“It’s the Cake that People Come to Eat”

By - Jul 8, 19:25 PM Comments [0]

New business school deans typically take 18 months to introduce the first changes into their schools. But Harvard Business School’s new dean, Nitin Nohria took only six months to start shaking things up at HBS since he began his tenure last July.

Icing on the Cake at Harvard Business SchoolAs the new dean explains, “In the end, it’s the quality of the educational experience that brings people together. All that other stuff is the icing on the cake, but it’s the cake that people come to eat.”

And Nohria is clearly changing HBS’ cake recipe. Three recent articles in Poets and Quants highlight the way in which Nohria has transformed one of the top business schools in the country:

  • The Reinvention of Harvard Business School” focuses on Nohria’s appointment of unlikely professors to take on chair positions and other programmatic changes, such as introducing an eight-day global internship in the first year. The article also profiles Nohria and explains why these changes are dramatic for Harvard.
  • The Four Curriculums of a Great MBA” looks at how Nohria utilized a study done by a Harvard professor analyzing the impact that HBS had on its graduates.  The study arranges HBS’ impact on students into four categories—academic, social, career, and cultural—“mirroring the four curriculums that Harvard offers.”
  • The Five Priorities of Nitin Nohria” examines how Nohria moved forward with changes based on his five priorities, better known as the “Five I’s for Innovation”:

    Innovation- Tackling the fact that some companies no longer see enough added value in MBAs by bringing change to Harvard’s program through adding a ‘field method’ to complement the ‘case method’

    Intellectual Ambition- Although faculty has already contributed to many of the most important management concepts, Nohria wants to ensure the faculty continues to bring forward new ideas.

    Internationalization- to increase its international impact, Nohria feels the school must expand its international base.

    Inclusion- Nohria wants HBS to be a home for all; therefore, he has spearheaded many new inclusion efforts, the first of which is to look at the challenges facing women at HBS. 

    Integration- HBS already collaborates with other departments at Harvard, but in the future they are going to be  “breaking down [more] logistical barriers.”

    For HBS applicants all three P&Q articles are a must read. Primary take-aways:

    • If you are coming from blue chip firms and fields, don’t be confident that you have it made. You will still want to show an innovativeness and international outlook that perhaps wasn’t quite as important 2+ years ago.
    • As always, make sure you don’t simply mouth the mantra. Show that you have lived as many of the 5 I’s as you can, that you walk the walk.
    • If you thought your non-traditional background reduced your chances at HBS, think again. The program has become more inclusive in more than just gender and ethnicity.

    On a personal note, I found Nitin Nohria’s “Four curriculums” very close to the critical elements I have been urging you to focus on for years, both in deciding where to apply and attend and in responding to “Why School X?” questions.  I have focused on: recruiting and career opportunities (Nohria’s career), the curriculum (academic), co-curricular activities (social) , and, personal preferences (cultural).

    It’s nice to know Dr. Nohria has been reading this blog. 🙂

    By Linda Abraham, Accepted.com's president and founder.

    Photo credit: chotda

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