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Women Leaders from Class of 2022

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Professor Trevor Fetter on Leadership Dilemma

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Meet Your New Topic Editors - From the Editor’s Desk, p.2


Fall Semester, 2020

Bringing news to Harvard Business School since 1937

October Edition

First Virtual RC Olympics Succeeds in Building Section Bonds


Israt Tarin (MBA ’22) reports on how the first ever virtual RC Olympics was organized and discusses the historic levels of participation by the RCs. Israt Tarin, Campus News Editor

HBS Community Engaged and Excited about 2020 Elections Rebecca Braun (MBA ’21) reports on the concerted efforts by the HBS Community to improve civic engagement and voter turnout in the upcoming presidential election. Rebecca Braun, Contributor

U.S. voter participation is low by both international and historical standards, and the youth of today are less likely to vote than both the Boomers we mock and our peers of past decades. But many feel that we might be at an inflection point. In today’s fraught context—abounding with pandemic, recession, enduring racism, climate change, partisanship, and the death of a Supreme Court Justice—there is renewed interest in politics among the population generally and young people specifically. This HBS cohort can set a new bar for civic engagement. Voting is step one. Our track record is not stellar: in the

2016 presidential elections, a measly 40% of eligible graduate students at Harvard voted, per a report from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE). Surely, we can do better. HBS is not known for political activism, especially compared to our counterparts across the river, but HBS students are engaged in the elections this year. “Business school is an investment in our futures, at a huge opportunity cost,” Stephen Moch (MBA/MPP ’21) points out. “But to see that benefit, we need to have lasting institutions that can sustain job prospects— and life prospects. Now is the time to do something. We will reap the benefits for the rest of our lives.” If you are one of the many who want to do “something,” look to our HBS community for inspiration.

We can start with education, formal or informal. ECs are excited about a new course called “Road to the White House, a Businessperson’s Perspective on Presidential Politics.” It is taught by Robert White, who Chaired Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 Presidential Campaigns and served as a full-time senior advisor on both. Asked what he hopes students learn, Professor White stated, “I hope that they leave the course more energized to actively engage in the important political debates that have a direct effect on our communities at a time when both capitalism and democracy itself are being challenged.” Reflecting on the classes thus far, Moch acknowledged the “mutual admiration and respect” visible across the political aisle between the teaching team and visiting speakers like Obama campaign Continued on page 3

An important component of section learning is to quickly break the ice and create a sense of camaraderie. It is no small feat in a normal year, and this year the challenge was compounded by all events having to be virtual due to Covid-19.

One event that was instrumental in accelerating the section bonding process was the RC Olympics. With the aim of working within the limitations of making the event virtual while also making it appeal to both brain and brawn, the Student Association and co-hosting clubs created a two-week virtual RC Olympics, comprising ten games that would test the newly formed Continued on page 2


Student Career Spotlight - page 05

Start-up Corner: Capchase - page 07

Palay on Our Collective Responsibilities in a Pandemic

- page 12

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Start-up Corner: LiveLike - page 06

Interview with VP of Partners - page 10-11

Satire on RC Life - pages 14-15

From the Editor’s Desk

THE H A RBUS NEWS CORPOR ATION Harvard Business School Gallatin House Basement Boston, MA 02163 phone: 617-495-6528 fax: 617-495-8619 general@harbus.org www.harbus.org

Meet Your New Topic Editors!

Editor-in-Chief UPOMA DUTTA udutta@mba2021.hbs.edu Chief Executive Officer HARSHA MULCHANDANI Chief Operations Officer NATASHA LARSEN natasha@harbus.org Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer VAUGHN KURTENBACH vaughn@harbus.org Chief Design Officer GARRETT TONGE garrett@sylvanus-urban.com Campus News Editors RASEEM FAROOK ISRAT TARIN

©Harvard Business School

Upoma Dutta, Editor-in-Chief

is dealing with the current challenges, bring advice on how to break into the industry, and help share alumni and current student voices.

Entertainment Editor FELIPE CERÓN Entrepreneurship Editor MIKE KELLY Partner & Community Editor ANJA DO Satire Editors COOPER WILLIAMS HEATHER JACKSON NISHKAM PRABODH Women Leadership Editor NOELIA LOMBARDO GAVA Product Manager BASMA AIOUCHE

I am constantly amazed by how fast our time at HBS goes by. This month marks my first anniversary with the Harbus and true to form, we are excited to welcome the new crop of Topic Editors who will add investigative, thought-provoking, and well-rounded stories to our pages in the months ahead. -Upoma Dutta, Editor-in-Chief


The Harbus is a publication of the Harbus News Corporation, a nonprofit, independent corporation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Harbus is published monthly throughout the academic year, distributed free of charge to members of the Harvard Business School community, and updated continually on harbus.org. Email the editor if you would like to contribute. Off-campus subscriptions are available. Copyright © 2019, the Harbus News Corporation.

Felipe Cerón, Entertainment Editor As our late Robin Williams put it, “medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” I will bring out the latest and most interesting stories related to the world of the arts, focusing on the entertainment industry. I will cover news from how the industry

Mike Kelly, Entrepreneurship Editor

Israt Tarin, Campus News Editor People make HBS. This is more true than ever as we grapple with Covid-19 and following the required social distancing protocols. The concept of a campus is no longer represented by concrete buildings or neatly mowed lawns; rather campus has now come to signify a community that lives online. I want to bring stories to you that are about our community, about what is happening at HBS and also about what we wish would happen at HBS. I want to bring to you stories that will change the narrative on inclusion by shifting our perspectives and stories that will introduce us to ideas, words, and foods that we have never heard of before. Ideas we can build on, words we may want to learn, and foods we would want to try.

Entrepreneurship, with all its ups and downs, attracts some of the most driven and passionate people. In my prior work with startups, I always left conversations with entrepreneurs feeling inspired by their visions. I am thrilled to join the Harbus team as the Entrepreneurship Editor, where I hope to share stories that inspire the next generation of HBS founders. I will cover startups across industries and geographies, and I hope to highlight the founders tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues, including food security, education, and sustainability.

Nishkam Prabodh, Satire Editor Satire and honesty are like socks. They should ideally come in a pair, and you never have enough of them. Given my

Noelia Lombardo Gava, Women Leadership Editor The stories we read, we listen to, we tell, inevitably shape our understanding of the world. Storytelling, thus, has the power to transform that view; to expand it to unimagined horizons. In the words of the great female leader Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “when we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.” For years, leadership stories have been centered around male figures. Male leadership has become the single story. Given my personal quest to transform that single story, I am delighted to be joining as the Women Leadership Editor at the Harbus. With great responsibility, I will interview female leaders and share their incredible stories. I hope to inspire the HBS community by widening our definition of leadership.

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HBS Community Engaged and Excited about 2020 Elections Continued from cover strategist David Axelrod. A common challenge is to turn learning into action. This has prompted Ariel Carmeli (MS/ MBA ’22) to organize “Act Now” events. Inspired by the impactful small-group discussions on race organized by sectionmates Nimisha Ganesh, Nicole Granet, Alex Green, and Allie O’Shea (MBAs ’21), Carmeli hoped to provide a similar and nonpartisan forum about voting. He chose this topic “first because it’s my responsibility, but also because I want to support the crossgenerational, cross-racial struggle for the ability to vote.” At one such gathering, Alec Forbes (MBA ’21) applied to be a poll worker—for which there is an unusually acute need because more Americans over 60, who comprised 58% of poll workers in 2018 per the Pew Research Center, are staying home to reduce their coronavirus risk. “I needed this nudge!” said Forbes. Anyone can follow this model, organizing small groups for discussion, action, and accountability. Also educating and seeking tangible action, recent HBS graduate Chelsea Celistan (MBA ’20) and a team of co-founders started the community March to the Polls (M2P) after the death of George Floyd. Observing the marches following Floyd’s death, Celistan imagined, “How powerful would it be if all of those people had their absentee ballots in hand and were marching to the Post Office?” With that vision plus a dedicated, all-volunteer team, M2P was launched. It educates followers on current issues with nonpartisan, factbased information via a weekly newsletter The Weekly March and Instagram (@marchtothepolls_). Armed with data and resources, followers are empowered to act: register to vote, educate their networks, and sign up to work at the polls. M2P has partnered with Power the Polls, an initiative to recruit poll workers, with over 120 people signed up through M2P’s unique URL. HBS clubs also offer fora to get involved. Both the HBS Republican and Democrats Clubs report high engagement. Jimmy Aylward, co-President of the Republican Club along with Jeremy Kubach (both MBAs ’21), noted, “We’re seeing a lot of excitement among students [including] at the Club Fair” and added that the interest is also in local politics. The Democrats Club is also witnessing the student energy leading up to November 3. According to James Smith-Dingler (MBA ’22), coPresident of the Democrats Club with Ryan Brellenthin (MBA/ MPP ’21), “No one wants to look

back on this election and regret not having done more. We are certainly hearing that sentiment from across the HBS community and among the members of the Democrats Club.” Asked about his personal motivations for engaging, Brellenthin explained, “I worked as a staffer in battleground states in the two previous presidential elections. Stepping away from school to work on this year’s

country, so it’s important to have nuanced discussions on campus.” Anyone can join the club or their newsletter to stay updated. In addition, The Democrats Club is working closely with the student group Harvard for Biden. Matthew Shackelford (MBA/ MPP ’21) led the creation of Harvard for Biden’s Graduate Council in March; it now has 250 members and counting across the Harvard graduate schools.

