2016 Best MBAs: Whitney Flynn, Dartmouth Tuck

Whitney Flynn Dartmouth

Whitney Flynn

 
Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

“Whitney has a passion for creating an inspiring, inclusive, and supportive community for all. She is the “unifier” everyone wants on their team regardless of what their mission is. Her ability to listen to, organize and motivate her peers, her ability to learn and assimilate new ideas, her great sense of humor and total lack of ego make her a highly sought after teammate, mentor and colleague.”

Age: 31

 

Hometown: Anchorage, AK

Education: Dartmouth College, BA in Biology and Evolutionary Ecology, 2007

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

  • Sequoia Capital, Strategic Marketing Lead, Spring and summer 2014
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business – Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Assistant Director for Student Programs, 2011-2014
  • Stanford University – Alumni Relations, Marketing and Programs Officer, 2010-2011
  • Patagonia, Sales and Partnerships Manager, 2007-2010

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Pete and Gerry’s Organics, Monroe, New Hampshire

Where will you be working after graduation? I am still considering several options. I am focused on mission-driven organizations in consumer products, regional economic development, and education.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Tuck Centennial Award, Recipient
The Tuck Centennial Student Award, determined solely by the student body, is awarded to one first year student and one second-year student who exemplify the spirit and character of the Tuck School. The recipients are chosen based on their contemporaneous contributions to the entire Tuck community over the past school year. Nominated students should embody extensive involvement in serving both the Tuck and Upper Valley communities, firm commitment to the traditions and principles of Tuck, outstanding leadership and integrity, and selflessness in everyday actions.

Dean’s Fellow, Committee Chair on Enhancing Inclusiveness at Tuck
Selected as one of 12 second-year MBA fellows, working in partnership with the Deanery, to analyze key strategic issues with an eye toward offering insightful, actionable recommendations.

Leadership Fellow, Center for Leadership
Coach undergraduate and first-year MBA student on becoming more effective leaders through acquiring greater self-awareness, developing emotional intelligence, understanding individual biases, and practicing leadership competencies in real-time roles.

Co-Chair, Elevate Tuck Initiative
Student-led movement to enhance the diversity and inclusion of the Tuck student community through academic, extracurricular, recruitment, and communications efforts. 

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Over the past two years I have spearheaded Tuck’s efforts to enhance our inclusive culture. This involved recruiting key student and staff leaders from across campus, first to foster awareness, then to promote ownership, and finally to inspire action. Our initiative – known as Elevate Tuck – includes a team of 25 students have engaged allies in every corner of campus life. Working together we have ushered in a new era for Tuck. Our onboarding experience for new students has evolved, faculty are discussing new content integration, and the Deans created a strategic working group on enhancing inclusiveness.

I am most proud, however, when I see the first-year students who now take as a given their responsibility to create an inclusive experience for students of all backgrounds and interests.  This work tested my creativity and dedication on a daily basis and I am grateful to my Tuck classmates who continuously gave me their time, talents, and trust to make Elevate Tuck a success.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  While working at Stanford University, I led the multi-year effort to launch the Stanford Venture Studio. This collaborate workspace for student entrepreneurs became the go-to community for graduate student entrepreneurs campus-wide, from business, engineering, medicine and education. This was a transformative leadership opportunity for me. Not only was I tasked with developing the proposal for real estate and resources, I oversaw our marketing, admissions, and programming efforts.

While my role started as workspace facilitator, it evolved into cultural architect. My focus shifted to empowering students to set Studio norms, model desired behavior for new members, plan educational events, and lead peer-to-peer support programs. One student shared, “I cannot imagine a more inspiring, supportive community than the Venture Studio” – a sentiment her peers echoed. This experience helped me realize both the importance of a strong community for the success of any new program, as well as my ability to proactively create such a culture.

Favorite MBA Courses? Leadership Out of the Box, The CEO Experience, Tools for Improving Operations, and Negotiations (the professors are key!)

Why did you choose this business school? Tuck was my top choice because of its rural setting and the people this setting attracts. Thanks to my undergraduate years at Dartmouth, I knew first-hand the impact of living within a mile radius of my classmates. Tuckies are 100% invested in the community, resulting in a tight-knit family of students, staff, and faculty.  This intimate, immersive culture is precisely what I was looking for, and have found in my Tuck MBA experience.  I was also excited to share my passion for the people and places of the Upper Valley with my classmates as Hanover become a part of their journey too.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The gift of time is incredible. I only spend 3 hours in class, four days a week, and the rest of the week is mine to spend how I like. Now, there are endless demands on my time – class preparation, quality time with my husband, Elevate Tuck meetings – but the choice is always mine. Once I learned that I didn’t have to let a calendar of events rule my life I was liberated.  Business school is all about the opportunity to decide what is most important to you, and you alone, and go after it for two full years. This is incredibly empowering for me.

