What They Teach You at Harvard Business School

The original title of this book was “Ahead of the Curve“, now it’s titled “What They Teach You at Harvard Business School“. It describes the author’s love-hate relationship of going through HBS. I found the book to be thrilling because it makes you feel like you’re a student at HBS. It also reminded me of my graduate school days at Georgia Tech.

I picked up this book to get a feeling of what an MBA education at a top school is like. It’s very detailed, both touching on the subjects being taught, as well as his personal relationships with other people in HBS. I learned a lot of interesting facts about HBS such as:

  • Three Ms characterize HBS class: Mormons, Military and McKinsey
  • Kellogg is famous for marketing, Stanford for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Wharton for financiers, Sloan for engineers and scientists
  • Part of the application process consists of an interview with an alumni, and children of alumni are preferred
  • Admitted students buy luxury cars to get more financial aid, because financial aid is provided based on your bank account
  • There’s a Turkish professor teaching at HBS, Zeynep Ton
  • Graduating with an MBA, top private equity firms pay $400,000. The second best alternative is investment banking, with $200,000 salary
  • HBS definition of entrepreneurship: “the relentless pursuit of opportunity beyond resources currently controlled”
  • HBS had a policy of not revealing students’ grades to recruiters
  • Average age was 27
  • It cost him $175,000 (tuition, accommodation, health insurance and living expenses)
  • Among graduates, 42 percent went into financial services and 21 percent went into consulting
  • Median of total compensation was $138,125

The book involves the struggle between work-life balance, and the difficulty the author had from changing his career because his background was journalism, not consulting or finance, and the tension during his job search. The overall tone of the book is critical of an MBA and HBS. Overall, it was a great read, I highly recommend it if you would like to get a feeling about what an MBA education is like at Harvard Business School.

February 17, 2011



sarp centel

Sarp is a software developer. He writes about technology, books and software.
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