Meet Our Class of 2018 Fellows: Rhett James


MIT, Sloan School of Management

I was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago and immigrated to the US to pursue my architectural education at Howard University. I am a licensed architect and prior to business school, I coordinated interdisciplinary teams to realize large-scale public and private sector projects, most notably, the 2.5B redevelopment of Washington DC’s waterfront. I am excited to be pursuing my MBA at MIT Sloan where I’m interested in leveraging technology and innovation within real estate and the built environment to address urban challenges, including rapid urbanization, housing affordability, sustainability, and economic opportunity. When I’m not working you can find me biking, exercising, watching documentaries, traveling, spending time with family & friends, and dancing to Soca music at Carnival.


What made you consider business school?

Purchasing, renovating, and managing my own multi-unit apartment building, along with working on the largest redevelopment project in Washington DC, made me realize I was passionate about real estate and how it can be used as a tool, and a business opportunity, to create impact within communities. Business school was the perfect opportunity to broaden my background in architecture and construction while strengthening my leadership, entrepreneurial, and finance skills. Ultimately, I hope to leverage these skills to improve communities and the quality of urban life.


What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

I love learning. As a result, I am most excited about being surrounded by a community of principled leaders where I am encouraged to seek knowledge, generate ideas, experience unfamiliar cultures, develop new relationships, learn by doing, and improve the world.


Who are some leaders (in the LGBT community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?

I am inspired by pioneering LGBTQ leaders in media and film such as Tarell Alvin McCraney, RuPaul, and the cast of Paris is Burning. They highlighted the complexities and challenges at the intersection of multiple diverse cultures through storytelling. I am also inspired by Arthur Ashe for his resolve, strength in the face of adversity, and work with HIV/AIDS.


What's one thing everyone should know about you?

I live my life through the maxim “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. I attribute this to most things in my life. It is probably why you’re reading this today.

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