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A Strong Bridge to Business Leadership

Now nearly 25 years old, Tuck’s Business Bridge program has turned out 6,000-plus well-rounded business leaders. And amidst a global pandemic, its mission of building tomorrow’s leaders is more relevant than ever.

By Kirk Kardashian

Dec 18, 2020

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Legendary Tuck dean Paul Danos brought more than a few winning ideas to Tuck during his tenure from 1995 to 2015. One of the top three is undoubtedly the Business Bridge program, which launched in 1997.

An intensive three-week program of personal, connected and transformative business education for liberal arts and STEM students, Bridge makes such good sense it’s a wonder no one else had done it yet. Twenty-three years later, more than 6,000 Bridge alumni can attest to the life-changing experience of learning from Tuck MBA professors, networking with Tuck students and alumni, and obtaining crucial career guidance at a pivotal moment in their career journey.

It gives liberal arts students an opportunity to see what business education is like and the way business-minded people think, without a long-term commitment, and that’s really important for young people who are unsure of their path ahead.

Leslie Robinson
Tuck Professor and Bridge Faculty Director

“Bridge was so instrumental for me,” says Jesse LaFlamme, the owner and CEO of Pete and Gerry’s Organics, the top organic egg brand in the country. “I never expected I would love the business concepts as much as I did. They were taught so well, so memorably, it was like someone just opened the shades.”

For its entire history, Bridge has used a residential, in-person format where students develop strong bonds with their classmates and study-group members, and get to experience a little of the magic of the Tuck MBA program. This year, with the Covid-19 pandemic preventing group gatherings, that had to change. But the faculty director, Leslie Robinson, and executive director of Bridge, Lisa Tedeschi, vowed to maintain the core pillars of the program: a comprehensive business curriculum taught by Tuck faculty; a capstone project that expands students’ skillsets through team-based study; recruiting services and one-on-one career guidance; and network-building opportunities with the Tuck community.

Following the lead of the MBA program’s successful spring term of remote learning, the Bridge faculty and staff worked to shift Bridge to a remote format. Their efforts were met with the highest demand for Bridge spots in the program’s history. Without the space constraints at Tuck, the program was able to welcome 144 students in the June session, and 135 students in the July session.

During each of the three-week sessions, every class was held live and in real-time on Zoom, with planned breaks and open space in the daily schedule for career videos, office hours with professors, self-study, or exercise and relaxation. Bridge alumni hosted career panels online and volunteered to conduct 30-minute mock interviews with each participant. “Since it was virtual, we were able to reach out to our whole alumni network and then pick diverse panelists representing industries across the business spectrum to be on the alumni panels,” says Tedeschi. In addition, students had daily contact with Bridge Associates, Tuck MBA students who manage the six-person study groups, help students with their homework, guide students on their capstone project, review students’ resumes and cover letters and have one-on-one conversations about the job hunt process.

Everyone coming out of Bridge is a great team player and knows how to work in difficult situations. ... They can apply for jobs that other liberal arts students wouldn’t think they’re equipped for.

Whitney Proffitt
Bridge Recruiter and HR Manager, Bain Capital

Bill Martin D’87, a clinical professor of business administration, created Bridge’s signature capstone project 15 years ago with Tuck professor Robert Hansen, the former faculty director of Bridge. “Our goal was to draw on the conventional classroom elements of the Bridge program—accounting, business communications, finance, marketing, strategy, spreadsheeting, and organizational behavior—and have the students apply these new tools so their learning would stick,” Martin says. The best way to do that, they decided, was to have each of the study groups work on a corporate valuation of a publicly-traded company of their choosing. Throughout the three weeks, there are small deliverables students must complete, which integrate with the concepts they just learned. The final goal is to come up with a valuation and put together a PowerPoint presentation that they present to a panel of evaluators from the Tuck community who do corporate valuations all the time in their careers. The evaluators challenge some of the students’ assumptions, and the students must defend their decisions. “It turns out to be a very triumphant final day,” Martin says. “The students have done something they never thought they could do. They learned a completely new language and then presented to a group of professionals and stood up to the heat of that experience. It’s a proud moment for the students and for those of us who deliver the program.”

This year, the lessons of the capstone project extended to online presentations. The students still wore business formal attire—as in years past—but now some augmented their look with virtual backgrounds that matched the companies they were evaluating.

