Features, On Campus

Cold Call with Sarah Cannon (NI)

Cold calls. Your professors love them. You fear them. Your ed rep crushes them. We think it’s about time that this HBS staple gets the rebranding it deserves. Each week, The Harbus chats with a randomly selected member of the student body. This week, Patrick Erker shot the breeze with Sarah Cannon, touching on a variety of subjects including Section I’s intramural legacy and how the business school is better looking than HKS.

CPE: Let’s start simple—what were you up to before school?

Sarah: I was at the Kennedy School last year and before that I was working on the President’s economic team. I worked for Larry Summers at the National Economic Council trying to get Americans more jobs. [Though the Harbus won’t hold Sarah responsible for the current unemployment numbers…]

CPE: Did you go to the jobs council event on campus this week?

Sarah: I did. I thought it was incredibly interesting. What surprised me was how consistent the recommendations are on what both business and government think we need to do—e.g., we need to invest in infrastructure, think about energy and reform our tax system. There seems to be more agreement between business leaders and the Administration on these issues than I would anticipate on these issues, but Congress appears to be a huge barrier to accomplishing them. What I like about the Council is that they’re trying to move the needle on things they feel like they can have an impact on. They’re focusing on things like high skill immigration, where they feel like they can make progress.

CPE: I am a very proud member of Old Section I of intramural and Section Olympics fame. Out of curiosity, what’s New I like?

Sarah: So we had heard about your infamy in sports. And I think the winning we would like to emulate, but maybe some of the reputational implications of some of your tactics we’d like to avoid. There was actually some advice from your section when you came in to transition to us that perhaps you don’t want to be hated by other sections, but you should still win. So I think we will try to optimize on both the winning and the friendly fronts.

[Brief off the record conversation to set the record straight on Section I’s sports reputation; record made straight.]

We lost our first game but the spirit is still strong.

CPE: What’s the most awkward thing that’s happened in section so far this year?

Sarah: We had a Cialis case and there is a gentleman in our section whose name is Per Magnus and our Marketing professor kindly said something like, “You know there’s someone in this class who seems very qualified to start this discussion…Magnus?” So that was pretty awkward. And the poor same guy—someone else in my section referred to him as Magnum in the Everest Simulation Debrief. “As Magnum said…”

CPE: That’s awesome. Changing gears—what’s been your favorite night out at HBS so far?

Sarah: You know, as I was walking over the bridge I was worried you would ask me this question. I think there have been at least two, though I think Havana Nights is my favorite. Havana Nights was fabulous. Although I had been to Cuba when I was younger, and there was not a lot about Cuba there. But the music was great, even if not Latin-themed.

CPE: Give me the ideal day for you, at HBS.

Sarah: A TOM class. [laughing]. Kidding. I have to really think about this because since I have come to HBS my life is so preplanned! I loved the jobs and competitiveness event, so some speaker on global affairs or global business, a lunch in my section where you get to hear about people’s past experience, and a wild night on the town.

CPE: Is the town Harvard Square, Boston?

Sarah: Boston, definitely. That’s actually been one of the best things about HBS. During my year at the Kennedy School we tended not to leave the Square. I was in an economics focused program, and we didn’t really make farther than three blocks from school, so going into Boston is a highlight!

CPE: When is the last time you were stung by a bee?

Sarah: When I was five, I was stung inside my mouth.

CPE: [incredulous] What?

Sarah: I still don’t know how it happened but it definitely happened. At a park. I think it might have flown in, then I closed my mouth, then it stung me…it was just overall a disaster.

CPE: I was having a bee sandwich, and for some reason the bee decided to sting the inside of my mouth…

Sarah: So rude!

CPE: I could ask you what superpower you’d want. Instead, I’ll ask—if you could be any villain, who would it be?

Sarah: Ursula? Who’s the one from The Little Mermaid? She is the image of evil. Maybe one of the witches from the Wizard of Oz. Or Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

CPE: You are a cross-registered student. You spent last year at the Kennedy School and have been at HBS long enough to have an opinion—who’s smarter? And who’s better looking?

Sarah: HBS is definitely better-looking, and I’m really hoping my Kennedy School classmates don’t read the Harbus. Smarter. Hm. I think the Kennedy School folks impress me with their depth of knowledge—they know economic models backwards and forwards. Many of them were international students so they studied these things not only as their major but for all four years of college. At HBS I think students are much better at thinking on their feet. So different kinds of intelligence.

CPE: Very political answer.

Sarah: It’s actually true!

CPE: As a policy expert, what are your thoughts on the upcoming election? Any prognostications?

Sarah: This is great to be called an expert, for the first time. I will knock on wood. I think the President’s chances are looking better and better, especially over the last week. But you never know until the day of the election. It’s still up for grabs. I wish I had more time to help his efforts!

CPE: Where are you going for FIELD?

Sarah: I don’t know yet, but I’m hoping India, and I listed Malaysia, Argentina and Chile as well because I haven’t been to any of those places.

CPE: Tell me a little more about your experience as a Fulbright.

Sarah: I worked with a think tank in Ghana and worked with members of their Parliament. I was originally going to evaluate U.S. development projects, the Millennium Challenge Corporation in particular. Since they didn’t break ground on their project the year I was there I switched to doing more work with this think tank. I helped them put together their first domestic violence legislation, which was a pretty awesome experience. And it was fascinating because there were lots of intense debates about what qualifies as domestic violence. Pretty interesting issue to work on!

CPE: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Sarah: Sadly, Barack Obama will not still be president then. This is a great question. I’d like to be back in San Francisco where I grew up. In my visioning exercise I saw myself in a tall glass building, but what I’ll be doing I’m still not sure. [Exit Harbus, enter Tim Butler]

September 25, 2012
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