Monday, June 17, 2013

HBS Retrospective

graduationAfter three long (stuffed startup in between the first and second) years I’ve finally graduated from HBS.  Looking back, it was an unquestionably amazing experience in all of the most unexpected ways.

I originally came to business school for three primary reasons

  • Credibility – HBS is one of the best name-brand degrees out there.
  • Financial Toolkit – I was working on a company with good exit potential and wanted to understand just how to value it (google failed me!)
  • Professional Contacts – I wanted to meet likeminded people and tap into great new professional opportunities.

As it turns out the only thing I really got from the experience that I expected was the financial toolkit.  I learned a TON about how acquisitions are valued in theory (discounted cashflow) as well as reality (market comps and asset values).  However, as an HBS grad I found I had less credibility than when I was a Microsoftie and never ended up leveraging the relationships I developed at HBS for professional reasons (less than 2% of HBS goes into entrepreneurship).

What I did leave the school with were the following:

  • Community – This was the most valuable and surprising to me.  The cohort I came to know and love in both years was truly amazing.  Not only were they the accomplished and ambitious young professionals I expected, but they were incredibly kind hearted and fun loving human beings.  I know that I’ll forever be a part of the the best social club in the world.
  • Nothing to prove – Up to this point I’d always felt like I had to prove myself to society.  Be it by garnering recognition or financial rewards – there was always another rung to climb.  HBS does provide a cloak of accomplishment (you went there?  must be doing something right) universally recognized.  Now I can settle down and do what feels right to me – not society.
  • No Fear – Getting the degree means you never have to worry about money again.  As far as I know nobody with an HBS MBA has struggled to find a job that pays enough to cover basic needs.  It’s a meal card for the rest of my life.  This frees up the rest of my time and risk appetite to do only what I love with no fear.  One of my favorite professors (Shikhar Ghosh) is fond of saying his students have around 2500 weeks to live.  Use them wisely.   

In short, I came to HBS to improve my career and they ended up setting the foundation for the rest of my life.  The last three years will easily be the most transformational in my life, and yet I couldn’t be more excited about the decades to (hopefully) come!