Hello and Welcome Back for our three-part interview with Suds Tirumala – Associate Director of Admissions and Regional Director for India & South East Asia at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
Here’s Part 2 of the interview with Suds.
Global Mindset at Tuck
With the world becoming increasingly global, Tuck recognizes that leaders need to have the skillset to thrive across borders. Therefore, starting with the Class of 2017, every Tuckie needs to satisfy the TuckGO (Tuck “Global Opportunities”) requirement in order to graduate. TuckGO focuses on building three skills: empathy, awareness and agility. CTM representatives visiting Tuck in the summer learnt that diversity in experience, gender and nationality is encouraged within teams. Further, eighty-four percent of the students chose to satisfy their TuckGO requirement in the first year itself.
This entails satisfying one of the following four requirements in a country “new” to students:
- Global Insight Expeditions (GIX)
- First-Year Project (FYP)
- OnSite Global Consulting
- Exchange Program
Though TuckGO was not a requirement to graduate in Suds’ time, he immersed himself in global experiences in a significant manner during his time at Tuck. As such, the lack of formalization never stopped students from pushing the envelope.
Given Tuck’s emphasis on its students graduating with a global mindset, we wanted to seek Suds’ opinion on TuckGO.
CTM: Could you share your views around what led to the TUCKGO requirement at Tuck and what you think of as a global mindset?
Suds: The TuckGO requirement has been mandated starting with the Class of 2017 i.e. students who are currently beginning their second year at Tuck. TuckGO has been designed with the goal of pushing students outside their comfort zone. These global opportunities come in many shapes, sizes and forms, providing students an array of options to choose from. In the end, these experiences allow students to do things they previously didn’t think were feasible. Consequently, students graduate with a more open mind, a wider appreciation of cultures, and a willingness to push the envelope for themselves in an unfamiliar environment.
Through TuckGO, we’re able to cycle 280 students through such an intensive program over a two-year period.
For instance, students pursue the FYP at the end of Spring Quarter of first year. This could entail working on a consulting project for an overseas entity. GIX is a mini course that takes place overseas led by a professor and staff member. Second-year students can take OnSite Global Consulting as an elective in which students provide professional consulting services to worldwide clients for a quarter, spending three weeks on the ground in the country where the project is focused. Client companies spend real dollars to work with Tuck students as part of an OnSite project.
TuckGO enables Tuckies to undergo experiences very different from what they might have experienced prior to coming to Tuck. Indeed, Tuck students who come from around the world benefit from TuckGO and add to their skillset.
Initiatives & Centers
CTM: Tuckies have access to ten centers & initiatives ranging from entrepreneurship initiative to healthcare initiative. Could you share how these tie in to students’ experience while at Tuck?
Suds: The research centers and the initiatives taken up by the research centers enable students to dive head-on into areas of their interests.
While at Tuck, I was co-chair of the Tuck Private Equity Club, was a host fellow at Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship, an MBA fellow at the Center for International Business (now called the Center for Global Business and Society), and a Leadership Fellow.
All the research centers at Tuck have a very open and welcoming environment, allow you to expand the horizon of what you think is possible, and enable you to engage in intellectually stimulating experiences in a safe and guided environment.
I always encourage students to explore these opportunities and not simply focus on career outcomes by gravitating towards clubs such as Tuck Consulting Club or Finance Club to secure that McKinsey internship or Goldman Sachs internship in the hope of emerging from the internship with a full-time offer. While that’s a perfectly valid way to spend your two years at Tuck, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not taking advantage of the amazing community and resources the school offers.
Additionally, there are so many opportunities and ways to meet various visiting leaders under the auspices of the Visiting Executive program, and this really enhances students’ experience at Tuck. Students are able to spend quality time with business leaders and discuss top-of-mind issues they’re evaluating in their companies, work-life balance, etc., and have a rich conversation regarding all things business, management, and leadership. These interactions can happen over breakfast, lunch, dinner (typically 5 or 6 students sitting around a table with the business leader) or office hours (one-on-one for 15-20 minutes). This sort of access to some of the most successful people in the world of business is something every Tuckie takes advantage of!
All professors at Tuck, including Management Gurus such as Vijay Govindarajan and Sydney Finkelstein, are extremely accessible and accommodating. There’s no bidding system to enroll into a course at Tuck. You work hard enough to get into Tuck, we don’t want to make it harder for you to take courses you’re really keen on taking. If a section is full, it routinely happens that the professor can open up a second section to accommodate the other interested students. In case a student wants to study something really specific, they could pursue an Independent Study with two professors as academic advisors for the study. There are opportunities for students to work closely with professors doing a deep dive into the topics they’re currently researching through a course called the “Research-To-Practice” seminar.
In short, students at Tuck have this phenomenal opportunity to build their own experience, explore various opportunities, push boundaries, and leave a legacy while being the architects of their own stellar careers.
CTM: What is it about Tuck that helps foster such an engaged alum community?
Suds: Thus far in this discussion, we’ve touched upon various elements of how Tuck engages with students, and it goes without saying that all these elements play an important role in why Tuckies love being involved with school long after graduating. Think about how much effort the Admissions Committee puts into getting to know candidates before they get in – we ultimately want the students who matriculate at Tuck to be happy being there. This approach makes Tuck students, a close-knit community of extraordinary individuals who are committed to improving themselves and those around them.
