At The Spike Lab we work tirelessly to build a team of world-class coaches. This is part of a series of blogs introducing them to you.
Justin is a management consultant and educator with deep experience in social entrepreneurship. He has advised or grown social enterprises in such sectors as financial inclusion, health care, affordable housing, and more. He has also served as a mentor and coach to a diverse set of aspiring entrepreneurs, including students at the high school and college levels. Justin is passionate about language and culture; he has lived, worked, or studied in 5 countries and is fluent in Spanish. He is originally from Massachusetts and now resides in Brooklyn, NY.
1) Why did you become a coach with The Spike Lab?
I became a coach for The Spike Lab to help young people use entrepreneurial approaches to make a positive impact on the world. I’ve worked extensively in the social sector, in areas that are critical for the wellbeing of society, such as education, health care, and agriculture. I’ve seen firsthand how an individual can begin with an innovative idea and, by pursuing their passion, grow that idea into a project that truly improves the lives of others. As both a consultant to social sector leaders and a social entrepreneur myself, I know how entrepreneurs need guidance, advice, and coaching to help see the work through. As a Spike Lab coach, I am excited to help bring world-class entrepreneurial coaching, typically reserved for senior business leaders, to passionate students looking to make a difference.
2) What is your proudest professional achievement?
Early in my career, I spent 3 years in Washington D.C. as a management consultant to national organizations. Towards the end of those 3 years, I decided to return to international development, the sector where I began my career via a research position in India. I came to focus on Latin America, specifically Mexico, due to its strong conditions for social entrepreneurs to have success. However, I had no connections in Mexico and spoke only basic Spanish. Despite that, I was able to secure a position in Mexico City as a corporate strategy lead with a high-growth health care startup. In this role, I established the system by which the company measured its overall business health, and helped to launch and grow new lines of service. Over the course of just 6 months, I reached full professional fluency in Spanish and successfully built a life in the city, including a long-term apartment and a network of friends. Being able to create so much out of nothing has given me the pride and confidence that powers me in my entrepreneurial work to this day.
3) If you could give one piece of advice to your high school self, what would it be?
Worry less. High school was a stressful time for me because I was scared that if I didn’t do everything perfectly, my future would be jeopardized. In reality, the anxiety that I applied to my schoolwork and college resume-building were counterproductive. For example, worrying about my AP Biology final exam grade – after I had taken the final – only served to distract me from the work I had coming up afterwards. I thought that I had to participate in the Junior Statesmen of America, but it probably didn’t help my college applications (it was one extracurricular of mine among many) and just gave me less time to spend with friends. Worrying less would’ve allowed me to enjoy my time in high school, which I now realize is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
4) How did you choose Georgetown for undergrad?
I was first able to narrow my list via a few filters. I knew I wanted to go to school on the East Coast, in order to stay relatively close to my family in Massachusetts. With a few exceptions, I prioritized universities in urban areas, as I was ready to move on from the type of small town I had grown up in. With these filters in mind, I applied. After admission letters came through, my list was down to Georgetown and Amherst. Visiting Amherst left me with the sense that it was a small school with a tight-knit community that would leave me wanting for greater diversity. My Georgetown visit showed me that it had the mix of an authentic college campus and proximity to a large city that I craved. Finally, Georgetown’s strong international affairs program, which was my planned major, sealed the deal.