Alumni Q&A / Jared Katseff MUP ’15
Hometown: New Jersey
Current City: New York, New York
Current Position: Senior Associate, McKinsey & Company, Capital Projects & Infrastructure Practice
Other Degrees: B.A. in Finance & Real Estate, University of Pennsylvania; MBA, Harvard Business School
1. What was your work experience/background before coming to the GSD?
For undergrad, I attended University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and majored in Finance and Real Estate. I did my first stint at McKinsey from ‘06-’09, and then worked as a policy advisor at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability. I received dual degrees at Harvard: MUP and MBA.
2. Why did you choose the GSD?
I knew after working in the Mayor’s office that I wanted to learn more about cities, but that I didn’t need a policy focus as much as a design focus. I had no background in design but would see in meetings with the public how many people are visual thinkers and respond to visual arguments.
3. What made you decide to pursue planning as a career?
As I began working with more governments, I started to fall in love with cities and was impressed by how the built environment determines how we navigate cities. For example, when I went to Dubai, I booked a hotel that looked to be right down the street from an office. But when I got there, the street was more or less a highway—no one was walking along it. And then when I got to the building, I was searching all over for the door – it was very hard to find, and was in the back by the loading docks and the parking garage. It was all designed to make it impossible to walk. On the other hand, when I was in Hong Kong I saw how everyone takes public transportation, and it showed how the design of cities can demonstrate what’s successful.
4. What areas in planning interest you the most and how are you addressing them in your career?
I’m interested in transit-oriented development, and how do we change the built environment to promote more sustainable living: moving people away from their cars, towards walking, transit, etc. I try to gravitate towards projects where we are helping cities and countries do just that.
5. Can you summarize the path you have taken since graduation that has led to your current position and how the GSD prepared you for it?
I interned at NY Transit Authority, as well as AvalonBay, a reality development firm to get a good understanding of the sector. Post-GSD, I joined Bloomberg Associates, which works to bring some of these innovative urban ideas to cities around the world. In January 2016, I went to McKinsey.
6. What does your current work focus on?
I work primarily with governments—local, state, and national—to make their transportation systems work better, from the financing side to implementation, design and construction. We focus on how to make things operate better, cheaper, and faster.
7.What’s your favorite memory of the GSD?
Well, when Kanye West visited Gund, it was pretty cool. Also, a classmate had us all make drawings of each other with our eyes closed, and took the drawings and made mugs for everyone – it was a fun time and a nice gift.