News

The People Who Mattered

When people do things that truly matter to them, that’s when they begin to really matter to others.

For one student, showing that HBS indeed did have talent (as absurd as that may sound) wasn’t enough. She also wanted to demonstrate that the considerable talents of this school could also be harnessed to enact tangible social good. Three students, on the other hand, made their voices heard and courageously stood up against the status quo. With insightful arguments and a genuine passion for progress, they spoke for all of us and articulated our most deeply held values. Likewise, a group of RCs audaciously put a club together to bring justice to a long-neglected but fundamental management discipline. Within the HBS faculty, a professor claimed that Planet Finance was being afflicted by “the Great Repression,” while another assisted the US Congress in tackling the central question of systemic risk and regulation. Halfway around the world, a student donned a chicken suit, while back here on campus, two groups worked tirelessly to help students cope with the fallout of the current financial contagion- albeit in dramatically contrasting ways.

Undoubtedly, the people or groups that have made a difference come in all shapes and sizes. In this issue, the editors and writers of the Harbus attempt to celebrate some of these notable people and their memorable contributions to the year that was.

Anyone who has planned an event for their section, learning team, or club can appreciate the energy and attention to detail it takes to enhance the social experience of our classmates. Coordinating events for the entire school requires even more effort, especially if it’s over 20 such events. The SA Social Chairs- Grant Quasha (Holidazzle), Esther Hsu and Dalia Rahman (Talent Show), Vik Krishnan (TGIF and other special events), and Courtney Fretz (Newport)- proved this year that they were more than up to the task. Their work required countless grueling hours. We’re thankful and in awe that they were able to pull it off so well! Some standouts were the Harvard-Yale tailgate, the SA Talent Show and the non-drinking ticket option for Newport Ball. Their hard work and success have raised the bar for SA Social Events. For that, we believe the entire HBS student body should raise their wine glasses in gratitude and celebration!
-Jyoti Agarwal & Fred Smith, SA Co-Presidents

Jimmy Tran
If you’ve ever met Jimmy Tran he’d strike you as an affable, low-key guy. He’s hardly a person you’d expect to challenge the status quo or proverbially “rock the boat.”

Last April 2008, Jimmy was selected to give the student speech to open up the Centennial Year of HBS. With such a lofty honor under his belt, a company sponsorship and a job secured after graduation, you’d think that he’d quit while he was ahead. He could have simply coasted along in his 3rd year of higher education (joint HBS-HKS degree). Instead, Jimmy chose to increasingly add his voice to the spirited debate of our times. Is HBS Really that Diverse? Where does the HBS Learning Model Fall Short? These are just some of the insightful questions Jimmy has asked the school within the very pages of the Harbus. And the responses to his articles have been nothing short of astonishing- from both students and professors alike. Jimmy is definitely a low-profile kind of guy. So if you hadn’t heard of him at the start of the year, that’s understandable. Nowadays, though, it’s impossible to ignore his impact on the HBS community and his very timely articles in the Harbus. For that, if nothing else, Jimmy has definitely made a difference and been a difference to HBS this year.
-Joey Castillo, Harbus Editor-in-Chief

Esther Hsu
We all know of the adage: girls should be seen but not heard. Well, Esther Hsu has certainly turned the proverb on its head. Despite spending most of her time at the Kennedy School this year, Esther has definitely made her voice heard and her presence felt on the HBS campus.

While we miss seeing her in Spangler, we frequently hear her updates from the field in the Harbus. Restaurants in the area would do well to recognize her as one member of the dangerous duo appointed on behalf of the student body to do due diligence their chef’s culinary abilities.

As a Social Enterprise Conference co-chair, she was integral in pulling together the massive event, bringing in panelists (including Tom Maws, whose restaurant she had reviewed, incidentally), managing the crowds of participants, speakers, and volunteers at the sold-out affair. There was much to be done behind the scenes, but Esther made it seem like a breeze.

Also one of the masterminds of XOXO, Talent Show, she helped the team pull off (what would have previously been thought to be) an unlikely success. Who would have guessed that there are so many stage geniuses within our little community? What we would have missed learning about our classmates doesn’t bear contemplating. Thanks to Esther, we don’t have to.
-Heidi Yip, Harbus Board Member

Professor David Moss
Professor Moss is in high demand. He takes frequent trips to Washington, D.C., where he briefs top Congressional leadership and key players in the Obama administration. He teaches a popular EC course (which he designed) titled, “Creating the Modern Financial System.” He visits with students in his office and speaks at numerous panels and events, including the recent Turmoil on the Street speaker series at HBS. Professor Moss is a busy man.

