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On the record with future Corp CEO Mike West
Future Corp CEO Mike West sat down with the Voice to discuss his Corp experience and visions for the future. Interviewed and transcribed by Soo Chae.
Voice: How do you feel about your Corp experience? How did it shape your life at Georgetown?
West: It has completely changed my Georgetown experience. It defined it, really. I’ve met new friends—some of my closest friends are from the Corp. I’ve had new experiences. I’ve been part of a business that I never would’ve been a part of. Like right now, I’m in charge. That’s silly. The fact that I’m in charge. I’m still a little confused about that. [Laughs.] So of the things I’ve done at Georgetown, the most meaningful was being a part of the Corp.
As the new CEO, how do you feel? What’s your biggest fear?
It’s a little overwhelming. Right now, I was just selected last week, so this week has just been a bunch of meetings, training, shadowing Alex [Pon, COL ’12], the old CEO. I officially start March 1. My biggest fear is looking back and realizing a year from now that I didn’t do everything that I could have done. Right now, coming in fresh, I’m excited, but I don’t want to be a year from now, in a position where I say, “Shoot, I really should’ve.”
What are some specific changes that you want to bring?
I think this past year the Corp has started to do something very important in terms of their Service and Outreach Committee and the Philanthropy Committee. The Corp is more than just grocery stores and coffee shops; the problem is that many students don’t know that. We give back thousands of dollars through our Philanthropy and Service and Outreach Committees, but not a lot of kids know that. So, this past year, the Corp has started to raise the profile of those committees, and showing what we do for the Georgetown community. This coming year, my biggest mission is to really amplify that as much as possible. When they think of the Corp, I want kids to think grocery and coffee obviously, but I also want them to think of giving and caring.
What is your favorite thing about the Corp?
Other than the Corp discount? I love the Corp discount. My favorite part is … it’s just such an experience in every way. I wish I could say there is a favorite part, but it has defined my Georgetown experience. So I’d love to say the people, but at the same time, being part of a growing and a thriving business is just as important aspect. Being behind the scenes in the accounting department, and also making the drinks at Midnight Mug—that’s been an experience that even in the Corp not a lot of kids have, and I’m thankful for that. If I had to pick one, it’s being a part of something real … we’re making real changes on this campus, we’re providing a service to students, and just knowing that the Corp is such a vital part of Georgetown.
How was your experience in Midnight Mug, the center of Lau where students mingle and share their pain?
It’s stressful. I remember saying in my interview for Midnight Mug a year and a half ago—they asked me “How do you deal with stress?” and I said, “Oh, I love working in a hustle-hustle environment” … and I kind of regretted my words. [Laughs]. I was at a power-shift during finals and there were 18 cups flying everywhere. But you grow to love it and get used to it—it’s just a scene, you talk with them … I feel like kids come into Midnight Mug and it’s a break from studying. It’s a break from studying and that’s why I love it when people are like, “Oh, thank God, here’s my coffee!” It’s hard to express … thriving off the stress.
Where do you see this going?
This is the question that my mom asks me all the time. I don’t know, and that’s the scary part. I’m very interested in looking at two years of service after Georgetown, whether it is Teach for America, other volunteer corps, or something like that would be very important to me. I worked in D.C. Reads for three, four semesters, and I found that so important. I want to commit as much as I can … I want to do something service-related for two years and then figure out my future plans. I’d love to just start a coffee shop in a library somewhere though. That’d be great.