Molly Fienning

CEO, Co-Founder of Babiators

“I wish [the MS/MBA] existed before I started my business. Learning the core skills on the business side while also learning the core skills of analysis and technology on the computer science side would have been invaluable…A dream program.

After graduating from the SEAS Electrical Engineering and Computer Science program in 2002, where she focused on social engineering, Molly worked in the tech world at IBM before life took her to a Mississippi military base. A tech career was no longer an option in the rural setting, but she couldn’t shake her natural entrepreneurial drive. When she saw all the Marine pilots’ kids squinting in the sun while their moms and dads stood protected and stylish in their aviator sunglasses, the idea for Babiators—safe, stylish, durable kids’ sunglasses—was born. While Babiators may not be a technology venture at its core, Molly has applied everything she learned at SEAS to make it a success.

“What I loved about the [SEAS] program was that it taught you about problem solving more than any trending coding language. How do you attack a large problem and break it into smaller, more manageable problems? You can take the mindset and algorithms you learned and apply it to a wide range of challenges in whatever field you enter.”

Molly used this approach to answer Babiators’ business questions — from market viability and price point to customer service and brandbuilding. Today, Molly and her co-founders have sold over 1.4 million pair of Babiators globally, leading Forbes Magazine to name the company one of America’s 100 Most Promising. Like many founders, she credits the network of friends and mentors for helping them get where they are.

“All four [Babiators co-founders] attended Harvard together. You see that a lot at this university…students going into business with other classmates and freinds. While at Harvard, you can build a great network of peers and professors who share or complement your vision, background and mindset. Our friends have been instrumental in spreading the word, connecting us with press sources and introducing us to supply or organizational best practices. One of my co-founder’s Harvard roommates, Dave Gilboa, is the founder of Warby Parker. When we launched, he gave us pieces of advice on the eyewear industry that we wouldn’t have considered ourselves.”

Molly’s experience at SEAS provided her the tools needed to launch Babiators. And she sees great opportunity for more exicting innovativation coming out of the MS/MBA program.

“Something I found fantastic about the program at SEAS was the experience working on projects that were pioneering and fresh—not well-trodden. That’s what energizes me personaly, and what I find exciting about this new [MS/MBA] degree. Transforming ideas into thriving businesses and figuring out disruptive solutions to existing problems.”