Straddling the for-profit and nonprofit worlds in his current leadership roles, Tim James ’20 EMBA, is the embodiment of “doing well by doing good,” an ethos that he says is at the core of the Executive MBA program offered by Brown and the IE Business School.
“They have a clear sense of how social responsibility and the bottom line are not in competition with one another,” James says. “The angle is, you don’t have to either maximize profit or do good for people or the community or the environment. You can do those two things in tandem.”
James leads efforts at State Street Bank and Trust Company to establish and grow business relationships with some of the world’s top consultancy firms that advise on pensions plans, defined contribution plans, and endowments. He is also the Chair of the Board for the Lenny Zakim Fund (LZF), an organization that works to develop deep relationships among people and communities to advance social, economic, and racial justice. “We live in a post-George Floyd world, and global awareness of social injustice is undeniable,” James says. “The organizations the LZF supports are changing communities and helping underserved people and groups find purpose. I’d never turn my back on these people.”
James says his desire to get involved in social justice work was sparked in part by his first-hand experience with racial profiling. At a hometown high school football game, he was physically searched by the school principal and a police officer after giving handshakes to friends. “I hadn’t done anything wrong, but the story took on a life of its own,” he says.
The city’s mayor became aware of the incident and invited James to join him in a series of sit-down meetings with the city’s leadership to discuss opportunities for improvement. “We agreed to some important policy changes to the way school officials and police officers conduct searches on individuals so they are not indiscriminatory, stop-and-frisk-type incidents, but something a bit more thoughtful,” James says. A subsequent internship in the mayor’s office shaped his growth further. “A lot of the work I now do is informed by those experiences,” he says. “When people ask me to talk about leadership or diversity, equity, and inclusion, a lot of what I say is informed by my lived experience.”