I’m taking a break from reading cases to write about a few thoughts in my first month. Sitting in Baker Library, I can’t help but to imagine that I’m sitting on the same leather chair on which Jamie Dimon or Sheryl Sandberg may have sat when they were reading cases.
As I took my first step onto campus, I stared at tall rustic buildings etched with names of leaders like Bloomberg and Spangler. Words that came to mind were leadership, politics, and global. The first day I walked into my section classroom, I already saw my name card “Wilson Kyi” in font size 50 bold. Looking across the theater-like room, I saw name cards I could barely pronounce. HBS is diverse in every sense; in addition to industries such as banking, consulting, private equity, and CPG, my section-mates worked in the public sector, the Marines, and healthcare. They are from England, Poland, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Nigeria. It feels like a UN meeting, and every detail from class schedule to the section is precisely planned.
As much as I’m in awe of the environment, part of me was concerned if I would be able to feel comfortable living here and spending so much time with the people I just met. But within a few minutes chatting with section-mates in passing, I knew that most of us were feeling the same way. In fact, within the first few days I had more messenger apps than I’ve ever had in my life. Business school students are very social. We are years out of undergrad, running regional departments or making decisions at the World Bank, but it felt like we didn’t age one bit. Despite everyone’s diverse background, everyone seemed to enjoy the same things… music, dancing, and late night food. Suddenly, it felt more like home. My belief is that HBS is creating genuine experiences. And it takes time, conversation, and vulnerability to build these type of relationships.
Leadership. This is a topic we often talk about, a topic we always think about. At first it’s quite surprising that it appears even in an Operations or Accounting class. It’s subtle, and can take the form of ethics or acting based on one’s moral compass. Most of the time it’s just listening attentively before speaking, even when you have a burning thought. We talk about our feelings more often than I previously thought great leaders would. Perhaps understanding empathy and compassion is our generation’s form of communication. As someone who is fairly logical and data-driven, I find myself grappling with this idea of authenticity. It’s a new feeling, and I’m still learning how to embrace it.
Here’s a question from our first Field course that I’m still toying with, a question that motivates the HBS Portrait Project. Though I may not have a crisp answer by the end of the two years, I hope to find what matters to me while being an authentic person throughout this journey.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” - Mary Oliver, The Summer Day