HBS’s student leadership team shares their goals and plans for the upcoming year, Katherine Richardson (MBA ’23) reports.
The Student Association (SA) is the largest student organization at Harvard Business School, made up of the entire full-time MBA community. It is led by two peer-elected co-presidents and their appointed executive board who, alongside the SA Senate and section leadership, represent and advocate for HBS’s student body. Below, this year’s executive board shares their plans for the academic year ahead.
Co-Presidents, Brett Andersen (MBA ’22) and Irvin Gomez (MBA ’22)
After a difficult and unexpected 2020-2021, what excites you most about the year ahead for the Student Association?
We’ve assembled an incredible team and we are so excited to help them execute on their plan for the year! We want to deliver an incredible experience for ECs and RCs and show them that the SA is here for them and the entire community. Seeing the team come together makes us confident in our ability to deliver – we truly have an all-star team. We’re going to have a year; stay tuned!
Chief Wellness Officer, Alicia Corwin (MBA ’22)
How are you approaching Covid-19 this year, and how can students support you in those efforts?
It’s been a tough year and a half for everyone. Many things have been outside our control, and it may have felt overwhelming at times. While I cannot predict the future, I can help in the present. My top priority this year as Chief Health and Wellness Officer is to be a source of support for each and every student. One of my top priorities is open communication between students and the administration. One recurrent theme we heard last year from students was that there needed to be more transparency. This year we are working closely with the administration to maintain transparency about decisions. Students can best support our efforts by communicating any concerns they have to their health and safety reps or even reaching out to me directly.
My other main priority is to focus on supporting mental health and wellness for all students. The SA is working closely with SAS to partner with various wellness initiatives including massages, therapy dogs, movie nights, yoga, wellness breaks, and more. Students are also eligible for free sessions with the Counseling and Mental Health Services team. Additionally, I recognize that health and wellness looks different for everyone. I look forward to hearing from students who have ideas on how to widen and improve our scope of wellness.
Chief Academics Officer, Pat Corelli (MBA ’22)
Can you describe your most important goals for this year?
Our top priority is to work with the faculty and staff towards the best academic experience possible. For the EC class, that means building a great EC experience and working to recover as much of the RC experience as we can. For the RCs, we’re focused on mentoring and guiding the new Ed Reps, and Rachel Kellerman is going to do a great job as the head Ed Rep this year.
We think the SA is really well-positioned to become a sort of clearinghouse for a lot of the curriculum improvement ideas around campus, whether it’s keeping cases updated with industry trends or improving DEI content. We really want to get the best curriculum ideas from the HBS community and work with the faculty to implement them, and improving that process is our main curriculum priority.
For the Chief Community Officer, April Weathers (MBA ’22)
What’s your approach to creating a more inclusive HBS community, from both the social and academic perspective?
The Community office supports a more inclusive community through two primary means, first by ensuring there are opportunities for those on campus to hear from or get closer to others who they may not have previously had exposure to. The second way is by creating a voice for the members of our community who are not represented daily in classrooms, our partners and families. A majority of the work that goes into supporting these means is done by the section leadership reps, but there will also be small and large group events to support the community. Be on the lookout for additional Community MyTakes, small-group discussion facilitation, and service opportunities.
The Community office will also work closely with the DEI office to collaborate on inclusion where possible and highlight how HBS can be a more supportive environment for all.
Chief DEI Officers Tracey Thompson and Elizabeth Wilkins (MBAs ’22)
Can you discuss your overall mission and goals for this year?
As Co-Chiefs of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, our mission is to lift up systemically underrepresented voices and equip students (and faculty!) to become leaders and champions of equity.
Because the role of DEI Co-Chiefs and RC DEI Reps are relatively new positions (this is year two), we are very focused on defining the roles. This includes determining broad areas of focus and establishing enduring processes that will enable students in future classes to continue to influence and impact diversity, equity, and inclusion at HBS. For example, one of our areas of focus is DEI in academics. To this end, we began working with Matt Weinzierl over the summer to set up an “Academic Corps” of students from underrepresented minority affinity groups on campus that students and professors can easily collaborate with to get student feedback on new and existing cases and teaching plans. We are also working on establishing a process for students to share ideas for new cases that allows professors to better understand student demands and easily find collaborators.
