My Story: From Morgan Stanley to Afghanistan

pete kabul airportYou’re in Afghanistan, working as a USAID investment officer. You’re meeting with the CEO of a bank on the second floor of the Afghanistan Banks Association. Suddenly, a loud explosion shakes the glass windows.

Oh—and it’s your first day there.

That’s  a recent scene from Pete Gauthier’s life. “It ended up being a controlled explosion from the department of defense,” the 32-year-old Dallas native explains. “We just didn’t know about that.”

Fortunately, he quickly adapted to the environment. “You get used to it after a couple of days, like it wasn’t like a big deal—you walk by this guy who’s got this massive AK-47 strapped to his shoulder and you don’t even think twice about it,” he says.

Though Gauthier works in D.C., his role involves a lot of traveling to places far beyond Rome or Paris. Along with Afghanistan, he has flown to Dubai, Pakistan, and Vietnam.

Less than a year ago, though, Gauthier was living a very different life as a second-year MBA student in quaint Hanover, N.H., at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. “Once I visited Tuck and met some of the alumni, I fell in love and knew how special a place Tuck is,” he says.

It was a fun place, too. His highlight reel includes spending five days on a sailboat, hosting a Dartmouth pong tournament (it’s basically beer pong with paddles), and living in The Coup, a house in Hanover that gets passed down to six new Tuck men every year. If that last part sounds a little fratty, well: “I mean, I wasn’t going to use that word, but yeah, for sure—we definitely were like a miniature fraternity.”

Of course, Gauthier didn’t go to business school to play drinking games. After spending a few years in finance—most recently in Morgan Stanley’s wealth management division—he wanted to reevaluate his career. “I felt like I was starting to get bored, and my biggest fear in life is being bored,” he says.

Gauthier had imagined he’d take a job in the public sector much later down the line, but he surprised himself by choosing to become a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) immediately after graduation. “It’s government, international development, and business all colliding in one spot, and it was kind of like, ‘Alright, this is definitely something that I want to pursue,’” he says.

He’s not totally sure where he’ll be after his two years in the PMF Program are up, but that doesn’t scare him. “The [Tuck] network is so tight,” Gauthier says. “It may not be as big as at some other places, but it’s the tightest network I’ve ever seen. If you email someone, they’ll email you back within 24 hours, basically.” That time in the woods has a big impact on people. “I’m still a Tuckie,” Gauthier says. “I’ve got being a Tuckie in my back pocket if I decide to move into the private sector or change routes down the road.”