MBA Student Voices

Heller MBA students are a special crowd. We believe that our program attracts people who are uniquely innovative, hardworking, collaborative, warm and dedicated to social change. Our students hail from diverse backgrounds and professional experiences but all of them cultivate the skills and professional relationships here at Heller to graduate and manage for a mission. On this page we have collected student quotes, blog excerpts and stories, letting our students speak for themselves.

MBA student Rodrigo Moran in Zinner Forum
"It's just a regular day of classes. Which at the Heller School means that we had an event at lunch to celebrate International Mother Tongue Day. It was a great way to showcase the more than 30 languages represented throughout the students of Heller. It's just another example of how, this year, I've seen a growth in student-driven initiatives. And I love that. I love seeing more independent groups saying, 'Okay, I want to do this. I want to talk about my culture, I want to talk about my language.'" - Rodrigo Moran, MBA/MA SID'16

Kalee Whitehouse, MPP/MBA'15
Kalee Whitehouse, MPP/MBA’15

"Don't let perfect be the enemy of good"

The following is an excerpt from the Winter 2016 issue of Heller Magazine. Read the rest of the story here.

What does it mean to make a difference in the world—and what are the rules? Nonprofit management students at Heller are often consumed with the ethical debates surrounding social justice work. 

“Something I always think about, which a lot of Heller people say, is ‘don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,’” says Kalee Whitehouse MPP/MBA’15. “I think of impact as a spectrum. If an organization’s corporate social responsibility initiative only gives to charity, there’s only so much impact they can have and they can only be so competitive. Companies that do more, and hold their employees responsible for doing more, are more effective and more competitive. To me, it’s compelling that running an ethical company has a competitive advantage.”

Whitehouse served as co-president of the Heller chapter of Net Impact, where she organized networking activities with like-minded change makers in the Boston area. She also completed an internship for the corporate social responsibility department at Cone Communications, a Boston PR firm. At Cone Communications, part of Whitehouse’s job included researching the social motivations that engage a younger workforce, so employers can respond to their desires. Today, she is a consultant at Meister Consultants Group, where she supports projects in renewable energy, climate mitigation policies and strategic planning.

Team R.E.S.T. at the 2016 Heller Startup Challenge.
Team R.E.S.T. at the 2016 Heller Startup Challenge. From left to right: Caryn Oppenheim, MBA'16, Aaron Cooper, MA SID'17, Huong Le, MBA/MA SID'17, Gail Carter, MA SID'18, and Mariam Hassan, MBA'16.

Social entrepreneurs compete in the annual Heller Startup Challenge

The following is an adapted excerpt of a Q&A with two winning teams from the 2016 Heller Startup Challenge. Read more here.

The Heller Startup Challenge is an annual weekend event held in November in which students develop social enterprise ideas and compete for a cash prize. Over the course of a weekend, teams of Heller students and recent alumni develop and test their startup ideas, meet with mentors and pitch their business plan to a panel of judges. Team R.E.S.T. (pictured above) developed a museum-based, immersive virtual reality experience for Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, located in Vietnam. The virtual reality museum will provide a cost-effective, safe and adaptive way to experience this World Heritage Site without damaging its fragile ecosystem. 

The team, composed of Gail Carter, MA SID'18, Aaron Cooper, MA SID'17, Mariam Hassan, MBA'16, Huong Le, MBA/MA SID'17, and Caryn Oppenheim, MBA'16, says the Heller Startup Challenge, “was an exhausting process and tested our group dynamic. The mentors forced us to clarify our problem and solution. They made us focus on what was crucial to our model by offering contrasting opinions, which forced us to see where our group consensus truly lied. We ended restricting our model to Vietnam to begin with instead of both Vietnam and the United States. This allowed us to construct the model around what really mattered - the local people and their natural treasure."

Josh Cramer-Montes, MBA/MA SID’17
Josh Cramer-Montes, MBA/MA SID’17

We'll always have Paris: My time with the UN, Alec Baldwin and five Heller-inspired insights on social change

Below is an adapted excerpt from a blog post by Josh Cramer-Montes, MBA/MA SID’17, reflecting on his work at the United Nations 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris. Read the full story here. 

I came to Heller after five years working at an international NGO where I learned about international development mostly by doing. What I lacked, however, was the fundamental theory and a higher-level skill set to navigate what is often very hard, complex work. As I approach the mid-point of my time at Heller, here are some of the insights I’ve gained: 

    1. Don’t be afraid to ask why.  When pushing for social change, the motto might be: “Don’t assume. Question everything.” Push for moving beyond the status quo. Challenge anyone who says “Well, that’s how we’ve always done it.”
    2. The people we serve must always be at the center of everything we do.  The day we lose sight of the people who are meant to benefit from our work or the day we fail to ask them what it is they want, is the day we need to reassess our work.
    3. As leaders, we must develop a diverse skill set. It’s not enough to have book smarts and passion for a cause. Heller has helped me strengthen these areas through courses like Planning and Implementation, Leadership and Organizational Behavior, and Responsible Negotiation.
    4. Engage and collaborate with people from all walks of life and across all sectors. This ties into number three above. It’s easy to preach to the choir. What’s more difficult is to lean into areas of discomfort or divergence and try to find common ground.
    5. The Heller School is getting us ready for the future. As I watched the various speakers at COP21 give their remarks to the 1,600 people in the audience, I also reflected on how our classmates will be the next Gro Brundtlands and Jane Goodalls of the world. 
Analissa Iversen, MBA/MPP'16, working with classmate Nic Miragliovolo, MBA'16, on their Team Consulting Project.
"My favorite thing about this MBA program is that it's not your typical MBA where everyone is competitive with each other. Instead, we're challenged academically while helping each other grow, and we share many of the same values." - Analissa Iversen, MBA/MPP'16, working with classmate Nic Miragliovolo, MBA'16, on their Team Consulting Project.