In the mid-1980s, when David Southwell T'88 was trying to decide where to go to get his MBA, he had a clear set of criteria in mind. If he was going to take two years out of his life, he wanted to be productive and he wanted to enjoy the experience. But most of all, he wanted an education with staying power. "I was looking for a place where I could broaden myself," he says. "I didn't just want skills to prepare me for my first job. I wanted the skills to succeed for the rest of my life."
If the last 16 years are any indication, he appears to have acquired them. After graduating from Tuck he spent six successful years in investment banking, then left to work for Sepracor, Inc., a research-based pharmaceutical company in Marlborough, Mass., where today he's executive vice president and CFO. And throughout his career, he says, there's one thing he took away from Tuck that's helped him most: "Learning to work as a member of a team. That was a huge part of my learning experience."
Tuck is able to develop new programs quickly... The school is nimble and aggressive.” David Southwell T'88
The way teamwork is embedded in the school's culture, says Southwell, is what differentiates Tuck. "Tuck grads are taught the business skills they need, but they're also taught to work with people who have wildly different personalities. Sometimes you get to choose those people, and sometimes you don't. This teaches you to be self-reliant, to be scrappy, to think on your feet."
This focus, Southwell believes, can lead to subtle differences in the way graduates approach their careers. He feels that alumni of other top schools have a tendency to fall back on their academic credentials and use them as a cushion, while Tuck alumni use their degrees as a springboard to propel themselves forward in their careers.
Today, as a member of Tuck's board of overseers and chair of the MBA advisory board, Southwell finds satisfaction working on behalf of a school that has the highest academic standards and great agility in shaping students' education. "Tuck is able to develop new programs quickly," he says. "The program in entrepreneurship has grown exponentially. The program in private equity taps into a huge growth area. The school is nimble and aggressive."
After years of remarkable progress, Tuck is poised to set a new standard for quality business education. "Tuck is already world class, but we can make it even stronger. Imagine if there were more professors and a better physical infrastructure and more new programs. Our contributions can make that happen, but because of Tuck's small size, each alum needs to make a bigger contribution. We can keep Tuck at the top of the standings," he says.