Charles F. Preusse II T’95 was an investment banker for 20 years before being recruited to Ridgeway Partners, a global executive search firm, eight years ago. Why the change? In investment banking he saw that the two critical drivers of a company’s success are capital and people. Preusse always enjoyed most the personal and social dynamics of what made a transaction work. Now, as a partner at Ridgeway, Preusse is a matchmaker of strategic talent: he works with his corporate clients as they build their senior management teams to position themselves for success. He and the team at Ridgeway are among the best in their business—their successful placement rate of 98 percent is peerless in their industry. “What really differentiates us is our ability as an international boutique to be incredibly focused on our clients,” he says. “The partners do the work. When you hire a Ridgeway partner, you get the partner.”
Tuck prepared Preusse well for both phases of his career. One thing he learned in the Tuck core was discipline. For example, before Tuck, he had never heard of a decision tree. Now he uses that framework every day to parse complex decisions into their component parts, and to understand and value the possible outcomes. “In my industry, I can lay out what might happen in a situation for CEOs and very senior people,” he says. “They have a lot going on. You can break it down and keep it simple. You learn a lot of that here.”
Tuck also gave Preusse confidence. At Columbia, he recalled he was surrounded by incredibly smart people. Tuck took it up a notch. “At Tuck, I found the student body that much more curious and intelligent,” he says. “Just being around that community of people for two years gives you a great deal of confidence when you come out. You are very comfortable interacting with the senior most people within organizations.”
Preusse has been out of business school long enough that the lessons from his MBA experience have seeped deeply into his mental map. He does not think about them every day, but he knows they are there. “You learn a lot at Tuck and you can always leverage it, but you don’t always realize you’re leveraging it,” he explains. “You’re just doing it.