Matt Fuller ’00 grew up in the small town of Exeter, New Hampshire. When he came to Babson as a student, however, he suddenly realized that he had joined a global community, one that would have a lasting influence on his life.
Fuller remembers how, on a simple walk down the hallway of Park Manor North, he might hear five languages. Or how, in his Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) course, he worked on a group with members from four continents. He was struck by how all of them, no matter their background, were so supportive and committed to each other and the work.
“That was my first meaningful experience of being on an international team,” he says. “Babson really opens your eyes to the global perspective.” That global perspective brought with it different mindsets and ways of making decisions and looking at life.
Fuller never forgot how important that exposure was to him, and today he remains deeply involved with the Babson community. He guest lectures for classes, and his firm has sponsored teams of student consultants.
And, as the coronavirus has turned the world upside down, he and other alumni have looked to each other. With the Babson community coming together virtually for Back to Babson this weekend, Fuller’s story is a timely reminder of the resiliency of the College network and the support alumni have continued to show one another.
Register for Back to Babson, taking place virtually on September 25 and 26.
Such support is needed. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic’s disruption and uncertainty. “The reset button was hit, and we now have to manage new global operating risks,” says Fuller, the chief investment officer at ESJ Capital Partners, a firm based in Aventura, Florida, and focused on private equity and real estate.
Just like in those days in the residence halls and in FME, alumni have been there to offer perspective. “The Babson community has been helpful as a sounding board,” says Fuller, “giving advice and demonstrating the core entrepreneurial traits of empathy and determination.”
One way Fuller has remained active with Babson is through the Management Consulting Field Experience program, which pairs teams of Babson students with organizations facing business challenges. MCFE gives students real-world experience, while organizations gain fresh insights.
Fresh insights were exactly what ESJ was in need of when it sponsored two MCFE teams. Across the country and especially in the South, ESJ has invested in a number of properties, particularly schools and office buildings. However, the project the MCFE teams worked on, an adventure park called Jungle Island, represented something a bit different for the firm.
“The Babson community has been helpful as a sounding board, giving advice and demonstrating the core entrepreneurial traits of empathy and determination.”
Matt Fuller ’00
Located in Miami, the 18-acre Jungle Island served mainly as a zoo in the past (Earlier this year, the annual meeting of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor held an event at Jungle Island.). Having purchased the property in 2017, though, ESJ is creating a more active experience at the park, with new ziplines, beach club, treetop trekking, and other amenities.
The first MCFE team was tasked with examining pricing and marketing for the revamped park. “How can we better tell the Jungle Island story?” Fuller asked them. The second MCFE team examined operations at Jungle Island, looking at how to optimize the experience of guests while maximizing daily attendance.
Fuller was pleased with the detailed work of the MCFE teams. “We knew Babson students could do a deep dive and have fun with it,” he says.
Time Well Spent
Fuller stays involved with Babson in other ways as well. At least once a year, he travels to campus to guest lecture for real estate and finance classes (because of the pandemic, his usual classroom lecturing was done remotely this spring).
Fuller tries to impart a practitioner’s approach to student lectures. When he was a student himself, he enjoyed when professors brought real-world experiences to the class. “That was so valuable,” he says.
Matt Fuller ’00 and his fellow alumni are always reconnecting, asking each other how they’re doing and how the pandemic is affecting them and their families and professions. “It’s a small community,” Fuller says. “There is a bond there.”
For other Babson alumni who were influenced and inspired by the College, Fuller encourages them to give back in some way to an institution that continues moving forward. “Babson is evolving. The students are evolving,” he says. “Time and donations are well spent with Babson today.”
Especially considering how much support Babson alumni give to each other throughout their lives. In these days of the pandemic, Fuller says he and his fellow alumni are always reconnecting, asking each other how they’re doing and how the pandemic is affecting them and their families and professions. “It’s a small community,” Fuller says. “If you run into someone from Babson, there’s a genuine connection.”