If the cliché that tall people are natural leaders is true, then it’s no surprise that Dean Gavindane (MBA ’23), who’s six foot five, has founded three successful ventures.
Dean, formerly known as Dean Brown, started out at City College, where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for track and field. He won a full athletic scholarship to St. Francis College, where he finished his bachelor’s degree.
While working as sports coordinator of the Park Slope Armory YMCA, Dean founded SuperMe Performance LLC, a company to recruit and retain sports coaches for independent private schools in New York City. Then, in 2014, SuperMe was acquired by a private equity firm. Meanwhile, Force Athletics, a subsidiary program Dean had co-founded within SuperMe to develop youth sports teams, was gaining momentum. In just one year, its basketball team took third place in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national championships. The firm that had acquired SuperMe spun Force Athletics off into a separate company, and lo and behold, Dean was now the founder of two successful sports ventures. He stayed on as CEO of SuperMe for six years, finally leaving to pursue a Full-Time MBA at the Zicklin School of Business.
Dean sat down for an interview with Zicklin News.
Zicklin News: You’re already the founder of two successful companies. Why go for your MBA?
Dean Gavindane: I consider myself a “guerrilla CEO.” I’ve been learning everything on the job. It’s easy to have a passion for your venture, but when you’re running the business, passion alone won’t get you there. I decided I needed some upskilling.
ZN: Why did you choose the Zicklin School?
DG: I was very impressed by the statistics on Zicklin’s MBA graduates and the companies where they were working. And I already had a relationship with Baruch College as an external vendor — I have a program here called “Bearcat Boot Camp,” an annual 11-week program funded by the Office of Student Life that’s open to all undergraduates. It’s a high-energy fitness program that includes a nutrition component. It’s going into its fourth year now and it’s very successful.
ZN: Why did you choose the Full-Time MBA program?
DG: I really wanted the cohort experience and I wanted to be immersed fully and not get distracted. I also love how robust the resources are in the Full-Time MBA program, especially all the help we get from the Graduate Career Management Center.
ZN: What has been your favorite class so far?
DG: Strategy and Competitiveness, taught by Prof. Helaine Korn, was a real eye-opener. Even though I had started my own company, I never knew about looking at metrics and putting together a mission-driven strategy. I really loved that class. It gave me the ability to look back and analyze everything I had done right and wrong with my company.
ZN: What have been your biggest takeaways from your studies?
DG: The theme of emotional intelligence runs through all my courses — specifically, the idea that you can learn to be more emotionally intelligent, just as you can learn to become a good leader. Also, the importance of teamwork and how to effectively run a team, by providing good feedback that helps the team member develop.
ZN: Tell us why you changed your name from Brown to Gavindane.
DG: “Gavin” is a Scottish word for a rare white hawk, and “dane” means a leader or a clergyman. “Strong leader” is how I interpret my name. Long story short, I wanted to start a legacy. My daughter Gaia, who’s eight months old, is the first natural-born Gavindane.
ZN: What’s next for you?
DG: Right now I’ve put my entrepreneurial venture on pause because I want to become part of something much bigger than myself. I’m really good at the fitness industry, so now I want to learn something else — to lend my natural talents, learned abilities, and past experiences to a large company in an effort to reach and enhance the lives of a wider audience. That’s why I’m super excited about my internship this summer in strategic marketing and business development at 3M, because it’s totally different from what I’ve done so far.