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Prior to graduating in May, Phillip Jones (MBA/MPP 2021) detailed his path from the Navy to the HBS classroom and reflected on finding community in the MBA Program [6 minutes].


Phillip Jones: Hey, everyone. My name is Phillip Jones and I'm a current joint degree student between the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School. I'm so excited today that I get the opportunity to introduce myself, one. And two, this is going to be a series of events that really details my transition from someone in the Armed Forces, to someone who is a current student at Harvard.

Just a little about me. I grew up in a really strong military family. I was born in Okinawa, Japan. My mom and my dad were both Air Force pilots and navigators. And just like any good son, I had to do the exact opposite thing. So, for undergrad, I chose to go to the United States Naval Academy. After I completed my four years there, I had the opportunity, really the honor to serve in the Marine Corps infantry for about six years. Throughout my time in the Marine Corps, I deployed multiple times on different continents. I served with probably the best people I think that are on the planet and I definitely had a great time with that.

After I completed my fleet time in the military, I transitioned to the basic school where I was an instructor for newly graduated and commissioned officers in the infantry. Really during that time, I decided that I wanted to pursue both a degree in business and policy. I think the GI Bill was a very powerful thing and I know I wanted to use all three years of that. And so I really wanted a place that I could grow, that I could develop, and ultimately, I wrote my essay about how I wanted to be a leader in both the public and the private sector. And ultimately, that brought me to Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School.

After first arriving at Harvard, I was initially worried that I wasn't going to be able to be a value add in the classroom or on the ecosystem as a whole. But ultimately, that's just not true. I think that individuals in the military are primed to be the example for leadership on day one. And Harvard Business School very much has the section experience. So you're with 94 individuals every single day, I count them as my second family up in Cambridge.

But from day one, veterans are able to demonstrate that time management, that project management, the ability to lead diverse teams, which I think is such a boon in the private sector. And the second thing I would say is that no man or woman is an island and that this school has so many amazing resources to help you in case you're struggling and initially I was worried, hey, I'm a military guy. I don't have any experience in accounting or private equity or finance. I have no idea what the difference between alpha and beta is. I don't really know anything about marketing or funnels. But really, the core curriculum at Harvard Business School, the RC, the required curriculum, really gives you a steady foothold on all of the basic and foundational things of business that you can build upon in your second year. And once again, there's so many amazing resources that it is of no concern. I think that military veterans are ready on day one and there's so many resources that help you.

And I guess finally, I really wanted to talk about all the resources from the veteran perspective that Harvard has for you. So currently, I'm one of the co-presidents for the Armed Forces Alumni Association. And that's essentially just the Veterans Club at Harvard. And HBS is one of the biggest schools in the Harvard ecosystem, so we actually have a seat on the Harvard Veteran's Organization Council as a whole. And in my role as president of the AFAA, we've really just helped veterans with that transition from that military leader, to that civilian leader. So from day one, we provide resume reviews so that you can hit recruiting just very, very quickly. We provide just that collaborative environment if you want to hang out with a lot of veterans and you want to talk about, hey, like I actually have no idea what this word means. Or hey, I don't really know what I want to do after. I hear this search fund is a pretty exciting opportunity. Can you connect me with someone in the ecosystem? At the end of the day, the Veterans Club serves as that bridge builder and that facilitator, that really connects you as you knew from the military, into someone at Harvard and beyond. So that's one of my favorite roles at Harvard. And in some other videos I'll probably talk about that more.

And then I think for as part of this initial introduction video, I really want to give a plug to the section experience at Harvard Business School. I think that is if you look at the most valuable value proposition that the school has to offer, is the section experience. So I'm in section I. Don't worry, I'm going to wear my section I hoodie for my next video. But I think that's what separates Harvard Business School from all the other business schools, is the ability to collaborate with 90 or so different individuals from all walks of life. If I wanted to only talk to military people, I just would have stayed in the military. But my first two section mates, one was at Capital One, one was an entrepreneur, and then when the second semester, once we shifted the different seats, I had someone to work in the financial industry and someone who was like a tech person. And just the ability to interact with individuals from all walks of life, from international, domestic, military, civilians, NASA. I think that is the best thing that Harvard Business School has to offer.

I truly believe that diversity is a strength and to get all these individuals to see them every single day, to learn the fundamentals of business, to network, to become a professional family, that is the I think the number one thing that I take away from Harvard Business School, and the reason that I applied.

Once again, thank you so much and I look forward to sharing with you my videos. Take care.