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"Personal fit" vs. brand (or: Berkeley Haas vs. Harvard HBS)

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"Personal fit" vs. brand (or: Berkeley Haas vs. Harvard HBS) [#permalink]

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New post 23 Nov 2017, 13:58
Hi everyone,

I know it's a bit early, decisions are not out yet. But I had two very promising interviews with Haas and HBS and wanted to start thinking about what I should do in case the most favorable outcome materializes - a yes from both schools (I can't help it, I'm a dreamer). Your perspectives would be highly appreciated to help me on my decision journey :)

My first thoughts: The first and most obvious choice of course seems to be Harvard. It's *the* top school, everyone knows the brand, great network, etc. But I feel that on the personal fit side Berkeley might be the better choice.

About myself: While I worked in consulting for the past years at one of the Top3, I've always been more of a "non-typical" consultant. Without going too much into detail - Yes, I like my job and I am ambitious, but I also think that living a mindful and socially responsible life is ultimately more important than a great career or financial success. I'm also not sure yet whether I really want to work crazy hours throughout my whole life just to sit in c-suite with 50+. I get a lot of satisfaction working and engaging with people, a lot more than from any analytical task.

The MBA should help me reflect on alternative career paths with (more) purpose. Long-term I would love to move into Sustainability, potentially by founding a Cleantech startup. Haas offers a specification for Energy and Cleantech and has a great location for Entrepreneurship, however I'm sure both schools offer sufficient opportunities for this path. I should also mention that I strongly relate to Haas' values and culture. I think their focus on ethics and collaboration is great.

As you can see, it's really difficult for me to make a decision. If I pick Haas, I might regret I ditched the "world's best business school" later on. If I pick Harvard, I might regret I didn't follow my "gutfeeling" and whether I would have had a better time at Haas.

Any advice?

Thanks a lot in advance!

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Re: "Personal fit" vs. brand (or: Berkeley Haas vs. Harvard HBS) [#permalink]

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New post 24 Nov 2017, 04:57
NataschaBlue wrote:
Any advice?

Thanks a lot in advance!


I think Haas certainly fits well with your goals, but I wouldn't give up HBS for anything other than a full ride....and even then I don't know if that's the best idea. HBS will get you almost anywhere, and it actually places pretty well into energy. I'd rather live with going to Harvard and wondering about Haas then the other way around.

I'll also mention the CEO of Vivint solar is from Harvard, as are a few other execs in major solar companies. They are out there, they just aren't as prominent as in some other fields.

Check out this article which is a little dated, but still very good.
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140704 ... gy-sector/

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Re: "Personal fit" vs. brand (or: Berkeley Haas vs. Harvard HBS) [#permalink]

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New post 29 Nov 2017, 05:42
Thanks for the article... it does confirm though that relatively speaking more people from Haas go into Renewable Energy ;) But of course, sheer size of HBS will almost always put them on top of absolute numbers in these stats.

You are probably right about how difficult it is to give up HBS. But still... I feel a lot of what makes Harvard that special is the brand and reputation itself. It's actually difficult to get a "real view" behind the curtain. When I talk to current students or alumni from either school, Haas people will talk about how life changing the experience was, how amazing the people - not just in terms of achievement but personally. Everyone I talked to from HBS stressed mainly how accomplished everyone was, and how many doors the name Harvard opens etc.

I would love to know what's up with that - because maybe the choice is not even "personal fit" vs. brand. Currently it feels that way though because everything you hear about Harvard is brand. Even if you look for the schools on youtube. Haas videos of people presenting the Campus and introducing their classmates vs. How do you get into Harvard, what are your chances at Harvard, etc. ... you see where I'm coming from?

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"Personal fit" vs. brand (or: Berkeley Haas vs. Harvard HBS) [#permalink]

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New post 30 Nov 2017, 15:23
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NataschaBlue wrote:
Thanks for the article... it does confirm though that relatively speaking more people from Haas go into Renewable Energy ;) But of course, sheer size of HBS will almost always put them on top of absolute numbers in these stats.

You are probably right about how difficult it is to give up HBS. But still... I feel a lot of what makes Harvard that special is the brand and reputation itself. It's actually difficult to get a "real view" behind the curtain. When I talk to current students or alumni from either school, Haas people will talk about how life changing the experience was, how amazing the people - not just in terms of achievement but personally. Everyone I talked to from HBS stressed mainly how accomplished everyone was, and how many doors the name Harvard opens etc.

I would love to know what's up with that - because maybe the choice is not even "personal fit" vs. brand. Currently it feels that way though because everything you hear about Harvard is brand. Even if you look for the schools on youtube. Haas videos of people presenting the Campus and introducing their classmates vs. How do you get into Harvard, what are your chances at Harvard, etc. ... you see where I'm coming from?


Honestly it sounds like you may be hoping for us to tell you to go with Haas; and if upon reflection that is the case then I think you already have your answer.

I can't talk too much to your goals or HBS but I know through vast research across a few MBA programs there are some common threads no matter what:

    1. You will be spending 2 years with this program
    2. Most MBA graduates' best friends are fellow students from the program
    3. The alumni and student networks will be a part of your life going forward

You do have a very difficult choice, an awesome problem to have but still a problem. My own opinion (for whatever it's worth), your work experience is probably strong enough to help compensate for the difference in brand value between HBS and Haas. More importantly if you think both will get you where you want to go (short and long term) then the answer is obvious. Sketch out who and where you want to be in 5, 10, and 20 years and think about which one you'll be happy you chose (at least this helps me).

Best of luck in the choice and remember the most important thing: you aren't picking the lesser of two evils you're picking the greater of two goods, can't go wrong :)
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