September 10, 2012

Question and Answer with Executive in Residence Bill Bachman

Bill Bachman didn’t want to go the traditional retirement route. After 23 years as chief operating officer at international law firm Bingham McCutchen, Bachman is starting his new role as Executive in Residence at Wentworth, while continuing to work as an advisor at Bingham. He sat down with us to talk about mentoring college students, explaining what exactly an Executive in Residence does, and adapting to changes in the business world.

On Coming to Wentworth

Q: So what exactly does your new position at Wentworth entail? 

A: Well, the job description is many different things. What I’m going to try to do is find opportunities for students to have real world experiences. As Executive in Residence, I want to put together a series of programs that are not traditional, such as hosting Brown Bag Lunches and occasional lectures, and acting as a liaison between the business community and Wentworth students. Also, I’m going to be available to be an advisor for students looking at business as a career. I think it’s going to be a dialogue based on what the school needs, and what skills and values I have that can be impactful for students.

Q: What lead to you become an Executive in Residence at Wentworth?

A: I was looking around for opportunities to make a contribution to the next generation of business leaders and to find interesting things to do. I used to be a teacher. The Executive in Residence position more aligns with what I did as a COO because it’s very flexible.

Q: Where did you teach previously?

A:  I’ve essentially been teaching all my life. I taught in the Army, I taught leadership and management at West Point for four years after I graduated from there, and I coached at Bingham and will continue to work with partners in leadership development – so coming to Wentworth is really a natural outgrowth of that desire.

Q: So why mentoring?

A: I’ve spent a lot of time with people in their late teens to their mid-twenties and that’s a very important time. That’s when you form your perspective on life. I’d rather teach people when they’re still forming their internal compass. What do they care about, how empathetic are they going to be, what are some value sets?

The process, however, is never-ending and fulfilling. I really believe in lifetime learning, that’s what I wanted to come to Wentworth for, because I want to continue to learn. I’ll learn more technology, it will push me.

On the Business World

Q: How has management changed in the years you’ve been working in the field?

A: It has to be much faster, and the technology has really propelled that. You’re always in contact with other people. It has to be much more internationally focused, both because of the people we work with and also because of new markets. It has to be more flexible. Organizations have to be flatter, with less hierarchy. And finally, they have to be nimble, and that’s a challenge. I have some experience with that as I’ve opened many of our offices, most recently in Beijing in February of this year.

On His Goals for the Future

Q: What’s the most important thing you hope to impart on your students?

A: I think it’s important to have a vision and to take that seriously, but not take yourself too seriously. I think we live in a non-linear world – a lot of plans that are made today may change tomorrow. And hopefully we can prepare students to be critical thinkers and be empathetic to other people. The world of the future is going to be one where the globe is a lot smaller, so dealing with people that are not the same as you is going to be a great skill set.

Q: What’s your goal for working at Wentworth? What do you hope to get out of it?

A: I want to help the school grow and I also want to help the students grow. That would be a great satisfaction. 

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