2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Sam Haws, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Sam Haws

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

“A passionate, optimistic, and inclusive leader advocating for the automotive industry’s sustainable, equitable, connected future.”

Hometown: Redlands, California

Fun fact about yourself: I’m an Advanced Open Water-certified scuba diver and am fascinated by the underwater world! I got my initial Beginner certification with my parents and four siblings in Grand Cayman as a high schooler. While at Tuck, I spent a week in Thailand over winter break with a group of classmates reaching the Advanced level and got to dive a 90-foot-deep naval shipwreck. It was breathtaking and unforgettable.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Business Economics, B.A.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? J.D. Power, Consulting Analyst for the Automotive Lease Guide (ALG) Division

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Rivian, Business Finance; Irvine, California

Where will you be working after graduation? Boston Consulting Group, Chicago; Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: (Include school awards and honors)

  • Social Chair, Tuck Student Board
  • Co-Chair, Tuck Pride
  • Co-Chair, Future of Automotive Mobility Club
  • Tuck Admissions Associate (Admissions Interviewer)
  • Nonprofit Board Fellow, Visions for Creative Housing Solutions
  • Associate, Next50 Academic Diversity Initiative
  • Tuck Peer Support Counselor
  • Member, Tuck IDEA Committee (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, in Action)
  • Member, Student Advisory Board, Dartmouth Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In spring term of my first year, the team of us that got selected as co-chairs of Tuck Pride noticed a lapse in visibility of the LGBTQ+ Tuck community, a common problem facing all affinity groups coming out of the COVID pandemic due to a lack of in-person programming. Despite only having a little over a month left in the academic year, we got the crazy idea to bring queer culture onto campus in the most epic way we knew how: Drag Brunch. In a matter of four weeks, we divided up responsibilities and pulled the event off in the middle of McLaughlin Atrium in Raether Hall, right in the heart of Tuck’s campus. I was responsible for contacting a variety of drag queens based in Boston to pitch the event and sell them on the idea of performing in front of 100-plus MBA students in New Hampshire. To my pleasant surprise, I found one ecstatic about the opportunity in a matter of days, and we arranged for her to ride up on the Dartmouth Coach the Sunday of the event.

The event itself was one of my proudest moments as a Tuckie. Looking around the Atrium, the same space in which we all started our Tuck journey during Tuck Launch, and seeing a crowd of mostly non-LGBTQ+ folks demonstrating their allyship by engaging with queer culture and celebrating the talent of a trans drag queen of color. Everyone was enjoying food, dancing, singing along, and having a delightful time. It was such a hit, we decided that day it would become an annual Tuck Pride tradition. Being part of helping found this event was so meaningful for me because it not only demonstrated the untapped support we had for our community across our administrators and peers, but also the power that exists in speaking your crazy ideas out loud and putting in the work to pull them off, even when it seems impossible or unattainable in whatever environment you find yourself.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While working at Automotive Lease Guide (ALG), an opportunity came up for me to take on an intensive “Brand Study” with one of our luxury clients. My work up to that point had been focused on consulting studies for specific car models, where the problem set and recommendations were much more contained within a single vehicle segment. However, a Brand Study involved digging into a client’s entire vehicle lineup and looking at its positioning more holistically, requiring a significantly more robust data analysis as well as a creative approach to the focus areas and strategic recommendations. Despite being the most junior person on the consulting team, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and step up to the challenge of leading the project. I gave the project my absolute all, digging into everything I could find, including data sources we had not brought forward previously, and working with a variety of experts across our company to put together innovative recommendations. We ended up delivering a study that the client found incredibly impactful and insightful. Considering my nervousness heading into this new challenge, it was so rewarding to prove I could pull this kind of study off and deliver meaningful value to one of our most engaged clients.

Why did you choose this business school? As someone who has been skiing since age four, getting my MBA within an hour or two drive of all of New England’s greatest ski resorts certainly did not seem like a bad idea. However, the ultimate reason Tuck was my top choice came down to the authenticity, passion, kindness, and enthusiasm of its people.

The “Tuck Nice” stereotype gets thrown around a lot, but it’s real—every Tuckie I interacted with, whether they were a first-year, second-year, or alumnus several years beyond graduation, was genuinely excited to connect with me and share their love for the uniquely transformative Tuck experience. While people get MBAs in different ways at different times for different reasons, it struck me that everyone went to Tuck with a deeply rooted desire to use it to transform something within themselves and/or their industry of passion. No one was treating this as a stopover or a mere pay jump. Instead, everyone was willing to uproot their lives from wherever they were to relocate to the rural but beautiful Upper Valley to maximize their introspection as well as opportunities to connect with their classmates.

