SOM’s Net Impact club hosted Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (SOM Class of 1980) for a wide-ranging conversation about his time at Yale, his years in the private sector, and his path to public leadership. The conversation was moderated by Niall Dammando (MBA ’24).
Governor Lamont opened the session by explaining that what drew him to Yale SOM was its entrepreneurship ethos. He embodied this ethos pre-SOM by starting a weekly newspaper in Vermont and post-MBA by owning a small telecommunications company. Throughout the conversation, he was outspoken about the value of the SOM education throughout his career, especially in his work to transform public services for the better.
One theme that emerged was how students can mindfully plan a career that crosses the public and private sectors. Niall pointed out that the traditional view is for MBA students to enter the private sector first, spending many years within the corporate world before entering public service later in their careers. In response, Governor Lamont encouraged students to be more open-minded regarding how public service could fit into their careers. This could range from taking on significant leadership roles in public service immediately post-MBA, including those within his office, to running for public leadership positions on a part-time legislative basis in addition to a private sector job.
Governor Lamont also spoke in detail about his policy priorities since taking office, including improving fiscal health, building a closer relationship with the business community, and working with the Federal government on COVID-19 response and recovery. He thought state government was a particularly good place to carry out public service, as it is filled with people who are deeply devoted to improving the state and delivering progress for residents. That’s why, he emphasized, it is so important for Connecticut to retain top talent from Yale after graduation.
When asked to provide advice to SOM students, Governor Lamont stressed the importance of relationships. “Listening really matters,” he said. “Nobody cares what you say until they know that you care.” He encouraged students to always walk into meetings with a solution to the problem they are identifying, as a way of standing out from the crowd. He also advised students to be clear on their “north star” and what their goals are, while also being open to different views on the best way to get there.
Diversifying public service talent is crucial to making a difference in society. “I want a wider variety of people and backgrounds to get in the game,” he said, “because we need you.”