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Chewing and Chatting with Bain Capital's own Greg Shell

Posted by Kelly Garrity on March 21, 2019

A record number of young professionals joined us Tuesday for our City Awake Lunches on Leadership featuring Greg Shell, Managing Director of Bain Capital’s Double Impact Fund . 

In work and in life, Greg’s mission is to create real rates of return and impact society in a positive way. As a New Bedford native, Greg has made it part of his mission to give back to the Commonwealth through helping direct the board of Eastern Bank and serve on the board for the Boston Foundation. During the lunch, Greg shared his hope to create a more inclusive city, his experience with failure, and how he made his voice heard early in his career. Here are our top takeaways. 

“Don’t wait for that text”

When addressing how Boston could better support young people of color, Greg wasn’t afraid to acknowledge Boston’s controversial track record on race. As a Massachusetts native, he grew up familiar with wealth disparities between communities. While he acknowledged that Boston is making strides towards inclusivity, he made it clear that change won’t happen overnight. “I don’t think you should be waiting for a text saying, ‘the city of Boston is ready for you,’” he said. “Make an agreement with yourselves about what kind of city you want to live in, and then go out and make it happen- don’t wait for someone to do it for you.” 

Don’t give up when progress feels slow

During the dotcom crisis, Greg faced one of the harshest failures of his professional life: getting fired. Although the experience shook him, it also pushed him to rekindle the passion that got him to where he is today. “I didn’t fall down 10 times, I fell down 4,000 times,” he joked. “For all of you who feel like progress is coming too slow, don’t give up- that’s how it ought to be.” 

Get into “The Room”

One of the biggest challenges young professionals face is finding opportunities to have their voices heard by the larger community. “At first I just wanted a seat in the room,” Greg said. “I threw myself in the way of true luminaries who I thought could teach me stuff.” Greg seized every opportunity to build his network by inviting higher-ups for coffee and lunches, and traveling to hear speakers he could gain wisdom from. “It was like running into a store and taking as much as I could carry.” Eventually, people started handing him invitations- first to attend galas and speak at panels, and later to sit on and direct boards. His advice: be patient and accept any opportunity that comes your way. 

Greg went further to encourage professionals who have achieved career recognition to break the door to “the Room” wide open to give everyone an opportunity to succeed. Now that Greg is in a position of leadership, he openly uses his influence to combat the “zip code effect,” by helping to level the playing field for those in Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. “We need to stop thinking that some people are relegated for poverty,” he urged. “We should start believing that giving people opportunity will allow them to succeed."


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