During their Elective Curriculum (EC)—or second—year, MBA students register for courses based on their interests. With more than 100 offerings in 10 subject areas, these classes provide an opportunity for depth and breadth while helping students gain more concentrated expertise based on their industries and functions. We asked members of the MBA Class of 2024 what EC course will help them succeed in their various sectors, why they pursued an MBA, what advice they would give to prospective MBA students in their fields, and more.


Tricia Peralta (MBA 2024)

Tricia is a member of Section I. She will join Ayala Corporation, the oldest conglomerate in the Philippines, as a corporate strategy manager, where she’ll be charged with active portfolio management across its business units and investments.

During your EC year, what course did you take that will help you succeed in your industry?
I took Strategy and Value Creation with Professor Benjamin Esty. The course is seen as a capstone that utilizes multiple Required Curriculum (RC), or first year, courses to help understand how to create value for companies. When I was an RC, the ECs I spoke to told me that this was the class to take. It allowed them to integrate everything they learned into situations they were likely to encounter in the workforce. As someone who is pursuing a career that requires me to evaluate businesses but also learn its operations, this felt like the course I needed the most.

What did you learn in this class and how will you apply it in the future?
The value driver framework, especially Professor Esty’s belief that value creation can create win-win-wins in society without sacrificing shareholder value. In my onboarding discussions with future colleagues, I was able to justify and explain how factoring in long-term economic sustainability should be standard in developing any corporate strategy—something I learned through the course and have already been able to apply. After taking this course, I firmly believe that what’s good for shareholders is often aligned with what’s good for others. Professor Esty emphasized the importance of having a viewpoint backed up by data—I feel better equipped going into the working world having been forced to reckon with my values and how that applies to corporate policy issues.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I wanted the chance to step back and reflect on my career path while also meeting a diverse group of people that I could learn from. In terms of why I chose HBS, the case method pedagogy was the biggest reason. Reading 500 cases over two years allows you to figure out what you are actively interested in. In the classroom, sitting through case discussions doesn’t just show you what your unique viewpoint is, but also enables you to critically listen to classmates and understand how their backgrounds shape their perspectives.

What advice would you give to prospective MBA students interested in your field?
Be open to everything and anything at HBS. I came in with a plan and an idea of who I wanted to be post-HBS, but giving myself the time and space to explore, ask questions, and try new things turns out to be the best thing I ever did!


Rhea Choudhury (MBA 2024)

Rhea is a member of Section F. She will be joining Oak Street Health, an organization focused on value-based primary care for older adults, as a strategy and operations director. Rhea will help Oak Street expand access to care for vulnerable communities across the United States.

During your EC year, what course did you take that will help you succeed in your industry?
Two courses were particularly useful for me: Transforming Health Care Delivery (THCD) with Visiting Professor Ariel Stern, and Strategy and Technology (STRATTECH) with Associate Professor Andy Wu. THCD was a two-part course; During quarter three we discussed health care-focused cases and in quarter four we did a field project with Mass General Hospital. STRATTECH covered the past, present, and future of technology with a specific strategy lens.

What did you learn in this class and how will you apply it in the future?
In THCD I gained a lot of health care-specific knowledge. Professor Stern kept the curriculum very updated and had students share presentations on broader health care topics before each case discussion. Since I was planning on switching from the medical product to the health care delivery space, I was excited to tactically learn about the cutting edge of health care services. I also deeply enjoyed the peer group in this course—nearly one-third of the class was either a joint MD/MBA student or a medical resident. It’s rare to get the chance to hear from so many experts on different health topics.

Long term, I’m hoping to return to the technology space and build an organization that uses engineering and design to improve people’s experiences with the health care system. The intersection of health care and tech is such a powerful space. I took STRATTECH to build fluency in the broader tech landscape. Intellectually, it was just fascinating. Professor Wu is extremely passionate about the material and it shows through his preparation for the course. This course, like THCD, was also full of deeply technical experts (in this case engineers), which led to a level of depth in the discussions that I really appreciated.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I’ve always been interested in health care. Before HBS, I was working as a medical device engineer focused on the cardiovascular space. I started out undergrad thinking I wanted to go to medical school, but realized I could use engineering to shape the direction of treatment for entire populations with specific conditions. Once I was working in the field, though, I realized that as an engineer, my scope was limited to product design. I noticed that it was mostly people with MBAs who got to decide who had access to different kinds of treatments—and at what price point. I decided to pursue an MBA because I wanted to learn the business side of health care, and ultimately contribute to making high quality health care technology more affordable to underserved communities.

