Harvard Business School (HBS) has named Rob Zeaske, M.B.A. ’02, the new director of its Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI), succeeding Matt Segneri, M.B.A. ’10, who was recently named the Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Executive Director of the Harvard Innovation Labs (i-lab).
Established in 1993 with the help of a generous gift from John C. Whitehead, M.B.A. ’47, SEI pioneered the concept of “social enterprise.” SEI has adopted a problem-focused approach toward understanding the management and leadership challenges facing organizations involved in creating social value regardless of their structure (profit, nonprofit, or hybrid) or the source of their funding (from grants to commercial transactions).
As director, Zeaske, who recently arrived on campus to start in his new role, is responsible for working with the Initiative’s faculty co-chairs, professors Herman B. “Dutch” Leonard and V. Kasturi “Kash” Rangan, to refine and implement a strategy designed to leverage SEI’s intellectual capital, its network, and its executional capabilities. He will also be responsible for overseeing SEI’s overall strategy and operations, managing a portfolio of program activities that support faculty research and teaching, educational programs within the MBA and Executive Education curriculum, MBA field-based learning and career support programs, and alumni outreach and engagement.
“I believe there is an extraordinary opportunity for SEI and HBS to extend our learning platform to those who need it most,” said Zeaske. “This is a time when institutions need to step up and create leaders prepared for the moment. Every piece of my career has built upon what I learned at HBS, and I’m looking forward to bringing that same opportunity to the current and future students of SEI.”
“Now more than ever, the Social Enterprise Initiative needs the kind of leadership that Rob can provide, as the world faces more and more complex problems that cry out for solutions from HBS students looking to make a difference,” said Rangan. “We’re excited to welcome him back to HBS, and have him use the experience he gained as a senior executive at some of the leading socially-focused organizations to help guide SEI through its next phase of growth.”
“Over the years, Rob has shown a commitment to making social change and has been one of SEI’s biggest supporters,” Leonard added. “It’s only fitting that he returns to where his journey of social impact started, to lead the Initiative through this crucial juncture.”
Zeaske has long been a participant in, and collaborator with, SEI. He was among the inaugural cohort of the HBS Leadership Fellows program, serving as manager of program strategy at Mercy Corps, an innovative international relief organization and development agency.
Zeaske joins HBS after most recently serving as the chief operating officer at the GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit news and media organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and around the world.