Anand Mehta ’90 is the Chief People Officer at Compass, joining the company in August 2020 after 12 years at Bridgewater Associates.
He attended Yale University, graduating with an B.S. degree in Applied Mathematics. He also holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
What have you been up to since graduating from MPA?
It has been quite an adventure! After MPA I attended Yale, where I took advantage of the full course catalog. After graduation I spent five years in banking and technology consulting, returning to Chicago for my MBA at Northwestern.
Interestingly, I met a fantastic startup founder in my first quarter at Northwestern who convinced me to pause my MBA and join his founding team. It was 1999 and the internet sector was vibrant. I moved to San Francisco and jumped right in. The internet bubble burst a year later. It was a tremendous learning experience and the company eventually had a productive exit.
After business school, I joined Bain & Company as a strategy consultant, where I built the foundations of a general management toolkit. In 2008, I decided to make a risky move and became an executive at Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world. Over the following 12 years, I managed teams in our portfolio and trading groups, implemented trading platforms, and eventually broadened my experience to include legal, regulatory, security, and talent management.
“I believe that if you want to solve really hard problems, you have to work with others. MPA provided me an opportunity to build relationships with many different types of people.”
At Bridgewater, we spent a tremendous amount of time as line managers thinking about people, performance, and development. These topics are near and dear to my heart and it was a natural transition into a human capital role.
In 2020, I decided it was time to get back to an earlier-stage, hyper-growth company. I joined Compass as Chief People Officer that summer. I would never have imagined that I would one day join a new company remotely during a pandemic and help it navigate through an IPO, all while trying to be a great husband and dad.
When you think back to Morgan Park Academy, what comes to mind?
It is very hard for me to separate MPA from my early life. Many of us literally grew up in the halls together. For me, it isn’t the sports or the academics, but the people. I remember many of my classmates fondly. It is a pleasant surprise to me how, after decades, classmates can meet and fall into comfortable, authentic conversations.
Which teachers made the biggest impact on you?
I enjoyed many of my MPA teachers and what they taught me. But if you made me choose, I think curiosity and a willingness to learn new things have really been helpful to me.
For that reason, I think I’d have to recognize Tom Malcolm and Dr. Larry Brown. I can still remember how Mr. Malcolm encouraged me not to memorize things, that I had to learn how to use books as resources to solve problems. That was an early lesson in the value of having good questions and knowing how to find the answers.
Doc Brown also set a great standard in our AP Physics class. We had to solve all the problems from first principles. I recall how, in writing out the solutions, he’d get most of the way down and then he would write “ENUF … ”. I took it as shorthand for “enough; if you’re with me this far, you know how to get the rest of the solution.”
These may sound like math and science examples, but the lessons have been broadly invaluable, professionally and personally.
How did MPA prepare you for success?
It helped for two reasons. First, as I mentioned, it taught me how to learn and grow as a person and professional. Second, it provided an opportunity to build relationships with many different types of people.
I believe that if you want to solve really hard problems, you have to work with others. We all have strengths and weaknesses and, if a diverse group of people can productively collaborate, they will be able to achieve something much greater than any individual.
Most of the recent research shows that collaborating well requires trust and vulnerability. MPA provided that opportunity for me.
What are your fondest memories of MPA? Any good ones from the basketball team?
Oh, I remember playing in that summer league against King and every single one of them dunked on us. They had an eighth-grader who was almost 6 feet 8. It was one of the few times I stood next to someone who towered over me. Their front line was a wall!
I think it’s the relationships that matter most. Maya Angelou had it right: People will forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. For me that’s MPA.
Have you been able to stay in touch with classmates?
Not as much as I’d like, partly because my life and career took me out to the East Coast. I keep in touch with Tom Garza ’90 and I used to be in touch with Laresh Jayasanker ’90 when he was still with us.
Laresh’s funeral a few years ago was a solemn event, but a small cadre of us who attended were able to reconnect. Many of us had known Laresh for as long as we can remember. I am glad that we have those relationships to rely on. It has also been a pleasant surprise to see independent friendships grow between our spouses and children.
If anyone is ever in the NYC or Connecticut area, please reach out.