2015 Best MBAs: Benjamin Freedman

Benjamin Freedman-PoetsAndQuants

Benjamin Freedman

Yale School of Management

Benjamin Freedman was looking for a business school with a larger mission. A former project manager for the U.S. Department of Defense who helped lay the foundation for Afghanistan’s energy industry, Freedman wanted a program that strongly integrated other disciplines and worked towards the greater social good. And he found that in New Haven, Connecticut. At Yale, Freedman led the Design and Innovation Club and the Outreach Non-Profit Consulting Club as well as chairing the student government’s long-term planning committee. From helping revamp curriculum to adding artwork to Evans Hall, Freedman has left a mark at Yale for future classes to enjoy. He will be joining Google after graduation.

Age: 27

Hometown: Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Undergraduate School: Bowdoin College

Undergraduate Degree: Government & Legal Studies

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? US Department of Defense, Project Manager, Afghan Energy Sector Private Investment

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? Google, Mountain View, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Google, Real Estate and Workplace Services

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized I needed to supplement my work experience with the business skills I would gain through an MBA.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…finishing a masters in public policy and preparing to return to foreign policy world.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I really believe in SOM’s mission to educate leaders for business and society. For me, I’m hoping this will mean a career and life that spans the private, public and non-profit sectors. I’m really looking forward to working at Google and taking full advantage of the opportunities there, while also finding community organizations I can volunteer with in the Bay Area. I found my work at the Defense Department very meaningful and fun, and I would like to return to public service at some point.

Favorite Courses: Behavioral Finance, Competitive Strategy, Interpersonal Dynamics, The Global Financial Crisis

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? Being part of the team that launched the first compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Afghan history. Afghanistan has very large natural resource deposits but hasn’t yet made much progress developing its energy or mineral sectors. Nearly all of the country’s energy supply is imported and subject to uncertain geopolitical pressures. My team laid the foundation for the Afghan CNG industry – a component of the country’s budding natural gas industry – which has the potential to provide a cleaner, cheaper, domestically-produced alternative to gasoline and diesel.

I am also very proud of the work that I’ve done with the five other leaders of SOM’s Design & Innovation Club this year. We hosted several speakers on campus, including the Head of Google Glass and Pepsi’s Director of Foresight; taught members a completely revamped design and visual thinking curriculum during our weekly meetings; organized the 4th Annual MBA Innovation Summit in New York City with an all-star line-up of guests; held four full-day ideation workshops with top design firms and clients; led successful job treks to San Francisco and New York; and extended the club’s social DNA with a bunch of “Drink and Draw” gatherings. It’s been a whirlwind year for the club and I’m thrilled to pass it along to next year’s leaders.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents, who have encouraged me to pursue my wide-ranging interests no matter where the path has led. They firmly believe in the importance of education and life-long learning, which has instilled a deep curiosity in my brothers and me. I am overwhelmingly grateful for their commitment to the liberal arts, which has led to my appreciation for different cultures, music, arts, and literature, and a rich context in which to apply my business school education.

Why did you choose this business school? For me, SOM was the one school that truly placed business and business education within the broader frame of society. Finance and operations would exist alongside non-market strategy, design thinking and education reform. I knew that, at Yale, I would have classmates with unique and interesting experiences, and who would want to dive into complex conversations after classes got out. In addition, at SOM, I knew I would benefit from the incredible resources available at Yale University. Being on such a dynamic university campus has greatly enhanced my time in business school.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The opportunity to learn from an overwhelmingly supportive community of classmates, faculty, staff and alumni. I was surrounded, every day (especially in the cafeteria), by close friends who cared deeply about one another’s path at SOM and beyond. World-class faculty would go out of their way to meet with students, have us over for dinner, and guide us through independent study projects. They would attend student events and participate in community conversations, pushing us to grapple with new and different perspectives. And, alumni were always available to answer recruiting questions and mentor us with as much enthusiasm as our classmates.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? I organized a group of classmates to think through SOM’s transition into the new Evans Hall, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Lord Norman Foster. Our group has helped to turn this beautiful space into SOM’s home, where students can explore new ideas creatively and freely, and get the most out of their time in Evans. We recently put up an art installation that plays off of the glass walls around the central courtyard. It has been so well received that guests for graduation will have the chance to see it. I can’t wait to see how the group evolves and grows next year.

Fun fact about yourself: Ten friends and I play Settlers of Catan in the cafeteria everyone Thursday afternoon. We might have started a new SOM tradition.

Favorite book: I’m really enjoying “How Buildings Learn” by Stewart Brand

Favorite movie: The Truman Show

Favorite musical performer: Bob Dylan

Favorite television show: Mad Men

Favorite vacation spot: Tel Aviv

What are your hobbies? Acoustic guitar, folk music, ice hockey, urban exploration

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