Tim Krupa has always had the good fortune to be around great leaders. Those who have worked with him — a list that includes Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada — might well put Krupa in that category, too.
Krupa has been a teacher and a researcher, studying the well-being of children in Zambia, Africa and helping design after-school programs there. He’s also been a policy advisor for youth, sport, and disabilities at the highest level of Canadian government, serving as an aide to the Trudeau government. Now he’s studying at Oxford University’s Said Business School, a candidate in the 1+1 MBA program, for which he was awarded a Pershing Square Scholarship — the first Canadian to ever achieve the honor.
Not bad for a schoolboy from Kelowna, a mid-size city deep in the interior of British Columbia, Western Canada.
A TASTE FOR POLITICS & PUBLIC POLICY
Krupa expected to become a doctor. He studied biochemistry and biology as an undergrad at the University of British Columbia, and in his junior and senior years served as a research and teaching assistant. But everything changed when he spent the summer after his junior year in Zambia, where his interest in public policy was sparked anew as he worked directly with teachers and schoolchildren, seeing the impact of good — and bad — government decisions. The experience was so profound, he returned to the country again the next year.
“I was on a path to becoming a physician, but my experiences in Zambia really brought home the importance of public health policy,” Krupa tells Poets&Quants. “In low-resource areas, by the time you are in the hospital, the probability of a positive outcome may already be low. Policies can help prevent disease and promote health and well-being. I felt my work could one day have a real and scalable impact on people’s lives if I moved more upstream into policy and politics.”
Back home in Canada, Krupa began volunteering politically, first for a liberal candidate in a conservative district — “I think we ended up getting something like 10% of the vote,” he laughs — then on campus, setting up a political club, getting elected executive chair of his student union and member of UBC’s Board of Governors, and transitioning immediately from valedictorian of his graduating class to a Master of Arts in political science candidate. His thesis examined the political economy of subnational carbon pricing policies.
MOST LIKELY TO CHANGE THE WORLD
In 2013, Krupa’s classmates voted him Most Likely to Change the World. They couldn’t know how quickly that prediction would begin to come true.
In the summer of 2014, midway through his master’s program, Krupa interned in the office of the newly elected leader of the Liberal Party, then a minority opposition party. He had, without knowing it, grabbed the tiger by the tail: His new boss was Justin Trudeau, who within a year would soar to power at the head of one of the most decisive waves of change in modern Canadian political history.
“I was planning to go back to UBC to finish my MA thesis, but I got really fortunate and got to stay on board, and it transitioned into a full-time job,” Krupa remembers. “I finished my thesis by distance and ended up staying in Ottawa for three and a half incredible years.”