2023 MBA To Watch: Destinée Mentor-Richards, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Destinée Mentor-Richards

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

“A New York City native passionate about understanding the “why” behind people, organizations, and society.”

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Fun fact about yourself: I moonlighted as a stand-up comedian during the pandemic. Storytelling through humor was a tough challenge but so much fun!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Amherst College, B.A. in Mathematics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Edward Jones Investments, Service Designer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Bain & Company, Washington D.C.

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Company, Washington D.C.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Student Government, Student Body President
  • Dartmouth College’s Student Leadership Committee (consortium of student leaders across the undergraduate college and each of Dartmouth’s graduate schools)
  • Club Affiliations: Black Students Association at Tuck, Association for Christian Students, Women in Business, Low-Income & First-Generation at Tuck, Media & Entertainment Club, Center for Business, Government, and Society
  • Fellowships: Consortium, Toigo Foundation, Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), Forté Foundation

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The extracurricular achievement I am most proud of during business school was my decision to run for Student Board President. While I never doubted my desire to contribute meaningfully to Tuck, at the start of my first year I admittedly was drawn to behind-the-scenes leadership roles and opportunities. With the encouragement of incredible classmates (including Adrian Rodriguez, Theresa McCartney, and John Haynes), I remembered that I didn’t come to Tuck to do anything less than bet on myself. In doing so, I became the first Black woman elected as Student Board President in Tuck’s 123-year history.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During the winter of my first year at Tuck I was one of three Tuck students nominated by faculty and selected by Dartmouth Trustees to advise the Presidential Commission on Financial Aid, a multi-year strategic initiative to revise financial aid policies to be more equitable and inclusive for undergraduate students. As an output of this work, in the summer of 2022 Dartmouth College announced its policy change to be loan free for middle and low-income families. As the only first-year MBA student selected for this role, I used my skills in data analytics, financial analysis, and executive stakeholder management to drive lasting policy for an institution that has historically not fully met the needs of low-income students and families. In doing this work, I had the opportunity to pursue my personal mission of positively impacting the lives of low-income families through education while leaving a positive mark on Dartmouth that will far outlive my tenure as a student. As a former Pell Grant recipient, I was proud to know that I played some small part in helping families like my own.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Tuck because I wanted to be in a community that facilitated being 100 percent immersed and invested in the MBA experience. I wanted to be surrounded by peers who were passionate, humble, kind, and driven by a purpose beyond themselves. After two years in Hanover, I can confidently say I made the right decision and can’t imagine earning my MBA anywhere else. Tuck is an incredibly special place with the highest concentration of humble, wise, and action-oriented leaders I have ever been around.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was my first-year core strategy professor, Ramon Lecuona Torras. Beyond his engaging teaching style in class, he is incredibly invested in getting to know his students and he has been one of the most encouraging advocates for me these past two years. Some days of the MBA can be challenging but whenever I run into Ramon, I can rely on an encouraging word that often leaves me laughing or ready to take on whatever challenge lies ahead.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Analytics with Professor Jim Smith. Analytics is a notoriously challenging first-year course, but Jim did an incredible job breaking down concepts and encouraging each of us to keep trying and keep supporting each other in our learning journeys. Most of all, I appreciated his ability to make our class ponder the broader societal impacts inherent in the data-driven decisions we were making. Specifically, I especially appreciated a case we did on public education zoning in the U.S. The data of this optimization case resulted in a school that inadvertently disadvantaged elementary school students eligible for free or reduced lunch. While he easily could’ve mentioned this aspect of our model in passing, he instead facilitated a discussion that remains one of the most thought-provoking classroom conversations I have participated in at Tuck.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA tradition at Tuck is the Diwali event hosted by our South Asian Business Association. The tradition is my favorite MBA event because the organizers take such care to invite the community into the celebration– from choreographing dances for hundreds to participate in (and presenting on the origins Diwali), to lending classmates traditional clothing and beautifully decorating our common campus spaces. Most notably, I will never forget my amazing friend Geet Kalra (a professional dancer) performing the Bhangra with a hockey stick. In addition to him being a phenomenal dancer, it was a beautiful integration of the Tuck tradition of hockey into the traditional dance and an unforgettable audience experience!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back at my MBA experience, the one thing I would do differently is engage more with the broader graduate community at Dartmouth. Tuck has an abundance of resources so it can be easy to sometimes forget that we are nestled in a world-class institution with other brilliant graduate and PhD students who are equally focused on making their mark on the world. As I close out my time at Tuck, I have increasingly spent more time getting to know other graduate students on campus, This has already led to some great friendships and opportunities that I may not have been exposed to otherwise. However, I do wish I had been more intentional about this endeavor sooner in my experience.

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me most about Tuck is how collaborative the curriculum is designed to be. There are no advanced tracked courses and students are very much expected to bring others along in their learning journey. This is facilitated by almost all courses having homework responsibilities assigned to study groups (instead of individuals) and each person in a study group is expected to be equally prepared for a cold call during class the next day.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I believe my edge during the Tuck application process was the quantity of high-quality, genuine interactions I had with different stakeholders in the community (students, alumni, faculty, admissions deans, and center directors). What differentiated me was that I never put on a persona for the individual I was talking to—I was consistently 100 percent myself and I was seeking answers to the most important questions that would help me determine if Tuck was the right fit.

For anyone reading this, this is my advice: As you navigate getting to know a school, not every interaction is going to be a home run. That’s totally okay. Just make sure you are being yourself. Eventually, you’ll find a person that you click with and when you do, make sure you keep in touch and asked for a referral of someone else to connect with.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA classmate I most admire is Kakeru Tsubota. He has a busy home life that includes three kids and a dog. After transitioning from Japan to the Upper Valley, Kakeru served in several formal and informal leadership roles on campus that reflect his genuine care for others and his desire to leave Tuck a better place than he found it. He is a caring friend, an incredible husband and dad, and unwaveringly generous to everyone he meets. Tuck would not have been the same without him and I am eternally grateful to his wife, Erika, and their three kids for sharing him with us these past two years.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The top two items on my professional bucket list are the following

1) Invest in (or maybe even produce!) a Broadway show.

2) Sit on the corporate board of a media company (ideally Disney).

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

“How does Destinée add value to Tuck’s MBA graduating class? This is such an easy question to answer. She is an infinite source of positive energy. What is more, she dispenses that energy everywhere she goes: the classroom, the hallways, school trips, and social activities. Her energy engages everyone around her, making her a true leader in our community.

For example, when she was in my core strategy class, I knew where to look for an insightful comment to spark-up discussion. She was exceptional at connecting intellectual frameworks with real-world examples, which helped integrate her classmates into the conversation. It is such a pleasure to run into Destinée at school. She always has ideas to share, ranging from ways to engage her peers in co-curricular activities to a master plan to make the world a better place. What is most unique about Destinée is that she genuinely cares about the well-being of others. Her thoughts are driven by a desire to make everyone better-off.

In sum, Destinée’s energy is contagious. Her magnetic personality is undeniable when she walks the halls of Tuck. Her passion and positive vibe make her a true leader and an invaluable asset to Tuck’s 2023 class. I am sure that with her unique leadership style she will continue to transform communities and organizations as she blossoms as a professional.

J. Ramon Lecuona Torras
Assistant Professor of Business Administration


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