Ken Zeng
Home Region

Guangzhou City, People's Republic of China

Undergrad Education

Renmin University of China; Graduate: New York University

Previous Experience

PVH Corp.; Human Rights in China

HBS Activities

Student Sustainability Associate, Member of Sustainability Club, Energy & Environment Club, Management Consulting Club, Impact Investing Club, Greater China Club, Asian Affinity Student Association, HBS Pride, and First Gen Club

“Diverse perspectives in class pushed me to carefully consider the real-world sacrifices business leaders must make”

Coming to HBS is like...

A dream of adventure. I grew up in a humble family in China and was the first one in my family to attend college. “I never even dared to dream that children from ordinary families like ours could ever attend Harvard,” my mom said. Every day on campus feels like stepping into an exhilarating dream, like riding a high-speed train, gazing out the window at a captivating new world unfolding before me, both intimidating and eye-opening.

What is your most memorable classroom moment?

During a recent Leadership and Corporate Accountability (LCA) class, we debated whether platform businesses like Airbnb should bear responsibility for guests facing racial discrimination from hosts. Several Black classmates shared their personal encounters of being denied rides or verbally attacked by Uber drivers. It was an awakening moment. Their stories made me realize that our debates weren’t mere classroom exercises, but reflections of real people's lives and struggles.

What is one thing you brought with you to campus, and one thing you’ll be leaving with?

I brought with me a conviction that business can uplift the lives of the underprivileged and do good for our planet. I will be leaving with the invaluable skill of listening. Listening with sincerity, humility, compassion, and curiosity is one of the most precious things HBS taught me over the course of hundreds of case discussions.

How have diverse perspectives in your section contributed to your understanding of business concepts, leadership, and/or problem solving?

Coming from a background in public policy and social impact, I came to HBS to understand how profit-driven leaders perceive a business's societal responsibilities. Diverse perspectives in class pushed me to carefully consider the real-world sacrifices business leaders must make, whether it's closing a mine due to uncertain safety concerns, pricing essential drugs in developing nations, or taking a stance on contentious societal issues as a company. It is not that easy.

If you could give one piece of advice to prospective students, what would it be?

Courageously confront your true self and be proud. It's okay to admit you haven't figured everything out yet, as long as you have a sense of where you're headed. It's okay to just be you. Truth is powerful. Lean towards your authentic self wholeheartedly.