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A Day in the Life of a Social Enterprise Student Leader: Holly Fetter (MBA 2020)

By: Holly Fetter 05 Mar 2020

This post is the first in our “Day in the Life” series, which will feature HBS students engaged in social enterprise activities on campus. In this post, Holly Fetter (MBA 2020), co-president of the HBS Social Enterprise Club, describes a typical day that includes academics, club leadership responsibilities, and community involvement.

7:00 a.m.: I wake up and get ready for class. I’m one of the few EC (HBS speak for “second year”) students who has 8:30am classes every day, so I drink some green tea and eat a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats to tide me over before a delicious breakfast sandwich later in the morning. I then attend to my email inbox, responding to messages from Social Enterprise Club leaders and members about events they’re planning. Jewon, our Chief Community Officer, is planning a dinner with Aaron Tanaka, a local impact investor who helps people build and invest in “social justice enterprises.” I help her promote the event to our members.

8:30 a.m.: I have my first class of the day, “Reimagining Capitalism,” taught by George Serafeim, an awesome professor who’s done a lot of research on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing, a professional and personal area of interest. I get to sit next to one of my favorite people, Natalia, who’s the President of Pride, HBS’ LGBTQ student group. (In HBS parlance, she’s my “seatmate.”) Today’s case is about Milton Friedman and shareholder primacy. Definitely not a conversation I would’ve expected I’d be having when I applied to HBS, but I’ve found there are so many opportunities to engage in tough conversations about the future of our dominant economic system. We have students in this class from various Harvard schools, as well as MIT Sloan, and I appreciate the variety of perspectives in our case discussions.

10:00 a.m.: I go to Spangler between classes to hang out with my friend Vimala, and to procure my aforementioned breakfast sandwich at the Spangler dining hall. Vimala is a fellow Social Enterprise Club leader, running the Social Entrepreneurship team. We talk about an upcoming event she’s hosting for the club, featuring the CEO of Clover Food Lab. We read the case together for our upcoming class, stopping every now and again to share some random thoughts about the failures of capitalism and the need for increased government involvement in our financial markets. And to share random tidbits of good gossip and joy from our weekends.

11:40 a.m.: Vim and I head to Aldrich Hall for “Creating the Modern Financial System” with David Moss, an incredibly dynamic professor. (Like I said, HBS’ schedules are funky, hence the strange start time). It’s a great class, and every case explores the origin of a particular financial product or market, as well as its implications for our current highly financialized economy. Today’s case is about mortgage backed securities, and we learn about how the US government promoted homeownership in an attempt to stave off socialist uprisings among disenfranchised urban populations, and to promote capitalist ideology during the Red Scare.

1:00 p.m.: I have lunch with my manager at State Street Global Advisors, where I interned last summer and where I’ll be returning full-time once I graduate. He works on the Asset Stewardship team, which drives the firm’s proxy voting, company engagement, and thought leadership efforts, with a particular focus on ESG factors. I’m really looking forward to working there again, although I will definitely miss the student lifestyle!

2:00 p.m.: Next up is a meeting with Alexxis, the co-chair of the Socioeconomic Inclusion Task Force. We started this student group in the fall in an effort to make HBS a more inclusive place for people of all class backgrounds. We have a big meeting with the Dean coming up, and we’re preparing for that together. Alexxis is the best!

3:00 p.m.: I steal a few quiet hours to dig into my Independent Projects. At HBS, we can supplement classroom-based coursework with IPs, which involve partnering with a faculty sponsor to pursue independent research that culminates in a deliverable, such as a case or a startup. I’m working on 3 IPs this semester. One is a case for first-year students in the required macroeconomics course (BGIE) about mass incarceration in the US, which I’m writing with my incredible BGIE professor from last year, Reshma Hussam. Another case is about whether Harvard should divest from fossil fuels from an investment perspective, and the third is about worker organizing at a big tech company. I’m grateful for the opportunity to pursue these cases, and I’m excited to see them come to fruition.

6:00 p.m.: Time for my weekly dinner with a great group of queer women who are second-year students at HBS. We all met through Pride, and they’ve been a huge part of me feeling included and at home at HBS since I first got here. Business school can be a really challenging and intimidating experience at times, especially in the beginning, and it’s been great to have such a loving community of friends to lean on.

8:00 p.m.: My inimitable roommate, Omosefe, has helped bring Nikole Hannah-Jones, the author of the New York Times 1619 Project, to speak on campus for Black History Month. I feel so energized hearing her speak, and I’m reminded of the deep connections between capitalism and slavery. We’re lucky to have Jan Rivkin as our head of the MBA program, and he closes the evening with some powerful remarks on the responsibility of business leaders to prevent the perpetuation of racial injustice.

9:00 p.m.: As the event wraps up, I decide whether to spend the rest of my evening reading cases, looking at memes on Instagram and going to bed early, or going out dancing at Club Cafe… In case my professors are reading, I’ll say I chose the cases.