What is it that Dean Nohria will do with his one wild and precious life?
Last November, Dean Nitin Nohria announced that he would be passing the torch and stepping down from his role at the helm of HBS. While that led most of us to reflect on his many accomplishments at the school (including his star performance in last year’s HBS Show), Dean Nohria was leaning back in his home office chair (hurrah, self-isolation) and staring out of a window, deep in thought. He was already looking ahead, meditating about what he would do with the rest of his one wild and precious career.
Of course, changing jobs can be a challenge, so Dean Nohria did what any member of the HBS community would in his shoes: he took a trip to CPD. “I was actually planning on leaving last fall when I first made the announcement, but CPD didn’t have availability until March 2020. Hence, I ended up staying well past my two weeks’ notice,” said Nohria. Clutching his HBS-emblazoned padfolio, he recounted his experience meeting with the CPD team. “They kept referring me to ‘12Twenty.’ I wasn’t sure if that was an address or a time I should come back to their office, but everyone else seemed to agree that was the best next step, so I just nodded along.” Filing away his professional headshots, he continued, “They were very direct about the challenges ahead, but remained encouraging, which I appreciated. Kelly told me finding a job can be difficult, but that even 3s become offerees, so I should be fine.”
Kelly Schmidt, a senior career coach with CPD, outlined the long road ahead for candidates like Dean Nohria. “It’s a tough market out there, especially in Nitin’s case. After all, although he has spent over a decade at the university, Dean Nohria still doesn’t hold a Harvard degree. That will surely give pause to firms, and so many of the graduates he’ll be competing against for jobs will have that edge,” Schmidt sighed. “Plus, from an outsider’s perspective, he hasn’t been promoted at HBS for the last ten years. He kept insisting that Dean was the highest possible position at HBS during our meeting, but how would a hiring manager at a company know that? That kind of stagnation will be a major red flag for employers.”
Getting ready for the job search doesn’t end there. At a CPD recruiting workshop, Dean Nohria was able to hone his interview skills and update his resume. “While some students may slightly exaggerate the extent of their experience on their resumes, we’ve advised him to limit his references to being a ‘leader as an architect’ as he has no formal training in architecture,” said Jackie Green, a CPD career coach working with Dean Nohria. The CPD team also told Dean Nohria to headline his resume with something other than “Appeared in the Spider-Man movie.”
Fortunately, attending CPD’s spring recruiting sessions paid off, and Nohria managed to impress a few companies. Following his first-round interview with BCG, Paul Simpson, a partner in the Boston office, had this to say about Dean Nohria: “He had a great interview—he clearly prepared and knew how to handle a case. My only concern was that he kept referring to us as ‘The Boston Consulting Group’ instead of just ‘BCG’ like everyone else. Also, every time an acronym came up, he seemed to struggle—which could be a problem. As consultants, most of our job is turning existing business practices and common knowledge into frameworks littered with unnecessary and unclear abbreviations—it’s our core value-add.” When asked about his aversion to acronyms, Nitin said he’s working on it. “I’ve started calling it ‘The BCG’ but it still seems too formal. Maybe I’ll check out McKinsey where they call it ‘The Firm.’ That seems more up my alley.”
While Dean Nohria hasn’t found the perfect fit quite yet, he’s still hopeful. In the meantime, he will stay in his current role until May 2021. When asked about his decision to remain at HBS, Dean Nohria reflected on his experience over the past year, “Through this process, I’ve come to realize that HBS is home. No, literally. I live here. I can’t leave.”
Check back with The Harbus for the latest on Dean Nohria’s recruitment. Also, if your company has openings that include housing and limited acronyms, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harby is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated MBA advice columnist and the author of such bestsellers as Teaching Your Dog How to DCF and The Seven People You Meet at the Boston Doubletree. She is on Instagram @dearharby. Want some advice from Harby? Email your question to email@example.com.