27 Apr 2017
Fellowship Fuels a Passion for a Career in AviationTopics:
Norm Liu (MBA 1982)
(photo by Susan Young)
DONOR: Norman C.T. Liu (MBA 1982) Fellowship; N.C.T. Liu Family Fellowship
In explaining what prompted him to establish fellowships at HBS, Norm Liu (MBA 1982), the retired CEO of GE Capital Aviation Services, says: “My first act was all about GE, where I worked for 30 years, and my family. My second act is about the next generation. Fellowships are a great way of giving back, helping students, and supporting the industries you love.”
Liu wanted to leave a legacy as he was ending a long career in international big-ticket asset financing. After being invited to speak at the HBS Aerospace and Aviation Club, he was inspired to endow a fellowship that would benefit students pursuing careers in the aviation, aerospace, and defense industries. More recently, in honor of his 35th Reunion, Liu established a fellowship for students from emerging markets interested in careers in infrastructure- or property-related sectors.
His second act also includes serving as a senior advisor to Global Infrastructure Partners, a private equity investor in infrastructure, and working with nonprofits, including Orbis, a flying eye-hospital; and Airlink, a disaster-relief organization. This year, Liu became an Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University, and serves as an adjunct professor at University College Dublin’s Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
Liu says his experiences in global business have helped him appreciate the importance of diversity of thought, which fellowships enable in the classroom. “You arrive at better solutions when you have people from different backgrounds. It's the way business should work.”
Stefan Schmidt (MBA 2018)
(photo by Susan Young)
RECIPIENT: Norman C.T. Liu (MBA 1982) Fellowship
Stefan Schmidt’s (MBA 2018) first airplane ride at 14 opened his eyes to the world and led to his passion for aviation. “I flew on a school trip from Germany to the UK and I remember the thrill of acceleration as we took off. It was incredible,” he says. The experience prompted Schmidt to leave his home near Nuremberg after high school for a one-year stint at an NGO in Indonesia, and eventually to earn his aerospace engineering degree in 2014 at Imperial College London. It is also what has brought him to HBS.
“After university I joined the Boston Consulting Group in Munich where I focused on industrials and technology, which included a major aircraft production program with a leading aircraft maker,” notes Schmidt. “When I saw how senior managers at large corporations made decisions, I realized I needed more leadership skills to tackle real-life business issues.”
A pilot himself, Schmidt wants to join a fast-growing aviation startup and eventually launch his own. “I’m passionate about connecting people and bringing the world together. I want to use aviation to do that,” he explains. Schmidt knew that HBS could give him the skills he needed, but that he couldn’t achieve his goal if it meant acquiring substantial debt.
“The fellowship enables me to take on a higher level of risk in my career choice and follow my dreams. I’m working hard to make the most of this opportunity because I know that it’s a great honor to be here.”
Class of MBA 1982, Section C