Before attending HBS, German native Charlotte Pallua spent three years at The Boston Consulting Group in Munich where she worked on a variety of health care related projects in Tokyo, London, Miami, and Latin America.

We checked in with Charlotte to learn more about why she decided to go to business school - and find out what advice she has to offer fellow students from Germany. 

How did you hear about HBS and why did you want to apply?

My younger brother spent some time at Harvard College and encouraged me to apply. He couldn’t stop telling me about the courses, the atmosphere, and the people he met from the business school. I then did some additional research and decided to apply. 

Why did you want to do a two year MBA, rather than a one year MBA in Europe?

MBAs are not as common, since unlike in the US, we usually do a master’s degree. I always knew that if I was going to do an MBA, I would only do it in the US – where it was ‘invented’ and where the big schools with the most experience and history are located. 

Do you plan to return to Germany after your graduation?

Eventually yes most likely. In the short to medium term, I don’t know yet. I spent my summer in Silicon Valley at Apple - and am in the process of deciding between Apple in Cupertino and BCG back in Munich for full time work after graduation.

What should German students know about academics at HBS?

When I started, I wasn’t really sure what to expect academically, given my business background. But academics turned out to be one of the biggest positive surprises – I have never learnt so much about finance, leadership, ethics and entrepreneurship. By learning I mean actual theory, like how to calculate a WACC in finance or how to set up a cap table for a start-up, but also very practical learnings, which most often came through experiences my section mates shared in class through the case method - which in my opinion sets HBS apart from all the other business schools. 

What should German students know about student life at HBS?

I had high expectations, but all of them were exceeded. The HBS community is extremely strong, with hundreds of occasions to meet new people and friends. My first-year I spent a lot of time outside of class socializing with amazing friends. That included working out (playing squash, tennis, going running), going out to dinners and parties, and traveling (we traveled to Cuba, Miami, Colorado, and Guadalupe). 

What surprised you the most about HBS?

In addition to how much I learnt in the classroom, I was surprised by the strength of the HBS network. In January, I reached out to a number of alumni (at Apple, Google, etc.) to ask a few career-related questions and all of them got back to me within 24 hours to offer their help.

What advice do you have for German applicants?

To do the GMAT as soon as possible in order to get it out of the way. The best time to do it is while still at university (it only expires after 5 years). The rest is much more straight-forward. I thought a lot about my essay and its structure before I actually started writing it, which saved me a lot of time later on. Before submitting my application, I also talked to two alumni in Germany and then to another two before my interview. Talking to alumni is always extremely useful and valuable.

How have you changed at HBS and what is your biggest takeaway?

It’s too early to say how I have changed, I think these changes will become more apparent once out of HBS. Many of us at HBS have been very focused on academics/careers, and my biggest takeaway from this place is that there is more to life. HBS helps you realize this and get your own priorities straight.