's Student Association to attract more women and minority applicants to HBS.
Hubert has accepted a position with the Boston Consulting Group in New York and looks forward to the new opportunities that post-HBS life will present. "Long term, whatever I end up doing," she notes, "I will be most proud when I can truly demonstrate to my mother my appreciation for all she has done for me throughout my life."
Photography by Webb Chappell