Joe Ballou '06
What is your current job?
I am the co-founder and CEO of an educational games studio. We develop games, technology and curriculum to help history teachers personalize relevant learning. I lead the company's strategy, financing, operations and marketing efforts.
Why did you choose this profession?
I joined Teach for America and taught for four years in low-performing schools in the Bronx. I discovered how powerful games could be for changing the experience and outcomes of learning in the classroom. By 2011 I wanted to spend all my time developing game-based resources that delivered on this promise and given my entrepreneurial instincts and I chose to do so by starting my own company.
What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?
I want to radically transform the learning landscape across this country, so that the next generations are composed of better communicators, critical thinkers, creators and global citizens.
Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.
I chose to delay entering the traditional work force immediately after college, and spent the first year after Haverford traveling to different countries (Peru, Central America, Kenya, Pakistan and India) doing volunteer work and exploring. This was in spite of not getting a Watson Fellowship which was my #1 dream during my senior year. I'm glad I made the chose to travel widely because it helped me mature and gives me perspective on the world that serves me every day.
How has Haverford influenced your professional career?
To me, the Haverford brand in the real world signifies two things: integrity and intelligence. As I've worked internationally, in the Teach for America network, in struggling communities and as an entrepreneur, these are the assets I have and the values I work hard to project. More importantly, these are what I consistently encounter and expect from my fellow Haverford alums. The Honor Code has fueled my courage to confront others, though not all the time, when confrontation is needed. The political science degree, distribution requirements, and resources from the CPGC have given me knowledge of the world that consistently informs how I think and make decisions. I wish that Haverford had given me more guidance on the importance of technology and finance in the workplace, so I could have prioritized learning more of this domain knowledge either at Haverford or at least earlier as a professional. Nevertheless, I'm pleased with the opportunities Haverford gave me to learn to serve and to lead, and these are skills and dispositions that have and will continue to drive my career.