What was the hardest part of business school? Saying “no” to activities, assignments and people who you genuinely want to give your time to (emphasis on the fact that you do want to do these things!) Carefully selecting what you give your most precious resources (your time) to is essential in business school, and indeed in general management as well.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Bring a good pair of hiking boots and a warm coat. Not because you’ll definitely need them to get to classes (although you might), but because they will enable many of the most meaningful memories you’ll have with you classmates – sharing new experiences together in the woods and mountains of New Hampshire!

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized the experience is as much, if not more about leadership than it is about any particular business discipline.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…learning on the job with a small, growth-stage company.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I am committed to working with mission-driven organizations. Through my 7 years of work experience prior to Tuck, I have learned that culture and organizational fit are by far the most important factors for my career satisfaction, drive, and success. This means that I can be flexible on the industry and the function. Indeed, that is what my Tuck MBA has prepared me for – exercising my versatile skill set in a variety of roles throughout my career. Bring on the journey!

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I have tremendous gratitude for my husband, Andrew. His steadfast support in the face of late nights, piles of family chores, and never-ending demands on my time is nothing short of heroic. He followed me back to New Hampshire for business school and I couldn’t have survived, let alone thrived in this experience without him.

Fun fact about yourself: After I accepted my Tuck offer I spent the month of February rafting 277 miles through the Grand Canyon on a self-guided trip with a dozen college friends. Life rarely hands you chances for adventures like this – you have to create them.

Favorite book: This year, Endurance about Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to cross the Antarctic continent. It combines my love of wilderness adventure with a tale of teamwork in the most trying of circumstances.

Favorite movie: The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The one thing you needed to stay sane in business school: Eight hours of sleep, every night (almost). This meant saying “no” to a lot of late night activities, but this allowed me to be the best version of myself each day.

Favorite musical performer: Chvrches

Favorite television show: Currently Aziz Ansari’s Master of None.

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere that the mountains meet the sea – Alaska (home state), Chile, New Zealand, Norway.

Hobbies? Cross country skiing, cycling, paper crafts, hiking through the woods with my dog Ueli, baking my way through the King Arthur Flour cookbook.

What made Whitney such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Whitney has a passion for creating an inspiring, inclusive, and supportive community for all. She is the “unifier” everyone wants on their team regardless of what their mission is. Her ability to listen to, organize and motivate her peers, her ability to learn and assimilate new ideas, her great sense of humor and total lack of ego make her a highly sought after teammate, mentor and colleague. I hear time and time again from the T’17s “Whitney is absolutely amazing” or “Whitney is incredible” or “Let’s ask Whitney what she thinks.” Her leadership style is such that she consistently enables others to strive and do great things. It is not about her accomplishments, it’s all about how others are able to experience success.

She brings her extraordinary background to everything she does.  She’s experienced wilderness travel to 36 countries/7 continents.  She grew up in Alaska and was a member of Dartmouth College’s NCAA championship Nordic ski team.  She created Stanford University’s first on-campus incubator for student entrepreneurs called The Venture Studio. Once at Tuck, she brought her passion for people to “Elevate Tuck.” our premier student initiative to foster community and inclusion throughout the school. Her thoughtful leadership and humble approach to asking tough questions of herself and others led her to being named a Dean’s Fellow, leading a student, faculty, and staff task force on diversity and inclusion.

In my 23 years at Tuck, I have encountered few students who have been able to galvanize and inspire the Tuck community on such important issues as Whitney has done. She is so highly respected by her peers and it is for this reason she was awarded the Tuck Centennial Student Award at the end of her first year. The Centennial Student Award is the only award at Tuck determined solely by the student body and is given to one first year and one second year student who exemplify the spirit and character of the Tuck School. They embody extensive involvement in serving both the Tuck and Upper Valley communities, firm commitment to the traditions and principles of Tuck, outstanding leadership and integrity, and selflessness in everyday actions. This is Whitney Flynn. She is awesome.” — Sally Jaeger, Assistant Dean and Director of the MBA Program, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

DON’T MISS: CLASS OF 2016: THE BEST & BRIGHTEST GRADUATING MBAS