Dodging the Question

The Financial Times said that you’re the perfect dean for N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business because M.B.A. students are “clamoring” for coursework to help in “reducing world poverty.” I thought people got M.B.A.’s to make themselves boatloads of money.
You can actually make a lot of money and do a lot of good in the world. I don’t see those things as being in opposition to one another. I never have.

Then can you name a Stern graduate who is making a ton of money and also saving the world?
With 90,000 alums, I won’t point to any one person. I love all my children equally.

Oh, but I wish you would point to one person (or more than one person!) Peter Henry, dean of N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business (we like specifics). You have to admire his idealism, though.

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6 Comments / Post A Comment

JG (#3,303)

Depends on your definition of what constitues work “do[ing] a lot of good in the world.” Would CEOs of renewable energy firms count as doing good in the world, despite their wealth? Even more indirectly, non-profits need funding; I would argue that if you make a “boat load” of money in business and then use your capital to fund the projects that you care about (poverty, clean water, health, etc. etc.), you’re just as valuable as the employee working in the field. Is anyone turning away the Gates Foundation because Bill made his bankroll in computers? Quick search through wikipedia shows that Dr. Abraham M. George (Stern MBA 73) built his wealth then created a foundation that focuses specifically on global poverty. I would assume that many of the other notable alumni have substantial charitable records, as well as spending their time fundraising for and working on the boards for the organizations that aren’t necessarily cash cows.

Yeah I dunno about AMERICAN MBAs saving the world, but there is some neat social entrepreneurship stuff going on led by entrepreneurs in developing countries. Plus just the normal everyday starting businesses that employ people and provide goods/services thing, which is generally considered desirable in poor countries.

readyornot (#816)

Seems like the point here is even with an MBA, huge network of rich alums, and plenty of financial savvy, job candidates will still be trading off between “boatloads of money” and “doing social good.”

I have plenty of acquaintances with these goals (stated, at least) who go to Berkeley, Stanford, UChicago, Sloan, and they end up on one end of the spectrum or another or some middle-of-the-road compromise. Middle bucks: management consulting for non-profits at a very respectable salary, still less than a hedge fund manager. On the low bucks end: actually doing project management for Amani Institute or something for what most MBAs consider a low salary (which you probably only consider doing if you had scholarships or came from wealth). Or take the big bucks job for a few years, volunteer or run a non-profit on the side, and then drop out of the rat race.

It would have been nice for Peter Henry to acknowledge those are difficult choices and that some of the grads will take the big bucks job to pay their loans back.

@readyornot The other option: if you want to “save the world” don’t get an expensive MBA?

readyornot (#816)

@stuffisthings yeah, definitely, the route i’m going. but i don’t think mike was pointing to that option, more to the MBA-specific ones. and some save-the-worlders go for the not-an-MBA-but-still-spendy master’s degrees, like an int’l relations degree or a public health degree, which still saddle them with debt and the need to earn a more sizable paycheck after graduating.

Sounds like some kind of rookie reporting mistake. Also, fluff question easily rectified with the following:
“C’mon, just one anecdote.”
“Okay, here you go. (Names Stern graduate trying to save the world, if there are any at all.)”

More seriously, how big are those boats? are these boatloads still a minority among MBA students? – such that each time someone does change the world via entrepreneurship, foundations, etc, it’s still something to be trumpeted loudly, rather than the norm? It’s clearly possible to change the world with an MBA: think renewable energy, electric-car start-ups, developing-country businesses. But perhaps a more direct, less glamorous way is with an engineering degree.

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