What brought you to HBS?
Was it a hope to change career? The case method? The prospect of making 900, if not 1800, new friends? Irrespective of which of these options rings true for you, most of them are derived in some way from the fact that we are fortunate enough to be immersed in a multitude of diverse perspectives on a daily basis at HBS.
Wide-ranging travel experiences over Spring Break have reminded us to reflect on this fact. Experiencing how differently people live in unfamiliar cultures increases our appreciation and empathy for “others” – the old (but true) cliché that travel opens our eyes to new ways of looking at the world. HBS students seem to have no dearth of appetite for international travel, illustrated by the #hbstrek tags that are still taking over our social media feeds. We explore in the pages of The Harbus how much of that travel has deeply impacted our classmates: from VHacks at the Vatican, to inspiring the founding of non-profit organizations, to global leadership summits.
It’s no surprise that, treks aside, HBS itself places great emphasis on immersive international experience. Next month sees all 928 first-year students head out on FIELD Global Immersions to far-flung corners of the world, while second-years have a further opportunity to do so with Immersive Field Courses. For MBA students who aspire to be global leaders in any industries, it is crucial to understand how the world at large – not to mention the business world – runs in countries different from our own.
But having recently returned from our Spring travels, we at The Harbus are also reminded that we don’t only need to venture abroad to seek out those new perspectives. In fact, we don’t even need to look further than our own campus. Today 35% of MBA students at HBS are international. The Class of 2019 represents 70 different countries outside the US. Beneath these statistics are distinct individuals who bring their own unique perspectives to our discussions inside and outside the classroom.
At an institution as large as this, it can be tempting to fall into the trap of gravitating toward people “like me.” But these two years at HBS will slip away before we know it. Just as some of the most valuable travel experiences occur when we are just outside our comfort zones, the same can be said for business school more generally.
We have a responsibility to each other, and to ourselves, to seize this opportunity. Explore new viewpoints through the eyes of your classmates. Seek out different opinions. We may never again find ourselves in such an intentionally diverse community.
Kaplan Test Prep recently released a poll indicating that the majority of MBA admissions officers were either very concerned or somewhat concerned that the current US political climate will negatively impact international student enrollment in the years to come. HBS Admissions may not yet be worried, as so far it’s the smaller schools – those with 200 or fewer students – that have seen falling applications from international students. Nevertheless, this may be a concerning sign of what’s to come.
The HBS pedagogy, based as it is in the case method, is at its most electrifying when it brings out the most diverse voices in the room. If we’ve learned one thing from our travels, it’s that we must continue to encourage all voices to be heard. The way we learn here depends on it.
Pria Bakhshi (HBS ’19) is originally from India via London, England (along with a few other places) and graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2011. Pria is an RC, Section G, and is a Student Advisor to the HBS Business & Environment Initiative. Prior to HBS, she spent six years in sales and trading at Goldman Sachs in London.
Sumit Malik (HBS ’19) is an investor, writer, and entrepreneur. Professionally, his background is in venture capital and private equity at Warburg Pincus, strategy as a board member of Santander Asset Management Chile, and investment banking at Goldman Sachs. Personally, he writes for academic and popular publications and performs music and poi (light- or fire-spinning). He previously received an A.B., summa cum laude, from Harvard College and an S.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.