BOSTON—"Who is the average user of Cityville?" asked Harvard Business School associate professor Misiek Piskorski, as he taught a case study he had cowritten on Facebook, social networking, and one of the games people play on the popular site.
He was posing the question to an enthusiastic group of 82 rising college seniors who were recently on the HBS campus in Boston for the School's Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP), a one-week management training program designed to increase diversity and opportunity in business education.
A flurry of hands went up in one of the horseshoe-shaped classrooms in Aldrich Hall. The student Professor Piskorski picked to answer gave a well-prepared and enthusiastic response, saying that his mother played the game, often as a way to connect with her friends and acquaintances. The rest of the 80-minute class engaged many other students in the discussion, homing in on Facebook's features, user demographics, the rising tide of competition, and ways the site could make money. Two other classes and a presentation on MBA admissions followed before the participants headed for dinner and preparation for the next full day of classes, panels, and other activities.
An annual offering at the School for 30 years, this unique educational experience helps a select group of college students develop a broader understanding of the numerous career options offered by the MBA degree, the challenges business leaders face, the many dimensions of the business world, and the impact they can have on their community and the world through business leadership.
All students live in a dormitory on the School's 40-acre campus, analyze and discuss HBS cases that present them with real management situations and decisions, work together in study groups, and attend classes taught by HBS faculty members. This year's curriculum included cases on LeBron James, the cola wars between Coke and Pepsi, Zipcar, Hulu, American Express, the Chinese economy, and the Greek financial crisis. As usual, a full slate of activities also took place outside the classroom, including social events and panel discussions with current HBS students and SVMP alumni.
Admission to SVMP is competitive and based on academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, and personal characteristics.
Participants are selected based on academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, and personal characteristics, and they are expected to take part in the entire program. Courses in the field of business are not necessary for selection.
In keeping with SVMP's objective of promoting educational diversity and opportunity in business leadership, additional criteria to be considered, among others, are whether the applicant is:
In addition, SVMP participants must be employed in a summer internship and be nominated by and have sponsorship from their company or organization. Sponsoring organizations can include public or private companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
Watch the videos below for interviews with two of this year's participants.
SVMP program inquiries:
Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 200 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 80 open enrollment Executive Education programs and more than 60 custom programs. For more than a century, HBS faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching to educate leaders who have shaped the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.