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Brian Cook T'17

“Tuck has provided me with a community training ground for bringing diverse groups of people together and working toward a shared vision.”

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WHY TUCK

Before coming to Tuck, I worked in the social sector at a nonprofit called Teach for America (TFA). I served for two years as an English teacher for seventh and eighth graders and then transitioned to the management side of TFA where I focused on operations and finance and ultimately ended up on the recruitment team as a national director.

I came to Tuck for three main reasons. First, the general management focus. I knew because I was coming from the social sector and working for a nonprofit, I really had a sense of some of the levers in that world, but I wanted to learn how to manage a business. So the general management focus and the core curriculum here was really important to me—I wanted the education. Second, the community. Relationships are important to me and I didn’t want to be fighting to be recognized in a crowd of thousands of classmates among MBAs and other graduate programs. I wanted to be a part of a community that was willing to get to know my story and be willing to share their stories. Third, I wanted to attend a business school that was really going to allow me to experience the world—so the TuckGO requirement was an important part of my decision.

GOING ABROAD

With the TuckGO requirement, I was able to take on many experiential learning opportunities, but I also had a blast just being able to travel with my classmates. With direction from world-renown scholars Vijay Govindarajan and Praveen Kopalle, I went on a Global Insight Expedition to India where we looked at the innovation ecosystem of large multinationals moving their R&D centers to India. I studied abroad with one of Tuck’s partner universities, IESE in Barcelona, Spain. I also had the opportunity to go to Kuwait City on an OnSite Global Consulting project with the American University of Kuwait. I got to spend three weeks on the ground in a country I had never seen before. And beyond that, I was able to add develop client interaction skills and add value by helping the client think through all the options before making a well-informed recommendation to the university.

I also traveled to several countries with classmates. During my term at IESE I visited countries all over Europe. Before the second year, I went on a fun trek led by Japanese classmates and I even got a chance to compete on the sailing team at Tuck during the MBA Regatta in Portofino, Italy against forty other MBA programs across the globe.

BECOMING A GLOBAL LEADER

Global experiences are really important to me. I think this connects to how I grew up: I went to a different school every three years or so through high school. Although that was really tough, I think it helped develop a quality I’m most proud of which is the ability to be a sponge, learn from people, and soak up new cultures. It’s one of the main reasons I chose Tuck: I wanted to be in an environment where we would be focused on learning and getting to know each other.

Being able to go abroad has really allowed me to scratch the itch to explore, but it’s also helped in thinking about becoming a global leader and having a global career. After Tuck, I’m going to work for Colgate-Palmolive which is a multinational consumer-products company with 80 percent of business outside of the United States. That excites me. I didn’t know coming into Tuck how much that would matter and how excited I would be at the opportunity to work abroad—but global experiences at Tuck really shaped that desire.

THE POWER OF STORYTELLING

I think storytelling is vital to leadership. It’s important that we’re able to not only be fluent literally in the languages we speak, but also able to listen and understand what motivates people who might be different from ourselves. The global experiences at Tuck have made me confident that I won’t land in another country thinking I have the answers, but instead I’ll be ready to ask the right questions and listen and learn.

One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had at Tuck has been being a part of Tuck Talks. A Tuck Talk is kind of like a TED Talk, but instead of presenting an idea worth sharing, people share personal stories that have impacted their worldview and sense of self. It’s an opportunity for the Tuck community to share those stories and be a bit vulnerable. Those tough stories and the things we’ve been through are what define us and give us purpose.

It’s been such an important part of my experience here because I see how storytelling connects to being an effective leader: it’s the ability to listen and glean insights from the people we work with; being be able to manage across lines of difference; and being able to inspire people in a real way. Tuck Talks has allowed me to help coach people across the Tuck community to bring their amazing stories to life.

WHAT I’LL MISS MOST

I will miss the natural mechanisms in place that bring people who look, sound, eat, talk completely different from each other into common spaces with a desire to get to know one another. When we go back into the real world, it will be easy for so many of us to fall back into those groups that we’re most comfortable in. Being at Tuck—away from the big city—allows us to invest in building a community here. It’s a place where it’s harder to be wallflower. Tuckies opt into this culture because they want to be here. When I leave this place, I realize just how important it will be to try to create those spaces intentionally and continue to push myself out of my comfort zone.

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