Jessica Maclean, PEMBA’12

Newburyport, Massachusetts

“Health care has always been an attraction for me. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and be behind the decisions that improve the health care industry.”

Leadership in action

Like business school, a main goal of the army is to train capable leaders.

“Leadership fundamentals in the military are the same as in the civilian world,” Jessica Maclean (PEMBA) says, “however, a big difference is that oftentimes soldiers are motivated to follow an order based upon fear, rather than earned respect.”

Maclean would know. She started the Professional Evening MBA (PEMBA) program at the School after four years in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as an undergrad and five years in the army. “In my first semester at the School, I’ve already learned a great deal about how the values of an organization are of the utmost importance in forming a team and getting people to work together.”

Growing up in Newburyport, Massachusetts, Jessica was a highly active athlete in high school, playing basketball, softball, and hockey. She was an active leader as well, serving as captain of her field hockey team and a helpful mentor to freshmen her senior year.

“In college, I really enjoyed the camaraderie and the fitness aspects of ROTC,” she says, “and since I didn’t have a sport in college, the rigorous physical demands of ROTC served as a good replacement.”

After graduating with a BA in communications from Wake Forest University, she became an active military intelligence officer. “I really wanted to serve my country and do the job I was trained to do in a real-life situation. I chose to go into army intelligence because I liked analyzing and strategizing, and I wanted to be able to lead my own platoon.” She wanted action, and the army needed leaders while fighting a war on two fronts.

Jessica did just that during two tours in Iraq between 2006 and 2008. She was the leader of a drone unit, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commanding operations that provided near real-time imagery to troops on the ground.

“My job in the military required a lot of management—planning and organization, supply and logistics, and coaching and mentoring. I was the very first UAV platoon leader for the 101st Airborne Division. The asset was brand new, and we were pioneering the first effort. It was an honor to lead one of the first UAV platoons.

“Iraq wasn’t easy. You work 12 hours a day, and the weather is hard to deal with, especially during the summer. But the worst part is being away from your normal support system of family and friends. It was probably the most difficult thing I’ve been through, but it made me appreciate life and family even more.”

When Jessica’s commitment to the army was complete, she and her husband, who she met during her first tour in Iraq, decided to settle down.

“I did a lot of research and soulsearching, but I eventually chose to pursue health care management. You have a lot of options coming out of the army, but health care has always been an attraction for me. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and be behind the decisions that improve the health care industry.”

Last year, Jessica took a job at Tufts Medical Center’s concierge adult primary care practice, the Pratt Diagnostic Center, as the organization’s program coordinator, managing daily operations and business development.

“The military prepared me well for a career in management. It taught me how to analyze a situation and come up with a strong plan of action, how to mentor others and help them further their careers, and how to stay calm and make solid leadership decisions in high-stress situations.”

In the future, Jessica hopes to merge her experience in the army with her MBA to help make a difference in the lives of veterans.