What Makes You Tick? A Q&A with Mentor-in-Residence Peter Boyd


One of Tsai CITY’s latest Mentors-in-Residence, Peter Boyd, has been a consistent welcoming presence in Yale’s social entrepreneurship circles. He’s an Executive Fellow at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment and gives regular workshops on building a social business based on years of work in both the public and private sectors pushing sustainability initiatives. He’s at Yale to help students think through how they can put their skills and social motivation to use doing something that excites them, in whatever form that takes. And Peter’s varied work background makes him a perfect sounding board for understanding opportunities across many sectors. He’s the former CEO of Virgin Mobile South Africa, a founding member of the Carbon War Room which advances sustainability initiatives in corporations and even worked in government as part of the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (and currently, the Green Task Force in his hometown of Westport). He’s typically available for Office Hours at Tsai CITY on Friday afternoons. Below, he talks with CITY about how he’s helping to guide student interest and engagement.

1.       What happens when a student shows up for Office Hours with you?

Peter: Typically, someone has an idea that’s partially formed. One of the first key actions is to get it moving forward. Often with startups, they don’t have board members. So Mentors-in-Residence function as that – senior advisors without any baggage (i.e., financial interest). I also get students who are passionate about a specific pursuit and want someone to bounce ideas off of. What is it like in different sectors? I can figure out what makes them tick and talk about their options.

2.       Is it OK for someone to come talk with you who doesn’t have a clear idea of what they want to do?

Peter: As mentors, we can either help you make your idea more real, or help focus your idea. If you have no idea, we can help connect you with others who can use your particular skillset.

3.       What are some of the career directions you advise students to take?

Peter: It’s important for students to work out what makes them tick – what gets them excited. You might want to join an inspiring brand or fix a broken brand. In either case, I can help you with the tactics to get there. Say you want to fix a broken brand, I might ask you to come back next week with a list of possible brands and get your energies focused on the 80/20 (80% of results from 20% of the customers).

4.       What are some of the current initiatives at Yale that you’re excited about?

Peter: We’ve just launched a joint initiative between CITY and CBEY called the Net Zero Action Group. We’re working with students, faculty, staff and New Haven residents on a project that helps the city. We officially launched it at the Urban Resources Initiative Conference. The idea is that in order to get to net zero as a world, zero poverty and zero emissions, we need municipalities and universities to work together.

Interested in getting involved? Email Net Zero Action Group Student Lead Mikaela Bradbury at mikaela.bradbury@yale.edu.

CONTACT: Brita Belli, Communications Officer, Tsai CITY, (203)804-1911, brita.belli@yale.edu.

Brita Belli