“I had a funny, checkered route to HBS,” Matt Boys says of his path toward an MBA; and, in some respects, it’s true. He edited the music section of the school paper at the London School of Economics and helped run a student nightclub, booking bands from the U.S. In his first year out of college, Matt continued his music trajectory, getting a job as a booking agent in London.
But, Matt says, “the day-to-day work of a booking agent just wasn’t that interesting” and, in a journey more familiar to nascent business leaders, he looked for opportunities in technology. In the London offices of eBay he “crunched data about site users” for about nine months, then transferred to Skype as a business analyst. “It was a fun company to work for,” says Matt. “We had a flat hierarchy – you could talk to anyone in the company. We had the freedom to come up with ideas.” The experience encouraged him to stay in the tech industry, particularly in “fast-growing start-ups with small team dynamics that push you to come up with new things.”
The right way to train your brain
“A common theme for non-engineers in technology is to get an MBA,” Matt explains. HBS attracted him because it offered the “best combination” of three things he wanted: a strong peer network, foundational business skills, and “an environment conducive to the entrepreneurial spark.”
Matt believes the fixed curriculum of the RC year enhances relationship-building. “While other business schools let you choose your courses in the first year, it tends to form groups of similar people,” he says. “The section allows you to build up a much more diverse kind of network – not just people interested in what you’re interested in. That’s a real strength.”
Regarding the acquisition of skills, Matt admires the cumulative power of studying numerous cases. “You train your brain to think a certain way, to take a limited set of incomplete information and work forward in the best way possible. HBS does not teach answers to problems, but gives you tools you can use to solve many different kinds of problems.”
And entrepreneurship? Matt went hands-on in Chongqing where his FIELD 2 team reviewed plans for a hotel that wanted to create the right kind of experience for a growing market of professionals. “The local market already had plenty of dance clubs and private membership clubs,” Matt says. “We felt there was a gap that could be filled with an upscale lounge targeted to middle-class, older professionals looking for a place to go with their colleagues.”