Before coming to Harvard Business School, I spent four years working in the education sector, designing learning experiences that I hoped would be powerful and transformational for my students. It was strange finally being in the conductor's seat, especially after sitting in the audience as a student for most of my life. I felt like I was getting a special glimpse into what happens behind the curtain before the teacher takes the stage.

When it finally came time to start at HBS, I felt like I had an advantage – some secret teacher "code" that I had learned from all those years backstage. I thought I would be able to predict my professors' moves or know exactly what they were asking for (maybe even get ahead of those cold calls!). Of course, I was sorely mistaken.

HBS professors are, simply, in a league of their own. The case method requires that they be. When our Aldrich classroom doors close, our professors become true conductors – bringing together 90 discordant voices and opinions to create a symphony. They know who to call and when, how to build to a crescendo, or time a powerful silence. Most importantly, they know when to push us to give more.

My very first cold call was in our TOM (Technology, Operations and Management) class, when our rockstar professor, Yael Grushka-Cocayne, asked me to walk her through the process of creating a circuit board at Donner Co. I was caught completely flat-footed. I fumbled through my first few sentences, trying to send subtle signals for mercy. But Professor Grushka-Cocayne stuck with me and had me walk through it with her, step-by-step. 

There were no easy passes – no "get out of jail free" cards. But I made it through! Professor Grushka-Cocayne even sent me an email after class to let me know I had done a good job. While I knew this was an overstatement of my performance, it meant a lot to me that she was so supportive. This moment boosted my confidence for the rest of the semester. The cold calls didn't get any more fun, but I knew that my professors were not out to "get us." Instead, they were deeply committed to our learning and growth.

What makes HBS professors so special is the extra effort they make to get to know us, which goes far beyond a professor's investment in our academic development. 

Before my very first FRC (Financial Reporting and Control) class, Professor Anywhere Sikochi came up to me and asked me what I was doing during my time in Nairobi. I was surprised he knew I had lived in Kenya, but I gladly answered his question. He then proceeded to ask me whether I had found any Hip-Hop studios nearby because he knew I loved to dance. The fact that Professor Sikochi had taken the time to learn so much about me (even before meeting me!) spoke volumes about the level of commitment HBS professors have to their students.

There were many other moments this past year that made me so grateful for our professors at HBS. For example, when Professor Rebecca Henderson came directly from the airport to catch our Section J dance at Ekta, the annual HBS South Asian show. There was also the time when Professor Jon Jachimowicz sat and listened to me agonize over my summer internship choices and gave me valuable life advice.

HBS professors are distinguished scholars in their fields, with careers and lives of their own, running to book talks and writing cases that generations of MBA students read. But despite all of that, they always manage to make time for students like me. It's with their help – both inside and outside of the classroom – that I was able to grow as much as I did in my first year at HBS. For that, I feel incredibly grateful.

When I came to HBS, I did not expect to reconnect with my passion for education and for being an educator. In fact, the move to business school felt that I was moving further away from that north star. But last year, my professors reminded me of this purpose every single day.

I once had a poster on the wall of my bedroom that said: "Before you lead a boardroom of executives, see if you can teach a classroom of students." I believe in this wholeheartedly. The art of teaching mirrors, in many ways, the art of leadership. They both require being deeply committed to and supportive of the development of your people, making the extra effort to get to know them fully, and showing care even in the smallest moments. My professors were not only teaching us how to be leaders; they were living it themselves.

After HBS, I hope to use the lessons I have learned both from and because of my professors to become a better educator and a great leader.