Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Schuyler Dalton, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Schuyler Dalton

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

“Passionate about agriculture and building more equitable, sustainable and profitable food systems.”

Hometown: Carlisle, MA, but Memphis, TN and Toronto, ON deserve honorable mention for raising me.

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve been to 31 countries. I’m looking forward to more international travel as soon as it’s safe to do so!

Undergraduate School and Major: Cornell University, Agricultural Sciences (major) and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies (minor)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: AgLaunch, Director of Farmer Network & Entrepreneurship

What aspect of the school’s culture or values resonates most with you and why? People talk frequently and fondly about the Tuck fabric, the community among classmates, staff and faculty here on campus. Even in a remote world, the closeness fostered “on campus” feels unique and unparalleled.

Aside from your classmates and culture, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Tuck’s symbiotic relationship with the Upper Valley was very attractive to me. In particular, the school’s community consulting projects and non-profit board fellows programs highlight the way Tuck students get involved and give back to small businesses, startups, and non-profits in the region. It’s important to me because the Upper Valley is such a big part of my reason for choosing Tuck, and it is special to be able to participate in the community with meaningful contributions of time, energy, and expertise.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? I love how outdoorsy and up for adventure my classmates are. We’ve got folks who have hiked the PCT or the Long Trail, but we’ve also got classmates who have never hiked a mile. It’s so fun to witness my new-to-hiking classmates meet up with expert outdoorswomen and men to enjoy the outdoors together. I also think these pairings of novice and skilled are symbolic of attitudes of my classmates; adventurous and supportive, bold and encouraging.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I’m looking forward to diving into Tuck’s Food & Sustainable Agriculture club. In particular, I hope to contribute meaningfully to the club’s annual Virtual Summit on Ag Tech. It’s unique that Tuck has staked a claim on agtech, and I’m eager to connect with other classmates with shared interests, while creating unique programming that furthers the industry and hopefully incites others to get involved in the budding field.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While at AgLaunch, I was given the responsibility of building the AgLaunch Farmer Network, a group of progressive, collaborative farmers organized to partner with startups and host field trials on their farms. Turing my tenure, the Network grew to represent 120,000 acres and hosted 20+ companies for field trials, testing the utility of agtech products on real farms, not just the lab or the test plot. Even more exciting, the startups shared equity and other business opportunities with the farmers in recognition of the value that the farmer-partners brought to the trials. It’s the first program of its kind and it has been a hallmark of my career thus far.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I always said I wouldn’t go back to school unless it became necessary for the next step of my career. After years of working with startups, farmers, and venture capital firms in the agtech space, I wanted to level up on my finance and strategy skills in order to ultimately make a more significant impact in the agriculture industry. After school, I hope to continue working in agriculture or agriculture adjacent, either through agtech, venture capital, or impact investing.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Haas, Johnson, HBS, Sloan.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? At Tuck, I was asked who I admired as a wise leader. A simple question on the surface, it was hard for me to answer because I wanted to use it to really convey my leadership values, as well as my career aspirations. I ultimately chose a farmer I’ve worked with closely, highlighting his creative problem-solving and servant leadership.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? In looking at schools, I prized speaking with students, both current and alumni, above all. I am fortunate enough to have great friends at a couple of the schools I considered, and those conversations led to others with friends of friends and then friends of those friends.

Thematically, I was focused on finding schools that saw the value of the agriculture industry and that had a history and a culture of equity and inclusion. I also prioritized schools that were close to my family or communities of friends. After seven years in Memphis, I was eager to come home again.

Finally, as a round two admit, I was also very aware of the way COVID-19 would impact the 2020-2021 school year and was evaluating how schools were using technology to not just deliver content, but foster connection and belonging.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school?  I’ve been told “no” a number of times and that has always galvanized my work ethic and kept me from resting on my laurels. Years ago, I was working on a goat farm in the Alps and was told by my boss that I would never be successful in the agriculture industry. I’ve felt that acute sting a couple of times in my career, and each time it has propelled me forward. Now that I’m working in Excel, SPSS, and PowerPoint, instead of fixing livestock fences, I remain motivated to prove myself and demonstrate mastery, no matter the skillset.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? Farmers’ Business Network is an interesting experiment in the democratization of data. I think there’s a lot to be said for the way that FBN is disrupting an age-old way of doing business and giving power back to farmers, enabling better decision making and theoretically driving profitability. I’m hopeful that technology across all verticals continues to be used in a manner that empowers as opposed to exploits consumers.