Lauren Westbrook-McIntosh was feeling overwhelmed. It was her first year at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Final exams were looming, and everyone was exhausted. As her accounting study group was shutting down for the night, she confessed that she still was having difficulty mastering the material. Then a fellow student, who had finished her own practice problems, cheerfully said that she would be staying up for another whole hour, just to make sure Westbrook-McIntosh felt prepared.
“It was such a foreign idea — that someone who was going to be taking the exact same test would be so willing to help me,” marvels Westbrook-McIntosh, MBA ’12. “I had grown up with this idea that tests are competitive and that when you are taking an exam, it’s you against the rest of your classmates. But at Stanford GSB, that was not the case.”
Today, Westbrook-McIntosh is the head of global marketing for Facebook Blueprint, a program that teaches best practices to businesses that want to advertise on Facebook and Instagram. She has never forgotten what she learned that night and experienced throughout her time at Stanford GSB: “When you openly share the things that you are struggling with and then see how accepting and helpful people can be, that makes a huge impression,” she says. “I think the most important lesson I learned at Stanford GSB was the power of vulnerability.”
Westbrook-McIntosh has been interested in how human beings interact with one another since her days as a social anthropology major at Harvard College. After graduating in 2007, she founded her own business, Westbrook Strategies, which initially was aimed at helping high school seniors get ready for college interviews. Before long, she was working to instill confidence in adult clients facing business presentations and social engagements. She thought that earning a business degree from an entrepreneurially minded university like Stanford would help her to build the enterprise even more.
Besides running her own business, Westbrook-McIntosh has held several full-time positions in marketing and communications since graduating, including a two-year stint as a brand manager at Bigelow Tea and various roles at Facebook. Wherever she’s gone, she’s tried hard to be her authentic self, just as she was at Stanford GSB.
“Amongst my colleagues, and especially in my management of teams and individuals, I make a point of consistently sharing tough experiences that I have learned from and things that I currently am working on, and then I ask questions that bring out the same in others,” she says.
Invariably, those conversations strengthen the bonds between Westbrook-McIntosh and her co-workers, making for not just happier individuals, but also a healthier team on the whole.