Living in America – Obamacare and the government shutdown

Sorry we are closed statue of libertyAs an international student at HBS, I was exited when I found out that my 2 year MBA in the US would coincide with the presidential elections at the end of 2012. The election of the US president must be one of the most covered political events in the world. And on top of that, I was looking forward to being part of the whole craziness leading up to election day: the debates between the candidates, the aggressive adds on TV and the tons of random discussions between people on the street and on campus. I experienced all of it… and loved it.

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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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HBS Summertime – Hot in the cities…

 SummerTimeThe summer at HBS can almost be considered as an integral part of the HBS curriculum. While students are officially on Holiday, the vast majority of of them use these free months of June-July-August to test their newly acquired knowledge in all kind of business environments and cultures – meet the MBA interns! Continue reading

And my winner is… BGIE!?

2013_05 - BGIE podiumMy first year at the Harvard Business School (HBS) is getting to and end. Classes are ending, exams have started and most students have their summers all planned out – a good time to evaluate the classes I’ve had so far.  Continue reading

Class visitors – a long-tail distribution

2013_04 - HBS welcomeAll first-year students at Harvard Business School (HBS) follow the same rigorous program, and they do so in their assigned classroom and with their same section-mates. However, the number of class attendees tends to vary from one class to another. This number can decrease because of absentees, but can also increase thanks to the presence of that special specimen – the HBS classroom guest.  Continue reading

HBS conferences – it’s in the name

2013_03 - EuroConference2013I have a guest staying at my place this weekend – a friend pursuing a PHD in Chicago who flew to Boston to speak at a scientific conference. And as I was heading to the Harvard European conference myself (as an attendee however, not a speaker), I reflected on the multitude of conferences going on in Boston and at Harvard every weekend. I counted 24 conferences this academic year at the Business School alone. Topics range from the Retail and Luxury Conference over the Design Conference to the Latin America Conference. Competition is fierce – this weekend, attendees had to choose between the European or the overlapping Venture Capital and Private Equity conference. Seems to me like an ideal moment to reflect on Harvard’s ‘conferencitis’.  Continue reading

The art of doing business – Only in the US?

20130220-003733.jpgI have been amazed with the American art of doing buiness again in the last couple of days. Even blizzard Nemo, who covered the whole Boston area with 2 feet of snow overnight, created immediate opportunities for making money. The day after the storm, when most streets were still covered in snow, I noticed a ‘Dig me out! 50$’ (with a phone number to call if you wanted the job) sign on top of a pile a snow, most likely covering a car of sorts. As I was taking a picture of it, a guy came up to me asking jokingly: “You’re not going to send that picture to the IRS, are you?” After I assured him that I wasn’t going to cost him any money, I asked him if volunteers had shown up for the job. “I just got hired to get it done,” he replied. I smiled. “Good luck!” I said, before continuing on my walk. The forces of nature had led to creative job creation within hours. Only in the US? Continue reading

HBS routine – or not quite?

Cold and snowy Boston

Cold and snowy Boston

The start of my second semester at HBS has been harsh. I expected the start of classes last week to be a nice experience, where I would slip back in my controlled routine I had established in the first semester. It turns out however that prepping cases after a well-deserved 6-week break is harder than I had expected. Continue reading