Real Humans of Harvard Business School MBA Class of 2022
Hometown: Mechanicsburg, PA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Georgia Tech, Industrial Engineering
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Right after undergrad, I spent two years with McKinsey in their Atlanta office. I then transitioned to lead an LGBT+ rights non-profit in DC for the four years leading up to attending HBS. The organization, Open For Business, worked with business leaders to make an economic case for LGBT+ rights to policymakers in parts of the world where LGBT+ rights are very much challenged (East Africa, Eastern Europe, etc.).
Why business school? Why now?
We’re at an interesting time in history where the role of business in society is being challenged and the assumptions on which we have built our economic system are being questioned. Businesses are under immense pressure to create positive social and environmental outcomes, which is different from the primacy given to shareholder returns over the past 50 years or so. During my time at Open For Business, I saw businesses actually acting on this and using their voices to advance LGBT+ inclusive policies in countries around the world. I decided to attend business school to better understand how firms operate, what systems and assumptions underpin their decisions, and how we can rethink those assumptions to create a more equal and sustainable world.
Why HBS? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
There were three factors that led me to choose HBS (I’m definitely a McKinsey cliché, doing everything in threes!). First and foremost, I had this instant chemistry with the people I met here when I came to interview and fell in love with the energy of campus. My classmates are wildly intelligent and sharp, and a large number of them are truly interested in creating a better world, which surprised me at first. Second, HBS has a number of initiatives focused on business’s role in society, from the Impact-Weighted Accounts Project to the Shared Value Initiative. And third, the case method of teaching was very appealing to me. I typically learn as much from my classmates’ comments as I do from the professors teaching the class, which is a great way to get a wide diversity of perspectives on a topic.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
In classroom case discussions, I try to bring the perspective from my time in the non-profit and human rights sectors to raise questions about the broader implications of a company’s actions on society.
Post-MBA career interests?
As you can probably tell from my answer so far, I’m interested in working with companies on improving their roles in society. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, but I’m interested in non-profits like the B Team, mission-driven companies like Virgin, or even multilateral organizations like the World Bank or UN.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would definitely reach out to my recommenders early. I gave them a few months’ notice to write their letters and provided them with the other information I was including in my application so they could fit into the overall story I was telling.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
To be honest, HBS was the only MBA program I applied to. I applied to a handful of other MS Data Science programs as well. I thought HBS was the only business school I wanted to attend after speaking to friends from a number of different schools. But if I were to do it again, I’d definitely go through the application for more than one business school. I think you learn a lot about the institution during the application and interview process.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GRE (which I took instead of the GMAT)! It felt like I was relearning a lot of random information that I hadn’t had to use in my career just to perform well on a test. But starting early and setting out 30 minutes a day to study really helped me prepare and not cram.
What is your initial impression of HBS’s students/culture/community?
It’s been a great first month. I was nervous about what this year would look like because of Covid, but HBS has handled it wonderfully. There have been plenty of opportunities to get to know my classmates in a safe way, and we’re even taking classes in small “Zoom pods” now as well. Everyone comes from a very different background, so it’s been a lot of fun getting to learn about what everyone did pre-HBS. And the classes are great, even on Zoom. Professors are masters at leading our case discussions and bringing in so many different points of view to reach the best conclusions possible.
One thing you have learned about HBS that has surprised you?
I’ve been surprised at how inclusive they are of partners! My boyfriend came to Boston with me, and he’s been able to join clubs, participate in social events with my section, and he’s even able to participate in a class or two. It definitely makes the experience much better for both of us.
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Definitely Covid. While HBS has done a phenomenal job, there are ever-present doubts that things would be different – and likely better – in a “normal” year. Everyone has been doing their absolute best to create a welcoming atmosphere and plenty of social opportunities, but it’s nerve-wracking thinking about the longer-term impacts this will have on our experience.
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
The people. As I’ve mentioned, it’s been so great to get to know everyone in my section and in the different clubs I’m part of. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and I’m excited to continue building new relationships and friendships.