Before I came to HBS, I worked at Disney in a consumer insights role with the Corporate Brand Development and Studio Marketing teams. Tracking evolving consumer behaviors in entertainment was part of my job and I was fascinated by the speed at which media was (and still is) changing. 

As someone with a liberal arts background, I had been thinking about going to business school to learn more about different industries and topic areas (like finance and accounting) in order to better position myself to impact the way people consume media in the future.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from HBS, and with my background in media and entertainment I wasn’t certain I’d find my place here. To my relief, HBS turned out to be much more diverse than I’d originally thought. Like any business school, it’s true that we have a lot of bankers and consultants; however, I am surprised every day by classmates with backgrounds in less common fields like teaching, retail, technology, defense, music, family businesses, and even space.

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I really appreciated the importance of this kind of diversity in the classroom since different perspectives are key to learning in case discussions. A class where everyone has the same point of view would be very boring because no one would learn anything new or see things from different angles. In my opinion, the process of being challenged and compelled to defend your point of view clearly with sound evidence is where the learning really takes place.

I’ve also become friends with a diverse group of people here. The size of the class has been great in that I have found friends that share my professional and personal interests as well as friends from completely different backgrounds that teach me something new every day. Being in a section with 90+ other people from all over the world and seeing them in and out of class every day last year was what showcased the diversity of our class most for me. Here are some examples:

• One of my sectionmates is from a small town in Colorado. He’s always had an interest in space and has started a space telecommunications company since coming to HBS. He’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met and I don’t think I would have gotten to know him if not for HBS.

• One of my roommates is a wise-cracking Australian who makes the best Pavlova (meringue cake) I’ve ever tasted. She’s hilariously sarcastic and I’m going to miss her a lot when she moves to London after graduation.

• One of my fellow cast members in the HBS Show, the annual Broadway-style parody musical, was a pilot before coming to HBS and has lots of interesting stories to tell about his time in the military. Our shared love of musical theater bridges the gap between our vastly different upbringings and large height differential.

I’ve found it particularly inspiring that there are so many students here willing to share their cultures informally and even organize trips for classmates to explore where they’re from. I went on the Israel Trek at the end of RC year and was completely amazed by the trip our Israeli classmates had organized – history, politics, religion, culture, food – the trek had it all. I learned a ton while also having a great time (floating in the Dead Sea was a highlight).

I came into HBS expecting to learn skills that I could apply to my career but was surprised at how much I learned about myself in the process. Coming to HBS, meeting my classmates, and reflecting on my choices in the past has caused me to think more deeply about the kind of person I want to be going forward.