While the capstone project serves to strengthen the classroom learning, it also plays a huge role in the recruiting process. The project gives students a unique story to tell, and differentiates Bridge students from others who have only taken business courses but never combined their knowledge in a real-world setting. Whitney Proffitt, an HR manager at Bain Capital, has been recruiting at Bridge for eight years and has witnessed the Bridge difference. “Everyone coming out of Bridge is a great team player and knows how to work in difficult situations,” she says. “Bridgers always have the best example of situations when they had to deal with team-based conflicts and overcome it. They don’t get stuck in situations like that.” Proffitt has also seen how the Bridge curriculum gives female candidates more confidence, and shows all students that they are qualified for virtually any junior-level job in the business world—whether at a private equity firm, a finance institution, or a consulting firm. “They can apply for jobs that other liberal arts students wouldn’t think they’re equipped for,” Proffitt says. “They know that now they have the skillset and the foundation.”

Tuck Bridge Fall 2020


Much like the residential program, virtual Tuck Bridge offers myriad opportunities for fostering connections and networking, including group team-building activities, academic simulations, and space to work directly with faculty, Bridge alumni, and current Tuck MBA students.
 

On the other side of this summer, the evaluations from students were as glowing as they were for the in-person sessions. “It really cemented for me the longstanding and transformative value of Bridge,” says faculty director Leslie Robinson. “It gives liberal arts students an opportunity to see what business education is like and the way business-minded people think, without a long-term commitment, and that’s really important for young people who are unsure of their path ahead."

This winter, Bridge is offering its usual December session plus a new session in January. Both are timed to coincide with the breaks in the undergraduate schedules, allowing students to use that down-time to turbocharge their business skills and apply for internships and full-time jobs.
 

Where will Bridge take you? 

Here are profiles of six Bridge alumni that can help point the way.

J.B. Andreassi

Bridge 2012

Undergraduate degree

Dartmouth College 2012, B.A. History

Region

Long Island, NY

Career

Licensed real estate broker with Nest Seekers International, Southampton, NY

 

A three-year starter on Dartmouth’s football team, Andreassi chose to attend Bridge right after graduation and before he started working for the NHL in New York. “I figured it would be smart to get on the fast-track to business knowledge,” he says. “I was excited to be a part of it, and I couldn’t be happier that I did it.”

For his study group’s capstone project, they chose to study JetBlue. It was Andreassi’s first big presentation in a business setting, and he was a little nervous, but it went well. He focused on the marketing and branding of the company, and he immediately put his new skills to use in the NHL’s corporate office, where he first worked on events like the All-Star Game and then switched to the marketing department. There, he oversaw accounts such as Miller-Coors and Honda, who were promoting their brand through the NHL’s platform. “A lot of the tools I learned going through that presentation I applied directly to the business world in real life,” he says.

As the son of a real estate developer in the Hamptons, Andreassi decided to go into the family business. In 2019, the luxury real estate firm Nest Seekers hired him as a broker, and then the CEO of the company thought Andreassi would be a good fit for a role on the reality show Million Dollar Beach House he was co-producing with Netflix. They shot the first season from June to September, and the show aired on Netflix in August of this year, ranking as the second most popular series for more than a week. “What I cared about was the business side of things, and getting a competitive advantage,” Andreassi says. “Buyers are calling me from around the country now.”

Looking back at his Bridge experience, what stands out the most was the accessibility to the professors and mentors, and the ability to collaborate with a diverse cohort of young and intelligent people. He still keeps in touch with members of his study group, some of whom went on to work at Bain Consulting and Facebook. “Bridge really paid off for me and the others in my program,” he says.

 

Megan Grip

Bridge 2017

 

Undergraduate degree

Hamilton College 2019, B.A. Economics

Region

New York, NY

Career

Analyst at Goldman Sachs, NY

 

Megan Grip was in her second year at Hamilton when she learned about Bridge. As an economics major at a liberal arts college, Grip was enticed by the chance to apply her foundational knowledge to real-world business cases and concepts. “Bridge provided me the opportunity to learn more about everything in the business world—not only in the classroom and through the capstone project—but also through the career guidance programming,” she says. “Learning directly from Tuck professors and students really excited me.”

Grip sensed she wanted a career in the business world, but wasn’t aware of the options available to her. Through the alumni career panels, Bridge exposed Grip to many different fields and helped Grip narrow her focus to finance. Her preferences were revealed further during the corporate accounting course, where her professor walked the class through Walmart’s financial statements. “That was the first time I felt that the math and formulas I was learning in the classroom were directly applicable to real-world experiences. It was very eye opening, and I enjoyed it.”

The real-world learning continued in the capstone project, where Grip’s group evaluated Carnival Cruise Line. Grip’s role in the group was to pull the whole story together for the presentation, and that gave her a new appreciation for business strategy. The group ultimately decided Carnival was undervalued, and for Grip, that process proved to have lasting value. “Being able to look at Carnival’s financials and analyze them, and understand the firm’s strategy—and then wrap it up into the larger story for our presentation—that was the part that excited me the most and to this day I hone in on those skills during my everyday work,” she says.

Learning directly from Tuck professors and students really excited me.