Our other areas of focus include kicking off DEI training for section and club leadership, revamping the DEI-focused speaker series, facilitating collaboration between clubs that embraces intersectionality, and disseminating information about local resources and networks that help create a better sense of belonging and support for students. Finally, we are so excited to begin working with the new DEI Section Reps to help carry out the mission of DEI work in the section environment.
Chief Events Officers, Mannix Pullens and Margo Tercek (MBAs ’22)
What are your main goals for events this year and how are you working to recreate traditional RC experiences for the EC?
Our biggest priority this year is to create events that are memorable, inclusive and safe. That includes classic events like the Close of Business or Holidazzle, but also smaller-scale gatherings that can help foster a closer connection to classmates. We hope to work closely with RC social chairs to ensure that sections are bonding through diverse, consistent and (most importantly) fun social activities. Another top priority is recreating some traditional RC events that the EC class didn’t get to experience; for example, section retreats or the RC Olympics. We’re also working to improve the inclusivity of HBS events, so that parents, people with socioeconomic constraints, and nondrinkers feel welcomed and are able to celebrate with our community. Finally, another priority of ours is flexibility in the face of changing Covid-19 policies. While we are hopeful that we can continue with the typical event calendar, we know that we may have to shift plans in order to keep our community healthy. We’re determined to be adaptable and creative as the year unfolds, and promise to work hard to create events that are fun and meaningful while also complying with all relevant safety rules.
Head Senator, Brandon Angelini (MBA ’22)
What’s the top item in the senate agenda this year?
Our top priority this year is on building the long-term community at HBS, which manifests itself in helping solve student concerns by mobilizing across sections and class years, working with the SA executive team and the MBA staff to adjust hours, offerings, and amenities as needed, and quickly review budget changes to allow the SA Executive team to be nimble in spending in ways that best match student demand. The Senate has a representative from every section, making it a unique cross-section of the student body, and a way to gather broad input on issues that matter. We surface issues to each other, the SA executive team, and the MBA staff on a weekly basis, so feel free to reach out to your senator with anything on your mind, we love hearing from you!
Chief Finance Officer, Amaka Okoye (MBA ’22)
What do you want the student body to know about your role and goals for this year?
The CFO’s mandate is to ensure sufficient resources to enable the SA to deliver a high quality HBS experience to students, provide accountability into the use of these resources, and work with other SA leaders to ensure equity in the allocation of these resources across the student body. Through the Products office, we also provide many HBS-branded products (hello Patagonia!) and services at highly discounted prices to students.
With Covid-19 still a part of our lives, a major focus for this year is to maintain enough flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances without compromising on the HBS experience. In addition, we are working on revamping the Products office to make sure everyone knows all the awesome, affordable products and services we have to offer.
Chief of Staff, Brian Ratajczak (MBA ’22)
What are your main goals for the year ahead?
I have the pleasure of working with Allison Wu, Jorian Hoover, and Nayely Martinez (MBAs ’22) to create lasting change for the HBS student experience. One of our first focus areas is on where and how we communicate as a student body, both within our community and externally with partners such as the administration. Communication is one of the first steps to better collaboration, so we believe the changes we are putting in place will improve the types of opportunities and experiences students have with each other, faculty, and the administration. We are also aiming to build on many of the projects we spearheaded last year, which include initiatives to help us recapture some of the HBS Experience that was missed and make the most of being in this special place!
Katherine Richardson (MBA ’23) is a current RC who grew up in Southern California and is not quite ready for Boston winters. Before HBS, she worked for four years in brand strategy in New York City, working with companies spanning healthcare, CPG, food & bev, and luxury. In college, she spent four years as a reporter and editor at The Hoya, Georgetown University’s student paper, and is so excited to keep her passion for journalism and campus news alive at the Harbus.