While Professor Moss may currently reside within the limelight, his expertise has been diligently developed for more than a decade. Indeed, Professor Moss has long been interested in the role of government as a risk manager; his first book on the topic was in 1996. His most recent book titled, When All Else Fails: Government as the Ultimate Risk Manager now appears Nostradamus-like. In 2005, he founded the Tobin Project, a nonprofit that links academia to the policy realm and vice-versa. Risk and regulation are not just a fad for Professor Moss – they are his profession.

Professor Moss is currently working to define and understand the policy implications for what he calls “systemic regulation.” Systemic regulation entails identifying “too big to fail” institutions and determining the appropriate regulation measures for these institutions.
An economic historian at heart, Professor David Moss now has a chance to shape history himself.
-Jimmy Tran, Harbus Associate Editor

Fabrizio Fantini
There are people who, by simply being themselves, affect us so greatly that their one act will forever change the way we look at things. That person was Fabrizio Fantini. By donning a chicken costume, he showed us what happens when we take our sense of humor too far. We have a disrupted a trek, organizers on their toes doing damage control, and a damaged HBS name. But with this comes a lot of positives as well. Trek organizers have taken even more cautious steps in planning and implementation. Trek participants became more conscious of the responsibility we have as HBS students representing the school, and themselves. Because of this incident, HBS students have become more aware about the actual presence of our community values. Some students even took a stand as to what this incident meant for the community. And the administration demonstrated how these community values are upheld in the institution. Moreover, this incident gave us a sense of awe and bewilderment rarely seen in the HBS bubble, as proven by Japan Trek (A), Japan Trek (B) and Japan Trek (C) features in the Harbus. However way you want to put it, 2008-2009 would not have been the same – all thanks to a man in a chicken costume.
-Stephanie Balois, Historian (OD)

Lisa Kostova
When the privilege of listening to Bill Gates, Lawrence Summers, and other corporate and academic big guns speak at the Business Summit was offered to the MBA students through a random lottery last year, many who won tickets didn’t feel so lucky. The reason? The ‘heavily discounted’ tickets were still priced at a whopping $750. Many of us privately expressed our disgruntlement at being priced out of a HBS event, in spite of having to put up with daily inconveniences from the landscaping and construction that needed to be done to make the campus Summit-ready. But Lisa was the one person brave enough to openly question the administration in a manner that required the Business Summit organizers to respond in kind, thereby allowing the community to understand the other side of the issue.

No stranger to breaking down communications barriers and confronting the boundaries of one’s comfort zone, Lisa also deserves credit for doing a lot of the heavy-lifting to transform Bill Heil’s brainchild into the inaugural BS Contest. One of the highlights of the year, the BS Contest was a well-timed reminder for us not to take ourselves too seriously.
-Heidi Yip, Harbus Board Member

MBA Career Services
Finding one job or internship can be hard enough in the current economy – but imagine trying to find nearly two thousand. By early November it was clear that it was going to be a tough year – full-time job postings in the Job Bank were already down by 18%. MBA Career Services, however, has pulled out all of the stops and met the challenge head on. By adding new career coaches, promoting job search teams, offering a series of “Beyond the Job Bank” seminars, adding a Spring Recruiting session and sending emails including countless tips and ideas, Jana Kierstead and her team has made a herculean effort to help students in any and every way that they can.
-Jack Sallay, Harbus Associate Editor

Professor Niall Ferguson
Two and half years ago BGIE Professor Niall Ferguson knew we were headed for a financial Armageddon. So much so that he wrote a timely book titled “The Ascent of Money” along with an accompanying PBS TV Series. The book’s message is straightforward-it’s crucial to understand the origin and history of money, banks, and stock markets to develop solutions to today’s complex global economic emergency. Professor Ferguson can be seen promulgating his message not only in Aldrich 9, but also on television networks like CNN and on the pages of Vanity Fair. Last fall he gave the keynote on Globalization during the HBS Centennial Business Summit and wrote the TIME Magazine cover story on the financial crisis. Financiers and politicians around the world are beginning to listen to Ferguson’s message in order to learn how to fix the “Great Repression” we are in today. The Harbus salutes Professor Ferguson for all his contributions in the classroom and in the subject of financial history.
– Mia Saini, Harbus Reporter

Sales Club
If you flip through the table of contents of the 1980’s best seller “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School,” you’ll find several chapters about selling skills. Fast forward to 2009. Attend any of the HBS conferences featuring entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and investors and arguably 90%, of them will tell you that the most crucial skill to have as a business leader is not financial modeling, or creating that 100-slide power point deck; it’s your ability to sell – yourself, your vision and your company. First year Marketing teaches us to size up the market and assess customer needs; but how do you actually sell that darned pair of chicken lenses? Or if you were Erik Peterson, how do you convince your boss not to fire you?

