Like many, David Tatge ‘94 has watched a loved one face declining health while navigating a vexing and outdated government infrastructure in order to receive proper care.
“As my mom got older, she dealt with both mental and physical illness, and relied on government programs to get by,” Tatge recalls. “She spent many hours going from doctors to community organizations to government offices, struggling with paper-based recordkeeping and living in the expensive alternative financial world of check cashers.”
When Tatge came to Kellogg in the early ‘90s, he knew he was gaining an elite-level learning experience to help him in business, but had not yet considered applying these skills to solving some of the problems his mother faced toward the end of her life. Before he turned his professional expertise into social impact, he spent several years in the product development and management, data-driven marketing, analytics and technology fields. In his most recent role as managing director for financial technology startup DISC Holdings, Tatge built mobile-based networks that enable a secure exchange of data while reducing costs, improving security and allowing individuals to control the ownership and use of their transaction and identity information.
“Specifically, DISC develops and deploys technology for governments to help them be more effective at managing public benefit programs for at-risk and often financially excluded citizens, and reduce the cost of distributing benefit funds,” he explains. “DISC takes advantage of two trends: The near-ubiquity of mobile phones and the furious pace of innovation in financial technology.”
Of course, bringing nascent and rapidly evolving technology to the slow-paced government sector—while also complying with regulations and creating a great customer experience for beneficiaries—has its challenges. Tatge is therefore grateful for the many Kellogg alumni he can turn to for advice and help.
“I look to my classmates for advice, subject matter expertise, introductions and, occasionally, therapy,” says Tatge. “At Kellogg, I thought my fellow students were extremely bright, thoughtful and experienced. But that was nothing compared to the experience, knowledge and wisdom they carry around with them today. It’s quite remarkable.”
As Tatge continues to build networks for a notoriously decelerated industry, as well as maneuver the political turbulence of the policy-making landscape, social impact remains at the forefront of his work.
“For me, it’s about putting the best technology in the hands of those who need it most to help them manage their everyday lives,” Tatge says. “Why shouldn’t those most in need have access to the best solutions we have?”