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HBS MBA Executive Director Weighs In On Hiring Of New Gatekeeper

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Harvard Business School (HBS) yesterday announced Chad Losee (HBS MBA ’13) as the next managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid—succeeding Dee Leopold, who has held the position since 2006.

Make sure to check out our initial coverage from yesterday for information on Losee’s credentials and background.

To learn more about Losee and Harvard’s decision to select him as Leopold’s successor, we spoke with Jana Kierstead, executive director of HBS’s MBA program.

Clear Admit: Dee Leopold has done such a wonderful job with the MBA admissions process at HBS, building a reputation for innovation, transparency and fairness in MBA admissions over the course of her 10 years in the role. In light of that, was there a particular strategy that you employed in conducting the search for her replacement?

Jana Kierstead
Jana Kierstead
HBS MBA Program Executive Director

Jana Kierstead: “We certainly used those tenants as part of the process. We conducted an open search and there were over 100 candidates involved. We hoped the next candidate would embody those qualities.”

She then followed, saying that Losee does possess these qualities and that his experiences as an HBS student would only lead to further improvements for applicants.

For future candidates who fear that the admissions process will return to the opaqueness of pre-Leopold days, before she changed the game with her transparency and direct communication—for now, such fears seem unfounded.

Clear Admit: How important was hiring an HBS MBA for the role?  Was that a prerequisite for the job?  It seems to have traditionally been the case.

Jana Kierstead: “While this was discussed it was in no way a requirement. We spoke to many non-HBS MBAs. As a former HBS student, [Losee] has the ability to know the program and speak to the experience of what it is like to be a graduate. We know that he is passionate about HBS and business education.”

It should come as no surprise that HBS chose to hire an alum for this position, as the insider knowledge of the admissions process certainly has its advantages. At the very least, hiring someone who is already familiar with the admissions process shortens the learning curve in managing the process.

Clear Admit: Given the length of Leopold’s career at HBS, how important was longevity (the likelihood that the person would stick around for the long term) as you contemplated hiring for this position?

Jana Kierstead: “This was not necessarily something we looked for, but you always hope that when you find someone talented they will stay.”

When we mentioned Losee’s age as part of the rationale behind this question, Kierstead commented that while age in no way played a part in their assessment or served as a requirement for the position, his experience as a recent graduate certainly holds value in that he possesses knowledge on the current state of the admissions/financial aid process, which will serve him in practice.

His experience as an observer on the admissions board also grants him unique insight into the admissions process.

Clear Admit: With Leopold remaining part of the admissions team at HBS, in what capacity will she will she be assisting with the transition?

Jana Kierstead: “She will be involved in the transition as needed.”

She added that while Leopold will be there if they need her, the training process and support will be primarily provided by a team of five senior staff members in the MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Office.

Given the stability in HBS’ admissions office, the transition looks to be a smooth one, especially with Leopold providing support.

Clear Admit: Losee has been at Bain & Co since 2014. Has he remained active with Harvard in any way over the last two years since he returned to Bain?

Jana Kierstead: “Yes, he sat on the alumni board, which is a group of 70 alumni who help advise the school, dean and alumni body. He was also involved in recruiting HBS students for Bain.”

Clear Admit: Other than Losee’s work with HBX and Bain, were than any specific accomplishments of his that elevated him above the other candidates for the director of MBA admissions position?

Jana Kierstead: “I wouldn’t say that it was any specific accomplishments, as much as specific qualities and characteristics. He has exceptional interpersonal skills. He is transparent and exudes confidence, which will serve him well in this position. He has excellent analytic and strategic skills. And he has a deep understanding of Harvard’s pedagogy, as demonstrated by his work developing the Disruptive Learning course with Clayton Christensen [HBS professor].”

While it is unlikely to see any noticeable changes immediately, we are excited to see where Losee takes things and how HBS continues to evolve the admissions process.

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