We want Tuckies to leave their own imprint on the school’s culture and make it a little richer and a little better than how they found it when they walked into the halls for the first time as matriculated students. That’s the way it has been for the past 116 years.
The students in many ways become the fundamental building block of the school’s culture. That’s a very empowered state to be in. You know you stand for something. You know you are an integral part of the community. You know you’re there because you’re motivated to do something beyond what you have normally done. And that’s how it is with every student – everyone leaves a mark on the community and the culture in the two years they spend at Tuck. It’s that empowered life that alumni look fondly back at. That’s what motivates them to continue to engage with the school closely long after they’ve graduated.
The idyllic location of Hanover, very much, plays into this dynamic – on the banks of Connecticut river, between the Green and White mountains; it is a lush environment in which students really get to know pretty much every one of their classmates through both indoor and outdoor activities. As alumni, we all look forward to going back to that engaging environment – a welcome departure from the super-busy lives we all live in cities around the world.
An example of a student-driven initiative is “Tuck Talks”. It started with one student taking the initiative to say, “We are in the middle of all these amazing people that make up the Tuck community – the faculty, staff, and administrators. Can we have conversations where they’re able to spend an evening telling their story to the student community so we get to know them better?” “Tuck Talks” is an outcome of this thought process, and is a program that enables those deep conversations among members of our community.
Location in Hanover
CTM: How does Tuck’s location in Hanover play into students having access to employers?
Suds: Some applicants wonder whether being in Hanover, NH has an impact on the kind of careers they have the opportunity to explore, as against being located in a big city. I would like to clarify that all top companies come to Tuck for recruiting. More importantly, when they come to Hanover, they’re there solely to interact with and get to know students. They don’t have any other avocation. It’s not that they have to attend a meeting in a different part of town or partake in other commitments. Their interactions with Tuckies happen over social evenings, office hours, etc., and students are able to meet with recruiters in different settings and learn more about the company and the industry.
Tuck’s Career Development Office (CDO) is extremely personalized in its approach. They get to know every student and understand each individual’s motivations for pursuing the MBA. The CDO has recruiting relationships with 900+ companies and has a stellar track record of student placements. This past year, 100% of Tuck students had a summer internship and 99% of Tuckies had a full-time offer within three months of graduation. This past year, Tuck ranked among the top three schools globally in terms of average compensation for students in the outgoing class. This should make it clear that Tuck being located in Hanover, NH is an advantage in every way as far as recruiting is concerned due to the sheer access the students have to recruiters. So I would like to reiterate: Do not worry about recruitment. Worry about and focus more on maximizing your experience and transforming yourself through all the opportunities available at Tuck.
And it’s not simply about companies coming to recruit on-campus. There are plenty of opportunities to interface with companies that don’t necessarily have a campus visitation program, but do hire Tuckies regularly. There are any number of career-focused treks that are organized by the CDO to enable the students to get a feel for companies in their native environments. For example, there’s the pre-term career trek to Silicon Valley to encourage incoming students to think about careers in established technology companies as well as startups in the Bay Area, not to mention the Banking, Consulting, and Healthcare treks that happen during the school year.
Suffice it to say that the CDO goes to extraordinary lengths to put students in front of companies, both on campus and off, and the entire team is committed to working with each student to understand their career ambitions and set them on that path from day one.
Innovation at Tuck
CTM: Dean Matt Slaughter talked about a recently formed position i.e. Associate Dean for Innovation & Growth, filled by Punam Anand Keller. Could you share some initiatives that might be in the pipeline at Tuck as part of this effort?
Suds: As this is at a nascent stage, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to elaborate on this initiative. We discussed earlier about how Tuck gives you a framework or a canvas and lets you to paint it the way you want to. Punam is currently expanding that canvas. There are a number of things in the pipeline, and very exciting new opportunities for future students.
CTM: Is there a misconception about Tuck that you might want to dispel?
Suds: I was once asked, “You guys talk about Tuck being such a collaborative place where everybody cares. The outside world is so cutthroat. Are Tuckies at a material disadvantage because they’re used to a collaborative community?” I want to respond by saying that there’s a fine line between being competitive and being cutthroat. You can be collaborative and competitive without being cutthroat. One should not have to trample over someone else to move ahead in his or her career. Known for being leaders, effective collaborators, and consummate team players, Tuckies clearly stand out irrespective of which career they pick. Ultimately, businesses are looking for leaders who can lead people to a shared vision, and Tuckies embody such a personality.
In fact, a very recent article in the Wall Street Journal talked about how employers are clamoring for soft skills amongst their employees, and how companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find applicants who can communicate clearly, take initiative, problem solve, and get along with co-workers (link). And it’s precisely these skills that Tuckies hone during the two years in Hanover by virtue of being hyper-involved in close-knit community that I’ve described earlier in this blog post. The fact that WSJ has identified these skills as being top-of-mind for business leaders looking for talent should set to rest, any residual questions pertaining to the collaborative vs. cutthroat argument.
This brings us to the end of Part II of our three-part interview with Suds. He has left us truly humbled with his examples of the immense possibilities that students can partake in, and initiate, at Tuck. Hopefully, this serves as inspiration to our aspiring Tuckies for their own legacy at Tuck.