Andrew Richter (PhD ’79, Sociology)

What did you study at Yale, and what is your current profession/job?

In “semi-retirement,” I currently run my own boutique management consulting firm, specializing in compensation, benefits, and HR strategy. I spent the bulk of my career in these areas. Prior to my current position, I held HR executive jobs at NBC Universal and IBM and was also a partner in the global consulting firm, Towers Perrin (now Willis Towers Watson). In addition, I am both the Treasurer and Foundation Chair for Hudson River HealthCare, an organization that currently delivers quality medical, dental, and behavior health services to over 150,000 medically-under-served patients in the Hudson Valley and Long Island. Last, I serve as the Chair of the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association.

At Yale, I received a PhD in Sociology, but my thesis committee was quite inter-disciplinary, composed of two sociologists, one economist, and one political scientist. I received my degree in 1979.

What do you like most about your current role? What do you find most challenging and/ or rewarding?

I like the independence of my current consulting role. I really like the feeling that I’m giving back something important to the community with the work I’m doing at Hudson River HealthCare and at Yale.

How did your time at Yale shape your career trajectory?

My inter-disciplinary work at Yale gave me tremendous confidence that I could take on complex subjects and issues outside of my individual areas of expertise. My career since leaving Yale has been anything but linear and I’ve always felt ready to take on new challenges and to accept risks.

What are the main skills that you acquired as a PhD student which help make you successful in your current career?

I learned to carry out quantitative and qualitative research in a disciplined way, to communicate complex ideas in straightforward and understandable manner, and to work with others to get things accomplished.

Did you acquire any professional experience related to your line of work while in graduate school?

My doctoral research field work (involving over a year spent in Trinidad and Tobago) prepared me well for the business world as I often had to negotiate, persuade and convince others to cooperate with my research (on the sensitive issue of foreign investments in developing countries).

What advice would you offer humanities PhDs who are interested in your line of work?

A) Don’t get too hung up on your first job. It’s not the same as your career. Increasingly, your first job is nothing more than what you’re doing between the end of your formal education and the start of your second job
B) If you really want to make God laugh, show him (or her) your career plans.
C) There are still great opportunities in this world for people who know how to think, communicate, and learn that go well beyond their field of study.