• SVMP 2013
  • , MBA Biology

Adham Aljahmi

How did you get interested in the SVMP program?

SVMP website.

How was the SVMP experience?

Eye-opening. As someone who has read the HBS and SVMP website in and out, I found the experience from SVMP could not have been found or replicated anywhere else.

Describe the week

HBS MBA crash course. Every second of the week was filled with something valuable from building relationships with friends to being put in the shoes of some of the biggest decision makers in the world. It was the most well organized week I have been a part of and the lessons and values I learned from that one week alone are greater than months that have gone in the past.

Talk to me a little bit about the classes themselves, how were they different than what you were used to at an undergraduate level.

The case method is not taught at my current undergraduate school. Being part of the case method kept me involved throughout the whole course and gave me more incentive to prepare for each course so that I too can bring value to the days lesson and to others.

In what ways do you think you most personally developed during that week?

Being unofficially awarded the statue of liberty award. I learned to not only voice my opinion but also to listen. While I have heard that before it wasn’t until I got into SVMP that I truly understood the impact of listening.

Les’s example of asking the person you’re talking to “tell me a bit about yourself before we start” and how it allows you to learn 3-4 topics that you can relate to when your speaking later on is just one of the many lessons about how listening as a leader makes a big difference. As co-founder of a start-up I can definitely use these skills the minute I land back in Detroit and get back to work.

What do you think prospective candidates should know about the program?

That it’s not something they can experience anywhere else and the value from it cannot be truly understood until they have went through the program. Even as an Alumni going back I would not have guessed that the experience would be so great.

How have you enjoyed HBS so far, and what’s the experience been like?

Yes! The experience was amazing. I have never seen so much talent from the mentors, students to professors all in one place. That alone bring so much value because each individual can help provide insight that you would have never thought of. Again the experience cannot be understood until you have arrived to HBS. It’s encouraging to see how much effort people put into helping you get to your next goal and even more encouraging to give back to those people and help others who once where in your shoes.

What would you say is empowering about an MBA in terms of opening up opportunities?

For me personally it’s two folds. One is the network. An MBA especially from HBS opens up a network that cannot be found anywhere else. Second it teaches the aspects of business from a theoretical perspective, as an entrepreneur I face the practice of running a business everyday but I never have the time to understand the theory of what I do every day. Les Williams has said that “Who you know gets you in the door”. I’d like to add to it and say with an MBA from HBS “Who you know gets you in the door, what you know keeps you there“

  • SVMP 2009

Emeka Anen

The HBS SVMP experience simply defies words. When posed with the challenge of describing this life-changing week, I can only encourage inquiring parties to do one of two things: either imagine or, if possible, apply. In order to help visualize the experience, I advise friends to imagine expanding one’s depth of knowledge under the tutelage of some of the world’s most accomplished academics, to imagine the many the brilliant (and completely random) conversations that are to be had in the midst of sleepless nights while eagerly preparing for case discussions the following day, and lastly, to imagine the various applications of all of the skills that are to be gained as a result of participation in this program.

Undoubtedly, each scholar will develop his/her own various penchants throughout the week, naturally certain aspects of the program will appeal more to some than others. However, for me this was not so easily distinguishable. Not only was I motivated and gratified by having the opportunity to consistently collaborate with some of the brightest and most ambitious fellow rising seniors in the country, but I was also completely astonished by the ability of the case study method to both navigate the origins of the ZipCar Company and explain the inner workings of the subprime mortgage crisis through the power of enlightened discussion.

Indeed, it is truly programs such as SVMP that allow for a complete undergraduate experience. Although I have been fortunate enough to study and learn in various academic climates, having the opportunity to spend that invigorating week in Cambridge is one that I will forever be thankful for. Regardless of one’s scholastic background, I would wholeheartedly urge any rising senior who feels up to the challenge to apply for this program.

  • SVMP 2008

Roseliny (Rosie) Genao

When I tell others that my one-week experience at SVMP changed my life, I often get incredulous faces. In the summer of 2008, I had the opportunity and the honor to participate in SVMP. It was a transformational experience and one of the highlights of my undergraduate years.

In just one week, I learned valuable lessons in leadership, passion, social responsibility, failure and relationships from both my professors and my peers. Learning through the case study method was new for me. Never before in my undergraduate coursework had I learned this way. Fourteen case studies allowed me to challenge my analytical skills and make complex business decisions under pressure. Some of our professors even wrote the cases we studied! Who better than the case authors themselves to answer our questions?