This year, Adam Enbar (NA), Ed Fu (NI), Assaf Harlap (NE), and Claudia Monteiro de Campos (NA) took that advice one step further and founded the HBS Sales Club. “We wanted to address an unmet need in the MBA community. There’s a big misconception about having a sales skill set. Think of the used car salesman stereotype. Because of this, the concept of sales is scary to a lot of people. But we believe selling skills is incredibly important to CEOs and managers, who have to do a lot of selling internally. The entire process of aligning a vision and rallying people is essentially a selling exercise, ” commented Harlap on the club’s founding. “We believe that sales is the most practical skill you can acquire if you want to build relationships based on trust,” Monteiro de Campos added.

The founders got off to a strong start in selling sales skills. In the first term, Aldrich was blanketed with teaser posters that featured mysterious questions like, “Elizabeth, Why You?” that created the intrigue that resulted in 400 members signing up within 3 days after the club’s launch. Enbar gave a quick preview of what’s in store for the Sales Club. “We’re planning several programs for our members. Our kick-off that featured Jeff Hoffman’s workshop was a big success. He’ll be back for more. We’re also planning to establish industry-specific workshops, and be more involved with the sales circuit at MIT.”
-Oliver Segovia, Incoming Harbus Board Member

Tenzing Lama
True leadership involves having the courage to take bold action in the face of risk and uncertainty. Last November, a few minutes after the stroke of midnight, Tenzing Lama sent an email to our section that would open up a thought provoking dialogue and challenge the traditions of a hundred year old goliath – Harvard Business School.

The flag ceremony is an often exciting and innocuous annual event celebrating our mutual diversity, except that in Section H there was a Tibetan in our family. Tenzing was the sole individual in our section who would be affected by HBS’ norm of allowing only flags of countries recognized by the International Olympic Committee. He could have easily succumbed to some of the all-too-familiar pressures we feel at HBS – fitting in, not ruffling feathers, going with the status quo – but he did not.

Tenzing engaged the section in a valuable discussion and verbally jousted with powerful constituencies, including the Chinese Students Association and the HBS Administration in arguing for his right to be recognized and acknowledged. Our walls which were bare for some time, now proudly highlight a beautiful world map that allows all of us to share our diversity with each other and the broader community.

Tenzing acknowledged and actively confronted the difficult challenges we will all face as leaders between adhering to our core values and following the generally accepted rules of the road. Peter Drucker once said that “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Tenzing decided to stand up for his homeland and press for a higher ideal of freedom of speech. Irrespective of which side one stands on in the larger debate, we as a section and school applaud his passion, conviction and courage.
-Ray Chambers, Harbus Rep (NH)

Social Enterprise Conference Leadership
Thanks to the leadership of three ambitious women, over 1,200 students, executives and social entrepreneurs gathered at this year’s Social Enterprise Conference to discuss innovative solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems.

C.J. Wise (MBA ’09), Esther Hsu (MBA/MPA ’10), and Shireen Santosham (MBA/MPA-ID ’09) co-chaired the historic 2009 HBS-HKS Social Enterprise Conference. Recognized by Forbes as one of “2009’s Big 12 Conferences” the sold-out event was the only entirely student-run initiative to make the list among juggernaut conferences including the World Economic Forum, TED, and the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Conference.

Working with an exceptional student team of 17 directors, 37 panel managers and over 70 conference volunteers, Wise, Hsu and Santosham produced a forum for creative individuals to lead, inspire and develop a community of socially-minded global citizens.

The HBS-HKS Social Enterprise Conference bridged the gap between the non-profit, public, and private sectors. The success of the conference highlights not only a renewed interest in the field of social entrepreneurship, but also taps into the broadly understood importance of finding new opportunities for widespread, long-lasting social impact.

With a new administration in Washington coupled with a deepening economic crisis, social enterprise plays a more critical role than ever. This inspirational group of current and future leaders gives us hope that together we can work to solve some of the enormous challenges that lie on the road ahead.
-Lily Hayes

March 16, 2009
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