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Real Partners of HBS – Partners On The Payroll

Are you wondering why that administrator looks so familiar? Do you swear you’ve seen that partner around campus before? Would it be impossible to imagine a HBS staff member at your section retreat? Well, it’s quite possible a partner has emailed you about your Prematriculation checklist, set up a career coach meeting for you, or ordered your case binders. Meet the partners who work at Harvard Business School.

Guilty as charged. I work at HBS. I’m a Staff Assistant in MBA Student & Academic Services. I am the main point of contact throughout Prematriculation and my job includes updating the Prematric website and managing RC orientation and registration. I also bug you about your tutorials deadline and hound you to complete your checklist items. Yup, that’s me.

The truth is I love working at HBS. It has increased my satisfaction with the HBS experience by tenfold. I like having an identity at HBS (outside of being just a partner). My colleagues are some of the most talented people from around the world. The culture is extremely warm and fuzzy. People really care about each other. Providing support for the students, many of whom I know personally, makes my job extremely rewarding. Plus, I can have lunch with my husband in Spangler.

“It’s exciting to work in an organization with faculty who really are on the forefront of business,” says Erin Alff, Assistant Director of MBA Student and Academic Services. Erin started working at HBS as a partner in 2005 and earned her Master’s degree from the Harvard Extension School. As manager of the Analytics Program and the Partners Program, she understands what the students and partners are going through, reflecting on her and her husband’s time at HBS. When her husband graduated from HBS, they decided to stay in Boston, because Erin liked her job so much.

Among the great benefits, HBS offers a tuition assistance program for employees who want to advance their education. For example, Harvard employees taking classes at the Harvard Extension School pay a course fee of only $40. For non-employees, tuition ranges from $925 to $1,850 per course. Additionally, the health benefits are extremely comprehensive. My husband is included in my health and dental insurance plans, because it is more affordable than paying the annual student health insurance fee. Employees also pay half price for membership to Shad.

In Career and Professional Development, Marjorie Matthew, Customer Support Specialist, and Kelly Little, Recruiting Coordinator (both partners) work with students throughout the internship and career hiring process. In addition, they provide information and resources on the job search process to registered partners during the CPD Career Strategies for Partners seminar at Admitted Students Welcome and during the fall term. While many partners are excited by the prospect of working at HBS, Marjorie advises partners to explore all career options and find the best fit for both them and the organization.

“There are many areas where partners can and do bring their terrific skills,” says Ellen Mahoney, Chief Human Resources Officer at Harvard Business School. “In fact, they often bring a special empathy and understanding of the student experience that is hugely helpful.” However, partners are not always right for the job. For example, the potentially short term employment doesn’t work for jobs with a long learning curve. In areas where there is highly confidential student information (such as the Registrar or Financial Aid offices) or teaching materials that could present a potential conflict of interest, HR will not consider partners. The bottom line is a partner will be hired if they are the best candidate for the position, not just because they are a partner.

Partners working at HBS bring a variety of career experiences such as secondary education, marketing, consulting, hospital administration, and advertising, for starters. Despite working in a different industry, partners build upon their current knowledge and develop new skills during their two years here. “I had a very fast-paced public relations career in Dallas,” said Katie Flodder, RC partner and Product Manager for the Student Association Office. “But managing a non-profit (Student Association) has allowed me to see the business management side of things which will definitely help when I return to PR.” The ability to put Harvard Business School on your resume doesn’t hurt either. Historically, the Student Association Office only employs partners.

Being a partner and working at HBS comes with its own set of challenges. Partners in full-time positions must commit to a year-round schedule, even when the students do not have class including open Fridays, January term, and spring and summer breaks. Partners must also balance two different viewpoints-the school’s versus the student’s. As employees, partners must maintain professionalism and uphold values of their employer, yet enjoy the student experience at the same time.

Melissa Kaplan, Recruiting Manager in Human Resources, says having two viewpoints has given her an advantage. “It’s given me a well rounded perspective of the work I do and the true mission of the school,” she said. “I think my student benefited from my perspective of the school and the information I could provide around the way we run this huge business operation.ÿ Sometimes students forget that there is a whole lot going on behind the scenes to make this place run as well as it does (i.e. Finance, Marketing, Operations, IT, HR, etc).” Melissa’s husband graduated in 2010.

Although we work knee-deep in the trenches on a daily basis, don’t ask us to help you during EC add/drop period or to increase your financial aid. We can’t excuse your attendance or bump your 3 up to a 2. What we can do is lend our range of skills, diverse experiences, and unique perspectives to the daily management of the MBA Program, shaping programs and furthering initiatives to make HBS a better place year after year for the students and partners to come.

October 25, 2010
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