Having finished the brutally busy first year, I’m now weighing what we learned. Over the past nine months, we have gone through 270 cases in 10 classes, making the same difficult decisions the case protagonists had to make. It is my habit to write down 3-5 key takeaways after each class, and the document exceeds 50 pages. This will be my guiding light after graduation.
Although there were a plethora of cases that I enjoyed, my favorite has to be “Erik Peterson”, a legendary case in our Leadership class. The case has been taught for more than two decades at HBS and was our first. Not only did this case teach me important lessons as a leader, but it also taught me the dynamics of the case method – the HBS way.
The case was actually an eye-opener and a bit of a rude awakening. The protagonist, a young HBS graduate, joins a medical device company, taking a key leadership position, and is ordered to implement an important strategy. The situation reflects, fairly accurately, what we can expect after graduation – vividly depicting a young over-achiever failing miserably in a complex organization. Knowing the case protagonist is similar in age to an HBS graduate, we couldn’t help but identify with him, feeling deep empathy and disappointment.
I won’t divulge further details here as future HBS students are expected to learn it in their class, however the case is available online and worth the read for any business professional. Recently I had a chance to talk with an HBS alum, Class of ’98, who whole-heartedly agreed - “Erik Peterson” was the best case ever.
Since arriving at HBS I have been tracking my use of time. It is essentially a wordless diary – just data input to an Excel spreadsheet. Requiring only 30 seconds a day, the tracking depicts my activities and their implicit priorities. I got into this regime when I was a consultant, after becoming familiar with a famous management consultant guru’s maxim:
“There are only three ways that you can change yourself. To change your living place, to change people you socialize with, and to change your time allocation. And the most useless way is to change your mindset.”
The following charts are the summary of my time allocation in the 1st and 2nd semesters at HBS.
Seemingly there is no obvious difference between the two semesters. A large part of my life remains occupied with sleep, classes and study, and comprises about 70% of my life. Yet, compared with the 1st semester, the 2nd semester saw an increase in time spent on family, exercise and other activities, and a reduction in time spent on class and study (3% in total). Considering the fact that the 2nd semester has four months, the 3% amounts to 88 hours – not an insignificant amount of time.
Next year, the charts will look very different. At HBS, EC is typically far more flexible than RC and students spend more time outside of class. I will be investing a good portion of my time in my own business plan development.
Last week, from May 23rd through 31st, 78 HBS students and their partners participated in HBS Japan Trek 2014. We visited four cities – Kyoto, Hiroshima, Hakone and Tokyo, and were treated to eight incredible, exciting and very busy days.
Started in the 1970s, Japan Trek is one of the most traditional and popular treks on offer at HBS. This intensive experience not only provides us an opportunity to learn about a new country but also introduces us to and gives us a feel for a new intersection network – Section Japan!
In just eight jam-packed days, we visited more than 30 sightseeing spots, enjoyed awesome authentic Japanese food, and drank hundreds of gallons of SAKE.
Although there are other treks offered at HBS, such as Morocco Trek, Israel Trek, and Tanzania Trek, Japan Trek is definitely the most valuable. Should you join us as at HBS, this is a not-to-be-missed event!