One of the most important lessons in leadership that I took away was in active listening and participation. In the classroom, we were not allowed to raise our hands until the person speaking was done. We had to listen before making our own judgments. Participation is not only in what you say but also in how you listen, and leaders have a great responsibility in listening to those around them.

I left HBS with long lasting friendships and a renewed sense of self and purpose. That is why I am actively involved with the SVMP Alumni Association. It gives me a chance to continuously build upon my SVMP relationships and contribute to the success of a program that gave me so much.

  • SVMP 2013

Maurice Jackson

How did you get interested in the SVMP program?

Last summer while interning in Boston, I visited Harvard’s main campus and was immediately impressed with the atmosphere. Since then I always had an interest in attending Harvard for graduate school. Once it was official that I would be traveling north to intern in D.C for the summer, I realized it would be a great opportunity to get to attend a seminar or any open event at HBS. While searching for programs to come to the campus during the summer, I came across SVMP. I mentioned SVMP to my mentor, a Kennedy school graduate, and he assured me it was worth applying, so I submitted my application, said a prayer and I’m here.

How was the SVMP experience?

If I could describe the SVMP experience in one word, it would be redefining. Prior to the program I knew that I had a passion for giving back to my community. In one week that passion had been given a light at the end of the tunnel. Coming in I knew the end goal, but this week gave me the path. Throughout the entire program I was being developed not only in my business skills but also in soft skills that transcend into every aspect of life.

The SVMP experience gave me a canvas on which I could paint my future. The courses we took throughout the week pushed me beyond my norm and challenged the way I approached situations. Bonding with my cohort members was the icing on the cake; I definitely gained lifelong friends all with different stories and amazing aspirations. I also learned that sleep is optional when you have big dreams.

Describe the week

Tiring, Life changing, tiring, nurturing, thought evoking, and tiring.

Some days I didn’t know how I made it through without sleeping during lunch breaks. Between three case studies, guest speakers and trying not to let one networking window slip by, there was barely time to think about sleeping. I spent my time making sure that I took advantage of every resource provided to me. Once you become accustomed to the flow of the days you begin to realize what it is you’re willing to sacrifice. In my case, bonding with my SVMP family and making sure I thoroughly understood the cases was much more important than sleep.

Talk to me a little bit about the classes themselves, how were they different than what you were used to at an undergraduate level.

The courses exceeded every expectation I had coming in. The professors truly care for your growth as a person and even took the time to read up on all of us before class. When the professor walked in the room and knew where all of us interned and what we studied, I was blown away. In comparison to the undergrad level, the professors were unmistakably more passionate and commanded your involvement with their mastered knowledge of the subject.

Also at HBS, the classroom was constantly engaging and the professors were more of facilitators for discussion versus lecturers. They encouraged challenging perspectives and made your thought process extend beyond the surface level. The courses were also different because they were case study based, and placed us in a real world scenario that gave your mind the freedom to formulate strategies unlike the traditional “closed” teaching methods used in undergrad.

In what ways do you think you most personally developed during that week?

That week confirmed to me “It is possible”. I gained the understanding that greatness is in everyone, but it takes the technical skills to realize that potential. Usually I hear people speak of how they wish to do something but seldom do they dedicate the time to sharpen the skills that will bring you to your end goal. SVMP showed me that not only is HBS great for sharpening skills but it isn’t some far off and unattainable goal for minorities.

What do you think prospective candidates should know about the program?

I think that prospective candidates should know that this program is not to be taken lightly. You are chosen because you have demonstrated that you have the potential to change the world for the better. The SVMP family clearly expresses the high expectations that are set for you being in the program. SVMP is not a week of relaxation and celebration; you are held to the standard of a HBS MBA student.

How have you enjoyed HBS so far, and what’s the experience been like?

So far I’m stumped as to how the SVMP family will top this year’s program. My experience has been very insightful and informative. I believe that I have had the perfect exposure to HBS to formulate an opinion and get a general feel for grad school. As I self-analyze, I also believe the SVMP investment in me can be identified and I appreciate it for the foundation it has set in my decision-making.

What would you say is empowering about an MBA in terms of opening up opportunities?

