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Spotlight: Interview With an HBS Couple

Harbus: Tell us about how you met.
Jack: We were both working for McKinsey, I was based in the Houston office, although rarely there.
Claudia: I was working in Rio and he was in Houston for a particular project. I met Jack at a McKinsey Happy Hour during the beginning of my Houston project. We began dating quickly after we met and then while working on the project, the Houston office offered me an opportunity to relocate and join them there. At this point, no one was aware that we were dating.
Jack: For the following ten months we were working and living in different places as Claudia completed her Rio projects and finally moved to Houston. However, McKinsey’s culture made it easy to date long-distance because they flew us to wherever we wanted to on the weekends.
Claudia: We met in countless places on weekends, sometimes in places we were working or other times in between where we were both working.
Jack: However, we didn’t tell the office we were dating right away.
Claudia: I took a big risk transferring with only one year left in the program (before I could be sponsored) and I had to work so hard to get high performance reviews, I didn’t want people to see me just as Jack’s girlfriend, I had worked hard to get there.
Jack: A few weeks after Claudia moved and was able to establish herself, we announced that we were dating. It was helpful because we were able to get more projects located regionally around Houston so that we could actually take advantage of us finally living in the same place.

Harbus: Did it ever get difficult working together?
Claudia: Well, we worked in different groups, I was in Energy, and Jack was in Petroleum, so our projects didn’t overlap.
Jack: We never really worked on the same team.

Habus: Once you decided to apply to business school, what was your plan?
Jack: Our priority was staying together and going to a top business program. We applied to a large number of places and figured that there had to be one that we would both get into.
Claudia: We spent a lot of time on HBS, we came to visit and really thought it was a good fit. We also noted on our applications in the “comments” section that we were applying together.

Harbus: Did the application process ever get competitive between the two of you?
Claudia: Not really, the essays were so personal that they were very different. But we definitely read each others’ essays and made sure that the two of them read as a set. We also competed a little on GMAT scores.

Harbus: Now that you’re both at HBS, how, if at all, has the RC year changed your relationship?
Claudia: The first month at HBS was hard. Adapting to HBS is overwhelming.we were both stressed and at times took it out on each other.
Jack: Our biggest source of stress was that it was the first time we were both trying to build a life somewhere new without someone to lean on. In Houston, I was already established, but here we were both unformed and unknown, trying to build a life each of us was comfortable with.
Claudia: So we sat down and made a list of things we each needed to change to make each other happy. We also prioritized and made explicit choices on time we were each going to spend at clubs, on classes and then on social lives as well as career goals, etc. Things have settled and we have figured out how to both be happy and live a dual life. Sometimes I’m the student and sometimes I’m the partner.

Harbus: What about doing laundry and dishes, have you divvied up the household chores?
Jack: It’s pretty even. I clean up when I’m told.
Claudia: I have to push. Jack likes to cook, he’s a great cook, but he forgets that you have to clean. I try to tell him you should clean as you cook!

Harbus: With the first semester already half over, how are things progressing towards your end of May wedding date?
Jack: We first decided on a location together, we picked a venue near Boston, since it represents our life as it is right now.
Claudia: Progress is slow, but moving. Next we will look at the catering and the dress, etc.
Jack: For the last three weeks we’ve been trying to get moving on it, but things here are so crazy.

Harbus: One last question, what are your future plans? Have you begun to think about next steps after HBS?
Jack: We’re approaching it as a team.
Claudia: We’re thinking about opportunities and whether it makes sense for one of us to take a big risk with our next step, since we have the other person to fall back on. We’re not sure just yet.
Jack: We will stay in Energy, but for now we’re just exploring all of our options.

November 17, 2008
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