May 8, 2020
In a session of virtual office hours with Deans Sally and Joe a few weeks ago, some of you shared the idea of learning more from our alumni about what it is like to lead organizations amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Fast forward to Wednesday this week at lunchtime, when about 100 of you participated in our inaugural Tuck Board Chats conversation.
In that lunch hour, I felt so pleased to see come alive another example of the creative resolve you students have shown time and again this term. I also felt fortunate that we were able to learn so much from our three heads of the Tuck MBA Advisory Council: Mike Koester T’99, partner in merchant banking at Goldman Sachs; Leela Srinivasan T’06, CMO at SurveyMonkey; and Errik Anderson T’07, founder and CEO of Ulysses Diversified Holdings.
They began by sharing the humanity of dealing with these challenging times. Mike mused about the “chaos” of his professional and personal lives colliding. Leela discussed at times feeling “exhausted” from summoning so much emotional intelligence. Errik acknowledged trying to confront “fear” with data – and with the lessons of Tuck core courses like Managing Organizations.
At the same time, they all provided compelling demonstrations of wise, decisive leadership. Leela has been ripping up strategic plans to rally and reprioritize key teams on new mission-critical objectives. Errik pivoted from shuttering a rugby league to fighting COVID-19 through Alloy Therapeutics. From his living room, Mike has been orchestrating what would be the world’s first $10 billion investment fund raised without a single in-person meeting.
And, so resonant with how we define leadership at our School, they all articulated a compelling vision for our post-pandemic future. Errik sees power in all humanity having shared an experience that, unlike war, united rather than divided us. Leela envisions greater awareness of and support for mental health, as part of heightened empathy of many kinds. Mike is optimistic that public policy will better address the fragility facing vulnerable individuals and communities.
Collectively, first in the classroom and then as dean, I have known Leela, Errik, and Mike a total of about 51 years. Wednesday’s Board Chat proved that no matter how well you think you understand a person, an idea, or an organization, every day there is always more to learn – so long as you orient yourself toward the lessons that each new day may present.
A recording of this week’s Board Chat is available here. Thank you to everyone who helped create Tuck Board Chats – and everything else that happened at Tuck this week. Our historic spring term still has two weeks to run. I know we will create, learn, and apply more valuable lessons in the days ahead.
Take good care this weekend.
Matthew J. Slaughter
Dean of the Tuck School of Business
Dartmouth has formed a high-level task force to plan for and manage possible disruptions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, monitor federal and state recommendations, implement guidance, and communicate with our community.