It was also super evident to me that Tuck’s culture was kind, supportive, and collaborative, where classmates were looking out for each other’s success just as much as their own. They were never passing up an opportunity to help each other out with a ride, move, car trouble, or anything in between. On the professional front, I was also continually told about Tuck’s uniquely “pay it forward” culture. By this, I mean that second-years give so much of their time at no charge to supporting first-year students on their recruiting journey, simply because they want them to experience the same success they were able to find. Reflecting on my time at Tuck, every element of the impression that drew me here has proven to be true and then some, as I have been continually amazed at the authenticity, support, and kindness I’ve been surrounded by in Hanover. I truly cannot imagine spending this two-year journey anywhere else in the world.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Ramon Lecuona Torras. I had the pleasure of taking two courses with him. The first was Strategy as part of the first-year Core, where we covered the fundamentals of what makes a good business strategy. The second was Strategy in Emerging Markets, where we built on those concepts to understand how strategies are best leveraged to maximize success in emerging but often overlooked markets, including Brazil, India, and Mexico. In the classroom, Ramon is engaging and insightful by focusing the conversation and learnings around practical applications of the concepts, as opposed to abstract ones that are tough to imagine in context. Our case discussion companies, protagonists, and topics always felt relatable and tangible. Ramon also did an excellent job of bringing in expert guest speakers throughout the term, allowing us to ask questions and learn from their successes and failures. I walked away from both classes with a concrete roadmap for how to approach business problems differently.

But it was outside the classroom where Ramon’s impact on my Tuck journey really reached another level. Ramon acted as our faculty sponsor/advisor for the Future of Automotive Mobility Club, and he worked tirelessly to make sure all of our wildest car nerd dreams could become a reality. These included helping us plan drive days, offering up his automotive industry connections, facilitating factory and shop tours, and supporting us in our ambitious plans to lead treks to the New York Auto Show. Ramon never missed a chance to enable and encourage our passions, and he helped make my time at Tuck better connected to my automotive and mobility industry passions than I ever dreamed possible.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have let go of my imposter syndrome much earlier, and not put so much pressure on myself to prove I belonged. The business school environment is wonderful, but intense, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in comparing yourself to others’ outcomes and priorities. I am someone who chose a more meandering recruiting path by targeting an electric vehicle/tech company for my summer internship on a more delayed hiring cycle from conventional banking and consulting hiring. I spent a good part of my first year feeling insecure about whether this whole investment was worth it as classmates celebrated their successes. In reality, there are so many paths to MBA success, and we all made it to Tuck (or wherever) for a reason.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Tuck is that it lacks in diversity and opportunities to connect with people different from yourself. Many friends found my decision to attend Tuck a little baffling. Why would a gay guy in his late twenties loving life in Los Angeles want to relocate to rural New Hampshire? Isn’t Tuck not a diverse place? In reality, I have been amazed by the incredible diversity that exists at Tuck, across country of origin, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and much more. There is a particularly strong population of international students from all over the world; they have welcomed us into their cultures via constant events on campus, and even by planning sensational physical treks to their home countries during our school breaks. But beyond the diversity just existing, I feel as though I have been able to engage with it on a much deeper level than I would have at a larger school. At a bigger school, it would have been easy to retreat into spaces with people who identify like me or are like-minded politically and philosophically. At Tuck, I have my Tuck Pride family, but I also constantly find myself in spaces with classmates who come from starkly different identities and mindsets, and it’s those interactions where I experience the most noticeable perspective shifts.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? My recruitment process was during the thick of COVID and therefore entirely virtual. As a result, I feel as though I differentiated myself by pouring my heart and soul into connecting with as many current students and alumni as possible. I especially prioritized people who had followed a recruiting path or been involved with student organizations that I was passionate about myself. By speaking with so many to learn about their experience at Tuck and where it led them, I was able to slowly but surely craft my own narrative about why Tuck was the ideal place for me to get my MBA – and how I wanted to give back to the school. This went directly into my essays and interview conversation. I also had the opportunity to virtually attend Tuck’s Diversity Conference in October 2020, where I connected with Tuck Pride members and fully engaged with the way Tuck walks the walk when it comes to diversity, equity, & inclusion. I also attended the Tuck SHIFT Tech Conference, where I was able to recognize Tuck’s alignment with my passions for future mobility and sustainability. These various touchpoints all culminated in a clear view of why I belonged at Tuck and where it would take me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Kakeru “KK” Tsubota. Over the last two years, KK has given his whole self to Tuck. He has served as a Quality of Life (QLC) Chair on Student Board, Tuck Admissions Interviewer, as well as co-chair of Technology Club, Entrepreneurship Club, and Asia Business Club (not to mention a variety of other fellowships). His presence across campus has been felt in so many capacities and ways, leveraging his QLC position to plan events like Thanksgiving dinner for students unable to make it home over the short holiday weekend. His expertise in the technology and entrepreneurship spaces has driven industry conversations forward and inspired first years to get more involved with these paths. Even more, his passion for inclusion and representing his culture with events such as Lunar New Year celebration and Asian Night Market has been equally inspiring. All the while, KK has also somehow managed to be a fantastic husband and father, raising three kids and actively fostering activities for fellow students with children, also known as “Tiny Tuckies.” Considering I’ve barely been able to raise myself throughout these crazy two years, I consider KK’s contributions to our school and his family beyond admirable.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? My ultimate goal with my career journey is to advocate for the automotive industry’s electrified, sustainable, connected future. It remains to be seen whether I’m able to do so most effectively by staying in a consulting capacity or pivoting to an internal industry role. On a more personal level, my second bucket list item is to be involved with nonprofit work aimed at youth suicide prevention, especially LGBTQ+ youth who are not feeling affirmed for their identity for any reason.

