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Between Two Classes: Annabel Ware

“Once you start being honest with yourself about what you want, you can start doing that in all aspects of your life. And I think that’s how you live a really happy life.”

We’re excited to share our second interview of Between Two Classes, an interview series where we explore how HBS classmates see the world, and why.

Our second interview is with Annabel Ware (MBA ’25). Annabel grew up in Wisconsin and attended UPenn where she studied International Relations. After school, Annabel joined The Baupost Group in Boston as a Public Investment Analyst. In 2022, Annabel moved to London to pursue an MSc in Global Politics at the London School of Economics. Annabel will be spending this upcoming summer at the US Treasury Department in the Office of International Affairs. 

If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive, real or not) who would they be and why?

Ware: First I’d say Catherine the Great. I was first introduced to her through this Hulu show called The Great that came out a couple years ago – it’s dark comedy and historical fiction all wrapped into one. It tells the story of how Catherine married into the Russian royal family, eventually coup’ed her husband, and became one of the country’s greatest tsars. What I really liked about the show, beyond its humor, was that it showed just how insane her life was when you stop and think about it. It's so easy to think about history as inevitable. But in reality, there's so many different potential outcomes. Being a woman in the 1700s and doing what she did is really mind-blowing and anything but inevitable. She’s clearly got a lot of zest, and I think it would be really interesting to hear about her life and era over dinner.

Next one is Albus Dumbledore. I’m a big Harry Potter fan, but the funny thing is I didn't actually read the books until I was 18. I tore my ACL playing soccer in high school, so during my recovery I had nothing better to do but read all the Harry Potter books. The only problem was that all my friends went through their obsession phase when they were 12, and I was 18! I'm still in my honeymoon phase – I visited a number of the film sites in Scotland and London when I was living there. Anyways, I think Dumbledore would be a hilarious guest. He's obviously brilliant, and hopefully we could go to Hogwarts together. 

And lastly, Amal Clooney. I think she’s the epitome of grace and I respect her so much. She’s had such an amazing career in service of others and making the world a better place. And she does it with such class. If you can craft a life like hers, you’ve crushed it. 

What book, movie, or piece of art has had a meaningful impact on you and why? 

Ware: So the answer to this actually isn't Harry Potter! There’s a book called The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich I read during the pandemic. It’s a very introductory book that starts with early cave art and ends around the 1950s. I had very little exposure to the art world previously, but with this book I felt like I was able to get my bearings pretty quickly. What I’ve appreciated most about it is how it’s improved my understanding of not just art and architecture, but also history and how people who lived through major events interpreted them at the time. As a big history nerd I don’t know how I didn’t realize this earlier, but art is a really unique visual record and I’m really thankful to Gombrich for pulling back that curtain for me. 

And on a broader level, I think this book also taught me the power of having a little help when developing a new interest or skill. I found myself surprised at just how quickly one book can break down intimidating barriers. It’s like jumpstarting a car – once you get through the tough part of starting up the engine, you can start driving and you build momentum quickly.

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life? 

Ware: After I left my job in Boston I got to travel alone for a few months before starting graduate school. I’d never traveled by myself before, and I hadn’t realized until then that I always just went with the flow in groups and rarely voiced my own preferences. But when you’re by yourself, you’re forced to actually think about what you want to do. At this point I discovered I like being unreasonably slow and thorough when I’m doing something I enjoy. I love wandering around cities to the point of exhaustion and taking my time when I’m in a restaurant or a museum. The process of determining what I truly like doing and then acting on it has been a massive value add. Once you start being honest with yourself about what you want, you can start doing that in all aspects of your life. And I think that’s how you live a really happy life.

What impact has your childhood had on the person you are today?

Ware: Wisconsin is a really special place to me. I spent most of my life there until I went to college in Philadelphia. Wisconsinites are so friendly and easy going. I feel really lucky to have grown up in a place with that ethos. I try to take that with me wherever I go. 

What was somewhat unique about my experience there is that my family doesn’t have multi-generational roots in Wisconsin. Even though we moved there when I was very young, my dad is from Brooklyn and my mom grew up in Switzerland, so we were like newcomers in comparison. At the same time I had my aunt and uncle in Cairo and Mumbai, and my grandparents were still in Geneva. Having family in different locations made these places feel a bit closer and more accessible, and I think that’s what triggered my interest in international relations at a young age. So I’m really grateful for that blend of immediate homeyness in Wisconsin with some simultaneous exposure to other places around the world.

Jay Bhandari (MBA ’25) is originally from Houston, Texas. He graduated from Georgetown University in 2018 with a degree in Economics. Prior to the HBS MBA, Jay worked in operations at thredUP in San Francisco. 

Sam Berube (MBA ’25) is originally from Dover, Massachusetts. He graduated from Brown University with an honors degree in International & Comparative Political Science in 2019. Prior to his matriculation at HBS, Sam worked in corporate strategy at the McDonald's Corporation in Chicago, and for BCG in Boston. He is also an avid landscape and wildlife photographer.

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