I am a firm believer that the presence of a MBA degree may open doors but it will be the knowledge and development you gain from the curriculum that will keep the doors open. The MBA is not a certification of business, but a testament to your ability to innovate and lead. People don’t invest in objects or other people; they invest in beliefs and a cause. To meet that need, a MBA grooms you to effectively identify and move that cause forward through ingenuity.

Consider your end goals to be monuments of your life. Like when building any great structure, construction is a delicate process and will only succeed if you have the right tools when you need them. I view the MBA as your toolbox for your dreams.

  • SVMP 2008

Kati Karottki

Imagine being able to fast forward into the future to see yourself engaging with some of the best and brightest peers and professors that a top business school has to offer; the debates are lively, the arguments are passionate and the experiences shared are invaluable. The weeklong Harvard Business School — Summer Venture in Management Program provides undergraduates with that insightful glimpse into the future.

My natural instinct was to prepare diligently for the weeklong program by analyzing the 15 case studies handed to us on day one. Little did I know that this would not prepare me in the slightest for the amount of personal engagement and growth that would take place on the Harvard Business School campus over one week’s time. In each class the professor orchestrated an invigorating discourse that not only drew upon the students’ recent preparation of a case but also their unique work experiences, eclectic backgrounds, and diverse areas of undergraduate study. The breadth of contribution from students, guided by HBS professors, demonstrated that there usually is no one right or wrong answer but rather always another question to be asked and another avenue to be explored.

Outside of the classroom plenty of fun was had getting to know a group of incredibly talented, bright, open-minded and inspiring individuals — the sum of whose paths has covered much of the globe. Needless to say the experience was a transformational one — both personally and professionally. After being challenged for a week at HBS as an undergraduate, I can say that the arch of my expectations and goals moving forward has never been broader and my passion for achieving them has never been stronger.

  • SVMP 2013

Jorge-Luis León

How did you get interested in the SVMP program?

I visited HBS in March for Prospective Student Day. There I had the opportunity to see the case study method first hand and see the interaction between the professor and the students. I immediately fell in love with it. Later during my visit I learned about SVMP and how it was a program focused on college students from groups underrepresented in business. I thought to myself, this is my chance to experience HBS.

How was the SVMP experience?

The best way to describe SVMP is empowering and inspiring.

The first couple of days are extremely fast paced and you feel like you’re playing catch up the entire time. Between meeting people, settling in, and touring Boston, most of your time is booked already.

Then there were the case studies. We had to read between two and three case studies a night to prepare for class the following day. I remember the first case study was on Airbus, and so working for Boeing I was naturally one of the first to be “cold-called” the first day. I will never forget the moment Dr. Esty got in my face and asked me to make a decision, yes or no. I was terrified.

As the week went on I became more comfortable with the case study method and I also got to know my classmates a lot better. To be quite honest the days flew by without a moment to spare. I always felt like I was talking to someone, whether it was sharing a life story or discussing our life long dreams. Some of my classmates became great friends.

To put it shortly SVMP was one of the best experiences of my life. It changed my perspective on my future and my goals forever.

Talk to me a little bit about the classes themselves, how were they different than what you were used to at an undergraduate level.

The case study method was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The class is set up in a semicircle which faces the instructor and the chalk board. What surprised me the most is that the professor doesn’t lecture you; he or she just facilitates the discussion. It is the students that lead the class with their different arguments, opinions, and points of view. It can be very intimidating at first, especially when you state your opinion and you see the other 80 hands fly into the air ready to argue against it. But as you listen to other people’s point of view, the experience becomes enlightening making you notice things you would have missed otherwise. It is a very interesting learning experience to say the least. You feel like you are absorbing knowledge from those around you and not the professor which is definitely different from the undergraduate experience.

In what ways do you think you most personally developed during that week?

Personally I think I developed my self-confidence a lot. I remember one of the panelists mentioning self-screening as one of the major reasons why people don’t make to HBS. That definitely struck home for me. As I went through SVMP however I learned that I was there for a reason and that I was bringing something unique to the table. I realized that if I set my mind to it HBS and all of my other dreams were possible to accomplish. In a way SVMP helped me overcome the fear of my own potential and the fear of dreaming big.

What do you think prospective candidates should know about the program?

I think you should know that this program will change your life. Honestly, when I read the statements of previous students I didn’t believe it myself. But, after going through it I can guarantee you that you will not be the same once SVMP is over. Another thing to keep in mind is that the time you spend at SVMP is extremely short and you should make the most out of it. Get to know all your classmates, network with alumni and admissions officers, talk to the professors, and remember to have fun. I know it’s a lot to do but you can only do it once so might as well do as much as you can.

