Campus Chronicles: The Harbus
Hello and welcome to Campus Chronicles, a weekly feature where we delve into the news as told by the students at top business programs. This week we check in on students at Harvard Business School by reading their student publication, The Harbus.
On the heels of the HBS Entertainment & Media Summit, The Harbus spoke with Alan Horn (HBS ’72), the newly appointed Chairman of Walt Disney studios. Horn has a long history in the entertainment business, having served previously as the COO of Twentieth Century Fox, and he said that learning to defend business ideas in the “cauldron” of case-method instruction at HBS has benefitted him immensely throughout his career. Bestowing a piece of management advice to current HBS students, Horn said that it’s critical to understand the tipping point at which career success, usually determined by superiors, is determined instead by the effectiveness of your subordinates. While noting that entertainment industry-inclined MBA graduates must grasp of the technological changes occurring in the film industry, he also alluded to his love of the creative side of his business: his proudest moment, he said, was supervising the Harry Potter film franchise.
The Harbus also spoke with Lily-Hayes Kaufman (HBS ’09), a former commodity derivatives trader turned Executive Producer of the NBC TV show SMASH. Likening the fast paced environment of the entertainment world to a trading floor, Kaufman said that Professor Anita Elberse’s Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries (SMICI) course helped her manage making this professional transition. Elbertson is renowned for her work on digital-media strategies and is one of the youngest tenured professors in HBS’s history. In addition to this marketing knowledge, Kaufman also emphasized the operational and logistical challenges posed by film or TV production.
Finally, Harvard College is known as the epicenter of one popular social networking phenomenon, but now a group of MBA students want to beta-test their own social network, BuildAFlock, just across the Charles River at HBS. The website automates the process of organizing and booking small group dinners, a popular social activity at HBS. It generates revenue by charging a flat fee per guest to participating restaurants—which costs them money, but also helps them fill seats during off-peak restaurant hours. The BuildAFlock team has plans to extend the business beyond HBS and into the office cubicles at large companies, where busy co-workers could benefit immensely from a hassle-free way of organizing company outings.