youth-of-color-led independent nonprofit in Wisconsin, including by improving their digital advertising and building a new textbot that walks eligible youths through voter registration. Others, like Kevin Meers (MBA ’22), have made the tough decision to defer. Meers is working on three projects: Regular People, campaign analytics for the Georgia State House race, and early vote analytics for the Biden campaign.

election, believe they can make a difference, and stand ready to make their voices heard.” Let us join in and make our voices heard. “Every little bit helps,” encourages Shackelford. “These elections could change the course of our country and the world.” Echoing that every bit helps, Celistan shares final words of encouragement: “Do you feel hopeless? Vote. Do you feel hopeful? Vote. Vote in an informed

Leveraging his background in sports analytics, Meers tracks early and absentee voting and helps local campaigns stretch scarce resources by automating processes. “I felt a lot of regret after 2016,” Meers reflected. “I don’t know how many ‘marginal votes’ I’m adding, but I feel a lot better doing something.” Meers’ choice may not be right for everyone, but on the civic engagement spectrum, there is something anyone can do— now and long term. “Personally, I’ve been thrilled to hear from classmates that not only many of them are interested in the election this fall but also that they would be willing to someday work in the public sector or run for office,” said Brellenthin. A recent Tufts CIRCLE poll concludes: young people are “engaged in the 2020

way, and make sure your family and friends do too.”

Source: CIRCLE/Tisch College 2020 Pre-Election Youth Poll

campaign was not the right call for me personally, so I’ve been excited to help students who are new to politics navigate the landscape and learn how to get more involved.” These clubs and the Free Enterprise Club are collaborating in two ways. First, they are working with the Harvard Votes Challenge to increase voter registration and participation. Second, they are coordinating to bring speakers to campus to educate about policy issues. Explaining one reason for this effort, Kubach shared, “I think the conservative political philosophy is often misunderstood” and hopes this will illuminate Republican policies on issues “typically seen as across the aisle” like climate change. Emphasizing this point, Aylward said, “HBS is one of the most prominent schools in the

Member Patrick Deem (MBA/ MPP ’21) is organizing its phone banking: “Since we can’t take buses to New Hampshire this year, phone banking seemed like the best and maybe the only way for me to get involved.” After a small, successful pilot on September 16, during which participants chatted with voters in Bucks County, PA, they are planning weekly phone banks on Wednesdays from 6:307:30pm. Some students are getting involved beyond campus life. While staying enrolled, Brendan Lind (MBA/JD ’23), co-founder and CEO of Human Agency, and his team have started Regular People, a political action committee, and are helping organizations and campaigns go digital in three states. For example, they are supporting Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT), a

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Rebecca Braun (MBA ’21) is a transplant to Seattle from Delaware. She claimed the one annual HBS spot reserved for someone with “Peace Corps” on their resume and was immediately roasted for it upon arrival, but she blends in by starting most class comments with “When I was a BCG consultant…” She spent the summer learning to sail (also interning at ICIC, a Bostonbased nonprofit) and is actively looking for friends with sailboats.


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First Virtual RC Olympics Succeeds in Building Section Bonds Continued from cover RC sections’ spirit. Lukas Lukoschek (MBA ’21) the Student Association’s VP of Athletics and Alex Oyler (MBA ’21) led the organizing team for this year’s RC Olympics. Lukoschek shared how they were able to overcome the challenges of organizing the event in this unusual environment. “Two objectives guided the RC competition this year,” Lukoschek explained. “First, the games should be a conduit to get to know section mates and form a section bond. Second, the games should spark the competitive spirit among students. In the past, field day had been criticized for exclusively focusing on athletic abilities. We saw this year’s virtual constraint as an opportunity to break away from the sports focus and make the competition more inclusive. The chosen events spanned the disciplines of art, creativity, humor, and athletics. We hoped the games would give each student, including the students calling in from around the world, a chance to contribute and connect with their new section.” With a virtual START week and zoom fatigue kicking in for the RC’s, the organizing team also wanted to ensure that the games helped students have fun rather than become an administrative nightmare. “Compared to last year’s single-day in-person event, a challenge this year was communication.” Lukoschek added. “We did not want to spam students with emails, nor did we want to rely on shared documents and spreadsheets on the cloud that would seem make-shift. Luckily, the Engage platform was introduced this summer that we used to communicate rules, results, and game submissions with the students. Shout out to the SAS team for helping us integrate the RC Olympics on short notice.” How did the RCs view these thoughtful minutiae? The participation numbers spoke for themselves. For instance, the “Best Attended Virtual Dinner” event saw the participation of 85 students and their partners from Section B. The various Instagram posts for games such as “Best Meme” and “Most Viral Social Media Post” raked in thousands of views and “likes” across all sections. In particular, Section A’s “balloon dance” post was viewed by over 50,000 people. Section B had the added pressure to uphold the legacy of last year’s winners—Old Section B. However, they had to first fend off tough competition from other sections. Section A and Section D showed their prowess in the talent arena by jointly winning the “Most Talented Section.” The Talent

Show (which could be called a lite-version of HBS Talent Show) requires special mention not just for the level of participation but also for the diversity of performances that ranged from Afrobeat to Bhangra. Section G unleashed their creativity to win the “Best Section Flag” while Section H demonstrated that trash can be worthy of a vogue style photoshoot by winning the “Best Upcycled Section Outfit” title. If the creatives led the way, the athletes were not far behind. The first game named “RC Challenge” consisted of several exercises from push-ups to squats. It was incredible to watch as students held position on a 12-minute plank without breaking a sweat. The event certainly leveraged all the powers of Zoom as participants logged in from their rooms or campus

to be cheered on by hundreds of section-mates from campus and across the world. Sections logged in a total of 807.1 hours in both running and cycling as they competed to be named the fittest section. Ultimately Section B proved to be the overall winner of the RC Olympics with 19 points, a six point lead over the runner up, Section A. When asked how Section B did so well, Pracheer Gupta (MBA ’22) from Section B noted, “One reason we did so well is because everyone chipped in equally. No one had to shoulder the entire responsibility and this was evident in every competition we participated in. For every game, a leader emerged organically and others did everything they could to support him or her. It was a true example of collective spirit in action.”

Shardule Shah (MBA ’22), also from Section B, added, “Our section-mates were unabashed in showing their competitive spirit. Whether it be coordinating a group dance, holding a plank for an absurd amount of time, or contributing in any other way, the pride that everyone took in trying to be the best was inspiring. Will this help us become Baker/Shad Scholar? No. But will this leave us with a lifetime of awesome memories? You bet!” Was the organizing team pleased with the participation? “Participation and spirit far exceeded our expectations.” Lukoschek shared. “Initially, we were worried that students would not contribute at all. However, the sequential nature of the games with a daily-updating medal table, coupled with the competitive spirit of the students, led to

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growing section participation. In conjunction, the co-hosting clubs delivered a fantastic experience by taking ownership of the design and execution of each game. Post games, we concluded that the talent, energy, and companionship of HBS Class 2022 was truly inspiring.”

Israt Tarin (MBA ’22) came to HBS after working in the Oil and Gas industry as a Chemical Engineer. She was born in Chittagong and raised in Dubai, and she lives in Houston. She loves reading stories about people and wants to contribute to these stories being told to a wider audience.

