Meet MIT Sloan’s MBA Class of 2018


Ben Funk

MIT, Sloan School of Management

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I dream; I build. I think; I do.

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was supposed to be born April 8, but arrived a week early, on April 1. When my parents called everyone to share the news, everyone thought it was a joke. My aunt even hung up on them.

Undergraduate School and Major: NYU Stern School of Business, Finance and Economics

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: I started my career as a Business Analyst at Deloitte Consulting, and I spent the next four years there, moving from Analyst to Consultant to Senior Consultant. I focused largely on social impact work with the Monitor Institute (part of Monitor Deloitte, the firm’s strategy arm).

Since 2015, I’ve been the Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis at Sanergy. We are a social enterprise that provides safe, hygienic sanitation to urban settlements in Nairobi and turns the waste into fertilizer (and other byproducts) to help smallholder farmers improve their yields and profits.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’m incredibly proud of my work to help advance impact investing, and most particularly to have been published in two industry papers on the subject—one by the G8 Social Impact Investing Taskforce and another by The Rockefeller Foundation. Bringing together CEOs, politicians, investors, and entrepreneurs from around the world to reach consensus on the future of the space required leadership, communication, and hard work, but in doing so, I gained a seat at the table and helped develop perspectives and guidelines that will steer investment in the space. I am proud of the papers because I think they are useful and actionable and because I think they will spur greater collaboration and investment into social enterprises. I am proud because I think they will make a difference.

Through the process, I saw just how tough it is to bring prosperity to everyone, but I also realized the validity of my own ideas. I found confidence in my perspectives and became inspired to design and build solutions of my own.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? Use the essay process as an opportunity to discover yourself. Until applying to school, I had all of these goals and principles and beliefs buzzing around in my head. Something was guiding me and the decisions I made, but I had never expressed what it was. Applying to school made me do that.

I started early and spent a long time reflecting, jotting down ideas whenever they came (I carried a notebook everywhere). Once I felt an idea click, I just wrote. I tried to get my thoughts on paper, in whatever form. Then, I could step back and put all the pieces together.

Be sure you really take time upfront to articulate what makes you tick. Knowing confidently who you are and who you want to be will not only help you find the right program, it will tie your whole application together; it will differentiate you, and it will help you get in.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I wanted a top program that inspired its students to think and do. Having studied business in undergrad, I was looking to take my learning to the next level. I wanted to bring it outside the classroom and into the real world, where I could test ideas under the guidance and support of smart and experienced professors and peers. MIT’s program is the perfect mix of learning how and doing so. Its motto is Mens et Manus, which translates to mind and hand. Sloan provides its students with the technical skills and deep functional knowledge necessary to bring breakthrough ideas to light, while simultaneously encouraging them to experiment and put their knowledge to the test. I don’t think any other program is as geared towards action, and I came looking to do something special.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? I want to start a company. I genuinely believe in capitalism and in the potential it holds for development and prosperity, but I also recognize that ineffective regulation and externalities exist. I have always enjoyed building solutions to complex problems, so my dream job is to build an organization that delivers genuine social good and profit, enabling scale and impact, by rethinking traditional business models and incentive structures.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? “I can’t wait to see what he’ll do.”

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