How did you get interested in the SVMP program?
I was referred to SVMP by a friend who had participated in the Program the previous year. I spoke to him about my interest in getting an MBA, and he suggested that I apply for the SVMP Program to gain a better understanding of the MBA experience, and to determine whether the degree was a right fit for my career path.
How was the SVMP experience?
Prior to SVMP, I was interested in pursuing an MBA because it was the suggested next step after my Undergraduate Degree in Business Administration. The SVMP experience allowed me to discover the true value of an MBA, and to recognize how that value could be applied to my passion for Information Technology and International Development.
After having spent one week at HBS following the routine of a full-time MBA student, I became familiar with the classroom experience, the campus atmosphere, the interaction with professors, and the warmth of the admissions staff. I was also introduced to several current HBS students who described their MBA experience as simply “transformational”. Initially, I couldn’t quite understand how a transformational experience could occur in such a structured academic setting.
On my second day at HBS, after having attended a few classes, I began to feel differently. My role in the classroom suddenly changed from passive to proactive as I realized how my perspective on a particular case study could shift the direction of the class discussion. This realization made me feel empowered by my viewpoint, yet humbled by that of my classmates.
In only one week, I got a sense of this “transformation”, and began to imagine how two years of consistent collaboration, motivation and inspiration could make me a stronger communicator and a more analytical thinker both professionally and personally.
Describe the week
When I first arrived at HBS on the Saturday before SVMP, I was greeted by several members of the admissions staff, and later welcomed by a sea of SVMP Alumni during the Kick-off Event. I was surprised to see how many SVMP Alumni returned to campus that weekend to reconnect with old friends and reminisce on their SVMP experience.
Following a weekend on fun orientation activities, SVMPers attend their first HBS MBA class on Monday morning. Prior to the morning class session, SVMP students meet with their respective breakout groups, and exchange their ideas on the assigned case to get warmed up for class. Once students arrive in class, they are immediately ignited by the professor’s energy, and are asked a series of analytical questions that challenge their initial viewpoint. Suddenly, the class is filled with hands raised high in the air as the professor selects students to express their view on the case’s topic, which can range from China’s economic strategy, to Exxon’s influence in the oil industry, and even to the approach of certain global leaders as it pertains to their definition of the common good.
Following the day’s class sessions, SVMPers attend various information sessions with current HBS students and staff. Later on that evening, after a long and exciting day of passionate intellectual exchanges, SVMPers change into comfortable clothes, get together with a few classmates, and begin cracking the business case for the next day.
Talk to me a little bit about the classes themselves, how were they different than what you were used to at an undergraduate level.
Through SVMP, I experienced the case method as a basis for the Business education curriculum. Never having had experienced the case method before, I had to quickly adjust to this new way of learning.
The HBS classroom atmosphere was similar to that of a corporate board room, whereby students are encouraged to take on the role of proactive decision makers. The class experience during SVMP differed greatly from what I was used to at the undergraduate level because I felt as though I was practicing in real time what the degree was essentially preparing me for. While I learned the best practices and the scientific formulas as an undergraduate student, the MBA classroom setting at HBS has students combine that knowledge with their experiences to formulate a perspective on complex and controversial business challenges.
In what ways do you think you most personally developed during that week?
During SVMP, I attained a heightened sense of confidence while being surrounded by ambitious and determined peers. As a result, I began to view my personal ambitions through a magnified lens. Before, I envisioned myself working long-term for an Information Technology company, and now I see myself rising as the CEO of a global social enterprise.
Essentially, that one week at HBS allowed me to get to know myself a little better, motivated me to work a little harder, inspired me to listen a little better, and empowered me to speak a lot clearer.
What do you think prospective candidates should know about the program?
Prospective candidates should consider the SVMP Program with an open mind. They should recognize it as an opportunity to grow intellectually and professionally, while connecting with driven, accomplished and passionate peers from various ethnic backgrounds, career industries, and personal interests. Interestingly, while being introduced to such a diverse body of individuals, you realize that you have more in common with them than you might have initially thought, and you come to find that HBS has selected each participant because they share a common strength.
In addition, prospective SVMPers should also look forward to gaining lifetime friends and potential business partners, all the while growing within a large network of successful SVMP Alumni that are positioned around the globe.
What would you say is empowering about an MBA in terms of opening up opportunities?
As an aspiring MBA candidate, I believe that the MBA degree demonstrates one’s commitment to investing in their intellectual growth and career progression. This pledge of determination and dedication, as viewed by potential employers and business partners, is an indication of the individual’s potential to be a valuable contributor to the growth and development of organizations and companies worldwide. Such a strong disposition can open opportunities that even you might not have imagined for yourself.