Before SOM, I was doing economic research at Fannie Mae. It was a good experience, and I learned a lot. But I was restless. Then I had a huge health scare. I had a cardiac arrest sitting at my parents’ dinner table. I was in a coma for four days, and I’ve got a pacemaker now.
It was a life-changing experience. I was given a second chance, and I realized I needed to do something with my life to make a difference. I wanted to be a leader, and I thought that going back to business school would be a good way to get started.
Yale SOM’s mission of educating leaders for business and society was important to me. I wanted a school that was not purely about how to maximize profit.
I interned at Delta Airlines. The transportation industry was a great fit for me—I wanted to be part of a competitive industry that touched people’s lives in a way that they understood.
That summer was a great experience. It’s a brutal industry, super competitive, and you have to make the right decisions every day, or you start hemorrhaging money because flying a plane is so expensive.
I did corporate development. I was on the finance side, so that’s basically any merger and acquisition the company might do. Delta is competing with all of the major airlines, in markets all around the world. The skills I learned in the core at SOM definitely came into play—modeling analytics, accounting, and microeconomics especially. A lot of the cases we studied actually came from the airline industry, so I had a head start.
When you’re working for a company, I think you should feel a real commitment to the people you’re working with, and to your customers. I liked that about Delta. It invests in its people. It’s a family-like community. We have that at SOM, too. The school has embraced not just me, but also my wife. She belongs to the Partners Club, where she’s made a lot of friends. We both joined the SOM hockey team. We practice every Wednesday, and it’s been great. My wife is considered part of the community, and it’s been a lot of fun for both of us.