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Big Shoes to Fill at HBS as Dee Leopold Announces Plans to Step Down

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“A Business-Like Approach with a True Sense of Compassion”
Richmond, too, praised Leopold’s blog, including the post today, for humanizing the admissions process and sharing the exact kind of concise information that candidates seek, such as how many interview invitations will go out when, how many candidates can expect to be waitlisted and the like. “In her blog and for those who are lucky enough to interact with her in person, Dee has had a knack for combining a business-like approach with a true sense of compassion,” Richmond says. Case in point, the closing line of her blog post: “So please go back to figuring out how to Introduce Yourself and Round One interviewees should be making sure they have clean socks picked out for their interview!”

Leopold, who herself attended HBS as a single mom, has also championed women in management education. Most recently, she helped with last spring’s launch of PEEK Weekend, a special event designed to introduce undergraduates at women’s colleges to the business school and all it has to offer. She even played the role of dorm mother for the first time ever as part of the weekend—where both her compassion and no-nonsense style shone through, including in conversations about her own time as an undergraduate at the all-women Barnard College.

“Dee is so kind and unassuming. When I learned that she headed admissions I didn’t believe it,” Emily London, one of the PEEK participants, confessed after the weekend. “’That’s really you?’” she asked her.

Another PEEK participant, Priyanka Krishnamoorthy, spotted her business-like side just as clearly. “Dee was very engaging and she wanted us to succeed, but she was also very no-nonsense,” she said, adding that Leopold told them that the weekend was for them to discover what HBS is like but that she wasn’t trying to sell them on it. “But she is clearly very invested in having more women apply, which I thought was very inspiring to see from a senior admissions director,” she continued.

In the memo yesterday announcing Leopold’s plans to step down, Kierstead shared that her contributions to MBA admissions aren’t over. “I’m happy to report that she will continue on with the work of MBA admissions in a different capacity,” she wrote. In terms of a successor, HBS will “cast a wide net and look at a broad range of individuals both from within and outside HBS,” she added.

Anyone who fills her shoes, though, will have a tough act to follow. “I could say a lot more about all that Dee has done for HBS, management education—and even women in management education—but in short, she’s been a true leader in the industry and has made it such that schools not only respect Harvard as an institution but also routinely look to HBS admissions for innovative ideas,” Richmond says.

Dee, you will be missed.