Brandeis International Business School

A conversation with Deval L. Patrick

The former Massachusetts governor and 2021 Asper Award recipient discusses the future of capitalism

Governor Deval L. Patrick will receive the Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship on April 22.

Governor Deval L. Patrick will receive the Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship on April 22.

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick knows a thing or two about entrepreneurship.

During his eight years in office, Patrick launched initiatives stimulating health care, clean energy and biotechnology. He helped promote international trade and forge stronger ties between the business and startup communities in Massachusetts and Israel. And by the end of his second term, the state ranked first in the nation in both energy efficiency and entrepreneurship, among other areas.

On April 22, Patrick will receive the 2021 Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship. The award is given annually to a person who best exemplifies Brandeis International Business School's values of entrepreneurial spirit and independent thinking.

The event, which is sponsored by the Office of the President and part of the International Business School’s Business of Climate Change program, will also feature a discussion about the future of capitalism between Patrick and Lisa M. Lynch, the Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

In anticipation of the award ceremony, Patrick reflected on systemic inequity, impact investing and the power of collaboration.

What is the most urgent change needed to ensure that capitalism is both vibrant and inclusive?

We need to balance and find ways to address the interests of all stakeholders (workers, neighbors, the planet, as well as owners), not just shareholders. It’s about long-term value, not just short-term gain.

What is the most impactful thing business leaders can do to address systemic inequity and racism in the economy?

Hiring, promoting and recognizing diverse talent is basic. But being anti-racist, as author, professor and activist Ibram X. Kendi has described, is also what leadership requires today.

How do funds like the “impact investing” funds you managed at Bain Capital fit into a more equitable version of capitalism?

Impact investing is about being intentional in driving environmental and social performance. It is, by definition, stakeholder capitalism. Think of it as “the laboratory where capitalists work to reform capitalism.”

Why did you prioritize international trade opportunities for Massachusetts in your administration?

Innovation is central to the Commonwealth’s economy, and innovation is global. Just as there is talent in every domestic community, there is talent, creativity and opportunity in communities around the world. I believe we should open our economic and cultural doors out to the world, not just to each other.

You helped found and served on the advisory board of Our Generation Speaks. What lessons can be learned from the work of OGS?

Collaboration is a powerful, even transformative gene. Not only can it lead to shared prosperity, it can lead to shared understanding and just solutions.