Stephen Pidgeon, T'07 shares his unique perspective as a Tuckie who has returned to the roost. Stephen is an Associate Director in Tuck's Career Development Office and returns to Tuck (family in tow) after a stint with McKinsey in London.
Q1: What advice would you give a student entering their first year at Tuck (i.e. what do you wish you’d known before matriculating)?
Your time at Tuck will go by in an instant. Grab onto opportunities as they arise, do not assume you will have time to come back to them later, and try to ensure you have a diverse set of experiences, not just classwork. I think the reason that many people love to come back to visit, and some of us choose to come back to stay, is a sense of unfinished business – perhaps another mountain to climb, another river to canoe down, another restaurant to try, another community to get involved with, another area of research to delve into.
Q2: What fuels your passion for Tuck or led to your return to the institution in your professional role?
Tuck is a rare example of an institution where everybody knows what the mission is, everybody agrees with that mission, and everybody is proud of the fact that they are part of something which is a success. That doesn’t mean we rest on our laurels. We are continually looking for ways to improve, but it is so nice to be starting from a point of “we are doing the right thing, and we are doing it well.” Tuck, and the whole Upper Valley, is also a place which attracts a very certain type of person. People (students, professors, members of staff, families) have chosen to live here because they value a quality of life that this area can provide, a quality of life that in my opinion cannot be beat anywhere else in the world.
We have a world class university with cultural, sporting and intellectual events. We have world class scenery, and more opportunities for getting outdoors than you could ever take advantage of. We have a very high proportion of people who are really committed to making a difference, and to living a life that reflects their values. And all of this is in a location which makes getting the most out of life easy – there is no hour-long commute through city traffic for instance!
Q3: What is your favorite memory from your time as a student at Tuck? People sometimes have a hard time distinguishing the fun memories from the “serious ones” – you may want to say it as “favorite experience” or “memorable experience.”
I have so many ‘favorite’ memories from Tuck it’s difficult to pick one out! When I look across many of them there’s a theme of personal achievement after a steep learning curve. I have a really strong memory of sitting in Stoneman, taking my DecSci final exam. I had a mug of coffee next to me, I had my headphones in - it was really peaceful. I was making a complex excel model against considerable time pressure AND ENJOYING IT!! Bear in mind 6 weeks earlier I didn’t know how to add two numbers together in excel, you can get some sense of how steep my learning curve had been, and that curve had involved many tough times!
Another memory on a similar theme is playing ice hockey on the professional quality rink (Thompson Arena). In my first year, I joined tripod hockey having never strapped on a pair of skates. I was terrible. Every week I had to really motivate myself to go to practice, join the games, continue to fall down, get INCREDIBLY frustrated, tired, and hurt! In the second year, while playing with my new team, alongside many first years who were going through the same frustration, I realized I was skating backwards!!! I also realized I was enjoying the game, following the strategy of the team, thinking about where I should be and how I could help, rather than just concentrating on not falling down! I can’t tell you how excited I was.
Q4: What, in your opinion, distinguishes Tuck from other top MBA programs?
There are so many things about Tuck that are unique, you really have to visit to find out for yourself. I can tell you about the outcome – I have worked with countless MBAs since Tuck, and every time we had a team event, we would always share which b school we went to. When it was my turn, I would always go on for about 10 minutes about this incredible place called Tuck, where everybody knows each other, where the school has its own ski mountain, where I went to professors’ houses for dinner, where I had without doubt the best two years of my life. My colleagues would simply say, “oh, I went to (insert other school)” and move on. They had nothing else to say. It simply wasn’t a major part of their life that they felt passionate about.
And there you have it folks, Stephen illustrates the often mentioned difference between Tuck alum and alum from other schools: Tuckies have a passion for their alma mater and their experience that is hard to deny.