Elena Laird T'17

“I will use my Tuck degree to lead with integrity.”

Read My Story


When I was working at Cambridge Associates prior to Tuck, I predominantly worked with family clients, many of whom were focused on private investments. As a result, I learned a lot about private equity and became interested in it. It is fairly unusual to transition directly from the limited partner side to the general partner side—from wealth management to private equity. I felt that I had many of the necessary soft skills already but needed to go back to school to round out my technical skillset. I also knew an MBA would strengthen my leadership skills and give me the opportunity to take a somewhat unusual jump in my career.


I grew up outside of a major city and consider myself a city person. But when I am in school—I went to college in Middlebury, Vt.—I like to be 100 percent focused on school and away from the distractions of the city. Hanover was an important driver of my decision to apply to Tuck. In Hanover, I am not constantly juggling family, work friends, college friends and high school friends. As a result, not only am I completely focused on my experience at Tuck, but also, I am just so much more invested in it. It sounds so cliché to say that the community is what makes Tuck, but a lot of that stems from the fact that the bonds are just stronger here—because everyone is focused 100 percent on their experience.


I am invested in recruiting the next generation of Tuckies, which is why I chose to apply for the Tuck Admissions associate program. Hands down, the most meaningful aspect of my Tuck experience has been the people. As a result, I feel passionate about sustaining Tuck’s enduring community. I have loved the opportunity to get to know prospective Tuck students, hear about why they want to come here, what about Tuck excites them, and help them through the process I was in only a year and a half ago. I still remember what it was like being in their shoes.


I think it is a no-brainer to have a global experience requirement. Tuck stresses the importance of developing global leaders—many schools do, but very few have a requirement. My Global Insight Expedition (GIX) was one of the most enjoyable and memorable parts of my first year at Tuck. I went to South Africa, where corruption is rampant, businesses face seemingly endless challenges, and the social and political landscape remains complex due to the Apartheid history. The theme of the trip was “Rescuing the Renaissance,” and it was led by Professor Phillip Stocken who organized an incredible itinerary for us while we were there.

Well evaluated private equity opportunities are important growth drivers within an investment portfolio.  Despite the superior performance provided by private investments, when it comes to investing in emerging and frontier markets, risks are foremost in investors’ minds.  Investors want to know if it is safe to invest.  This interested me, so I evaluated the investment landscape in South Africa for my final research paper.

When you travel at Tuck, you get a different kind of travel experience. You are motivated to understand the place where you are and the drivers of the economy. It was a trip unlike any I had ever taken.


When I arrived at Tuck, a First-Year Project with the Dartmouth College Investment Office had never been pursued. A classmate and I reached out to the CIO of the Dartmouth Endowment and said “We have this great idea!” We wanted to focus on emerging market private equity opportunities, a more niche investment strategy. We asked the CIO whether it would be additive to her team if we took a deep dive on evaluating emerging market private equity opportunities from a research standpoint. The Dartmouth Investment Office was on board with our project proposal and remained fully engaged and involved throughout the process. We focused on three regions: India, Latin America, and Africa, so it was a nice segue from my GIX.

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