01 Dec 2017
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A ‘One Harvard’ Perspective

David Tunnell (MBA 1997)

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David Tunnell (MBA 1997)

David Tunnell (MBA 1997) is a longtime advocate of crossing traditional academic boundaries at Harvard. For his Harvard College senior thesis on efficient markets, the economics major conducted most of his research on the Allston side of the Charles, where HBS professor Richard Ruback was his advisor. “Even before anyone was talking about ‘One Harvard,’ some of us were trying to make it happen,” notes Tunnell, whose 20th Reunion gift supports the HBS-Harvard Integration Fund.

Now a managing director at the San Francisco–based private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, Tunnell recalls that “as a liberal arts undergrad, I wanted an education that drew ideas from a variety of disciplines, people, and perspectives.” Noting “it wasn’t easy to jump between schools” during his time at Harvard, Tunnell says he appreciates Dean Nitin Nohria’s commitment to initiatives “that leverage learning across the University and encourage Harvard students to think more broadly about their role as leaders in society.”

Tunnell, who has worked at Hellman & Friedman for most of his career, is a member of the firm’s investment committee and leader of investments in the software and insurance sectors. He believes the best business leaders “embrace the public service aspect” of their positions. “When I work with executives,” he elaborates, “I try to reinforce the idea that no matter what kind of organization you lead, you have a responsibility to exercise your power in a way that serves your employees, customers, and community.”

By contributing to the HBS-Harvard Integration Fund, Tunnell says he is investing in the idea that “HBS is much more than a school for managers; it’s a leadership school. The more access MBAs have to ideas from government, science, engineering, and the humanities,” he says, “the better foundation they will have to think critically in complicated situations and act in ways that will have a positive impact on the world. I believe that’s what the One Harvard theme is all about.”

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1997, Section C

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