How have you enjoyed HBS so far, and what’s the experience been like?

HBS has been amazing. My favorite thing is how incredibly friendly and approachable everyone is here. You can talk to anyone from current students, to alumni, to professors, to admissions officers, to Dean Nohria himself. It was very encouraging to see how easy it was to talk to all of them, and how intently they listened to what you had to say. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined meeting these people and having them actually listen to me. It is hard to describe; it was a mixture of empowering and humbling at the same time.

What would you say is empowering about an MBA in terms of opening up opportunities?

I think what makes an MBA empowering is the networking. Yes you obtain valuable skills that will lead you to make better choices in business and in your career, but in the end it’s really all about the people you meet. I truly learned that during my week at HBS. The doors an MBA can open up for you because of the strong network you have with alumni are unlimited. I remember hearing about it during SVMP time and time again how fellow HBS alums help each other get in contact with the right people, get interviews and even get jobs. In my opinion that’s what makes an MBA so powerful – the people.

  • SVMP 2003
  • , MBA 2010

Venus Miller

How did you get interested in SVMP?

I heard about it through INROADS and knew I wanted to pursue my MBA. This was an opportunity to get an idea of one of the top MBA programs in the world.

Describe what the week was like?

It was amazing. I had heard about the case study method, but after a week of experiencing it hands on I knew I could only attend an MBA program where the case study method was an integral part of their teaching style. It was also a great opportunity to understand the student life (you get to live in the dorm, attend fun events and eat on campus) and meet admissions, financial aid and a few professors.

How would you describe the classroom experience?

Without experiencing it, it is very hard to articulate the case method (another reason I would encourage attendance at SVMP or Prospective Students Day). However, I think one of the brilliant advantages of the case method is that you are able to leverage the knowledge and experience of your classmates so you are an active participant in your learning. Additionally instead of simply teaching business tactics and tools, it uses those tactics and tools as a base and allows you to apply them in a number of different managerial challenges. This more appropriately imitates how you need to use this knowledge in the real world and thus is the most practical way to teach business management. Additionally after analyzing and receiving the perspectives of 90 people for hundreds of different managerial problems your ability to structure and analyze problems is considerably strengthened.

In what ways did you personally develop during that week?

That week exposed me to the reality that I too could attend a top MBA program. The admissions representatives continually reinforced that one of the barriers in increasing minority representation on campus is the fact that many minority students don’t even apply and automatically self select themselves out of the pool. SVMP made me realize how badly I wanted to attend HBS — and more importantly that I COULD attend HBS. It is the only reason I applied — and credit SVMP 100% with the fact that I am here at HBS right now.

How have you enjoyed HBS?

It has been one of the most enjoyable and transformational experiences of my life. I have met the most amazing people, and even after studying business school in undergrad and four years of consulting am blown away at how much I learn every day. There is no way to explain what it is like to have professors that have pioneered many of the critical business concepts you are studying, have class with people that have worked on many of the case issues or worked with the case protagonists, attend conferences and panels with the most influential names in businesses and know that the top names in business are anxiously recruiting you. I find myself analyzing business issues in an entirely different way and cannot overemphasize how intellectually, professionally and socially stimulating this environment has been.

  • SVMP 2013

Tosen Nwadei

How did you get interested in the SVMP program?

Very early on in my undergraduate experience, I saw I was demonstrating strong performance in my academics. I started to research graduate level programs that would assist me in advancing my career, and the Harvard Business School was one of the programs I was considering pursuing. It’s on the HBS website that I first learned of the SVMP program, and for the past 3 years, I was looking forward to an opportunity to apply and participate.

How was the SVMP experience?

SVMP is an invaluable experience. What was most inspiring about the program was the diverse spectrum of students that participated. Students are unique in their undergraduate education, academic institutions, and professional goals/aspirations, but every single student is committed to academic excellence, and it was inspiring to be a part of such an elite group of leaders.

Describe the week

The week is intense. Each student has to determine how to split their time between preparing for the case discussions, meeting and interacting with students, and resting for class the next day. Each student finds their own balance. Towards the end of the day after classes, the program host social events for the program participants to relax and build meaningful relationships. It was great to meet so many awesome people!