What made Sam such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“It is an honor to recommend Sam Haws, one of the most impactful students in the class of 2023.

There are students who come to the MBA solely focused on their own growth and experience, which is a worthy goal, and we treasure them. Then there are students like Sam who show up for themselves, their classmates and community in such a way that it changes the vibe of the entire class and community for the better. Sam has managed to contribute to the co-creation of a close-knit class that has risen to the challenges and opportunities that come with being in a small community, the first “post-pandemic” class, and a class that is navigating a dynamic global and national socio-political sphere and economy. His ability to model taking care of himself to better support, lead, and learn from others has been a much-admired trait over the last two years.

Mental health and wellness have been a focus for students as they learn to manage the stress and pressures of the academic, social, and career elements of the MBA program. Sam has shown himself to be a naturally inclusive, optimistic, action- and vision-oriented leader which was exactly what the class of 2023 needed. He is someone who is humble enough to admit he doesn’t have all the answers, but smart and strategic enough to build the skills, find the resources, ask for help, and get things done. The best part has been watching him do this with and for others with successful outcomes inside and outside of the classroom.

In his leadership roles on the Student Board, Tuck Pride, Tuck Admissions Associate team, Non-Profit Board Fellowship and beyond, I’ve observed how he consistently strives to understand each team member so that he can learn to best motivate, include, and support them while also maintaining a holistic group focus to keep the team focused on their goals. This is doubly impressive in an environment like the MBA with high expectations and accountability, but with no power or authority over peers and colleagues.

As one of the culture carriers of the student body in his role as a Social Chair, Sam understood that the post-pandemic the social experience might be more difficult than students anticipated. Sam worked hard to revive the best elements of the Tuck student culture following the COVID pandemic, planning events that are exciting, while also being more inclusive and accessible by being mindful of not scheduling events over religious holidays and the cost of events as a barrier to participation.

As a member of the Tuck Pride organization, he also made a concerted effort to ensure that affinity group-hosted cultural celebrations were more represented and prioritized on the school-wide social calendar than ever before. This translated into him making sure that students across all identities felt seen, welcomed, and valued. He does this by treating everyone with a respect and warmth that is hard to not be charmed by. He makes people feel that they are capable, worthy, and valuable. He looks for the good in every person and circumstance, and assumes the best of intentions, which infuses hope into each sphere he enters even when things get tough, or topics get controversial. As the Assistant Dean for DEI, I appreciate one of Sam’s superpowers as his ability to think strategically about how to communicate with a diverse audience, which translates into community members being more willing to engage in DEI conversations and events, even when they do not identify with a particular affinity group themselves. Because he is highly respected and trusted, Sam has an ability to de-escalate potentially provocative situations.

Another example of Sam’s commitment to community is the work he has done as a Non-Profit Board Fellow, where he worked with the Center for Business, Government, & Society as a non-voting nonprofit board member for our local area’s largest provider of affordable housing for adults with developmental differences and other disabilities. It’s been rewarding to learn about Sam’s impact and ability to contribute business acumen and project management structure to an organization that does such critical work in the local community.

Writing this recommendation is bittersweet because it means that Sam’s time as a student is winding down, and we will miss his bright, authentic, curious spirit and the warmth, hope, and inspiration he has brought to the Tuck community.”

Dia Draper
Assistant Dean, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

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