What advice would you give to prospective MBA students interested in your field?
Be vocal about your interests and seek community in your field as soon as you can. Clubs are a great way to do this, but even informal coffee chats I had with classmates led to deep connections in my field later on. Although I only took one formal course in my field, I was still able to build a robust network in the health care and social impact spaces. I was very active with the Health Care Club, Rising Leaders in Social Impact Forum, and various health care startup activities. You’ll find that many people are willing to connect you with someone they know in your space; that’s something I really love about HBS’s culture.


Alan Neider (MBA 2024)

Alan is a member of Section K and a Leadership Fellow at HBS. He will be joining the City of Cambridge as a special assistant to the city manager, where he will focus on various strategic initiatives.

During your EC year, what course did you take that will help you succeed in your industry?
This is a no brainer: Public Entrepreneurship with Professor Mitch Weiss. I had previously worked on multiple public/private partnerships, but always on the private side. I saw that the public and private sector could complement each other and that the public sector could move fast and be innovative. However, public innovation didn’t seem widespread. Even at that time, I wondered “Why is this the case? When is the right time for the public sector to be innovative? How can innovation be harnessed to help address large public problems?” This course helped me start answering some of these questions.

I was also excited to meet like-minded HBS classmates who either had experience working in, or with, the public sector or had an interest in doing so in the future.

What did you learn in this class and how will you apply it in the future?
My goal is to have a career working across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. A lot of what we discussed in this course will immediately be relevant when I start my new role with the City of Cambridge in August. Some key takeaways from the course include how to:

  • Identify the right and wrong opportunities for entrepreneurship in the public sector.
  • Nurture entrepreneurship to invent and build new solutions for challenging public problems.
  • Determine the right stakeholder to take the lead (should government build the solution, buy it, or partner with another organization).
  • Use AI as a source of idea generation in the public sector.
  • Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
    Prior to HBS I did three and a half years of health care strategy consulting and then two years at a digital health startup. Although these were great experiences, I still had many questions about the type of career in social impact I wanted to pursue. I felt like an MBA—one from HBS in particular—would, among many things, help me round out my skillset, enhance my ability to make an impact, and enable me to explore my career questions.

    What advice would you give to prospective MBA students interested in your field?
    Try working in the public sector or pursuing the impact work that you’ve always thought about but haven’t acted on. Now, more than ever, the public sector needs smart, driven people. An MBA skillset is highly relevant for many public sector roles—and there is a significant interest from this sector in hiring MBAs. Deep collaboration across sectors is needed to solve society’s biggest challenges. We need more people who can work across—and understand—each sector’s strengths and limitations, acting as a bridge to facilitate collaboration.


    Katherine Manweilier (MBA 2024)

    Katherine is a member of Section K. Katherine will continue working on her start-up, Montage, a platform that allows users to discover and purchase styles from their favorite characters and celebrities that they see on screen.

    During your EC year, what course did you take that will help you succeed in your industry?
    This is a class that I think will help anyone succeed in any industry: Entrepreneurial Sales 101 with Senior Lecturers Mark Roberge and Lou Shipley. It helps students develop tangible tools to improve dynamic sales techniques. Whether you’re out fundraising with investors, trying to acquire app users, or trying to work with commercial partners, the course acknowledges that we are all salespeople at some point in our lives. Taking part in a course where there’s different simulations every week that allow you to interact with various stakeholders to figure out if your product can benefit them was far more hands-on than any other class I have taken at HBS.

    Through this course we were also assigned our own sales coach, who coached me on actual sales strategies for Montage. This was extremely beneficial to my entrepreneurial career.

    What did you learn in this class and how will you apply it in the future?
    I learned that sales is about more than just having an aggressive salesmen approach. Professors Roberge and Shipley really emphasized a new way to approach sales: Talk to someone who has a problem, identify the problem, and see if your solution can help them. It might not always help them, but first see if it can, and then go from there. This human-centric approach is something that will help me not just in sales, but also in management and in personal endeavors. This class really helped me develop as a more active listener.

    Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
    I previously worked in consulting, climate tech, and venture capital. While I enjoyed my time within those industries, I came to a crossroads where I began thinking about my next step—not just where the paved road was leading, but what I was interested in and passionate about. I previously heard from HBS alumni that pursuing their MBA specifically at HBS was a great time for self-reflection in the context of active exploration of different career paths.

    What advice would you give to prospective MBA students interested in your field?
    I encourage anyone interested in entrepreneurship or startup to really use these two years to explore that path. I started Montage at the start of my MBA, so I was able to center my learning experiences around my entrepreneurial journey. This is a risk-free period that will help you learn so much about yourself. HBS has many resources that can help you along the way. Whether or not you decide to pursue entrepreneurship post-graduation, having the chance to build something meaningful while at HBS is a transformative experience that can help you grow in many unexpected ways.


    Wabantu Hlohpe (MBA 2024)

    Wabantu is a member of Section J. He will join the strategy team at EA Games, focusing on figuring out the future of gaming.

    During your EC year, what course did you take that will help you succeed in your industry?
    There are two courses that come to mind. The first one is the Business of Entertainment, Media, and Sports (BEMS) with Professor Anita Elberse; and STRATTECH with Associate Professor Andy Wu. Gaming is special because it’s 50 percent technology and 50 percent entertainment. In gaming, we’re challenged to solve both the problems of tech and entertainment. On the tech side, we have to imagine where advances will take us 10 years from now and try to build games, gaming systems etc. with that end state in mind. At the same time, the media side demands that we understand what players love today and which intellectual properties, stories, or settings need to be brought to life. Both classes shed light on what makes gaming fun—mastering both worlds!

    What did you learn in this class and how will you apply it in the future?
    In BEMS what I remember, and will definitely use, is the blockbuster strategy—this idea that spending more on a few titles allows you to generate outsized return on huge investments. Essentially, you spend more to stand out; this can be through CGI, actors, production value, etc. The course gave me insight into how the blockbuster strategy has and has not worked in the gaming industry, and what I can do to apply it properly.

    STRATTECH gave me insights into the history and future of different technologies (such as 5G, AI, and blockchain) and a general understanding of why each one is critical in my industry. Gaming is, in many ways, the proving ground for the most cutting-edge technologies in the world. Gaming companies often deal with technology problems 10 years before any other industry. Although many companies are dealing with big data problems now, gaming companies were dealing with this in 2009 and 2010 due to all the data that they were gathering from people playing games. In terms of strategy, there is one quote that Professor Wu emphasized often that will be critical as I discover the future of gaming: Always look forward and reason back. Working in strategy resonates with this, as I will have to make assumptions about what the future looks like. Having a deep understanding of technology and entertainment while also being able to imagine a future with that foundational understanding is something that I’ll be doing daily.

    Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
    Pre-HBS I worked in Kenya, the Middle East, and South Africa. In the English-speaking world, the video game industry is known to be prominent in the West Coast of the US. In general, finding a way to enter this industry and location is difficult, but it’s even more difficult when you’re on the other side of the world. The question that I had to ask myself, and really the industry, was, “I know nothing about video games beyond being an avid consumer, how can I transition to work in this industry?” An MBA became a great way to do that. I got the chance to be a student again and was given the opportunity to learn in-depth about various industries—some that I might not have interacted with before.

    What advice would you give to prospective MBA students interested in your field?
    If you’re coming to HBS and you’re not pursuing a traditional path, be keenly aware that the experience is going to be what you make of it. You’re going to have to behave and live in a different way to many of your peers. While that might be daunting at first, it’s necessary if you’re going to achieve your goal. You’ll have to stitch together different classes to apply to your field. After my RC year, it wasn’t immediately obvious to me how I would find these classes, but BEMS and STRATTECH were essential, and I recommend them for anyone going into the video game industry. While there’s no class at HBS specifically about video games, know that the faculty are interested, prepared, and excited to talk to and help students from various backgrounds gather the appropriate knowledge for their industries.

    This post was originally published on the HBS Newsroom page.