Jennifer Wynn: "The more diverse the perspectives shaping our collective environment, the better off we all are"

Jennifer Wynn is an MBA student at New York University Stern School of Business and a founding teacher of the Achievement First East New York Middle School, a charter school in Brooklyn where she served as dean of students. This summer she is on an internship with the Harlem Children’s Zone, a non-profit organisation for children living in poverty, which is being funded through Stern’s Social Impact Internship Fund.

Before starting her MBA, Ms Wynn worked as a business analyst for McKinsey & Co. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing, travelling and participating in education reform events through Stern’s Social Enterprise Association.

1. When did you know you wanted to study for an MBA?

At McKinsey I saw how best practices from the private sector helped many of our public sector clients achieve a higher level of performance. From that point on, I knew that I wanted to go to business school to increase my exposure to private sector best practices and then use that information in the public sector.

2. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?

One of my Stern professors advised us to identify our short-term and long-term priorities and to put people or things in place to help us align our actions to those priorities. This advice has been so valuable at school because there are so many interesting things going on all of the time that I’ve had to find a way to say no to the things that don’t align with my priorities. It’s not easy for me to say no but it has become a lot more manageable because I know that I’m saying no in order to stick to what matters most to me in life.

3. What academic achievement are you most proud of to date?

So far I’m most proud of being the first college graduate in my mum’s family. My three younger sisters have all either graduated from college or are in college so education has truly changed our life prospects and the trajectory of our family.

4. Do you have a studying routine?

On Sundays I have a meeting with myself to plan out my study and work times for that week based on what assignments I have due at business school and for my part-time job. I also use my Sunday meeting to block off time for the personal things that I want to get done that week – like take a dance class or try a new restaurant.

5. Who is your ideal professor?

Oprah Winfrey! She is one of only a few self-made female billionaires, a woman who came from limited means and someone who connects with and inspires people all around the globe. I would love to learn from her.

6. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?

I speak up. I think that by sharing what I’m thinking, issues that are relevant to me as a woman or otherwise become a part of the daily discourse. I really think that the more diverse the perspectives shaping our collective environment, the better off we all are.

7. What is the last book you read?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

8. What inspires you?

I’m inspired when I see or hear about people who are overcoming huge obstacles or living their lives to their fullest potential.

9. Have you ever been to any workshops or seminars that have helped you in your career?

I attended a women’s conference while at McKinsey that pushed me to think about what activities energise me, regardless of whether I’m doing those activities at work or in my personal life. Thinking about that for several days, if not weeks, eventually helped me identify education as the field for me. Now that I’m in business school, Stern has helped me pursue a career in education through the Social Impact & Innovation Fund.

10. What are your future plans?

Ultimately, I plan to be a leader of an education organisation that helps close the achievement gap in public education in the US.

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