Meet our Fellows: Will Maness T’21February 22nd, 2021
What did you do prior to Tuck?
I worked in the Risk Assurance group at PwC, Boston. The work was 50% IT auditing and 50% technology consulting. I typically worked with our clients to understand risk in IT processes like logical security and change management. My team and I analyzed access controls, vulnerability management practices, and DevOps pipelines for key clients’ applications and infrastructure.
It was a great role for me right out of my undergraduate studies. It provided me the opportunity to work with and travel to clients domestically and internationally. It also taught me how to interact with client executives and senior PwC partners.
Why did you choose Tuck?
There are three main reasons I choose Tuck: the community, signaled investment, and unique experiential learning opportunities. Having attended small academic institutions in the past, I knew that I wanted to return to a close-knit community. Visiting Tuck, in this beautiful and secluded setting, the value of the community was obvious. The opportunity to more deeply connect with faculty, staff, and classmates was something I knew would be incredibly valuable.
Tuck also signaled to me a willingness to invest and re-invent the MBA program. Whether through restructuring the curriculum or constructing new facilities, the community is committed to maintaining and building on Tuck’s reputation as a premier destination for students .
Finally, exciting experiential learning opportunities – like those provided by TuckGO, the incubator, and Center of Digital Strategies – frees students to get their hands dirty and apply our learnings through challenging projects.
Do you have any post-Tuck plans yet? If so, what are they?
I will be joining IBM in their Data and AI group as an Associate Offering Manager (AOM). This role encompasses standard Product Manager responsibilities and tasks AOMs with overseeing the end to end lifecycle of an offering.
The office is based in San Jose, CA. My fiancé, I, and our dog Sasha have already started (virtually) apartment hunting and are excited to move out to the West Coast!
What made you want to be part of the CDS MBA Fellows Program?
So many things! To start, I had an incredibly positive experience during the MBA Associates program. Each and every student discussion was an opportunity to engage in important and thought-provoking conversation. As I envisioned my second year at Tuck, I definitely wanted to continue these exercises.
Second, the experiential learning opportunities were an attractive part of the program. I learn best in a practical environment so support to work on my own research and work with clients like Google promised to be enriching and developmental programs.
Finally, the sessions that CDS organizes with amazing alums like Brent Dance T’13, Director, Global Gaming, Google Customer Solutions, Yuri Maruyama T’17 (ScaleAI) and Marcus Morgan T’19 (XBox Studios) are truly inspiring. It is exhilarating to hear from Tuckies and CDS Alumni fellows that I look up to and who, frankly, are crushing it in their respective fields! I absolutely wanted to continue to participate in small group discussions with these professionals.
What is the best part about being involved with the CDS?
The developmental conversations, fantastic projects, and great connections have met and surpassed my expectations of the Center. One aspect of CDS that I overlooked during my application that I have come to deeply appreciate is the mentoring and teaching. For example, I was able to channel my experience with Agile development methodology to create a Tech 101: Agile learning program together for my peers. I’ve also been able to help coach others that are interviewing for Product Manager roles after graduation. While mentoring is not limited to CDS fellows, being a member of this community has connected me to people and opportunities to give back that I might not have otherwise had.
What other activities are you involved in at Tuck?
I am a Tuck Community Consulting co-chair, a Co-chair of the Data and Analytics Club, a Non-Profit Board Fellow through the Center for Business Government and Society, and a participant in Tuck’s Incubator.
What has been the biggest growth moment or moment where you stepped out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that experience?
Working with the Tuck incubator has been a significant growth experience for me this year. Starting in the Fall, Raj Chourasia (T’21) and I launched into an independent study to perform customer discovery and create an MVP. After an initial test, we decided to pivot the concept, which we are working through within the Incubator now. These experiences being vulnerable with ideas, learning from mistakes, and iterating quickly pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me about scrappiness and the lean startup method.
What speaker(s) have you learned the most from in your time at Tuck?
Over the past year and a half, we have had so many wonderful speakers come to Tuck. Some of the speakers that I have learned the most from are Niraj Shah (co-founder and CEO of Wayfair), Rick Cardenas (COO of Darden Restaurants), Julie Brill (Chief of Privacy at Microsoft), Mike Hayes (Global Head of Digital Marketing at Ben & Jerry’s), and John Kooyman (CMO of Colgate-Palmolive). They have taught me great lessons about resilience, privacy, corporate responsibility, and branding among many others.
What books are you reading, podcasts are you listening to, or shows are you watching?
Right now, I’m reading Tales from Earthsea. It is a fantasy series about magic and meaning. It tackles the distinction between good and evil as well as power and success. Recently, I’ve finished a few great books including Elon Musk, The Good Jobs Strategy, and The Outsiders. I also can’t say enough about AI Superpowers, especially for people who are interested in AI, data, or the relationship between China and the USA. This book is great!
As for podcasts, I really like Snacks Daily, Planet Money, 99% invisible, and How I Built This.
I’m currently making my way through Lupin on Netflix, as well. I love the heist genre. So far, the plans are intricate and engaging. I’m excited to see how it plays out!
Do you have any advice for people looking to transition from a more traditional IT role into a product role?
Regardless of the technical background prior to business school, as long as you have clear objectives for your MBA experience, you can build a pathway that aligns with those goals.
I’ve been very lucky throughout my journey to land in roles with great mentors and managers who taught me so much. The more intentional you can be about your path, the less you must rely on luck and the more you can get out of your time. Take time to plan and purposefully take action. Then you can achieve a transformational experience for your career or your skill set.