 

 

Jackson New-Smith

Bridge 2019

 

Undergraduate degree

Santa Clara University 2019, B.A. Communications

Region

Chicago, IL

Career

Trainee of Baseball Operations at the Chicago Cubs

 

Jackson New-Smith was born and raised in San Francisco and is a rare example of someone who knew in high school which industry they’d end up in. A baseball fan, New-Smith got a job in high school as a clubhouse attendant and bat boy with the San Francisco Giants. During college, he worked for the Commissioner’s Office of Major League Baseball, and when he graduated in the spring of 2019, he went to work for the Tampa Bay Rays.

There was just one thing missing. “I had never gotten the academic foundation I needed to really have a full grasp of the landscape I was operating in,” he says. Some mentors and former colleagues had attended Bridge and recommended it, and the winter session in 2019 lined up perfectly with baseball’s offseason. Just before he flew out to Hanover for Bridge, he interviewed for a position with the Chicago Cubs, and he got an offer while Bridge was in session.

Bridge turned out to be the perfect preparation for his new role in baseball operations with the Cubs, where he would work on the team’s budget, player salaries, collective bargaining, trades, waivers and transactions. “Bridge provided me with the critical thinking and analytical thinking skills that I hadn’t practiced in college,” he says. “And the opportunity to engage in the case method, work in group dynamics, problem solve and present was just an awesome experience.”

Bridge provided me with the critical thinking and analytical thinking skills that I hadn’t practiced in college.

 

Lauren Alpeyrie

Bridge 2010

 

Undergraduate degree

Dartmouth College 2010, B.A. English Literature and Engineering

Graduate degree

B.E., Thayer School of Engineering, 2011
MBA, Tuck School of Business 2017

Region

New York, NY

Career

Director of Innovation at PGIM Real Estate

 

As a double major in English and Engineering, Lauren Alpeyrie T’17 had a classic liberal arts education. Still, that didn’t mean she knew what she wanted to do after college. She decided to enroll in Bridge as a way to help her figure out her first move. “I had an early understanding of what different business careers entailed at the time,” she says. “For me, Bridge was a really valuable few weeks to understand alternatives to an engineering career or how they might complement each other.”

For her capstone project, Alpeyrie and her study group did a valuation of Blackberry. She appreciated the chance to work closely with a group of students and to apply everything she learned during the program. The experience also gave Alpeyrie a good perspective of business school and what it would be like to attend Tuck, where group work is a major component of the first-year curriculum.

After Bridge, Alpeyrie was hired as an associate by L.E.K. Consulting. She credits Bridge for awakening her to the world of consulting. “Bridge gave me a sense of what some careers would be like after college,” she says. “Without that understanding and the classes taught at Bridge, I wouldn’t have been as well prepared for that first job out of college.”

Alpeyrie decided to return to Tuck in 2015 for her MBA. There, she found other members of Tuck Bridge and Dartmouth who had enrolled, and that Bridge had given her an inside view of the content and culture of the school. Since then, she has participated in a career panel at Bridge and other interviewing efforts, and she notes how involved fellow Tuckies have been.  “It’s nice to have that community of people who see the immense value of the program and want to stay in touch with the school,” she says.

 

 

Jesse Laflamme

Bridge 1999

 

Undergraduate degree

Bates College 1999, B.A. Political Science

Region

New England

Career

Owner and CEO of Pete and Gerry’s Organics

 

Jesse Laflamme loved the liberal arts education he received at Bates. But he got a little worried when he saw older classmates struggle to find their place in the business world, and he didn’t know what his Political Science degree qualified him to do. He grew up on his family’s egg farm in Monroe, New Hampshire but hadn’t really planned to go back there to help run it. He saw a Bridge poster at Bates and decided to enroll the summer after his junior year. 

Immediately, Laflamme knew he had made the right choice. “I remember calling my dad two days into the program, saying how much I loved what was being taught, and that I now loved business,” he recalls. “I’m not generally an excitable person, but I was genuinely excited about Bridge.”

His family’s farm had been struggling to survive, and Bridge gave Laflamme the confidence to try to turn it around. He started working there right after Bridge finished, armed with the textbooks he had just used, including one on accounting by Tuck/Bridge professor Clyde Stickney. He consulted that book when he began revolutionizing the accounting practices at the business. 

At the time, the farm mostly sold mostly to small local customers, and had just a couple of employees and a few hundred thousand dollars in annual sales. Twenty years later, with Laflamme at the helm, the picture is vastly different. Now it has a national distribution network at supermarkets, and partners with 130 family farms. And it has 240 employees, $240 million in annual sales, and is considered one of the top-10 organic brands in the nation, alongside Horizon Organic, Stonyfield, and Organic Valley. 

