Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Tess Harper, MIT (Sloan)

Tess Harper

MIT, Sloan School of Management

“I’m a sustainability strategist building a food system that benefits both people and planet.”

Hometown: Arlington, Texas

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was an operations manager for a small urban farm producing microgreens

Undergraduate School and Major: Environmental Science & Policy @ Duke University

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: US Food & Beverage Sector Lead at Quantis

What has been your first impression of the Sloan MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Sloan story so far. I had the opportunity to interact with Sloanies through the Boston-area Women in Agriculture community and was struck by their inclusivity and generosity, both in giving their time and their willingness to build connections across networks.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of MIT Sloan’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? MIT Sloan is differentiated in the innovative, collaborative lens with which it considers global challenges like climate change. My experiences have taught me that complex problems can only be solved with interdisciplinary thought, and the ability to connect with students across the MIT ecosystem was particularly exciting to me when I was choosing an MBA program.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at MIT Sloan?  I look forward to blending my interests in food systems, entrepreneurship, and sustainability by joining the Food & Agriculture Club. They put on the Rabobank Food & Agriculture Prize, which was one of the first events that piqued my interest in Sloan. Now I hope to be on the other side as an organizer.

Action Learning Labs are one of MIT Sloan’s biggest attractions. Which lab interests you most? How does it fit with your interests? The Operations Lab is of particular interest to me, as many sustainability challenges in the food and beverage industry are grounded in procurement and supply chain. I hope to better link operations and sustainability functions through the lab.

When you think of MIT, what are the first things that come to mind? How have your experiences with the Sloan program thus far reinforced or upended these early impressions? Action-oriented, innovative and collaborative. I had the impression that Sloanies were impact-driven, which was echoed at AdMIT weekend hearing many of my classmates’ intentions to work in sustainability roles after graduation.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I led a team of seven at Quantis to support large Food & Beverage corporations to operate within planetary boundaries, defining their climate strategies and influencing their sourcing strategies. One instance of this was establishing a decarbonization strategy for a large chocolate manufacturer’s cocoa supply chain, facilitating discussion with their NGO partners, suppliers, and executive sponsors for the work.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I can’t stop playing Tradle since a friend introduced me to it this summer. Think wordle, but you’re guessing a country based on the goods that it exports. It’s always surprising and a great way to learn more about global trade, especially if you’re interested in working with an international focus in the future. For me, it is particularly interesting to understand where different agricultural products are coming from – and of course it’s a ton of fun.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?  Yale SOM, Stanford GSB 

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into MIT Sloan’s MBA program? I reached out to a number of current and past Sloanies, particularly those working in the food x sustainability space. Their perspective and experiences painted a clearer picture of the program and its values, and prompted reflection on where these intersected with my own. I think being able to demonstrate this value alignment is an incredible differentiator in the application process.


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