In January 2020, I (Lori Ossip, MBA 2021) alongside MBA 2020 grads Russell Citron, Melanie Sperling, and Billy Tabrizi were working on a new charity event: HBS Got Talent, a massive talent show with live acts and celebrity judges to be held in our 1,000-seat auditorium, Klarman Hall. We had a vision to host a fundraiser that brought the entire community together – students, faculty, alumni, friends, and family. Creating a large-scale event from scratch was no easy feat, and we definitely had hiccups along the way, but the community embraced us with open arms (even when we shifted to a virtual format). We ended up raising over $20K for the Boston Resiliency Fund and the show has become an annual tradition!

For this year’s event, since I was the only member of the founding team yet to graduate, I led the charge with co-Chair extraordinaire Rebecca Cink (MBA 2021). Together with tech-guru Tom Chen (MBA 2021) and Student Association representatives Abby Burcham (MBA 2021) and Matthew Shackelford (MBA 2021), we picked a date (March 31st) and hired our production partner.

In selecting a charity, we were drawn to a new organization called Breaktime, a Boston nonprofit founded by two Harvard alumni that provides job opportunities and mentorship to young adults experiencing homelessness. We were inspired by their passion, mission, and resourcefulness, and they were just as excited to work with us!

While planning a virtual event the second time around was certainly a much lighter lift, we were presented with some new challenges. For example, convincing people to attend the event – both audience members and celebrity judges – proved to require a significant amount of effort. We were ultimately able to secure a fantastic judging panel made up of beloved HBS faculty members Matt Weinzierl and Christina Wallace, professional actor/singer Tiffany Mellard (from the cast of Hamilton!), and world-champion swimmer Katie Ledecky. Our host, Weston Ruths (MS/MBA: Engineering Sciences 2022), expertly emceed the event and corralled our judges.

On the marketing front, Rebecca had a rockstar team of RC (first-year) Service Reps to help drum up enthusiasm and recruit section talent. We were overwhelmed by their dedication, helpfulness, and overall excitement for the event. Emily Keeley (MBA 2022) designed our marketing plan and really drove the ship the week leading up to the event. Charlotte Keeley (MBA 2022) and Felicia Hanitio (MBA 2022) were also instrumental on the marketing front!

Thanks to the Service Reps, all 10 RC sections submitted at least one act, along with a handful of wildcard acts including the faculty band (a fan-favorite!) and Dear Harby (a satirical Instagram account). We had dozens of participants comprising 15 acts, and each $5 donation counted as one vote. Acts included group dance numbers, beatboxing, rapping, musical parodies, and breakdancing/beat-making. In the end, Spencer Dahl of Section C (MBA 2021) was crowned victorious with his winning parody of “You’ll Be Back” from the musical Hamilton. We raised over $22,500 for Breaktime, and the show was a huge success!

Thank you to all who participated, watched, and supported the event, and we hope to see you again next year 😊.

Spencer Dahl (MBA 2021) bursts into song during his Hamilton-style parody.

Nimisha Patil (MBA 2022) wows the virtual crowd with her beatboxing talent.
Weston Ruths (MS/MBA: Engineering Sciences 2022) and celebrity judges react to one of the acts.