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The Rustandy Center reached out to alumnus Jared Mueller, ’19, director of the Mayo Clinic Innovation Exchange and a graduate of the Civic Scholars and Weekend MBA Programs, to learn about his Booth experience and some of the programs and resources that helped him pursue a career in social impact. The Civic Scholars Program, which previously offered scholarships only to Weekend MBA students, is now also available to students in the Full-Time and Evening MBA Programs.

Why did you first decide to come to Booth to pursue a career in social impact?

When I left my strategy consulting job in 2011 to join President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, I moved to Hyde Park. The commute to campaign headquarters was a speedy Metra ride up to Chicago’s Loop. Between 57th Street Books, talks on campus, and trips to Promontory Point, I knew the Hyde Park and University of Chicago communities were special. After serving in an economic policy role in the Obama Administration—and getting to know UChicago economists like Roger Myerson through other career stops—by 2017 I was eager to return to Hyde Park and dive into economics and finance coursework while working at the Obama Foundation full time.

A Booth alumnus and friend who went directly from business school into public service shared how much he enjoyed watching Booth’s impact offerings expand under the Rustandy Center umbrella. When Booth’s Civic Scholars Program emerged as an option, I interviewed with former Rustandy Center executive director Christina Hachikian, AB ’02, MBA ’07, now a clinical associate professor of strategic management at Booth. Rustandy Center programs like the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge—run with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation—and Rustandy Center-organized dinner series events were also strong complements to traditional Booth curriculum.


What is your career background and have you always been interested in the social impact space? 

I’ve been fortunate, and had a chance to work on social impact projects directly after college. When I joined The Boston Consulting Group in 2009, the U.S. Treasury had just hired BCG as advisors to the Obama Administration’s task force on the auto industry. Several of my projects involved supporting the Obama team’s economic recovery work—or a major auto company directly, as it looked to introduce more fuel-efficient vehicles to the U.S. market. A BCG colleague introduced me to the incoming CFO of President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2011. That led to nine years working in “Obamaworld”—on the 44th President’s second inauguration, as a policy advisor to a Cabinet member, and finally at the Obama Foundation, with several Obama-aligned campaigns and startups in between. A high point from my Administration days was serving on a White House working group supporting Detroit after its 2013 municipal bankruptcy, bringing senior officials back to the city with me, and retracing as a public servant my consulting work on Michigan’s economic recovery.

Early this year, a former collaborator (also a Booth alumnus) made a compelling pitch asking me to lead a new innovation team at Mayo Clinic. As the Mayo Clinic’s work to combat COVID-19 ramped up, I became director of the Mayo Clinic Innovation Exchange, which provides health-care entrepreneurs, innovators within Mayo Clinic, and external startups with the medical and business insights to commercialize their innovations. Several of my BCG friends and mentors have also gone on to become health-care entrepreneurs or investors, so it has been a full-circle experience to collaborate with them on efforts to make healthcare more resilient in a challenging year for global health.

Are there any experiences that stick out to you as especially important while at Booth?

To keep the Detroit and public service theme going, it was rewarding to travel with fellow Civic Scholars to Michigan in March 2018 for a week of meetings with Mayor Mike Duggan’s team and nonprofit leaders. Detroit is an extraordinary city. Even post-pandemic and post-graduation, Civic Scholars programming has remained very robust. Alumni and current Neubauer Scholars have enjoyed staying in touch with friends and faculty, and comparing how each other’s’ nonprofit and government teams have adapted in a challenging year.

How did your time here help you reach your short- and long-term career goals?

The Booth curriculum is much more focused on applied empathy than I would have expected. This was true of negotiations lectures with Booth professors Ayelet Fishbach and George Wu, ethics classes with Nicholas Epley and John Paul Rollert, operations lessons from Bariş Ata, Randy Kroszner’s course on central bank policymaking, and every economics class I took. Along with technical skills and thematic lessons, understanding how empathy leads to better outcomes in each of these domains was extraordinarily valuable.

What aspect of Booth culture did you appreciate most?

There is a Hyde Park bookishness to Booth that was a treat, after eight years away from a campus (and a JSTOR account). Faculty enjoyed sharing the latest papers in their fields. MBA students flocked to academic talks at Booth, Harris, Saieh Hall, or elsewhere on campus. When I was encouraging a former colleague to apply to Booth, we attended several lunchtime paper talks organized by Professor Luigi Zingales on managerial effectiveness in the public sector. He was hooked! He is now a proud member of the Class of 2022.

The Chicago Booth Civic Scholars Program offers substantial tuition awards up to 100 percent to MBA students who work in a 501(c) designated nonprofit organization or for the government. The program, funded by a gift from the Neubauer Family Foundation, supports qualified professionals in Booth’s Full-Time MBA, Evening MBA, and Weekend MBA Programs.