Meet MIT Sloan’s MBA Class of 2018


Kate Hanford

MIT, Sloan School of Management

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I’m an extroverted introvert obsessed with finding ways to make big ideas happen.

Hometown: Denver, CO

Fun Fact About Yourself: I collect sugar packets from around the world.

Undergraduate School and Major: Wake Forest University, Business and Spanish

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

  • COO, Unreasonable East Africa (2014-2016)
  • Conservation International, Strategic Engagement Manager (2010-2014)
  • English Opens Doors Chile, English Teacher (2009)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest career accomplishment so far has been impacting the growth of small companies in East Africa. When I moved to Uganda, my team and I built a business accelerator from the ground up. In two years, we ran two programs for 21 companies. All but one of the companies are still in operation, and have collectively raised over USD $5 million dollars in funding. During this time, we grew our own team from three to nine people.  I had never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, so learning I could build a successful business that benefitted others was very rewarding.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants?

  • Take the GMAT early. I started thinking about going back to school in 2012, so I took the GMAT then, and ended up applying in fall 2015. Having one piece of the application process out of the way made the whole process much less stressful.
  • Talk to as many students as possible. Since I was living in Uganda during the application process, campus visits were hard. It’s really hard to understand the things that make schools different from online research, so to learn more, I had a lot of Skype calls with current and former students. Even if you don’t think you have people in your network, you probably do! The information I got from students was the most helpful in deciding where to apply and how to frame my applications.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Since I’m interested in social impact, I wanted to go to a school that had strong social impact resources. Sloan wasn’t on my radar at first (stereotypically, MIT meant engineering in my mind), but every time I talked to students at other schools known for social impact, they would mention Sloan. The more research I did on Sloan, the more interested I got about the wealth of resources at the school and the smart, collaborative students there. Although I’m a little worried about adjusting to the Boston winter, I’m very excited to be joining the class of 2018!

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? The positive social change I have participated in through non-profits and social enterprises has been inspiring, but has also emphasized how much power the private sector holds to create positive change (or not). I want my MBA to help me apply my skills in building small systems and teams to build larger systems and teams at a multinational company at the forefront of thinking on delivering impact through sustainable business models. Examples of those companies include Unilever with their Sustainable Living Plan or Nestle with their Creating Shared Value commitments. My hope is to have a role where I can contribute my social impact knowledge and operational skills to create change at a greater scale.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I really like the Margaret Mead quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I’m not just going to business school because I want to create change, I’m going because I know I’ll be surrounded by smart, ambitious people that are also creating change. I hope after I graduate that my peers will feel that I have supported them in reaching for their dreams just as much as they have supported me.

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