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Mark Kleger '02: Business skills for the education sector
Mark Kleger has found his career to be full of surprises. After college, he worked as a middle school math teacher and nonprofit manager and never thought he would end up in business school. But a mentor convinced Kleger of the value of an MBA for nonprofit leaders, so he enrolled at Columbia Business School in the fall of 1999 to pursue a career in nonprofit management, with a focus on education.
Kleger’s MBA experience introduced him to opportunities that he had never envisioned before attending Columbia. He became actively involved in the Social Enterprise Club and acquired a wealth of information about the social sector from the dynamic members of the School community. “I found Columbia to be a vibrant environment for the discussion of business principles that could be applied to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations,” Kleger says.
Kleger did his summer internship at McKinsey & Company in its Boston office. He spent half of his time working on a nonprofit fund-raising study and the other half on an e-commerce strategy project. “The successful application of business principles to a nonprofit organization was incredibly exciting,” he says. “It validated my decision to attend Columbia and taught me that obtaining additional years of business experience would help me achieve my long-term goal of being an effective nonprofit manager.”
After graduating from the School, Kleger moved to Los Angeles, where he spent a year as deputy director of Project GRAD Los Angeles, an education reform nonprofit. “My year at Project GRAD sealed my commitment to a career in the nonprofit sector,” Kleger says. “But it also made me realize that McKinsey would help make me a more successful nonprofit leader.” Kleger returned to McKinsey in Los Angeles in October 2003 and looks forward to working on a nonprofit study and volunteering for local nonprofit organizations.