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Student Spotlight: Career in an Independent Studio Felipe Núñez (MBA ’22) shares his atypical pre-MBA experience at MRC Entertainment. Felipe Cerón, Entertainment Editor Felipe Núñez (MBA ’22) worked in MRC Entertainment for four years. MRC is an LA-based studio—co-founded by two HBS alumni—that focuses on film, television, media, and data. Núñez started out as an Assistant and worked his way up to become a Manager, working on productions including the recent blockbuster Knives Out. Núñez’s media and entertainment roots trail back to his childhood; he has always had a passion for films and television. In high school, he worked in the theater as a director, writer and performer. He studied Marketing and French at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). Marketing appealed to his storytelling and creative side while he chose French because of the strong faculty at UT. He graduated in 2012 and moved on to work on GLG, a company that offers “expert networks” to businesses in need. He stayed for three and a half years, and, while he loved the work, he felt that it was not his purpose. There was something else that he needed to find, and maybe some other industry had the answer. He was naturally drawn towards the media and entertainment industry. Núñez recalls, “I started talking to as many people as I could, wherever I could—coworkers, directors, writers, marketers, strategists, agencies, and studios—asking things as simple as ‘what’s your day like’ and just building connections.” He stresses the fact that connections are the most important resource in this industry, and it is important to build such connections from the ground up. He set out to become an executive assistant in a small studio, figuring it would be a great foundational experience. After sixmonths, his intense research paid off. It took long because “it’s a very insular industry, people don’t know what to do with resumes that look different.” He got an interview at MRC through a GLG co-worker whose wife was the head of Strategy at MRC. Initially, the work at MRC entailed everything that comes to mind when thinking about an assistant, and it certainly felt like a rite of passage: answering calls, scheduling meetings, picking up coffee, ordering gifts, and such. Notwithstanding the intensity of the role and the unfamiliarity of the new work environment, the job had great benefits. “The position plugged me into the network of high-level execs. in MRC and took me under the wing of one of those business managers. Besides, I got to know information from many areas of the company, since every senior executive had an assistant. Strong networks were developed between us assistants, and we shared as much information as we could.” Núñez spent two years as an assistant but then transitioned to become an analyst, and later a manager, in the Strategy department. Working on the strategy and business aspects of the studio required a completely different skillset. The whole flow of information was different and the work was more analytical. He worked on developing film and television strategies, supported green-light decision making, helped launch the company’s documentary division and gave feedback to creative executives on scripts. His ultimate goal was

to help the head managers make successful business decisions. As a manager, he took a role in investing in and integrating companies such as Dick Clark Productions and The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Group. He worked on topics ranging from reorganizing team structure and developing common branding but it did not come without its challenges “I thought merging would be more straight-forward, but the reality is that it’s hard to know when to push forward or hold steady, and you need to gauge how people are feeling throughout the whole process. 80% of merging in the industry is about the culture, so you have to build true partnerships between all companies.”

Getting to Know the Interviewee Favorite movie: The Shining Favorite TV series: American Dad Recommendation: Lovecraft Country Favorite director: Pedro Almodóvar

What were your biggest challenges in your role at MRC? Finding my voice was hard. It’s similar to the case method as opportunities to participate were scarce and you had to add value whenever you did. Managing everyone’s priorities was also challenging. Sometimes I was told that I had to make certain meetings happen, but the person on the other side of the phone was not very compliant. It was key to prioritize the good of the company, and at times it felt not everybody was on the same boat.

Favorite actor: Julianne Moore in Magnolia Favorite play: Good Person of Szechwan by Bertolt Brecht Favorite book: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Look your smartest during interview season! Bring in your suits for dry cleaning.

What did you like the most? I liked the proximity to creativity, art and performance, visual culture, and my passion. My bosses were all incredible. Based on your career path, what do you think are the most valuable skills to have in the industry? People need to be passionate about film and television. People must also portray that they have an understanding of what is happening in the industry. Do you want to go back? I would love to work for a digital distributor like Netflix or a venture capital firm focused on media, or even pursue Entrepreneurship. Based on your pre-MBA experience, what do you think are some of the specific challenges for the industry? There are a small number of companies in the industry, and a lot of them are really big. There is continued downstream and upstream verticalization, which allows already enormous companies to become even larger. For example, WME now has Endeavor Content, CAA created Wiip, Disney acquired Fox, and NBC moved into direct-to-consumer business. I am hopeful though that regulators will manage this correctly, so as to not limit consumers choices in the market.

Felipe Cerón (MBA ’22) is a Chilean who previously worked in consulting and retail. He considers himself to be a lifelong musician and actor, and he is an avid fan of film and television. Having a laugh over a beer, getting in a challenging workout, and reading inspiring books are among his favorite pastimes. While he thinks sparkling water is the best beverage ever created, he is also currently the owner of the most luxurious home bar in SFP.



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Start-up Corner: Bringing Home the Game Saswat Panda (MBA ’22) shares the story of LiveLike, a company creating technology to make live sports streaming more social and immersive.

Saswat Panda, Contributor

Tell us more about your background and what inspired you to be an entrepreneur. I have always loved building things. I attended Cornell to be an aerospace engineer, but quickly fell in love with software and game development, spending most of my time bringing student teams together to make several video games. That led me to a career at Microsoft, working on the Xbox One and on games like the Forza Motorsport series. A few years in, however, I started to feel the itch of wanting to build software from scratch again. I also felt that, while my job was fun, I was not challenged enough and was not learning at the pace I wanted. In 2014, I quit Microsoft to build something. I was not sure what it was going to be, but several months later, I met my cofounders, and we started LiveLike. What is the problem that you are trying to solve? We started LiveLike to make live sports streaming more social, interactive, and engaging. Although technology has progressed by leaps and bounds, we are still watching live sports the same way we did 50 years ago, just on smaller and more portable screens. The viewer

experience is unidirectional— you do not get to interact with content, and you do not get to be a part of it. You are simply a spectator. However, the younger generation of sports fans has grown up consuming content on social channels like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, and they expect to be able to participate in the content they are viewing. By sticking to traditional models of content consumption and engagement, broadcasters are being left behind and losing ground to Facebook (Instagram), Google (YouTube), Amazon (Twitch), and the other tech giants. Our goal is to empower live broadcasters, like Fox and ESPN, to create social, interactive, and engaging experiences within their own websites, apps, and services. What is your solution? We provide broadcasters with an easy-to-integrate plugin or software development kit (SDK) that they can add to their video streaming apps and websites. By adding the plug-in to an app, a live sports broadcaster can, for example, add chat experiences, interactive trivia, predictions games, and the ability to earn points and redeem the points for rewards. The real value addition, though, is being able to do all of that right next to the viewer’s video and providing a seamless experience between the content a user views and the way they respond to it. It is essential to ensure that content

“consumption” is not just a oneway street but that fans feel like they are participating in some way.


What was the inspiration behind your company/idea?

We started off in 2015 as five founders, each of us bringing something unique and complementary to the table: Operations (Andre Lorenceau, our CEO), Business Development (Miheer Walavalkar), Design (Jeremie Lasnier), Video Production (Fabrice Lorenceau) and Engineering (myself). We were in different parts of the world but were introduced to each other through mutual friends, and we all decided to move to San Francisco, and later New York, to start the company.

We first started LiveLike in 2015 looking to use Virtual Reality (VR) tech to make sports more social and interactive. My co-founders and I all grew up watching different sports with our friends and families. For me, it was cricket. For others, it was soccer. But once we moved to the US, there was no real opportunity to enjoy that content with the people that made it special. In 2015, VR was just starting to take off, and we felt it was the perfect opportunity to make the sports watching experience much more social and immersive. What if you could be with your friends and family but feel like you are sitting courtside at the stadium? While we managed to do well and became the preferred VR partner for the Superbowl, FIFA World Cup, and other top international events, the consumer market for VR had a much slower uptake than we expected. However, the process taught us what broadcasters cared about and what their biggest pain points were. We also got a deep understanding of the industry and learned that the problems we were trying to solve with emerging technologies still existed with existing platforms like mobile and web. That led to the plug-in product described

Who is the team behind your startup?

How did you get started? I quit Microsoft in 2014 to dive head-first into doing a startup. The new wave of VR was just starting to emerge, and I spent a lot of time prototyping ideas in VR. In early 2015, I was introduced to Andre and his brother Fabrice, who were looking to work on VR video with a specific focus on live sports. I spent a month prototyping ideas with them, but what really sold me was our first client meeting in the Liverpool Football Club. A short meeting with their marketing team turned into an office-wide event where the entire office began lining up to try our prototype. That is when I knew we had to do this. Andre, Jeremie and I moved to San Francisco to start the company, while Fabrice

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and Miheer stayed remote and focused on international business development and video production. Later that year, we moved to New York City to attend Techstars NYC, and we decided to stick around after the program. A year later, in 2016, we got our first contract with Fox Sports. What’s next? After five and a half years at LiveLike, it was finally time for me to leave this summer and attend HBS. My co-founders are still keeping the company going strong, which to some extent has also been propelled by the move to digital caused by Covid-19. I plan to spend the next two years at HBS exploring other business opportunities and ways in which software can be used to solve problems in other industries, and hopefully I will start another company soon.

