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A Mormon’s New Mission: Apply his JD/MBA to Help a Software Company Grow
By Aisha Mohammed

Shane Hansen, L’09, beams with pride as he completes the paper chase. With him are his wife Carrie and their two children, Ike (left) and Jonah.
Shane Hansen, L’09, beams with pride as he
completes the paper chase. With him are his wife
Carrie and their two children, Ike (left) and Jonah.
At 18, when many of his peers were gearing up for college, Shane Hansen, L’09, was preparing for a two-year mission in Russia. A devout Mormon, he had been assigned to address poverty through spirituality and social work in Chelyabinsk. Each day, dressed in an unassuming white shirt and black pants, the Book of Mormon in his hand, he would walk the streets and talk with people about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Often he visited with people in their homes to continue the conversations and was struck by the poverty he encountered. Witnessing six to twelve people living in a one-bedroom apartment without sufficient food or clothing was the norm. “It was hard to see so many friends work long hours only to not get paid by their employers,” said Hansen.

Hansen ran into his own troubles in Russia. While evangelizing on the street one day, he was arrested along with his companion. Police detained the pair, checked their background and questioned them about their activities and beliefs. Behind bars, Hansen learned the first of two lessons in Russia that would influence his career path: it was crucial to understand a country’s legal culture when trying to create change.

Some years later, Hansen returned to Russia as a Fulbright Scholar with the same mission of combating poverty, but through the account books instead of the Book of Mormon.

He helped twenty businesses develop strategic plans and identified opportunities for foreign investors to link up with local businesses. However, the exercise was not without frustration because Hansen saw vast potential for agriculture, real estate development and other local business opportunities that were not permissible at the time. In working to grow small businesses, he learned the second lesson that would shape his career: that individuals need to have opportunities to feed their families and make enough money to live.

The two lessons gave birth to a twin interest in law and entrepreneurship and consequently led him to pursue a JD/MBA at Penn. Today, Hansen is applying that dual degree to his work as a financial strategist at Symantec, a software company in Silicon Valley.

At Symantec, Hansen is responsible for building the company by using both his business acumen to cultivate international development opportunities and his legal education to analyze mergers and acquisitions.

Hansen took a calculated risk with his education to get where he is today. Unlike most dual degree students, he waited until his second year at Penn Law to apply to Wharton because he didn’t want to lose track of first-year relationships in both law and business school by following the traditional route of spending the first year at Penn and the second at Wharton.

Hansen, however, was hopeful that Wharton would accept him, in part because of his extensive background in business development. In addition to working in Russia, he had also spent a year working with Chasqui International, a nonprofit focused on micro-enterprise economic development. His work at Chasqui landed him in Bolivia and Peru where he helped entrepreneurs revamp their small businesses and expand them.

“I had business experience on an entrepreneurial level and lacked the formal business education. While the dual degree wasn’t the only route, I felt that it added a top professional education to my experiences and would open doors that might have been harder to get into with only a law degree,” explains Hansen. The MBA risk paid off.

In spite of a double workload, Hansen managed his school life much as he would a business by keeping careful account of his hours and investing them in his top priorities: family, church, profession. “My faith allows me to set priorities and match my time with those priorities,” he says.

Along with building a new career at Penn, Hansen also started building a family with his wife Carrie, whom he met in college during a health service internship in the Dominican Republic. They had their first son, Isaac, during the first summer in law school and their second son, Jonah, at the end of the second year, the day before a final.

“My faith gave me great hope and confidence that I would be able to overcome and grow from the challenges of the difficult curriculum and the balancing act of various family, school, church, professional and other duties,” he says.

For the future, Hansen and his wife are focusing on growth in the home: they are planning to have more children and he is looking forward to the day when he can coach their sports teams.

Law School CV
Member of the Real Estate Club and the Federalist Society
Participant in the Marshall Brennan Moot Court Competition