Talk to me a little bit about the classes themselves, how were they different than what you were used to at an undergraduate level.

The SVMP classes are quite unlike classes that would be part of an undergraduate curriculum. At the undergraduate level, students are building fundamental skills to become members of the business community, but SVMP allows the Harvard Business School faculty to recognize the emerging leader within the student and facilitate classroom learning via discussion. By taking this approach, an 80 minute class allows you the opportunity to draw on the insight of all of your classmates, many of whom have a considerably different thought process than your own.

In what ways do you think you most personally developed during that week?

I got a better sense of perspective concerning my career. I already knew that I ultimately wanted to pursue a career as a professor, but having 3 classes a day and spending so much time with some of the brightest minds across the country reminded me of how much I love the classroom and why academia is a perfect fit for me.

What do you think prospective candidates should know about the program?

SVMP easily represents my most influential network of business leaders. Within my SVMP class, there are future professors, lawyers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, and the list goes on. I had no idea what that network meant at the matriculation of the program, but I realize now that the caliber of students in the program is quite noteworthy. How have you enjoyed HBS so far, and what’s the experience been like? It’s been quite a privilege to participate in this program. I think what I’ve appreciated most is the genuine interest that everyone takes in my self development. When faculty members say "Reach out to me if you need anything", they truly mean it. There are many questions I still have about my career path, and HBS faculty are helping me to figure some of those things out. It’s great to be able to tap the experience of such incredible professors.

What would you say is empowering about an MBA in terms of opening up opportunities?

I think what’s most important about the MBA is truly learning to think like a business leader. At the undergraduate level, students are responsible for learning fundamental skills, but at the graduate level, students have the capacity to lead organizations, inspire their teams, make the game-changing decisions, and truly serve as a catalyst for positive business performance. I think employers recognize that, and that’s why they allot greater opportunities to individuals with an MBA.

  • SVMP 2011

Naisha Silva

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.

  • SVMP 2013

Kenisha Subero

How did you get interested in the SVMP program?

I learned about the SVMP program through my school’s career services website. My interests were peaked with further research and discovering the success of the individuals that graduated from the program and pursued their MBA’s at the Harvard Business School.

How was the SVMP experience?

It was an honor to even speak to some of the most intelligent and talented from across the country throughout the week. SVMP speaks volumes for the importance of diversity of thought, but also inclusion. This program reinforces the benefit of respecting the opinions of others and understanding the life circumstances that have caused them to form those opinions.

Describe the week

If I can describe this week in one word it will be intense. Upon my entrance into the dorms I was greeted with all of the things you will need for the week including a huge binder packed with about 15 cases, we would be discussing for each class. But interestingly enough, reading the cases was not the difficult part. Forming an opinion on the position you took with each case and defending that opinion was the hard part. That is what occurred during every class. After our day of classes there were different people that came to speak to the class from founder of SVMP, Jim Cash to the Dean of HBS Nitin Nohria. There was also ample social gatherings where everyone learned new things and enjoying great conversations with their classmates. The trade-off was sleep, but losing sleep never felt so good.

Talk to me a little bit about the classes themselves, how were they different than what you were used to at an undergraduate level.

My classes on the undergraduate level have been technical. With forming a technique there usually may be several approaches, but always one right answer. Experiencing the Case Method first-hand allowed us to sit in the chairs of some of the top leaders in business when faced with difficult decisions and try to form an answer that is not always right, and certainly does not lead to just one outcome.

In what ways do you think you most personally developed during that week?

The best lesson I learned this week was to do the things that I am passionate about, but also the things that instill fear in me. Failure is a common fear that prevents people from pursuing their true passion and this week I learned that it is absolutely fine to be scared, but if you are following your heart that is all that matters.

I also learned to be confident in the position I am in. When I first received notice of my acceptance in the program, I looked at the computer screen in disbelief, thinking they must have sent me the email by mistake. It was only until I stepped foot on campus that I realized I deserved to be there and with any path I pursue or get accepted into, I deserve it.

What do you think prospective candidates should know about the program?

Future candidates should know that while conventional methods of learning and education are great, learning by the Case Method is an experience that is partnered with unpredictability and animation within in a classroom. They should come with an openness to new ways of thinking.

How have you enjoyed HBS so far, and what’s the experience been like?

