Category Archives: The HBS experience

HBS architecture and the latest addition – Tataaaaaaaaaaaaa!

The new Tata building at HBS

The new Tata building at HBS

Just a couple of weeks ago, HBS proudly opened its latest building to the public. The Tata-building (buildings are traditionally named after one of its biggest donors – the Tata Trust donated $50m for the construction of the building) will mainly be dedicated to executive education, which is clearly stated in its very corporate-looking design with tons of glass and shiny bright walls. The same kind of building that is used by a Tata Nano car to drive onto to avoid traffic (at least that’s what happens in the online advertisement – see it HERE). It is the first building in that style on the HBS campus. While the building looks nice, it does not stand out, which I believe to be a missed change. One doesn’t get a $50m donation every year to expand a campus. Continue reading


HBS Professors – Do They Know?

To obvious as a way of entertainment during class...

Too obvious a way of entertaining during class…

During one of the last classes of my fall semester at HBS, we had a Martha-type guest in class (aka the case protagonist – read more about guests at HBS classes HERE). She had attentively followed the class discussion, and as we were about to get into the last 20 minutes of class, it was her turn to take the floor and share her thoughts and reflections on the case and the class discussion. She started by thanking the professor for the opportunity to speak in his class, and then she thanked us, the students, for the interesting class discussion, adding that she was delighted that ‘some of us had actually read the case and that others had taken the effort to read it during the class itself.‘ As I had been ill-prepared for that class and had read most of the case during class, I kind of felt targeted. But most of all, her comment made me wonder about something bigger: “DO THEY KNOW?” Do HBS professors notice all that’s going on among students during a typical 80 minute HBS class? Because in all honesty, it’s not all about paying attention… Continue reading

HBS breaks – Work hard OR play hard

HBS Break classroomThe HBS MBA consists of a full-time 2-year program – but full-time only means so much. The 2 years spent getting an MBA degree include a couple of breaks. To some, the breaks are more important than the actual time spent in HBS classrooms. Find an overview of the 3 types of breaks found at HBS and their specificities below. Continue reading

Rating the HBS MBA student – survival of the whole herd

The real HBS exam - getting in!

Getting in – The real HBS exam

Exams and schools seem to be fully interlinked, and HBS is no exception to that. At the end of each semester, students are to complete a set of tests to determine their grades. Most exams are based on a HBS case study for which students receive 4 to 5 hours to read, analyse and write an answer to the case. Some professors at HBS do not organize exams but require students to write a paper related to the class topic. Exams or papers alike, the students’ performance on these tests along with the quality of their class participation during the semester will determine their final grades. Continue reading

HBS Spotlight series – What job are students hiring HBS for?

Clay Christensen - Is he what students are hiring HBS for?

Clay Christensen – Is he what students are hiring HBS for?

In my first months in school, now a bit more than a year ago, I had the opportunity to attend a talk from Clay Christensen at HBS (see him in action on another topic in a TEDx-talk HERE). He is considered one of the star professors at HBS and one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth. One of his messages that really stuck with me, is that when you are selling a product, a service or yourself to customers, other business and friends and family, you have to ask yourself the following question: “What is the job this product would be hired to do?” Or, on a personal level, “What is the job my wife/husband hired me to do?”

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Cold feet for the HBS cold call – a survival guide

cold_feetThe MBA program at HBS is fully case-based. Students prepare a case up front and discuss all aspects of the case in class. The professor has the role of facilitator and specialist. As these discussions are such an important part of the teaching method at HBS, students’ grades depend heavily on class participation. Most of this class participation is on a voluntary basis, as students get called on after raising their hand. There is however one exception to this rule – the HBS cold call. Continue reading

The offline MBA – survival through differentiation?

The HBS campus of the future?

The HBS campus of the future?

As I am sipping on a coffee in one of a major coffeeshop’s chain stores, I realize that an internal meeting of that coffee shop is going on next to me. As a business school student, I was too curious not to try and pick up part of the activity and the conversations. It seemed that four persons were receiving training. I was impressed by the format and the professionalism of the meeting. The person I identified to be the instructor was sharing Starb…  the coffee shop’s values and priorities, and its key focus on customer happiness. As they discuss these topics, they get interrupted occasionally by another employee, bringing them all kinds of cakes and snacks. As the trainees try the snacks sitting in front of them, they discuss their taste, their content of the cake and their texture. They even discuss what drink some of these snacks would fit best with. And the discussion is quite lively I have to say. I am really impressed when the instructor asks each of them what an ideal snack would look/taste like to them. Now everybody gets really exited and launches ideas back and forth. The employees seem really involved.

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HBS BalanceThe new HBS students have arrived on campus! As a second-year student (EC), I am amused by seeing the ‘freshmen’ (RC) stroll around campus, eagerly discovering all the ins and outs of life at the Harvard Business School. And as RCs and ECs mingle on a sunny afternoon on Spangler lawn, they enquire each other using a set of seemingly standardized questions; “Where are you from?”  “What did you do before B-school?”  “Any advice on being more efficient in preparing cases?”. However, compared to last year, a new question has made its appearance in discussions: “What do you think about these New York Times (NYT) articles on HBS?”  It seems to me that the NYT has strategically chosen the start of the new academic year to publish two articles on gender and social class gaps at HBS (find links to NYT articles here: Gender and Class). Both articles seem to have caused some controversy.

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The HBS tag (summer) cloud

HBSSummerCloud2I had the best of summers this year. Although I have been working with almost no interruption for the last three months, I have enjoyed every second of it. I am wondering though if my summer was representative of what a typical HBS summer looks like. So instead of giving a full report of my summer, I’d rather give an overview of how my fellow section mates felt about the HBS summer. Continue reading

HBS electives – how to impress the machine, not the humans…

The HBS electives wheel of fortune...

The HBS electives wheel of fortune…

Summer is slowly coming to an end – my life as a second-year HBS student is about to start. Those who think that after having spent one year at HBS there are much less uncertainties concerning the upcoming year are wrong. It’s mid-August, and I have no idea what to expect from my upcoming academic experience.

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