Saswat Panda (MBA ’22) came to HBS after spending over five years building the product and engineering teams at LiveLike, a tech startup he co-founded. He grew up in Mumbai and studied Computer Science at Cornell, after which he spent a few years making and playing Xbox games at Microsoft. In his spare time, you can catch him playing music, eating everything and driving through backcountry roads.

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Start-up Corner: Solving the Challenge of Funding Growth of the SaaS Economy Miguel Fernandez and Przemek Gotfryd (MBAs ’21) share how their startup, Capchase, helps SaaS companies avoid painful dilution and extend their runway. Miguel Fernandez, Contributor

get a business off the ground. Capchase is this business. What is the problem that you are trying to solve?

Przemek Gotfryd, Contributor

Tell us more about your background and what inspired you to be an entrepreneur. Miguel Fernandez (MBA ’21): I am originally from Madrid, Spain. Even though I have an engineering background (industrial and mechanical in Madrid, and Energy–Nuclear and Renewables in Munich), I went straight into consulting after school. During my roughly two years in consulting, I launched two marketplaces: a peer-to-peer renting of sports equipment and a direct-to-consumer aggregator that delivered within two hours in Madrid. After tasting the thrills of starting from scratch, I knew I wanted to work in tech from then on. I quit consulting and joined an early-stage Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company, Geoblink, as the first person in sales. I then built the sales and customer success team and ultimately led the UK office. During those three years, I experienced most of the pain around cash management and payment terms that we are solving right now. Przemek Gotfryd (MBA ’21): I grew up in postcommunist Poland—though equipped with a Pentium computer since the mid-1990s— and at age 17, I came to the UK on a scholarship. Following my degree in economics and my first job as a strategy consultant, I was fascinated by tech and joined TCV as a growth equity investor. There I covered and invested in consumer, data, and B2B SaaS companies. Sitting on the other side of the table from a lot of amazing entrepreneurs and listening to their inspiring stories, I developed the desire to become an operator and to help

We recognized that SaaS companies (including the most successful ones) make a lot of difficult choices around how to fund the growth of their businesses. While they are able to sign up a lot of customers and grow their bookings rapidly, cash in the bank always lags by up to 12 months. SaaS companies are forced to resort to expensive or inconvenient ways of funding growth by selling equity, raising traditional venture debt or giving steep discounts to their customers to get paid upfront. In our opinion, SaaS founders should be spending 100% of their time on building and selling amazing products, not figuring out how to fund growth. What is your solution? Capchase unlocks cash tied up in monthly and quarterly-paid contracts. We effectively bring to the present up to 12 future payments by license buyers so a SaaS company can receive it on day one, reinvest into growth, and very often dramatically extend the runway until they need to raise VC money again (if at all). We made the process very seamless. SaaS companies can connect their banking, accounting, and billing system with a few clicks; we get back to them with our funding decision within a day, and we advance funds within a few days. And we are able to scale with the company as it grows, so founders do not need to renegotiate the venture debt line they would have taken out otherwise, ideally avoiding further dilution. What was the inspiration behind your company/idea? Fernandez: I used to run a sales and customer success team at an early-stage SaaS company in Spain. In every deal, we felt the pain of offering deep annual discounts to our customers in order to get the money upfront. It complicated the sales process, lengthened the sales cycle, and

effectively cut our monthly recurring revenue (MRR). On the other hand, selling equity was expensive, and raising venture debt was slow and resulted in a lot of covenants. I knew there had to be a better way. Gotfryd: As a growth investor, I used to speak to dozens of Series A through Series C SaaS companies every month. One issue came up time and time again: despite bringing to market critical products and having great sales teams, founders struggled to align bookings with cash, despite signing dozens of—often multi-year—contracts. It did not make sense. Who is the team behind your startup? Miguel (old Section I) brings strong experience in sales, and he previously headed a country for Geoblink, an early-stage SaaS company based in Madrid. Przemek (old Section C) brings finance and investing experience. The other two co-founders, Luis and Ignacio, are former Geoblink colleagues and good friends of Miguel and joined to head product and tech efforts. We also have a strong team of more than

ten developers and data scientists based in Europe (Madrid and beyond) and a senior head of capital markets. We are actively hiring and looking for a growth marketer and a head of finance. How did you get started? We went through an ideation phase in early 2020 and started putting everything in place as RC classes wound down. The good thing is we are also roommates, which helped a lot in initial brainstorming sessions, often late at night. Being present on one camera screen during our seed fundraising over the summer, we were often the only duo investors had seen together in one room in a long time. It all started remotely, and we will probably continue building a remote-first business going forward. What’s next? We received lots of customer interest following our seed round announcement in late August. This showed that there was a lot of demand for our product from very strong businesses. We are laser-focused on building Capchase as a product-first company and plan to not only

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provide SaaS companies with financing but also become their preferred “partners in growth.” In parallel, we are raising a big credit facility in order to support as many amazing founders as possible on their growth journeys. We look to work with growing software companies with at least $500K in annual recurring revenue (ARR), so please send your SaaS friends our way!

Miguel Fernandez (MBA ’21) came to HBS after working at Geoblink wearing every single hat in the sales team. Before that, he worked at Monitor Deloitte for two years and launched two marketplace companies, Wibbou and Heydey. Originally from Madrid, he has also lived in Munich and London. Przemek Gotfryd (MBA ’21) came to HBS after spending three years working as a growth tech investor at TCV in London, covering consumer and B2B data and SaaS companies, and three years as a strategy consultant at OC&C. He grew up in Poland and studied economics at LSE and Sciences-Po.


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Women Leadership: An Introduction to the Class of 2022 Five women in the class of 2022 share with us their stories of leadership. Noelia Lombardo Gava, Women Leadership Editor There are so many different ways to welcome the class of 2022 and introduce them to the HBS community. We could talk about challenges, uncertainty, connectedness or innovation, but in the end, it all comes down to leadership. Sheryl Sandberg (MBA ’95), COO of Facebook, described leadership as “making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” This definition of leadership has become more important than ever before within the HBS community. Today, we share the stories of leadership of five women from the class of 2022. They embody this definition and represent the broader sisterhood of HBS’ newest class. Janvi Shah (MBA ’22)

“My mom and I have the same birthday. The best gift every year is getting to share it with her.” Shah tells me with a proud smile how her mother’s leadership skills and her father’s entrepreneurial spirit have shaped the way she

sees the world and makes decisions. She brought both worlds together by becoming a product manager at Google. There, she discovered that being a leader sometimes meant “fading into the background while keeping everyone else running.” Months before the Fall semester started, Shah was already applying that definition of leadership to bring the class of 2022 together. Despite her little experience on Slack, she was proactive to become the main administrator of the class’ workspace. With an incredible amount of work, she put together a platform in which students and partners found new channels of communication in the midst of a global pandemic. Shah was amazed at people’s proactivity to create a community, but the truth is, without her determination and leadership, the class of 2022 would not have had a space to feel together in the most difficult times of uncertainty. “With this experience,

I have learned how our community is able to come together, which made me even more excited to come to HBS this fall.”

Rena Ogura (MBA ’22)

of 2022 community by leading

“Food and wine, the loves of my life. My conduit to cultures and community” Ogura has a dual vision of leadership: being a leader as a woman and being a leader for women. The former was shaped by her early experiences as a Japanese girl in an American high school. Her initial difficulties to vocalize her Japanese identity were mitigated by some wasabi Kit Kat she brought as a present (omiyage) from Japan. The chocolates became a medium to start conversations about her origin and her identity. It was then when her fascination for consumer products started. This led her to become a sommelier, finding in wine a medium of culture, language and history, “all in a bottle, and so delicious that it brings people together to enjoy with their five senses.” The latter vision, being a leader for women, has been the motivation of her latest endeavour. Ogura has founded a startup to bring people together around wine tasting. With a conscious choice of wine brands, she highlights female winemakers and other underrepresented minorities. With her incredible entrepreneurship and leadership skills, Ogura is not only elevating the voices of female winemakers, but also contributing to the class

the #wine Slack channel. At a distance, she was able to form a community around wine. Today, 17 sessions later, these wine tasting gatherings have become a space for everyone to feel included, virtual or in person. In the words of one of our classmates: “it’s more than just a place for people to drink together, [...it is] a platform that allows people to find common ground and get to know each other”. Nirit Gilboa (MBA ’22)

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“The moment I was told that the trumpet is for boys, I chose the flute instead. Today I’m an engineer” When Gilboa was eight years old, she was told that trumpets are for boys. She loved the instrument but decided to play the flute instead. That early experience completely shaped the way she approached the important decisions in her life. She was determined to never again let her gender constrain her goals and desires. 10 years later, aged 18, she joined the Intelligence Corps to serve her military service, where she fell in love with technology. She then worked for three years at a startup as a software quality engineer, pursued a degree in Engineering and joined NICE as a project manager, to later become a product manager. As an engineer, Gilboa was often the only woman in the room, which made her wonder how many other women had not been able to choose the trumpet. She wanted to make a difference and bring more women to the room, so she was thrilled to join a volunteering program to teach middle-school girls how to code. She finally felt she was making a real difference by giving young girls the opportunity to be exposed to technology and believe that anything they want is possible. “Girls can play the trumpet. Girls can play a significant role in technology or in any other path they choose to pursue.”

