When all is said and done, this is a pretty amazing school. We go around meeting incredible people around here, and sometimes in the thick of the experience we take for granted just how special and selfless some people are. This section of the Harbus goes out to a different person or team of people every edition. People who really inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves, and serve as role models. So if you have someone you’d like us to write about, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
It’s Thursday, February 27, and the HBS campus is in chaos, overrun by EC students toting ski poles and jackets and wheeling suitcases to and from class. It’s the start of the annual EC ski trip, this year to Breckenridge. Over 400 students are participating, almost 50% of the EC class. The entire trip was planned soup to nuts by the campus CEOs – Chief Events Officers of the HBS Student Association: Elizabeth Gill and Wojtek Kubik.
Gill and Kubik, in conjunction with the rest of the SA, plan 8-10 major all-school events per year, including Holidazzle, Newport Ball, and the Halloween Party. They additionally plan class-specific events such as the RC Orientation Welcome Party (Casino Night), the EC Welcome Back Gala (at the Aquarium), and the EC Formal and Graduation Party. They also manage smaller events such as the Hasty Pudding tickets and the Etiquette Ball. The SA has an internal committee that plans events such as TGIF, Trivia Nights, and Spangler Night Live, but Gill and Kubik are responsible for all external-facing events.
The plethora of events is “crucial to bonding the HBS community,” said SA Co-President Jordan Strebeck. Almost every single student on campus attends an SA event, which allows the events to be a unique opportunity to connect the HBS campus. Particularly in the section-less EC world, over 500 ECs and partners (and over 1100 RCs and partners) and attended SA tent-pole events such as Holidazzle.
As a result, “Elizabeth and Wojtek are often (behind the scenes) working on up to 4 events at a time,” said SA Chief Operating Officer, Mhoire Murphy. “The amount of work they have on their plates is incredible.”
“These two probably get more emails on a daily basis than you can possible imagine,” said SA Co-President Sarah Arora.
Such work, which Strebeck described as “incredibly difficult” and “sometimes thankless” include all aspects of organizing an event from the planning – generating ideas for venues and themes – to operations – ticket sales, marketing, and day-of operations. The logistics of planning the EC Ski Trip involved booking mass flights, coordinating lodging, daily social events for evening, organizing ski lift passes, working with the HBS Development Officers to identify sponsors for the events, communicating frequently with the administration, and making sure the event stays under budget. The two CEOs frequently have to use their strong relationships with HBS vendors to execute the thousands of details required to transport the entire EC class to Colorado or the entire student body to downtown Boston. Planning involves countless details that “most people take for granted,” added Strebeck, and logistics can easily go awry.
“The buses don’t show up on time for Holidazzle. The Boston police shuts down the club the night of the Red Sox win,” said Arora. “[They’ve] learned to expect the unexpected, keep their cool, and solve problems on the fly.”
“For the Halloween party, Wojtek orchestrated a massive 5-laptop, 4-iPad check in system and was running around managing the entire check-in team while dressed as Quailman (from Doug). Not kidding,” added Murphy.
Capstone events such as Holidazzle and EC Ski Trip happen every year, but Kubik and Gill have made operational changes to improve students’ experiences. “Elizabeth and Wojtek have worked really hard this year to utilize the SA Social & Product Reps within the RC Sections this year. It’s an element we really felt had been missing in years past,” said Strebeck. Additionally, the two changed the details of ticket pricing and day of operations to help with flow for Holidazzle. For EC Ski Trip, the two extensively researched potential vendors and selected the best and most cost-effective. They also created a mobile app from scratch that HBS students used throughout the weekend. The app contained emergency contact information, FAQs, and a list of events for the weekend. Lastly, they partnered with the Chief Development Officer to secure corporate sponsorship, a first for the EC Ski Trip.
“Elizabeth and Wojtek are somewhat of the odd couple. When we were interviewing people for our CEO positions, we loved them both independently, but it wasn’t immediately obvious that they would get along,” said Arora.
Murphy added that the two have complementary work styles – “Elizabeth is the calming force for sure. Wojtek is very passionate and a ton of fun to work with.”
Soon, Elizabeth and Wojtek will pass the CEO baton on to a new pair of RCs. Still, their work isn’t done. Said Murphy, “They are already talking about how they can help train and transition effectively all the hard work to next year’s team. They operate largely behind the scenes, but have such a huge impact on the student body with all the events they put together.”