Government & Private Enterprise
The path from life-before-SOM to life-after-SOM can be circuitous, but it’s safe to say that few paths have been more varied than the one taken by Adit Basheer '16.
Adit’s journey began about ten years ago in Sheberghan, the capital of Jowzjan province in northern Afghanistan, less than 50 miles from the border with Turkmenistan. Shuttling between there and Washington DC as part of a U.S. Department of Defense project team, Adit helped to rehabilitate the region’s Soviet era natural gas production infrastructure. The idea was simultaneously to reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil and to spur development of Afghanistan’s underdeveloped natural gas reserves.
That all seems far away to Adit now, working as he does in the office of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, serving as a Director of Strategic Innovation. More about his role there in a minute.
And in between the dusty Asian landscape and the Charles River? Two years at SOM, a summer internship at the White House, and more than four years at Waymo, Google’s self-driving car project.
If you’re dizzy at the thought of these disparate experiences, Adit’s not. The through-line is finding innovative ways to bring the public and private sectors together, and it’s a combination of Adit’s natural curiosity and the two intense years he spent at SOM.
“My roles have been characterized by bringing people together to try and solve problems we haven’t seen before. How to think about it, and how to work across various groups to try and solve it. The interpersonal dynamics training I received at SOM has had a big influence on me. Also, I was a leader of the Design and Innovation Club, and that club reminded all of us not to pay attention to perceived constraints.”
The particular challenges to which Adit is drawn involve creating productive partnerships between government and private enterprise. Timing is everything, of course, and so it was that Adit found himself in the middle of a pandemic, helping his government colleagues build a vaccine registration and appointment system from scratch to address the urgent public health needs of some 7 million Bay State residents.
It was, to put it mildly, intense. In the face of high demand from residents across Massachusetts, the system required juggling fluctuating vaccine supply, multiple types of vaccine administration sites—from sports stadiums to small pop-up clinics—and a phased eligibility process for receiving the vaccine.
Adit’s decision to work at Waymo may seem like a departure from his public service career, but in fact it was influenced by his government service. As a summer intern in 2015 looking at transportation issues at the National Economic Council, “there were already electric vehicles on the road and ride-hailing apps were just emerging, with big implications in both of these trends for governments. I found it fascinating and that summer really motivated me to look at companies in that space to learn more.”
Adit understands how important SOM has been to his professional journey. He is quick to point out that he learned about the Waymo opportunity through a fellow SOM alum, and later worked with an SOM classmate in the governor’s office. But his gratitude to SOM runs deeper than these obvious career accelerators. He knew, even as he was selecting which business school to attend, that there was something different about SOM. “SOM was an easy choice for me. It felt like a place where everyone knew everyone; a place where students really valued and cherished the broader community. I had originally thought I would go to a bigger school, but I realized that two years is a short time and it felt better to dive deeply into a smaller community.”
Moreover, the wider lens that SOM gave to Adit shows up in his professional life “all the time.” It should be obvious by now, Adit says, “that public and private have to come together to solve a range of problems. We really had to team up with the private sector to tackle the pandemic, for example. I’ve had the benefit of working in both sectors now, and SOM really opened my eyes and gave me a broader perspective that I ever anticipated.”
Adit is still early in his career and isn’t sure what the future holds, although he’s clear that his heart is in government service. For now, he and his wife Anna Minkow, both New England natives, are enjoying their return from the West Coast, hiking often with their Bernese Mountain dog Moto. For an alum who has already taken an unusual path, a mountain trail poses no challenge at all.