6:30 AM: I wake up – grateful that I’m naturally a morning person and our classes start at 9:30. The morning is my favorite time of day, and I begin my daily routine by reading with my coffee (my current fantasy binge is the Red Rising series), playing the NYT Word Games and sharing scores with my long-distance partner, Shaye, and making myself breakfast (an egg, mushroom, and cheese sandwich on toast). I typically leave one of my cases to read in the morning, since my brain works best at this time.

9:00 AM: I bike to campus and get settled into my seat in Aldrich 107 next to one of my closest friends and seatmates, Fatma. Even though class starts at 9:30, a few of us are typically in the classroom by 9:10 and chit chat to start the morning. Fatma and I have started a ritual of sharing how we’re feeling physically and emotionally, each on a scale of 1 to 10, and it’s so helpful to have a quick pulse check before the day begins.

9:30 AM: Our first class today is Leadership and Corporate Accountability (LCA), which examines the legal, ethical, and economic responsibilities of corporate leaders. Today’s case was particularly interesting, focused on the potential private equity takeover of Unilever by 3G Capital / Kraft Heinz. Over our 80-minute case, we discuss the strategies of Unilever (long-term value creation with sustainability at the center) and 3G / Kraft Heinz (steep budget cuts and higher operating margins, but not as sustainability or employee friendly). There’s an active debate on whether companies have primary responsibility to their shareholders (as in the U.S.) or a multi-faceted responsibility to employees, customers, the broader community (as written into the law to varying degrees in the UK and France). While I started fully in the “stakeholders” camp, there were several compelling arguments on why companies should only focus on shareholder value. Since many of my close friends’ progressive values mirror mine, I’m grateful to have exposure to differing opinions in the classroom.

11:10 AM: Our second (and last) class today is Business, Governments, and International Economy (BGIE) – and we are discussing Korea’s growth story. Our discussion centers around whether government intervention helps economic growth and on the impact of the Chaebols, or large family conglomerates. While they were central to creating economic growth and power for South Korea, they also concentrated money and power, leading to some serious problems for today’s South Koreans. Once again, there are plenty of competing viewpoints on whether government’s interventions helped or hindered the success story of South Korea’s rise from poverty after the Korean War.

12:30 PM: Lunch time! I am a big meal prepper, so I heat up my food while most of my classmates grab a bite from Spangler. Today I’m grabbing lunch with a few friends that I met on a self-organized social impact retreat the summer before school started. A group of 40 or so students self-selected as fellow “social impact nerds” and went on a weekend retreat in August. This group, alongside the Rising Leaders in Social Impact, has been really grounding. It has been so fruitful to build relationships outside my section with others who are interested in education, government, climate, and workforce development.

2:00 PM: One of the best things about HBS is the sheer volume of amazing guests that are brought onto campus. I’m particularly a fan of the values and identity sessions that the Career and Professional Development (CPD) office hosts. There’s a session called “5 Big Life Decisions,” which features a documentary of 40 HBS alumni from the class of 1992, following them on their personal and professional journeys and how they lived their values (or didn’t) over the past 30 years. A few folks from section are also here and I’m looking forward to hearing their thoughts on today’s session.

4:00 PM: Time to read tomorrow’s cases. While I’m impressed with the social impact angles that are built into our first year’s required curriculum – or “the RC” year – it still is business school and not every class is social impact minded. Tomorrow’s cases are about ideal capital structures (Finance) and Windows and Intel’s strategic partnership/rivalry (Strategy). I try to read my cases in the iLab with a few classmates – we’ve built a strong community in this common space!

6:00 PM: I head back home to eat dinner and get on a video call with my partner Shaye! One of the most exciting, but overwhelming, parts of business school is all of the lovely people to eat dinner with. There was a dinner event with the Energy & Environment Club happening today, but I need some alone time to recharge, free chicken tenders notwithstanding. Even for an extreme extrovert, business school is tiring!

8:00 PM: My second favorite time of day is when I get to play tennis. I only started during COVID, but it’s one of my favorite things to do and there are so many people at HBS who hit at the 3.5+ level, which is really exciting. The tennis club has indoor courts reserved two nights per week and I’m a regular. I get my sweat on (don’t ask how much I got beat by tonight) and then head home to shower and wind down for the night. Tomorrow is sure to be another (crazy) fun day!

This blog was originally posted on the Harvard Business School Social Enterprise page.