Google is not just a dot-com that we visit for any and all information—it’s also a dot-org with philanthropic efforts and goals. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has set a five-year goal of awarding $1 billion in grants supporting education, equity, and entrepreneurship. When it comes to directing and measuring Google’s social impact, in comes staff like Andrew Dunckelman, Harvard Business School MBA ’14 and head of impact and insights at Google. Together with his team, he leads Google.org’s impact measurement, learning, and thought leadership agenda. In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, get to know how an MBA and passion for social impact led Andrew to Google.
Andrew Dunckelman, HBS MBA ’14, Head of Impact and Insights at Google
Hometown: Live in Washington, D.C.; Grew up in Houma, LA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Louisiana State University, Political Science
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Harvard Business School, 2014
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 3 years in nonprofit management consulting
Post-MBA Work Experience: 6 years in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for Google
Why did you choose to attend business school?
After working in nonprofit management consulting, I came to believe that more often than not, the challenges that held back social entrepreneurs were business management challenges. I wanted to go to business school to understand business and use that understanding to have a bigger impact in the world.
Why HBS? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Three main reasons:
- The case method. It teaches not only the content of the course, but also a powerful style of thinking and communicating.
- The students. Everyone I encountered was smart, interesting, and friendly. The large class size helps make sure there are others who share your interests.
- The brand. Harvard is a household name that carries meaning all around the world.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
My Harvard MBA helped me to thrive in ambiguity. CSR work is ambiguous work, with lots of stakeholders and multiple bottom lines. The path to impact is hardly ever linear. The case method taught me that tough business decisions rarely have a black-or-white answer, and it taught me how to analyze data, develop a plan in view of the data, and manage teams and resources against that plan.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned with my current employer and team during my MBA summer. It was great to “try before you buy,” though I do sometimes wish I’d had the chance to go wild and try something completely different from my past experiences.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I wanted two things from my post-MBA employer: a company whose brand I could enthusiastically champion and which was serious about having social impact. I was already crazy about Google’s products, and since its IPO, Google has set aside significant resources to addressing humanitarian challenges. It was a natural fit.
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Write a list (I recommend on paper) of three things you want from your job. The job search is intense, and it’s easy to face cognitive overload from all the options. By anchoring in my three principles (two of which I mentioned above and the third related to minimum compensation) I had a heuristic that helped me limit my options and stress.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
Worried less. It will all work out.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
Google’s MBA internship program was fairly straightforward and I met a terrific group of people in the process. I’m not sure there were any big surprises.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
I was given lots of great advice before I attended, so let me relay one thing that was told to us and which I found helpful: there are no admissions mistakes. In any big group of highly motivated achievers, you’re bound to feel impostor syndrome. Know that others feel this way from time to time and that you belong!
What’s the best thing about working for your current employer?
So many things, but just to name one: most people know, like, and use our products. It’s fun to work for a company that I can discuss with just about anyone, from my 90-year-old grandfather to the person I meet on a plane.