Caroline Wells T'20

“I'm a more confident and decisive leader because I’ve had the opportunity to develop, defend, and implement my ideas in a trusted and supportive community.”

Read My Story

Because I didn’t have a formal business education, I was looking for a school that placed a very high value on education. I wanted a place with a strong core curriculum that was really going to prepare me so that when I left after two years, I could say I got the business education that I needed. I was looking for a place that was going to tell me these are the things you should know foundationally to be a successful business leader. I was also looking for a school that had a mix of case-based education and lecture-based education. After living in D.C. for over four years, I was also looking to get out of the city. I was ready for something different—an adventure. I knew Tuck was a place that was going to challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone. 

One of the most transformational experiences for me has been my experience as Tuck Student Board President. I think it’s given me a real-time opportunity to apply a lot of the lessons I’ve learned in the classroom—from strategy and leadership, to managing organizations, to even quant and accounting skills—in a very challenging yet safe space. I think there are unique challenges to managing your peers on a large-scale, and that really required me to be intentional about decisions while also creating really intense and real relationships with my peers. Through my role as Student Board President I was able to not only give back to Tuck, but also change and shape the school and shape the student experience here in a way that I hope is positive for everyone. The experience really helped me grow as a business leader.

My driving mantra around business school has been to be brave. I remember this moment in former NH governor John Lynch’s interactive seminar, How to Run for Office. He announced that we were going to have a mock debate and he asked for volunteers. Only one person raised his hand, and in that moment I told myself, ‘You have to be brave.’ So, I raised my hand and we had an impromptu mock debate in front of over 100 people. I was put on the spot. It was terrifying and exhilarating. And it was a chance to put my mantra into action. I look back on that moment fondly. I stepped out of my comfort zone and leaned into the scariness. It was also transformational because I had direct access to someone who ran for office, which I think is a rare opportunity. 

So much of the magic of Tuck is a function of where it is. Tuck isn’t a place that you just stumble upon. Everyone at Tuck has made a deliberate decision to be there. It creates a unique and committed student body in a way that I don’t think others at peer business schools really get to experience. It can feel overwhelming at times, but it can also feel incredibly supportive and collaborative. You realize you will never again be surrounded by so many smart, engaged, interesting, and excited people in such a high concentration. There were moments where I had to remind myself how special it is that we’re here. If you kept everything the same about Tuck, and placed it in a different location from Hanover, I don’t think you’d have the same result.

During recruiting, I cast a very wide net. One of the tools that I really used to help filter down what I wanted in my career was the alumni network. I knew I was going to have to rely on the alumni network because I began looking at startups. Being able to leverage the power of the alumni network and send out 10 cold call emails and have nine helpful responses by the end of the week is something truly special. I felt like I wasn’t alone. When I received an offer from Google, I had a lot to consider. I found it helpful talking to alumni and my professors about my ultimate career goals and my career path. Ultimately, I decided to return to Deloitte in D.C., which is where my partner lives. After many valuable conversations with alumni, I realized I wasn’t quite ready to shut the door on consulting. With consulting, you’re constantly learning and there’s this velocity to your career. I wasn’t ready to stop moving at that high pace, and I knew consulting would help me to grind.

Tuck has managed to find a great balance between a timely and timeless curriculum. The function of the core curriculum is really providing that timeless foundation. Tuck is putting a stake in the ground that these are the core skills that every business leader should possess. You need to understand economics, strategy, marketing, and management. And yet, the curriculum acknowledges that the world is rapidly evolving and leading practices are always changing. That’s where our electives and experiential learning opportunities come in. For example, I went on a GIX to Vietnam where we met with American business leaders from Nike and Coca Cola. We were able to see in real time all these concepts from Macro Economics: How are business leaders thinking about interest rate risks? What is their strategy when moving part of their supply chain outside the U.S.? Part of being a wise and decisive leader is being able to look into your toolbox and consider the foundational lessons you’ve learned, but also being able to think in real time about how I apply those lessons differently today.

The biggest lesson I want to impart to prospective or incoming students is that no one person’s business school or Tuck experience will be the same as the other. That can be freeing and exciting. But it can also be scary. My call to action to everyone who comes to Tuck is to have agency over their experience and take ownership. Recognize that no one is going to step up unless you do. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘This is how I want my experience to look’ and then take the steps to make it happen.

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