Meet Dartmouth Tuck’s MBA Class of 2018

jodinegordon-poetsandquants-classof2018

Jodine K. Gordon

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Aspiring venture capitalist with a passion for Africa and a background in film, impact investing and start-ups.

Hometown: Teaneck, NJ…by way of Jamaica

Fun Fact About Yourself: I once sang for Aretha Franklin. Obviously, this is my go-to cocktail party story.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Pennsylvania, Political Science

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

The Idea Village – Director of Programming, The Entergy Innovation Center (New Orleans, LA)

Mind’s Eye Productions – Associate Producer (New York, NY)

CAMBA Economic Development Corp. – Senior Business Counselor & Loan Officer (Brooklyn, NY)

VEDC, Tri-State Business Opportunity Fund – Senior Underwriter (New York, NY)

EchoVC Partners – Summer Associate (Lagos, Nigeria)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: 

My career has focused on supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in underserved markets. My proudest accomplishments are two ventures that addressed major barriers to growth for small businesses: technology adoption and access to affordable capital. While at CAMBA, I created Mobilize Your Business, a platform for teaching immigrant entrepreneurs to use mobile apps to collect and analyze financial data—often for the very first time—and drastically improve their profitability and sustainability in an increasingly competitive marketplace. At VEDC, I helped to build a fund from scratch that deployed millions of dollars to entrepreneurs that previously lacked access to capital or relied on predatory lending.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? Don’t underestimate the importance of authenticity. When I initially started my business school application journey, I was very self-conscious about my “road-less-traveled” career path. I had done work in film, start-up accelerators, microfinance and impact investing, and thought I needed to re-brand myself to fit the mold of what I perceived to be a traditional MBA candidate. But once I owned my story and dug deep to understand what linked these seemingly disparate experiences and made me unique, I found that my story resonated much more with admissions officers and the elite MBA grads from whom I was seeking feedback. Further, going through that reflective process gave me clarity on what I was really interested in doing and emboldened me to aggressively pursue my passion for Africa, entrepreneurship and innovation.

When it comes to the GMAT, self-awareness and efficiency are extremely important. Use data (via an error log, etc.) to understand your strengths and weaknesses and to inform your test taking strategy. Track your progress and make adjustments accordingly. Know the difference between problems that you are getting wrong because you need more practice versus being shaky on fundamental concepts. Allocate your time and energy to those “big wins,” as in, focusing on the concepts and problem types that given your strengths you can realistically master and significantly move the needle on your score. Be strategic with your time management during the exam and as much as possible practice under test-like conditions.

Every year, thousands of people just like you take the GMAT. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and get feedback from other prospective MBAs on what has worked for them. Practicing and brainstorming test strategies and tools with my peers was incredibly helpful. Finally, make sure you have a handle on the mental and emotional aspects of test day. Test anxiety was a big challenge for me and figuring out what triggered anxiety and how to neutralize it was super important. In my case, mindfulness, mantras, and meditation practices worked wonders. If you notice your nerves getting the better of you, be deliberate and methodical about nipping it in the bud early as it can potentially negate all of your other preparation efforts on test day.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Like many MBA students, I have pretty audacious goals. I was looking for an MBA program that went beyond checking the boxes of brand, robust curriculum, strong network, top tier job placement, etc. I wanted a transformational experience. I wanted a deeply supportive and inspiring community and an environment that would push me to be my best self, to uncover who I am as a leader and to equip me with a solid foundation to become a world-class investor. I wanted a school that would give me a solid framework for understanding how to build and grow market-leading companies, and Tuck’s general management approach and reputation for highly accomplished yet accessible professors that love teaching appealed to me.

I knew that given my interest in building a career at the intersection of technology, frontier markets and venture capital, my job search would potentially be very self-directed and unstructured. Even as a prospective student, Tuckies went out of their way to connect me to people in the network that could offer insight on my interests. While visiting Tuck, staff and students alike gave me concrete suggestions and examples of other Tuckies who had carved their own unique career paths and leveraged Tuck’s resources and connections to explore entrepreneurship and build meaningful relationships and experiences at start-ups and in private equity and venture capital.

Tuck is a special place. The environment in Hanover is beautiful and the students, while coming from a diverse range of personal and professional backgrounds, share remarkably consistent reflections about their time at Tuck. Further, the range and depth of Tuckies’ pre-MBA experiences illustrates the care with which Tuck curates each class. It makes for an exciting and dynamic learning community. While I have spent the last decade living in or near big cities, I knew I wanted a different environment for business school that would facilitate a more immersive experience and take me outside of my comfort zone. After researching and visiting other schools, it became clear that Tuck was a place where I could thrive and grow both personally and professionally.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? One of the underlying motivations for my work is to improve the quality of life and prosperity of populations that haven’t been fortunate enough to inherit wealth. I want to do work that creates sustainable wealth in communities that have been previously isolated from economic opportunity and are highly vulnerable to market volatility.

I think technology is a powerful tool for solving problems and amplifying impact. To that end, my goal is to build great technology companies in underserved regions, activating markets in a way that transforms the lives of everyday people. I have been fortunate enough to get a taste of my dream job this summer through a pre-MBA internship at venture capital firm in Lagos, Nigeria that invests throughout Africa. (One of the principals of the firm is a Tuckie.) My dream job post-MBA would be to continue this kind of work via a role at a company that touches emerging markets, ideally where I am investing in and coaching innovative entrepreneurs or bringing high impact technology products to market.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I would love for my peers to say that I contributed meaningfully to the Tuck community and shared my experiences and skills generously with my classmates. I would also love to do my part to support aspiring entrepreneurs at Tuck and deepen Tuck’s reach and engagement in venture capital and in Africa.

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