As global leaders converge in Davos to evaluate how best to solve some of the world's greatest challenges, I can't help but reflect on my 10-year career at leading global corporations, and my impact on those same challenges (or lack thereof).
Before graduating with an MBA from NYU Stern in 2009 in the midst of one of the worst global recessions, I already had two full time offers; one from leading consulting firm Booz & Co. and another from GE Capital. Most students were hard pressed to find one offer, and quite a few didn't have any until well after graduation. I had the choice between buy-side investment and strategy consulting, and common wisdom suggested I was 'the man'.
After a fully paid 'sell' trip to Miami that included lavish social events, a 30-foot yacht cruise, and four nights at the Ritz Carlton, I signed an offer with Booz & Co. and collected a handsome signing bonus. Immediately, I was assigned to interesting projects across the globe advising some of the world's senior leaders on public finance, public private partnerships, and operating strategy. As expected, the hours were unmerciful, the travel constant, but the exposure and learning were unparalleled. My experience across public and private sector clients in both developed and emerging markets laid the foundation for the beginning of my doubts. I started to understand that measuring success either in terms of profit (private sector) or societal impact (public sector) was not an optimal approach.
Later on, at GE Capital, I was responsible for evaluating investments into renewable energy projects across the United States. After many months reviewing $2bn of deals, modeling wind and solar farm financials, and preparing endless investment committee presentations, I found myself again doubting that profit, as measured in financial terms alone, was an advantageous and complete way of measuring value.
At Barclays Capital, as a member of the COO team, I worked with senior management through one of the bank's most challenging time periods (LIBOR scandal, etc.), helping to navigate increasing regulatory scrutiny and shifting capital requirements, evaluate new product investments, re-design the operating framework, and build the US wealth business.
My doubts only grew stronger. I was reminded constantly of the taxing personal commitments required to succeed in business, and wondered whether shareholder enrichment was good enough cause.
As I matured professionally and personally, I came to better understand the missing link in all of my corporate experiences -- the source of my consistent unease. Although these jobs had each provided me with great friends, best-in-class training, opportunities for growth and development, and senior level exposure, none of them gave me purpose.
In choosing to leave a successful corporate career to join the Hult Prize Foundation, for the first time, I am choosing impact and purpose as my main drivers. I am allowing my doubts in some of the existing models of corporate being, and my experience over the last decade, to make me believe in a new, better corporation.
The Hult Prize Foundation seeks to create the economic and social incentives that allow the launch and capitalization of a new breed of business, one that marries social impact and profitability.
Last year's Hult Prize competition received 20,000 applications, and is set to revolutionize the way we think about business. Bill Clinton and TIME Magazine named it "one of the top five ideas changing the world." It is built on the premise that great business should first and foremost address an unmet social need, and then make money doing so. The foundation has thus far disbursed 6 million dollars of startup funds and has inspired dozens of new startups across the globe.
I am honored to be part of the team, and am confident that my time and energy are having real impact, leading a shifting paradigm around the role of business in society.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post to mark the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting 2015 (in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Jan. 21-24). Read all the posts in the series here.