To achieve his vision of becoming a clean-energy entrepreneur, PhD biologist Jonathan Friedlander (MBA 2017) left Paris for HBS to understand best business practices. But he would have struggled to obtain an MBA without the support that a fellowship provided him.

“After earning my doctorate, I started out as a biologist with an interest in biofuels,” he says. “Then I began working half-time on the science and half-time on business development. I discovered that building the narrative around the company’s products was the most interesting part of the job for me.”

“Technology is important,” Friedlander continues, “but telling the right story about it moves a company forward.”

Realizing that he lacked the business knowledge to craft such a story with credibility and impact, Friedlander resolved to bridge the gap. He also knew that financing the MBA he desired would be a major obstacle.

“I couldn’t pay for graduate education out of pocket and taking a large loan would limit what I could do afterward,” he says. “Luckily, HBS offered me a fellowship, which helped me overcome that obstacle.” Receiving the Jacques and Consuelo Balsan Fellowship, one of the oldest at the School, has shaped Friedlander’s time at HBS and he’s enjoyed meeting members of the donor family and expressing his appreciation for their support.

(photo by Susan Young)

“Because of this assistance, I can imagine myself doing something that involves risk, like starting my own company. Otherwise, my choices would be much more restricted.”

—Jonathan Friedlander (MBA 2017)


The fellowship that is helping Friedlander might help our planet as well, because he is focusing on the critical issue of “green transportation.” He points out that even if we maximize the use of solar, wind, and other non–fossil fuel methods of generating electricity, we still need to confront the challenge of powering our vehicles. And that’s where biofuels come in: “We may never be able to eliminate fossil fuels from the equation, but we can make a significant reduction through renewables.”

And that is how this PhD — soon- to-be MBA — entrepreneur intends to make a difference with his business education. “In 20 to 30 years, I hope to have created a venture where people have meaningful work making a product that helps solve global problems,” says the ambitious Friedlander.


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