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Continued from pg 8

Lizzie Matusov (MBA ’22)

A profound interest in biology shaped her humancentered vision of the

and health care. The world of technology fascinates her, but she believes it would be much richer if more women were part of it. Matusov is now co-leading the #womenintech Slack channel, eager to make a change and contribute to the gender equality of the tech space. “Being a number to improve the statistics is important, but taking a step back and making a change in those statistics is more impactful” Roja de Cande (MBA ’22)

“‘You’re so uncharacteristic for a technologist’, they always say. I’m here to change that sentiment.” Matusov was also shaped by an early school memory. She was nine years old when she wrote a career essay about being a project manager. Her teacher gave her a C, telling Matusov her essay was “not realistic.” Needless to say, the early disencouragement quickly transformed into determination to fulfill all her unrealistic goals.

world. While pursuing a degree in molecular biology, Matusov was eager to get to the heart of what could really help people; she was desperate to help on a deep and meaningful level. This led her to the world of technology, in which she found endless possibilities to contribute to her mission. Seeing her passion and willingness to learn, Red Hat took a chance on her, hiring her as a software consultant. After two years, she joined Invite, bridging the worlds of technology

“Indian woman and a French man got married in Denmark with a witness from Serbia while they lived in Germany.” De Cande started her career as an Engineer at Texas Instruments in Arizona. She loved the job, so she applied for the visa lottery. Three times. With the last failed attempt she was given 30 days to leave the US. After living in the country for seven years, her whole world fell down and she did not know what to do next. Her company took a chance on her, creating a

role for her in Germany, where she helped different

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teams with their needs. Soon, she had become the go-to person and, before realizing, she was promoted to be the manager of one of the teams. She was the youngest, the only foreigner and the only woman, but she overcame all challenges and found her unique leadership style: building leadership on empathy. De Cande put her focus on building relationships and understanding the individual needs and desires of her team members. The company quickly realized her incredible potential, which brought her back to the US to lead a marketing team and subsequently manage a team across four locations in two different countries. Her teams kept on growing but she always stayed true to herself, leading with empathy, charisma, and care. “Covid-19 hit my team in China first, and the team in the US quickly offered to cover for them. When the US team was sent home and had mask shortages, the Chinese team sent over masks. These unprompted acts made me realize that I had built a resilient and collaborative team.”

Noelia Lombardo (MBA ’22) was born in Argentina but identifies herself as a global citizen. She is a biomedical engineer and a management consultant. She is a storyteller and a lifelong migrant. She loves the outdoors, yoga,


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Standing Up for Families Emily Vocke shares her experience representing HBS families at the Student Association as the Vice-President of Families and leading the Crimson Parents club.

Emily Vocke, Contributor

Tell us a bit about yourself. I grew up in the New Orleans area and met my husband, Patrick Vocke (MBA ’21, Old Section E), when we were just beginning our senior year in high school. We both graduated from LSU and then moved to Houston, Texas where he worked for ExxonMobil and I went to Texas Woman’s University for physical therapy school. I graduated with my doctorate in 2014 and then completed my fellowship training in orthopaedics and manual therapy. While in Houston, we had our daughter, Juliana, and our son, Anderson, so Houston will always hold a special place in our hearts.

How did you and your husband decide to come to HBS? We had our daughter, Juliana, on October 17, 2017, and a couple months later on New Year’s Day, Patrick asked what I thought about him applying to business school. I remember asking, “Like night school at Rice?” Then he hesitantly responded, “No, I was thinking HBS. Full-time... In Boston.” While his response took me a second to process (mainly

because I just pictured two years of marching through mountains of snow to get to the grocery store since I had zero experience living in a city that actually has seasons), I told him to go for it as long as it meant that I could stay home with our baby, Juliana. I was dreading the idea of my maternity leave ending and going back to work, so this seemed like the perfect solution. Patrick studied for, took the GMAT and completed his application in time for round three and got an interview. Our family of three flew up to Boston for his interview, and I was soon picturing us moving in a matter of months. Then we got thrown a curveball because his acceptance letter said that he was accepted, but for the class of 2021, not 2020. While we were disappointed at first, it ended up being a huge blessing in disguise because it gave us over a year to prepare for our cross-country move, sell our house, and have our second baby, Anderson. I am a Type 1 diabetic; so having my team of high-risk doctors at TCH for my second pregnancy and delivery was when I realized that God’s plans are always better than my own. I would not trade our last year in Houston for the world; since we knew we were “on the clock,” we really savored every moment of it. As far as HBS goes, it was totally for the best because it allowed us to do the housing

lottery, which we would have missed had Patrick been admitted and not deferred. Raising a family on-campus at HBS is special in a way that is difficult to describe. Being surrounded by other families made building a community of close friends in similar circumstances incredibly natural and easy. I love being able to walk out my door, have an unexpected play date with a rocket launcher or impromptu walk with another mom. A family we met before coming here told us they wished they could raise all of their babies on campus at HBS, and now I get it. I know I will cherish this chapter of our life forever because of the incredible friendships we have made with our neighbors who now feel like family. And the perk of using Baker Lawn as our backyard is pretty awesome too.

What do you do outside of HBS? I am staying home with Juju and Anderson right now and while working part-time would probably be the best fit for me, the cost of childcare in Boston is crazy. So, financially it makes the most sense for me to stay home with them full-time, which has been amazing because there is always another family to meet up with or Crimson Parents playgroup to take them to (which helps break up the monotony that can come with being a stay at home mom). I cannot get these

years back and babies do not keep, so while they have their moments (okay, a lot of “moments” if I am being honest), I love being home with them. It allows for a lot of spontaneous adventures (like beach trips and breakfasts on the Charles with section-mates), that I know I will look back very fondly on. But I digress; outside of HBS, I have gotten really into working out on my Peloton (it has kept me sane while being alone with our kids all summer while Patrick interned at a PE firm in Baton Rouge). I also love hosting small-group dinners, drinking wine with friends, and discovering new, scenic places (I am a sucker for anything with a view of water).

What motivated you to take on both of these roles? Other than my inability to say no and controlling tendencies? Semi-kidding aside, I came here with the intention to “go all in” on the HBS experience as a partner so when the Crimson Parents club needed people to fill the co-presidents roles, I agreed to it. The bar was set very high because last year’s leadership team did such an amazing job, but at the end of the day and despite all of the work I knew would be involved in, I asked one of my very smart and energetic close friends up here to be a co-president with me, recruited talented, amazing parents to fill the VP roles, and have not looked

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back. As far as the Student Association (SA) role goes, I really liked being the Family Rep for old section E, so saying “yes” to VP of Families was a nobrainer. I loved getting to meet with the SAS team through the family rep role and knew more exposure to them with the VP role would allow me to really make positive changes for families. Having talked to other families last year, I was blown away that others did not have the same, positive experience within their Sections like I did. You assume that everyone’s Section is like yours and everyone is great and inclusive, but that’s unfortunately not always the case. I took on the SA role to implement expectations for family inclusivity early on during the Section experience. For example, getting the family rep role elected at the same time as other leadership roles and ensuring part of the Section budget be specifically used towards families are two things that I sought out to do and accomplished. My hope is that every family moving forward feels included and that both the partner and kids feel like a part of the Section, no matter what Section a family is placed in. From being given $100 to help pay for a babysitter for Hollidazzle to constantly being asked by Section leadership what they could do to make things more family-friendly, I hope

