Growing up in the Boston suburb of Belmont, Joe Winn, MBA’74, P’15, fondly recalls being exposed to the world of international business as a child. His father, a banker, attended Harvard Business School and often hosted gatherings at their home, where classmates from around the globe would talk about their countries, lives, and businesses. For Joe, the oldest of eight children, those get-togethers made him aware of the world beyond his hometown. “The global business world was different then,” says Joe, who stepped down as chair of Babson’s Board of Trustees this October. “But it was clearly fascinating, and you could feel it in our dining room on Friday nights.”
Inspired by those gatherings and his father’s banking career, Joe pursued finance and business during his college years. “I really wanted to put myself in a position where I could pass the CPA exam, and my goal was to become a CFO eventually,” he says. So immediately after earning his bachelor’s degree, Joe enrolled at Babson to begin a one-year MBA program.
Joe’s plan worked seamlessly; he had a job offer with a financial management firm by the time he graduated and passed the CPA. He soon realized his dream of becoming a CFO and for nearly 30 years focused on building his career, often with entrepreneurial companies, and raising his family, with few ties back to Babson.
Becoming involved with the College in 2001 as a trustee was a stroke of good timing. “Babson found me,” Joe says, describing a visit from fellow trustee Bill Markey, MBA’64, H’09. “He caught me at the right time with a good message, and I got excited about Babson again.” In the intervening years since Joe’s MBA, the student body had become more internationally diverse, and Babson had recommitted to its entrepreneurial mission.
But the early 2000s also brought significant challenges. The dot-com crash had affected the endowment, and widespread belt-tightening meant companies were less willing to reimburse MBA tuition. “These were things that the trustees were experiencing in our day jobs, too,” he says, “so we really rolled up our sleeves, because we could identify with the issues Babson was facing— the competition, external head winds, the economy.”
Together with then- President Brian Barefoot ’66, H’09, P’01, the trustees worked to introduce what is now the Blended Learning MBA program, increase the size of the undergraduate student body, and create programs and activities that would expand campus usage and revenues beyond the academic year. “One of the things I like best about Babson’s Board of Trustees is that we work. We’re advising, we’re engaged, we’re ambassadors for the school, and we add ideas,” says Joe.
During his tenure, Joe has worked with three Babson presidents, and he credits each of them with encouraging a hands-on spirit. He is enthusiastic about the new ways President Kerry Healey and the trustees have been bringing Babson to the world in recent years, including global alumni events such as Babson Connect Worldwide; classes and programs in the San Francisco, Miami, and Boston hub locations; and online edX classes.
So now that his six-year term as chairman has come to an end, what is next for Joe? With a freer schedule, he is looking forward to “more travel, more fishing, and finding new ways to give back.”—Elizabeth Atwater, senior manager, thought leadership content