Classes Come to Life as a Babson Board Fellow
Kaitlin McCafferty, MBA’18, shares her Babson Board Fellows experience working with CommonWealth Kitchen.
What impressed or inspired you most about the Board?
When I heard about the Board Fellows program I knew I had to be a part of it. As a student, I was interested in how boards work and how they affect businesses. As a woman, I know that gender parity on boards leads to more successful companies and I think it’s important to take the opportunity to get board experience for my professional life. As someone who is committed to creating social value, the ability to learn about and work with a nonprofit was a hugely motivating aspect of the program.
When I was paired with CommonWealth Kitchen I couldn’t have been more pleased. A friend of mine started an ice cream company a few years ago and I had a front row seat to the joys and challenges of starting a small food company. Being part of the CWK board gave me a window into a company that helps small food companies grow by renting them kitchen space, creating a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, and offering food entrepreneurs business skill development classes and so much more. Participating in board meetings showed me that the staff and board are committed to the success of these companies—as much as the entrepreneurs want to succeed, so do the people at CWK. CWK works really hard to give entrepreneurs a fair shot and is constantly listing, trying to improve, and trying to find more opportunities for their companies. The board and staff’s passion and commitment to the community was amazing—I found myself rooting for the entrepreneurs and strategizing about how we could help them even more.
What was the most unexpected takeaway or “aha moment” of your BBF experience?
Being on a board isn’t intimidating or stuffy—I was picturing a big table with men in suits, calculators pulled out, and a wooden paneled room. Instead, my board was friendly, diverse, thoughtful, and strategic. We shared food as we went through our agenda and focused on the challenges the company faced. The board’s job is really to look at a company from a different altitude and to be a sounding board for the business leadership. I was inspired by the different backgrounds of people on the board—entrepreneurs, financiers, and people with nonprofit backgrounds. I pulled from my background in brand and marketing, from my classes, and from my experience during our meetings. Seeing my classes come to life as we talked through challenges, opportunities, and wins was really exciting.
What advice would you give to a new Fellow?
Dig right in! Listen, make connections with people on the board, and offer your insight. Really try to understand their business model, look at competitors and the landscape, and bring that knowledge and your experience to the board. They’re happy to have you and want to hear from you!
What’s next for you?
I’m finishing my Blended Learning program in August! I’m looking forward to a summer of working on my Capstone project at the beach and looking for opportunities to re-engage. I’m also planning on hitting up CWK’s new pop up in Kendall Square—it looks amazing!!
Learn more about Babson Board Fellows.