The experience at HBS was certainly amazing. Learning from some of the most distinguished professors, showed how passionate and invested they were in not only teaching, but producing the top leaders in the world. Each professor, speaker, and even the students made sure we left with an understanding of the difficulties leaders are faced with. They also taught us the importance of building our communities and making an effective change in the world.

  • SVMP 2012

Christina Troitino

How did you get interested in the SVMP program?

I saw a previous participant post about it on a social media site and thought that it sounded like an incredible growth opportunity.

How was the SVMP experience?

SVMP was an amazing networking experience. I was exposed to professors and peers who not only taught me about facets of life and business that I had never been exposed to before, but also the program pushed me to expect more of myself in future endeavors.

Describe the week

Action packed! When I wasn’t studying or immersing myself in dynamic, exciting classes, I spent all of my time getting to know the 80 individuals around me. I don’t regret forgoing sleep because these late night talks forged some of the most profound relationships I have garnered in my young adult life.

Talk to me a little bit about the classes themselves, how were they different than what you were used to at an undergraduate level.

HBS classes are interesting because you’re taught and encouraged to respectfully disagree, as we learned that it is in this way that some of the most robust ideas come to fruition. Moreover, being surrounded by people from entirely different backgrounds and interests brought about case solutions that would have never been reached in a more homogenized setting.

In what ways do you think you most personally developed during that week?

From talking to peers and professors about life goals that week, I more closely evaluated my professional goals and consequentially moved forward expecting more from myself. I will never become professionally complacent now that I have a network of such driven people around me, and they give me an incredible amount of inspiration.

What do you think prospective candidates should know about the program?

Some of the biggest benefits of the program are the people you meet, so be sure to keep in touch with the program’s professors and participants once the program has ended.

  • SVMP 2011
  • , MBA Class of (if applicable): 2016

Anthony Tucker

How did you get interested in the SVMP program?

I discovered the SVMP program while researching Harvard Business School’s MBA program. It is rare that you are afforded the opportunity to learn about a program, in such detail, prior to matriculation. Knowing that, I couldn’t resist.

How was the SVMP experience?

The first day of my SVMP experience I was told my week at HBS would be “transformational,” and it was just that. I gained 80 friends that came from all walks of life. I was intellectually challenged in ways that I hadn’t been in years. Most importantly, along the way, I had a lot of fun.

Describe the week

My week was a lot of work, and a lot of fun. I spent a lot of time preparing for class and participating in it. However, we also spent time exploring Cambridge, and learning a lot about each other as well. To be honest, at the end of the week, I was exhausted because there wasn’t a minute wasted. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Talk to me a little bit about the classes themselves, how were they different than what you were used to at an undergraduate level.

My undergraduate experience was very text-book and lecture focused. When I entered the case classes at HBS I quickly realized that I was no longer in that environment. Instead, I was in a much more dynamic, demanding and rewarding classroom where I learned from my classmates as much as I did from my professors. Before a class, I would read my case and develop a pre-determined point of view. Then I would attend class and voice my opinion, as a few of my classmates nodded in agreement. Just as I began to pat myself on the back for such great critical thinking, a fellow classmate would voice their own, different, opinion. This opinion wouldn’t negate mine; it didn’t mean I was wrong; it was just a completely different way of approaching the problem. That constant challenge to my thought process and view point by peers built a classroom experience that has been unparalleled in my schooling to that point.

In what ways do you think you most personally developed during that week?

My eyes were opened. Inside and outside the classroom, I spent time with a more diverse group of people than I ever have. The group wasn’t only diverse in the traditional sense, but in life experiences. This taught me that there often isn’t one right answer to a problem.

This is a lesson that I have taken with me in my personal and professional life which has allowed me to be more comfortable with differences and discord, an essential part of progression.

What do you think prospective candidates should know about the program?

SVMP is a once in a life time experience. You will surround yourself with an extremely talented group of people from your professors, to your peers. Take advantage! Have the audacity to apply and when you begin your SVMP come with an open mind and a hunger for knowledge.

What would you say is empowering about an MBA in terms of opening up opportunities?

In order to be an effective leader, you must exercise sound judgment when faced with the most complex problems. Judgment is a muscle exercised through experience. Through the case method and the amount of time you spend your classmates outside of class you are exposed to a set of experiences that you never would be able to in your regular course of life. For that reason a HBS MBA provides you with a judgment tool kit that is unmatched. People understand the value of that education. Not only people in the very large HBS alumni network, but people outside of it as well.