According to a NY Times article last month, Harvard kicked off a small but ambitious new program, involving mostly 50+ business leaders, to help them embark on new careers as successful social entrepreneurs or leaders of nonprofit organizations.
The Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative program is a collaboration among five of the university’s professional schools – business, law, government, education, and public health. Seen as a “third stage” for universities – beyond undergraduate and then graduate and professional schools – if successful, the program can serve as a model for schools at other universities.
According to a poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates, half of Americans age 50 to 70 want to find work that has a social impact after their primary career ends.
Harvard’s experiment echoes larger efforts to match the more than 75 million baby boomers with productive “post careers”. Many of those born between 1946 and 1946 (the boomers), resist the traditional retirement ideal of leisure and travel.
Among the 14 fellows enrolled in the year-long Harvard experiment are a former astronaut, a former senior official at the United States Agency for International Development, a physician-entrepreneur from Texas, a former public utility official from California, a former health minister from Venezuela and a former computer executive from Switzerland.
The article includes brief career snapshots of several of the participants, who all come to the program with varying degrees of certainty about their next career step. Here is just one of their stories:
Susan Leal, 59, the former general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, is a water expert. She is coming to Harvard to explore fresh thinking to the challenges of water management – rising demand, aging infrastructure and inadequate investment. Ms. Leal said she might write a book or found or join an advisory group. “I just haven’t figured out the vehicle yet,” she said.