Jeff Jablow is a 2005 graduate of the Daytime MBA Program. Before coming to Fuqua, he worked with Ernst & Young Consulting, Cambridge Strategic Management Group, and Ma Afrika Tikkun. He is now Senior Vice President of Strategy & Operations for City Year, a national service organization which partners young adults, ages 17 to 24 with at-risk schools to provide individualized support that keeps kids in school and on track to success.
Tell us about your background and why you choose Fuqua?
After receiving my undergraduate degree, I worked as a consultant. Then, I moved to South Africa and worked on youth development education with local townships for a year. It was a passion point for me. I applied to business schools from South Africa knowing that I wanted to stay in the social impact field – I was one of those people who came in knowing that they will leave business school working for a social impact organization.
There are several reasons why I chose Fuqua. First, the people I knew who attended the school embraced the culture and talked to me about how much they loved the school and what a supportive community it was. Secondly, as I was doing research on the work CASE was starting (this was back in 2002, when CASE was just being established), I realized there was a home at Fuqua for my interests. That was really why I pursued Fuqua.
During my time at Fuqua, CASE really started to grow. Students became more engaged, and an active community of socially minded people began to form, providing resources for those interested in the social impact space. The biggest challenge for people who are career switchers into the social sector, like me, is that they lack people in their network who are leaders in the field. However, CASE was extremely generous in providing me with the opportunities to meet people in their network and help me to craft the career path that would use my MBA skills and follow my passions.
Describe the work you are doing today and your journey through City Year?
I joined City Year in the summer of 2005, right after I graduated from Fuqua. During that time, the organization was interested in doing strategic planning to assess their work and how they can scale their impact, and I got involved with this as part of a MBA fellowship program they just started. This time was a unique tipping point for City Year; they were analyzing whether to focus on developing core members as leaders and perform more general services, or to focus the organization on specific issues.
This evolved into a multi-year project that focused on the unique role of City Year core members and how their use of national service plays in urban education. Essentially, we were filling the missing place in urban education around direct engagement with students to provide both academic and non-academic support. In addition to a great teacher and the organizations that play a role in that – whether it be Teach for America or other alternative teaching fellowship opportunities – there are still students affected by poverty that need more than a great teacher. City Year provides core members to fill this gap. I was able to push the organization in the direction of my own learning and bring in the skills I developed at Fuqua and as a consultant to strategically plan for this type of work. What has kept me engaged in City Year is its willingness to innovate as it continues to push the needle as it delivers greater impact.
What is the ultimate impact you hope to make?
At a high level, what keeps me engaged in City Year is that at a macro-level, the challenges we have in urban education are really just a matter of what families the students were born into and what schools they attend – the impact of poverty. I want to continue to figure out ways to deploy the resources we have as a country and the people who are willing to spend a year or two of their life working in these schools and working with these children. There is still so much work to be done. I am trying to figure out the right way to support core members to deploy them effectively and to meet the needs of students so that we could solve this problem. I think it is solvable. I want to work so that it is solvable in my lifetime, and I think City Year has an important role to play in that, in this larger urban education ecosystem.