Kevin Ferguson (MBA ’18) and Angelica Castellanos (MBA ’18) have been elected as the Harvard Business School Student Association Co-Presidents for 2017-2018. The co-presidency, elected by the RC year, begins after spring break.
Kevin and Angelica began their campaign by distributing Dum Dums lollipops across all ten RC classrooms, along with a small card containing their platform for co-presidency. Under the slogan ‘Integrity | Leadership | Experience’, Kevin and Angelica argued for an RC-wide trek, a ‘Lunch ‘n Learn’ alumni talk series, and additional food trucks. They also focused on holding the HBS management to account, particularly with respect to improving career opportunities for international students.
Writing exclusively for The Harbus, Kevin and Angelica also outlined plans ‘to host public speaking coaches to work with students on their presentation and public speaking skills’ and ‘creating spaces to take professional calls and providing covered bike parking’.
Angelica joined the Colombian Air Force after high school and was first woman in
their explosives and land-mine unit. Born in Bucaramanga, Colombia, Angelica studied at EAFIT University, majoring in International Business. She also holds a master’s degree in Supply Chain and Logistics from EAE Business School in Barcelona, Spain.
Angelica has six years of experience in the food and beverage industry through her family’s business, and founded a non-profit in Colombia to advocate for orphans and other children under state care. She is a single mother of a young son.
Before HBS, Kevin worked for BP Chemical and Chevron Corporation as an instrumentation and electrical engineer. He grew up in Gadsden, Alabama, and attended Alabama A&M University, majoring in electrical engineering. He is married to his wife Devin.
According to their campaign website www.angie-kev4prez.com, Kevin and his father launched The Ferguson & Son Foundation in 2012. The 501(c)(3) foundation has awarded nine students scholarships to pursue university education. The foundation also runs a six-week ACT preparation program for high school sophomores, at the end of which students take an official ACT exam for free. Over fifty students have learned about STEM careers through the foundation’s specific mentoring and workshop efforts.
The other co-presidency candidate team was comprised of Allison Campbell (MBA ’18) and Phil Caruso (JD/MBA ’19). They distributed zany orange stickers across RC classrooms with quotes from Jean-Claude Biver as election material. Allison and Phil’s platform involved plans to hold the HBS management to account for the welfare and career prospects of the MBA cohorts. Two initiatives proposed were free coffee in Spangler for students and improving international student recruitment.
Free coffee is currently being delivered at Harvard’s law and education schools for their graduate students, and the argument was made that HBS is financially better placed to deliver a similar service. Allison and Phil also argued that international students are currently disadvantaged through the current formal Career & Professional Development recruiting process. Firms recruiting through CPD must pay for each interview slot they offer, and may be reluctant to interview international students who may need visa sponsorship for full-time offers given American competition. Allison and Phil’s proposal was to give firms free slots to interview international students.
The new leadership will take over from LaToya Marc (MBA ’17) and Libby Leffler (MBA ’17), SA co-presidents 2016-2017. All candidates in the 2017 SA election noted the innovative use of electronic surveys by Marc and Leffler to aggregate feedback from HBS MBAs to lobby HBS management.
The first major challenge the co-presidency will face concerns the nature and timing of the Field Global Immersion (‘FIELD2’) course for the 2017-2018 academic year. FIELD2 is a required course for RCs at the Harvard Business School, where MBAs travel internationally to help improve a local firm’s customer experience using ‘human-centered design’. Last year, RCs undertook FIELD2 in January, enabling them to travel regionally before their deployment. This year FIELD2 will occur at the end of spring term’s teaching but before exams.
Arguments offered up by faculty for moving FIELD2 have been that the January timing put undue pressure on students’ summer internship recruiting, and that students are better prepared for the business challenges having studied second semester’s courses. In addition, the argument has been made that the break between classes and exams will reinforce our learning of second semester’s material.
There has been widespread discontent on the timing of 2017’s FIELD2 across the RC year, with most complaints concerning the pressure put on exams. Students will return to America on the Monday or Tuesday to engage in a FIELD2 Capstone on Friday. RCs will then spend the weekend working on a separate project to pitch to panels of HBS alumni on Monday, 400 of whom will attend. RCs’ exams then begin on Wednesday. There are also complaints about the inability to travel around FIELD2, with some students speculating that restricting travel is due to a previous incident in Brazil.
While they do not know it yet, next year’s RCs will look to the new co-presidency to engage with overarching HBS scheduling planning to voice students’ concerns.