My son Francesco was 3 months old when I started at HBS in August 2014. In the winter break of my EC year, my little daughter Giulia Maria was born. Francesco was 2 and a half and Giulia Maria was 8 months old when I started my job at Microsoft in Silicon Valley right after graduation.

Since my husband and I were starting a family at the same time I was starting my MBA, I applied only to schools that met the following two criteria:

  1. Located where my husband would have been able to relocate with his job;
  2. Was a top school. Since we were moving out of our home country of Italy (and literally out of our lives) our financial, emotional, and time investment had to be very much worth it.

HBS matched both criteria, and when I got accepted, I simply had no doubts. Three years post-graduation, I have never thought once that I could have made a better choice, and here’s why.

The Alumni network is extensive and super helpful in job searching, support with relocation (how could I be well connected here without my HBS Alumnae Circle and the HBS friends in the Bay!?), and suggestions on how I can best progress in my career. One of the main suggestions that you’ll receive at HBS is, “have your own personal board of directors” – your go-to people who know you so well, and who are just there for you when you need to discuss something really important and often times tough. My own little board wouldn’t exist without HBS. It includes Sarah, Emilka, Siri, Kate - all from my class of 2016 and not just from my section. In addition to being part of “my board”, one of them also saved me when I was stuck in London with a Visa issue that didn’t allow me to board my flight to the U.S. for a few extra days. She simply commented, “this is true friendship” as she opened her door. Two of them planned their last Valentine’s day around my schedule since I was in Boston for work and available to meet for just two hours: one went late to Valentine’s dinner with her husband, the other left work early. It didn’t matter if there’s traffic or more work to do, they adjusted their schedules to see me. I consider myself lucky to have met them.

After HBS, I left the East Coast for California, joining the Tech world for the first time, straight in the heart of Silicon Valley. While developing my career at Microsoft, I was learning about the commercial and go-to market model of the company, and I connected with Professor Doug Chung, with whom I took an amazing sales class in my EC year. Professor Chung gave me the unique opportunity to contribute to writing a case on Microsoft commercial transformation. I spent hours with him thinking through how he wanted to present our story and formulate the best questions to ask the executives. I learned from him directly on how he approaches writing a case, how he frames questions, and how he researches companies - the experience was unmatchable. It goes without saying that this is beyond any academic experience you can get. Professor Chung generously invited me to attend his class, when he taught “our” case for the first time this past February. His guest was the Microsoft EVP who was the case protagonist. That day I had to remind myself a few times that I was not daydreaming.

HBS gives you those opportunities. Really. They are right there. It’s up to you to bring them to life and make them part of your own story.

These types of experiences are why when I go back to campus, I feel a sense of belonging. I am not sad for what I miss about HBS (and I do miss it a lot) - on the contrary, I am grateful for what I had. The first time I met my HBS Alum Mentor Antoine Leboyer was during one of his business trips to the U.S. We met in Spangler and I wanted to buy him coffee. “Be my guest, this is my home!” I said. His answer still stays with me: “this is also my home.” From my experience, this is the quintessence of HBS: it is home to the classes and people on campus every year, home to the ones before, and home to the many to come.

Criteria 1 and 2 identified why I chose HBS, but all the rest is why I would choose it another 1000 times.