“I’ve used every ounce of my Bridge experience to build Pete and Gerry’s into what it is today,” Laflamme says. “I didn’t have time to get an MBA, so I would have been lost without Bridge.”

I remember calling my dad two days into the program, saying how much I loved what was being taught, and that I now loved business.

 

Lesley Chin

Bridge 2003

 

Undergraduate degree

Harvard College 2005, B.A. Latin American Studies

Graduate degree

MBA, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, 2013

Region

Seattle, WA

Career

Senior Product Manager at Amazon

 

Lesley Chin T’13 knew she wanted to pursue a business career after she graduated from Harvard, but since she had a liberal arts background she felt she needed further grounding in business theory and practical skills. “Bridge offered me an introduction to those things, as well as a business perspective that built upon my general knowledge, better equipping me for a business career,” she says. What she also noticed was that spending nearly a month at Tuck provided an excellent preview of the MBA experience, and it influenced her to come back to Hanover to pursue her MBA.

During her time at Bridge, Chin felt stretched — extending her skills beyond theory and into practice. For example, she recalls the MarkStrat simulation from Bridge’s Marketing course, where she had to put marketing skills into action in simulating a product launch. And it was something she experienced again as an MBA student, with the benefit of her additional skills gained in the workplace after college.

After Bridge, Chin went into consulting, and she has reflected that Bridge gave her the concrete and practical skills to succeed in that role. It also confirmed for her the path that she had chosen, and has guided her in her career ever since. “My experience at Bridge allowed me to assess both when and where to pursue an MBA, which ultimately led me back to Tuck,” she says. “That decision to return, which was founded in Bridge, has given me strong strategic thinking that I still use on a daily basis in my work.”

My experience at Bridge allowed me to assess both when and where to pursue an MBA, which ultimately led me back to Tuck.

 

 

In Their Own Words

Tuck alumni and their children weigh in on the value of Bridge.

Hunter Sechrest D’17, Bridge’17
Marketplace Operations, Wonder

Student Perspective “At Tuck Bridge, I felt incredibly lucky to have access to some of the most outstanding business minds in the world, and in such a tight-knit environment. Tuck Bridge is a place that celebrates curiosity and provides hands-on learning to give you the tools and confidence to turn that curiosity into success in the real world. Because of Tuck Bridge, when I was chosen to be one of the youngest people on the business side of Condé Nast to give a one-on-one presentation to Anna Wintour, I knew I could do it. Equally importantly, my boss knew I could handle it. Having Tuck Bridge on your resume signals that you are well-trained and prepared to take on business challenges.”

Elizabeth Franklin T'83
CEO & Founder, The Franklin Report and TradeWorks

Parent Perspective “Tuck Bridge has carved out a unique position in the short-form MBA sector. It is the archetype that others have followed, but none have matched. Dartmouth’s unique culture of immersive focus, supportive cooperation and committed community are imprinted upon Bridge. This simply makes it more effective and durable. My daughter, Hunter, a Dartmouth government major, was truly transformed by the experience. The very specific skills Hunter garnered at Bridge were unquestionably intrinsic to her success. As a Tuck alum, myself, I am so grateful to Bridge. They say that you have to be good at something to enjoy it, and Bridge was unquestionably the wind under her wings.”

 
Colin Chapin T’20, Bridge’13
Investment Banking Associate, Harris Williams

Student Perspective “Bridge was instrumental in my career pivot, bringing cohesion to a seemingly disparate set of interests and experiences and equipping me with the skills and credibility to capitalize on my evolving interests. I completed Bridge between a two-year commitment with Teach for America, at a time that I was considering a different career path more rooted in the research and critical thinking skills I enjoyed at Hamilton. Exposure to Tuck faculty, staff, and students helped me find career paths that would expand on my existing experience, while equipping me with the critical skills, perspectives, and credibility to be a competitive candidate. Bridge also sparked a level of drive and curiosity in me that was instrumental in my success after the program, and was a key factor that led me back to Tuck for my MBA.”

Tom Chapin D’80, T’85
Chief Investment Officer, Mill Creek Capital Advisors LLC

Parent Perspective “I have long thought of Tuck’s Bridge Program as a great way for liberal arts college students to learn some business basics and skills—finance, accounting, marketing, communications—on their way toward evaluating possible post-graduation careers. And that getting exposed to the Tuck ethos in their formative years will serve them well no matter where life and careers take them. When my son Colin attended the program mid-way through a two-year stint at Teach for America, it was exciting to see it spark a passion in him to pursue a career in investment and finance. Attending Tuck Bridge and learning from the program’s great faculty built-out his skillset, helped him land a challenging and rewarding entry-level industry position, and ultimately landed him back at Tuck to pursue an MBA. We are both big believers in Tuck and the Tuck Bridge Program.”


 

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