Originally from Bulgaria, I was one of the last children born under Communism. With the 50-year regime collapsing a month after I was born, my parents sought out the American dream for our family by immigrating to the U.S. to finish their PhDs in mathematics. With two mathematicians as parents and two nuclear physicists for grandparents, I grew up in a strongly STEM household. 

My family fostered in me a desire to understand how things worked and I latched on to the then-nascent Internet and computer revolution. When it came time to go to college, my choice to study electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) was a no-brainer. 

I immersed myself in tech not only through my studies but through internships at Apple and Sandia National Laboratories. However, there was something else tugging at me, an interest fostered by my childhood journey to America: the intersection of business, technology, and policy.

My strong desire to become the best nexus of engineer, entrepreneur, and policymaker launched a rapid interpersonal transformation that was the catalyst for my decision to apply to the HBS 2+2 Program. However, I struggled with the decision to potentially pivot away from my STEM roots towards the MBA, which I initially believed would focus only on the development of softer skills. 

If the MS/MBA had been an option for me I would have definitely applied, for four reasons:

1. Academics: 

The joint-degree is a happy academic marriage – one that balances its focus between STEM and MBA courses. 

2. Career Boost: 

MBAs who can program, design cutting-edge software, and manage a business are rare. The MS/MBA is a huge boon to any career that touches tech.

3. The People:

I anticipate that the MS/MBA will attract a very interesting group of game-changing MBAs, a group that will be unique in both its shared interests as well as its diverse individuals. I’m most excited about the cohort aspect of the MS/MBA program. HBS can be a BIG place where it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, but I’ve heard very positive feedback about the joint degree cohorts from my friends in the MPP/MBA, JD/MBA and MD/MBA  programs. They have told me that their strongest connections have been made in their cohorts and all have raved about their unique cohort-specific required course(s). 

4. One Harvard:

For me, the most important and differentiating factor for HBS is the concept of “One Harvard.” In other words, by studying at HBS you will have access to the resources of not only HBS, but of the other 11 graduate and professional schools plus Harvard College. These include a deep technical talent pool of Harvard—and often MIT—undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom need the business expertise acquired at HBS. 

There are also hundreds (yes you read that right) of cross-school organizations and the opportunity to participate in daily entrepreneurship events around the greater Boston area. Thanks to “One Harvard,” I found my post-HBS job with a group of economists from across the river in Cambridge (i.e. where most of Harvard’s campus is located). 

The venture—QuantCo—is a global, Boston-based, financial technology company building next-generation enterprise solutions at the intersection of econometrics and AI. I get the exciting challenge of building our business in Japan while honing my technical skills! 

My MBA is already paying dividends in my new job, but I’m also having to re-learn some of my previous technical skills. The unique experiences of the MS/MBA would have nicely complimented my job, enabling me to hit the ground running without the need for self-guided study. I’m thrilled about the new joint-degree program and can’t wait to meet the first cohort!