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COMMUNITY Continued from pg 10 more families have experiences within their Sections like we did. And lastly, a main motivating factor to taking on this position is to get families added to the Crimson Parents listserv before they even arrive as RCs. Similar to how any woman who comes to Harvard Business School is automatically on the Women Student Association (WSA) listserv, my goal is for families to start receiving information from the Crimson Parents club as soon as they accept their spot. When an applicant is admitted into HBS, I want there to be a box that asks for their kids’ names and ages and I want each kid to be sent a little welcome gift to set the expectation that their kids are part of the HBS community.

on how to complete the process or get in touch with operations on their behalf (families need their mail and coffee from Spangler too, after all). I was warned that taking on both roles would be a lot, but the former Co-President of Crimson Parents told me that it is actually in families’ best interest if one of the Co-Presidents of Crimson Parents is also looped in with the SA. My goal is to make sure that nothing gets missed, no balls get dropped, nothing gets lost. So while it is a lot of work, I think that it is giving families here a better experience having me be in both roles. As part of the SA team, I get to talk to Mike Murphy, Cindy Spungin, and Joyce Majewski on behalf of HBS families while also getting their support for things related to Crimson Parents club.

first Harvard University Housing (HUH) said “no,” but after quite a few emails and conversations with the SAS team, we were finally able to persuade them to put up a temporary playground and are currently working on improvements. Most families are only here for two years, so 18 months without a legitimate playground on campus was not good enough; I want to be a voice for future HBS families but also for the families here currently. Now that it is finally coming together, I am very excited to see my vision finally coming to fruition.

Based on your learnings from the previous year, what specific changes do you want to make to improve the experience of HBS families?

What are the responsibilities of VP of Families and Crimson Parents Co-President?

What can HBS families look forward to this year?

For Crimson Parents, Camille Harrison, Partner of Zach Harrison (MBA ’21), and I split up the responsibilities which I am very grateful for because it would be way too much for one person. In a nutshell, I handle the

No club dues! Our goal is to get more sponsorships for the club so that we can still provide events and programming without putting any financial burden on families. This is actually the first year that the club has a sponsor

From an SA perspective, the biggest takeaway that I learned from last year was that families have very different experiences across Sections because it is so dependent on two things: who happens to be in your Section and your personal level of comfort with just showing up to things with your kids. For example, for my daughter’s birthday last year,

weekly newsletter to the club and support committees that work on events and parent nights out while Camille does the agenda for our leadership team meetings and supports committees that work on playgroup programming, International families, and field trips. My other responsibility, as VP of Families, is to be in charge of the Section Family Reps. I also bring any issues that families are having to the SA. For example, the RC families who are living on campus were having a lot of delays and issues getting their Harvard IDs; I was someone they could easily reach out to for help and either give them information

which is a huge accomplishment and something we’re very excited about as a club. Another thing is the temporary playground’s makeover that is in process. There will be new toys and better grounding that is more baby and toddler friendly. When we first moved in, there was a playground at SFP 1 but we only had it for a couple of months. Because of construction, they were planning to not have a playground from January of 2020 through summer of 2021. So back in November 2019, I attended a construction mitigation meeting and voiced my concern about a lack of playground and fenced-in area for children to safely play. At

we baked cupcakes for everyone in the Section (talk about precovid times, right?), popped into Aldrich 107 between classes, and asked the section to sing “happy birthday” to my daughter. Our section loved it, we loved it, everyone loved it. But if I had not taken the initiative to just go for it, we would not have that sweet memory to look back on. So moving forward, and to answer your question, I want every family to know that they are encouraged to grab the kids, involve them in the section, and make memories. As far as Crimson Parents goes, the previous team did an incredible job to make families feel welcome; I want to build

on that momentum for the incoming RCs and step it up wherever possible. Probably the biggest takeaway that I learned from last year’s leadership is knowing that what you are doing now may not benefit you, but it will benefit future families. It is pretty meaningful to know that the work that I am doing now will have a positive impact for HBS families in the future and remembering that piece of advice has been important. I probably spend way too much time thinking about how HBS can be the most family friendly business school out there; it is something I want HBS to pride itself on and know that it matters more to applicants with kids than I think they may realize.

How is Covid-19 changing the experience for families? Back in the spring, the first change I really remember was ASW2 (Admitted Student Weekend #2) going virtual because the housing tour for families was one of the first tasks that Camille and I were supposed to have done as CoPresidents for incoming parents. I think the housing lottery is very

overwhelming, particularly for families. So just because ASW was changing, I wanted to make sure it was not a bad change. I wanted to make sure that the incoming RCs felt good about where they were going to live and encourage as many of them as possible to live on campus, if they could, since I have had such an incredible experience with living in SFP. We decided to get creative, take videos of all the different types of apartments at SFP, OWA and Peabody and put together a virtual housing tour that I think was really helpful to families. More recently, I think the changes are obvious, such as kids wearing little masks and trying to teach them to “give

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people space” as they walk through SFP. However, a silver lining to it all is being forced to be social in smaller groups; it has been nice to get to know the new RC families on a deeper level, which would have been hard to do during big, 100-person events.

What was your most memorable moment at HBS from RC year? My favorite family memory is Halloween last year. Our entire Section dressed up as 101 dalmatians, including my son, and my daughter was Cruela— white fur coat, baby powder in her hair, cigarette holder, red gloves—the works. Section leadership asked if I could bring the kids to the classroom and we took a group photo with my daughter sitting on top of a desk, front and center and surrounded by sectionmates. If that does not scream “inclusivity for families in a Section,” I’m not sure what does. A non-kid, favorite memory was Holidazzle, when Lauren Stallard (old Section E partner rep and current VP of Partners) and I had way too much fun roasting the section during

dinner. While we made a lot of jokes, we predominantly went after our husbands, Patrick and Robert, which probably got the most laughs.

Emily Vocke (VP of Families and Co-President of Crimson Parents) moved to HBS with her husband, Patrick Vocke (MBA ’21) and two children (Juliana and Anderson) from Houston, TX. She has her doctorate in Physical Therapy and specializes in orthopedics and manual therapy in the outpatient setting. She can be found pushing a double stroller all over campus, exercising on her bike, and hosting dinner parties with her husband any chance they get.


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Personal and Public Risk in a Pandemic Adam Palay (MBA ’21) raises questions about our collective responsibilities during a pandemic. Adam Palay Contributor

Not long before school started, at my desk in my home office, I took a deep breath and clicked a button. I had just opted out of coming inperson to the hybrid courses I would take this term. It might seem like a strange choice. I live in Boston, near campus. I have a relatively robust immune system. And I am a huge nerd: I just love the in-person academic experience of HBS. In the moment, a lot was going through my head. For one, I did not know if hybrid classrooms were safe. Without a holistic assessment of classroom ventilation and physical distance measures, it was not clear to me how to assess the risk. I had memories of last year’s RC flu almost comically working its way counterclockwise through my section. Stories of coronavirus spreading at in-person parties over the summer left me with some doubts on whether we would have full compliance with HBS’s public health protocols and how that would affect classroom safety. There were—and are—a lot of unknowns. And each one of us ended up making a decision that felt right to us. I certainly empathize with and harbor no judgment for my friends and professors who are meeting for class in person. I think an important nuance about the nature of that decision gets lost. Even though it ended up being a personal decision, I did not make it out of my own personal risk tolerance for contracting coronavirus. I opted out of hybrid courses out of the fear that I would spread it. The reason I am writing this piece is to reframe how we think about the risk we take on in the midst of pandemic. I am not arguing that you should behave in any particular way—rather to emphasize that, when making decisions, we should consider ourselves not just as targets of the disease but also as vectors for its spread. In some sense, all of our personal decisions have societal implications. But that is especially true of coronavirus, because it is so contagious. A decision we make about our risk exposure simultaneously is a decision we make on behalf of all the people with whom we

interact: our roommates, our neighbors, friends, family, and service professionals, to name just a few. Just as we affect their risk exposure, they set that same exposure of everyone they interact with in turn. To follow that chain of logic, in a way it is nonsensical to speak of “personal” risk tolerance in a pandemic. As we engage in the world, our risk exposure has already been decided for us by the collective risk-taking of every individual in society. And yet, even if our impact is public, the decisions we make are personal, insofar as they affect us at the core of our humanity. We miss our families. Many international students have been unable to return home, unable to see loved ones and significant others. We miss the electricity of live HBS classrooms, the thrill of surfacing a freshly formed idea to an intent room of 90 brilliant people who are fast becoming friends. It hurts to lose that, and it is not a trivial thing to give up. That predicament, how things that bring our lives meaning can come at the expense of the public good, is a dilemma not unique to pandemics. For me, the things that give my life meaning—traveling to see family and explore new

