Leading with the Long View

Sherry Ho, MBA 2016

Sherry Ho
I became very interested in seeing how we can take lessons from the past and apply them going forward.

As an undergraduate, I studied liberal arts. Coming to HBS, I wanted to learn fundamental business content, like finance and accounting. I was really surprised to come across the Entrepreneurship and Global Capitalism course taught by Professor Geoffrey Jones. It was a last-minute addition for me—I had a couple of friends in the class, so I decided to take it. I didn’t know there was this business history niche at HBS, and it ended up being an awesome class. The cases we discussed were international and covered a longer time horizon than cases in more traditional business classes.

We studied problems and situations that happened decades ago, and at the time people thought those same mistakes would not be repeated. But you see similar mistakes cycle around years or decades later.

In more traditional courses, you are trying to put yourself in a protagonist’s shoes, think about the business politics, and consider how the markets might respond. But when you read a case on IBM in Nazi Germany, you’re forced to consider broader questions that go beyond business implications. There’s a lot more gray area, hindsight notwithstanding. I think it made for a much richer discussion, especially within HBS’s very international student body.

Studying history has taught me not to be myopic or only forward-looking—sometimes you have to also look back to understand what works and what doesn’t, then apply that going forward.