Caitlin Sullivan '13
Post-MBA Position: Director of Program Strategy, The Achievement Network
I think one of the most profound lessons I’ve learned at Yale SOM is that mission is essential and process matters.
After college I worked on education reform in Washington, D.C., which made me start thinking about how to make long-term change in a public system. The challenges of education have everything to do with setting high expectations—whether for the adults in the system or the students in the classroom. Part of that is saying what we mean and meaning what we say; we need to set high expectations—and then manage to them. For me, business school was the best training ground to learn to do that, to sharpen the skills that I had been experimenting with intuitively, to learn the language and the frameworks in a systematic way.
I think one of the most profound lessons I’ve learned at Yale SOM is that mission is essential and process matters. Companies lose their way when they don’t articulate a mission succinctly and don’t communicate that mission throughout the organization in a way that empowers everyone to contribute. In student government, I found out how important it was to have a clear goal—and a big goal—at the beginning of the year and then steward a process that held true to that vision.
Our integrated curriculum is another example. The real differentiator for the curriculum is the extent to which professors work together to implement it with integrity. That's not just working together in the classroom—say, teaching a joint course between marketing and operations. It's the collaboration and sequencing and coordination that happens behind the scenes. Seeing how the organization needs to conduct itself in order to implement the curriculum effectively—that theory-to-practice pivot point—is something that I'll keep in mind when I return to the education sector.
Interviewed on April 15, 2013.