places, using electronic devices for entertainment and connection, and the foods I grew up eating—have grave implications for the release of greenhouse gases, which is causing, in slow motion, cataclysmic climate change. In the late 2000s, McKinsey took a crack at trying to understand how much it would cost to eliminate the 40 gigatonnes of yearly greenhouses gases the world emits. While the details of their analysis are now outdated, the main lesson from it is as relevant as ever: some emissions can be abated while being remunerative (think Tesla), but most cannot be. There are win-wins, but they are not jointly sufficient to rescue us from the climate crisis. As business school students with a sense of social responsibility, we naturally gravitate toward those win-wins. I do not want to diminish their importance. They are an integral part of the multi-faceted response that the society needs. Yet if the sum total of our actions is concentrated among the win-wins, if we only make decisions on the basis of our own marginal economic or emotional gain, we will not abate those unprofitable emissions, and so we will not fix climate change. It is

an illustration of the fact that collectively acting on our personal desires can overlap with, but will not necessarily cause, positive social outcomes. In a span of five months, my wife and I lost three grandparents—two to respiratory viruses in December and January and one to coronavirus in April. I wonder how that experience has changed the way I think about the risk we pose to the more vulnerable in society and how tied up we all are in one another’s well-being. I thought about it too over the summer, when the painful reality of racial injustice came to the forefront of the national—and communal— consciousness, and how Black, non-White Hispanic, and American Indian people have been disproportionally infected and killed by the virus in this country. How do we square our personal and public pandemic response with our commitment to racial justice? If there were a risk-free way of reopening society, we would have done it. We can never fully assess the risks that we expose ourselves to before we take action. But to me, these kinds of predicaments beg the question of who should be making decisions in the face of them. Similar to climate change and

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systemic racism, the problems that coronavirus poses are systemic in nature, where even well-meaning people generate externalities whose immediate costs are concentrated among vulnerable populations. Those costs eventually affect everyone. So, if these are, by their nature, public decisions, who should be making them? The state? The school? The reverberating individual judgments of any small group of us? I do not know the answer to these questions. We are in strange times. But I will continue to meditate on them as I figure out how to go about my daily life in a pandemic, and I hope you will join me in continuing to think it all through, openly and optimistically.

Adam Palay (MS/MBA ’21) is originally from Chicago and studied at Harvard as an undergraduate. He worked in software before business school and now looks to pursue a career in climate tech. When he is not reading cases, he is probably reading other things or trying to get you to play tennis with him.

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Prepare for Your Turn in the Hot Seat; It May Come Sooner than You Think In his column for the Harbus, Professor Trevor Fetter shares his thoughts on the issues facing HBS students. Trevor Fetter, Contributor

My intention in this column is to come up with something new and fresh every time, and I will try to deliver on that…going forward. Last month I wrote about the importance of observing examples of leadership during a crisis while we live through a serious set of them in 2020. The morning that issue of the Harbus was published, a very specific example of a common leadership dilemma landed in our inboxes, with a series of stories contrasting the private comments of President Trump about Covid-19 with his public statements in February. *** It is on tape. On February 7, the President said to the journalist Bob Woodward about the virus, “It goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch—you don’t have to touch things, right? But the air, you just breathe the air. That’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than your…strenuous flus.” As we all know, this conversation took place at a time where the President’s public statements portrayed the virus in a more dismissive way. Search for “Trump Downplayed the Virus” and you’ll get 338,000 results. Reconciling public confidence with private concern is a serious challenge that you will face. When I read the story about the Woodward/Trump tapes, I was reminded immediately of the video of Ken Lay, Enron’s Chairman, addressing an all-hands meeting in the company’s headquarters in Houston on August 16, 2001, two days after the surprise resignation of the company’s CEO, Jeff Skilling (MBA ’79). The company’s stock, which had reached $90 within the prior year, had dropped in half. Yet Lay was intent upon reassuring those assembled for the meeting, saying

“the next few years will be great for Enron and Enron’s employees,” announcing new stock option grants at the current price, which he characterized as “at the bottom or near the bottom,” and summarizing the state of Enron as “our core businesses are extremely strong, and our new businesses are doing great.” What was he thinking? RC LCA spoiler alert: Enron filed for bankruptcy 108 days later. This triggered another memory of a situation in late 2002 where I was in the room. It was a town hall meeting of a company in free-fall. An analyst had published a report questioning whether the company’s earnings, while real, were sustainable. They were not. The CEO had gone on CNBC to defend the company, and it had not led to greater confidence. It was a rapidly unfolding crisis. The company’s stock had declined by 70% in a week. In the Town Hall meeting at headquarters, he was asked a direct question by a tearful department head: “will there be layoffs?” His answer was definitive: “No. There will be no layoffs.” The layoffs began a couple of months later, and a few months after that most of the people in that meeting, including the CEO, were gone. Perhaps it is unfair to judge these types of events with hindsight, but that is the only way they are judged. They are not viewed with a fair assessment of what the CEO said based on what he or she knew at the time. In these examples, were these CEOs concealing the truth or hoping a better truth would unfold? Did they lack confidence in the accuracy or completeness of their knowledge of the reality they were facing? Did they deliberately conceal the truth in order to cause others not to panic, trigger a market crash or depression, sell Enron stock, fear losing their jobs, or quit? Perhaps people in these positions get to where they are in part because they are optimists, and their instinct is to see and describe the glass as half full. Perhaps they have built up an ability to ignore reality if it is not the version of reality they want. Material misstatements

and omissions of material facts in financial statements or investor communications cause CEOs to lose lawsuits and lose their jobs, or worse, end up in jail. The ones who survive in the job are wellpracticed in communicating with precision when facts are involved. It is not always easy. For example, it is hard to deal with investors’ intense interest in quarterly results. Whether or not the company issues earnings guidance, analysts and investors will develop their own expectations, and missing, meeting, or beating those estimates will drive the stock price, executive compensation, and the perception of management’s skill. You do not see lists of “best” CEOs whose leadership and strategies are brilliant but lead to negative shareholder returns. So, what should a CEO do when the first month of a quarter comes in well below internal expectations, heightening the risk of a quarterly “miss”? Wait for the second month’s results and hope the shortfall was a blip and not a trend? Disclose the bad news while not telling

what the audience really wants to know (i.e., expectations for the quarter)? Take short-term corrective actions to overcome the shortfall that might signal there is trouble and hurt the company longer term? Keep their head down and avoid putting themself in situations where they are asked pointed questions about performance? Many of you intend to start companies. You will raise money and attract talented colleagues in part by laying out a vision and a plan, and delivering. There will be times when you are not able to deliver the results your investors or your team expects. It may happen outside of the glare of the presidency or public companies with instant and constant feedback from the press, the market, and Wall Street analysts. But that does not make the dilemma of how, when, and whether to communicate bad news any easier. I suggest that you embrace transparency. “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything,” a statement attributed to the American author Mark Twain, expresses a strong argument in

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favor of honesty. Disclosure is a separate question. It may be painful at times to deliver bad or incomplete or ambiguous news, but it is far less punishing than the consequences of being perceived as having concealed or bent the truth after it catches up with you. Your colleagues and investors will trust you more if they believe you are sharing with them what you know. While you are at it, embrace empathy—consider what you would want to hear and how you would want to hear it if you were on the receiving end. The answer is almost always that you would want to know everything as accurately and as early as possible. The career interlude known as the MBA program would be a good time for you to reflect on how you will handle such a situation. You will be expected to lead with confidence, but you will also occasionally have doubts, or more—actual knowledge that a situation is much worse than most people believe. (And if you never have doubts, that is a far more serious kind of problem…) If you pursue a career in management, I guarantee this will happen to you. You will be at the podium. The pressure to exude confidence will be intense. You may have doubts, concerns, or knowledge of bad facts. Perhaps you are there because you stepped forward and took the initiative to communicate, but perhaps you are facing a tough question, a cold call from the audience, without warning and at a time you did not expect. What will you say?

Trevor Fetter (MBA ’86) is a Sr. Lecturer in General Management at Harvard Business School. He teaches FRC, LCA, and the SIP: The Life and Role of the CEO. Before joining HBS, he was Chairman and CEO of Tenet Healthcare Corporation, a Fortune 150 company. Earlier in his career, he was CFO of the movie studio MGM and an investment banker. In addition to teaching at HBS, he serves on corporate and non-profit boards and advises several early stage healthcare companies.


