Jane Fraser, M.B.A. ’94, offers three words of advice for aspiring leaders: context, curiosity, and courage. Her life story is a lesson in all three. Originally from Scotland, Fraser began her career as one of a few women in financial services at Goldman Sachs. Now the CEO for Citi’s businesses in 23 Latin American countries, she attributes part of her success to taking risks. “Courage comes in just being brutally honest about who you are, what are some of the challenges you personally have faced, and being as authentic and real about yourself as possible,” she said.
Leadership award winner Fraser is one of five leaders the Harvard Business School Club of New York will honor at its 49th Annual Leadership Dinner on May 18 at the American Museum of Natural History, The honorees represent alumni who have demonstrated leadership across the business, social, and philanthropic sectors, and who are a testament to the School’s broad, involved base of alumni across the globe. Deborah Farrington, M.B.A. ’76, founder and general partner of StarVest Partners, will chair the event.
Harvard Business School (HBS) has a long history of encouraging social awareness and civic responsibility in its students and alumni. Formally organized in 1993, the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative unites these efforts, striving to inspire leaders to take on society’s biggest challenges. The initiative is embedded in the M.B.A. curriculum, as HBS offers career development programs for students and alumni engaged in activities that drive social change. That same spirit is present in the people recognized this year, each of whom offered an opinion on what it takes to be a successful leader in the business world.
Jeffrey C. Walker, M.B.A. ’81, vice chair in the United Nations Envoy’s Office for Health Finance and Malaria, is being recognized for excellence in social enterprise. Walker, who has been an executive in residence at HBS and Harvard Kennedy School, calls true leadership “working for something more important than yourself.”
World-renowned trumpeter, composer, educator, and leading advocate of American culture Wynton Marsalis, who received a doctor of music honorary degree in 2009, will also be recognized for excellence in social enterprise. Among his many honors, Marsalis is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for music and the National Medal of Arts, and he has served as a U.N. Messenger of Peace since 2001. He is managing and artistic director at Jazz at Lincoln Center and director of jazz studies at The Juilliard School. Today, more than two-thirds of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s programming is educational — reaching more than 1 million individuals of all ages and experiences in all 50 states through concerts, webcasting, direct musical instruction, and distribution of music scores free of charge.
For Leslie Wohlman Himmel, M.B.A. ’78, founder and managing partner at the real estate investment company Himmel + Meringoff Properties, leadership meant having the courage to take on the status quo and win. “In my career, many people ask me, ‘How did you ever get into the real estate development business that is controlled by the real estate dynasties and men?’” To ensure other women have opportunities to pursue their own goals, Himmel, who is being honored with the club’s entrepreneurship award, established the Women’s Student Association Fellowship Fund for HBS students. “How else can a woman make it in this world without creating her own destiny, being the master of her own fate?” she asked.
“Harvard Business School has produced so many leaders over time, and many of these leaders have received this award before me,” said John A. Paulson, M.B.A. ’80, recipient of this year’s outstanding business leadership award. “For me, it’s a great honor to be included with these past recipients.”
Last year, Paulson, who is founder and president of Paulson & Co., donated the largest gift in Harvard’s history, endowing the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the fastest-growing School at Harvard.