The Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship is a scholarship and leadership development program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and active ally MBAs in full-time programs. Each Fellows receives at least $10,000 funding per academic year in addition free lifetime access to all Reaching Out programming (including the ROMBA Conference), LGBT mentors, and a leadership summit exclusively for the Fellows. Over 25 MBA programs will be party of the Fellowship for the 2015-2016 application cycle. To learn how you can express interest in the Fellowship, click here.
This fall Reaching Out welcomed the first class of the Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellows. These 25 fellows come from 18 top business schools and over the next few weeks we’ll introduce each of them to you.
J. TAYLOR WIEGELE (HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL)
Born and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City, Taylor headed west to study Chemical Engineering at The University of California, Berkeley. After graduating he moved to San Francisco and took a role in Research and Development at The Clorox Company where he designed and commercialized new products for Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing and Brita water filtration. He then moved south to Los Angeles where I designed the air filtration system for the Dragon space capsule at SpaceX.
In his spare time he loves surfing (at least trying to), exploring SF, LA, and now Boston/New England, spending time with friends and family, day trips with his partner in crime, Jim, devouring political/economic podcasts, yoga, formulating his own personal care products, and staying engaged with the community through mentorship programs.
What made you consider business school?
During my time at The Clorox Company I led a team that developed a marketing strategy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Allied (LGBTQA) consumers. This was all during the time between California’s passage of Prop. 8 in 2008 and its reversal in 2013. I noticed the incredible power of brands in driving national conversations and connecting authentically with consumers. Developing the overarching brand strategy and determining which executions were most appropriate was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had, complex in a much different way than product development.
My time at SpaceX solidified the decision to attend business school, as I watched the company I worked for ignite a renewed space race, dismantle a monopoly on launch services, and innovate in an incredibly complex industry by harnessing a powerful and revered brand.
What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?
The people. Hands down. There’s truly no environment quite like business school where people from all over the world, from every industry, with a phenomenal diversity of lived experiences come together for two years. Stepping away and reflecting combined with listening to classmates’ stories (and those of the myriad of outstanding speakers and professors) really helps build self-knowledge and understanding of your own story in a unique way.
Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?
Harvey Milk comes to mind, first and foremost for his political activism in the seventies for the LGBT community.
Tyler Oakley, YouTube and Podcast personality who is best in class at leveraging celebrity to reach LGBT youth everywhere and fundraising for the Trevor Project and other LGBT rights and LGBT youth organizations.
Annise Parker, the mayor of Houston and first openly-gay mayor of a major US city.
Laverne Cox, actress and transgender activist.
And of course Reza Rahaman, my mentor and VP of R&D at The Clorox Company and a man who embodies authentic leadership.
What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
Despite a scrubbed social media presence, I’m still figuring things out just like everyone else.