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A Day in the Life of an RC

Has Covid-19 really changed the RC experience? Felipe Cerón, Entertainment Editor Noelia Lombardo, Women Leadership Editor

Thanks to Covid-19, the MBA Class of 2022 had a very unusual start to their HBS experience. We interviewed an extensive number of RCs on their day-to-day experiences, trying to understand what has stayed the same, what has changed, their fears and their joys, and how they are making the most out of this new reality. For this column, we did the following experiment: we mashed up several experiences and created what would be a completely average day in the life of a very average HBS RC student. 6:30 Alarm goes off. It’s time to decide if today I want to be my discussion’s group Baker Scholar, be a full-on procrastinator or just try to get through the day unnoticed. 6:38 Snooze alarm for the second time. Baker Scholar is off the table. 6:45 Aim to snooze my alarm for the fifth time and accidentally turn it off instead of snoozing again. This has been a common practice in the last few weeks. 7:55 Wake up in panic realizing I only have five minutes to get up, splash water on my face, open my laptop and mumble a mostly inaudible good morning. Still in my pajamas. 8:10 Become aware that we are already discussing the case. 8:11 Realize I read the wrong case. Which sub-section am I in again? 8:27 Discreetly turn off my camera to make breakfast while our PE discussion groupmate explains the intricacies of their FIN1 model, which makes me feel straight out of kindergarten. I honestly just see colors. 9:00 Decide between reviewing the first case of the day and a snack. 9:01 Snack. 9:40 Class starts. Try to put my virtual hand up ASAP to speak before we get to the calculations part. Talking at the beginning feels easier. 9:42:00 The Professor asks about calculations. 9:42:01 Put my hand down. 9:42:02 The Professor calls my name (I think). 9:42:03 The Professor calls my name again (this time calling my last name as well). Decide among my

most realistic options: say that I raised my hand by mistake, pretend I have a poor connection or just close my computer. Worst part, I cannot use the catchphrase “building up on” and then just basically repeat what others have said, because nobody has really spoken. 11:00 Try to go through my 256 new slack notifications. Decide to sign-up for underwater apple-picking on Sunday morning because it is the only activity with spots left and, you know, FOMO. 11:31 Discover a hidden assignment on Canvas. I have been assigned to another random group. Hope they want to meet through Zoom so I do not have to leave my apartment. 15:04 Put in my backpack

tomorrow’s three cases and two cases for the day after tomorrow, because maybe today I will actually be productive. Head to Schawrtz to study. 15:10 Start highlighting the first case, two paragraphs down, I am on fire! 15:14 Overhear group next to me talking about FRC. Was not FRC supposed to be on Friday? 15:17 Become unable to stand the anxiety and head over to ask. They are actually talking about their new start-up, so I decide to listen for five minutes. They have found a new niche in the renewables industry; it turns out you can actually obtain energy from baby Elephant tears. This is definitely going to change the

world! 16:17 Head back to my laptop to join the Super Clean Energy club; they are hosting a welcome party tonight! 16:20 Go back to the case and start underlining the third paragraph. I am still on track. HBS is all about meeting diverse people and connections. You should remember that. 16:29 Have to check Slack. It is easy to get sidetracked here. 16:30 See that someone posted on “Free and for Sale” a brand new beer producing machine from the Marketing case! It is half the price. I cannot waste this opportunity, and it would not be rational. 16:49 Pick up a beer making machine from Harvard Square, realizing I have just enough

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time to head back to the club party. 17:14 Meet yet another PE at the party. At least he is not a consultant. 18:33 Check my IKEA order to see if the desk I bought five weeks ago is finally arriving. 19:00 - 21:00 Rush through the three cases. Tomorrow I’ll definitely be more productive! 21:01 Connect to a coffee chat on Zoom with a classmate in Singapore. 21:34 Finally have time to talk to my partner. 23:00 Fall asleep as soon as my head touches the pillow.

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Bad Advice: Life @ HBS Popular RC and winner at life shares advice on how to thrive. If you’re good looking and socially nimble, you’re basically set. Go out, drink aggressively and win at life. If you’re introverted but still considered funny by a few people, seek good company, drink aggressively and forge friendships. After doing that for a couple of weeks, form a gang, pledge fast, pledge hard, and stick with them. Have diversity and a solid vision to ensure you are not branded a clique. If you identify as socially awkward, well… drink aggressively, hangout with whoever you want and say whatever you want. You’re already socially awkward and so you might as well have fun. That still sounds a lot like a clique...

Nishkam Prabodh, Satire Editor

With summer’s lease having passed its too short a date, we are well and truly into the Fall now. Boston is taking on every shade of orange, yellow, and brown, and the weather changes more frequently than my mood. Even as turgid morbidity rages on around us (33 million cases, 990 thousand deaths), social circles spring up with fervid passion here at Harvard Business School (shot!). Life, as it rightly should, goes on. As the cold winds of winter and recruitment begin their frigid expedition, I am eager to arm myself with every piece of advice I can get. So, I sat down with

There are no cliques here. There, I said it. It’s just that some of us do our cases with loud music on and in groups of 20. With alcohol and the occasional weed. It’s a very common study method, honestly. You’ll find it everywhere. Cliques are what I witnessed in high school when the cool kids would not invite me to their parties. This is different. Any tips on recruitment? If your previous (and future) recruiter is footing your MBA bill, go crazy. The world is your oyster. Try out a different industry. I say go as weird as possible. If you’re debt-ridden, go crazy anyway. Experiment, switch careers, or build more experience in your industry. If you feel like playing it safe, ask yourself: when, if not now? ultra-popular RC, winner at life, and my personal life coach, Mitsi Picot (MBA ’22), to get a few tips on navigating life at Harvard Business School (shot!). I would highly recommend not following them. Here are excerpts from our conversation: Let’s talk about appearances, first. What is the ideal Fall look? Here’s what’s important. No matter how cold you are, don’t whip out that winter parka yet. You must look good and slowly trick people into accepting you for who you are. Until that, pretend and shiver. Form over function. Lastly, Fall is a fairly predictable season; everyone dresses like they’re going to a pumpkin patch and everyone does actually go apple picking.

I say do it—it’s mostly fun. But be safe and stay at least six feet away from that basic shit. How has the classroom experience been for you? Well first of all, participation has largely been a breeze for me. I am here to learn. So, I ask rhetorical questions with answers built into them. Part of the case learning method is to listen, adapt and regurgitate without letting it be known that you just threw back an already stated point. How are you navigating social life? There are three categories of people here. Self-select and settle. Don’t worry, you can change it later if you want.

Have you found any of this stressful?

I found myself chugging wine from sipper bottles and talking about my previous relationships. I realized after I had gone home that maybe that was a date. What you need to know is this though—there is no such thing as out of league anymore. You think you like someone? Grow a pair and ask them out for lunch. Who knows? Maybe it will turn into a date mid way. Mitsi and I continued our conversation late into the night. However, with little time for romance and my sleep related fragilities, I had to call it a night and bid adieu. Mitsi pulled on her leather jacket and headed to Cambridge for Midnight-Mayhem totallysocially-distant and withinallowed-limits-of-guests small gathering. Edit: I met Mitsi again the following night. She was in an unusually reflective mood which I put down to sobriety and fatigue. Here are her thoughts on life at HBS (water, please!), verbatim: “It’s ok to be different, boo. You need to embrace your inner unicorn. You are among very, very talented people. Everyone knows something about a lot of things or a lot about something. If you, at times, feel like an impostor in a crowd of pulchritudinous intellectuals, if a campus brimming with introductions, new beginnings and nervous energy gets you both excited and anxious, and if you’re still looking for social ground to settle your feet on, relax, friend. You are not alone.”

What, the life here? It’s the right kind of stress, I’d say. Look, I’m basically a god when it comes to social interactions. I mean that. Everyone wants to be my friend. But even I feel conscious when I haven’t read a case before class or when someone calls me out on my high pitched laugh or makes a joke about my choice of music. But this is the sort of stress I’d happily take. It’s complicated. The right kind of complicated. What about relationships? Have you been on any dates? Tricky business, dating. Very tricky. At HBS (shot!), it’s very hard to gauge what constitutes a date. I have been on a few lunches where

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Nishkam lived and worked in India prior to coming to HBS. An alum of IIT Delhi, Nishkam is deeply passionate about hammy comedy, happy music and trashy fiction.

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Profile for The Harbus

The Harbus - October 2020  

The Harbus News Corporation is the non-profit student news organization of Harvard Business School. It is a self-funded, student-run non-pro...

The Harbus - October 2020  

The Harbus News Corporation is the non-profit student news organization of Harvard Business School. It is a self-funded, student-run non-pro...

Profile for harbus