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Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School Paperback – June 30, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
This debut by a former journalist at the Daily Telegraph of London chronicles the author's love-hate relationship with the Harvard Business School, where he spent two years getting his M.B.A. Beginning with a confessional account of his disillusionment with journalism and conflicted desire to make money, Broughton provides an account of his experiences in and out of the classroom as he struggles to survive the academic rigor and find a suitably principled yet lucrative path. Simultaneously repelled by his aggressive fellow capitalists in training—their stress-fueled partying and obsession with wealth—and dazzled by his classes, visiting professors and the surprising beauty of business concepts, Broughton vacillates between cautious critique and faint praise. Although cleverly narrated and marked by a professional journalist's polish and remarkable attention to detail, this book flounders; it provides neither enough color nor damning dirt on the school to entertain in the manner of true tell-alls. The true heart of the story is less b-school confidential than a memoir of Broughton's quest to understand the business world and find his place in it. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
" Destined to become required reading for prospective B-school entrants. . . . As an insider's account of an influential institution, [it] hits every mark."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"An insightful and entertaining, behind-the-scenes glimpse at a powerful institution."
" What makes this a particularly absorbing and entertaining read is the combination of journalistic detachment and the sense of personal alienation that Delves Broughton, a Brit in an American system, feels as he struggles to come to terms with what it means to be a Harvard MBA."
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If so, you might enjoy reading Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School, by Philip Delves Broughton.
Against type, the book depicts a former London journalist's decision to reinvent himself by trying for a Harvard MBA. While many of his classmates are attending the program "on vacation" from their Wall Street jobs, Broughton struggles to keep up with computations using Excel and a demanding class and homework schedule. The story is essentially about Broughton's quest for meaning, his place in the world, and what exactly are the characteristics of the "perfect job". As he goes through the program, he tries to balance all the knowledge and networking relationships he gains with the realization that the resulting careers of those who graduate, though very lucrative, might not be exactly what he is looking for due to the family and personal sacrifices such jobs demand.
The book also gives a rare glimpse inside the very successful Harvard MBA program, as well as some of the students in the program. If you are thinking of testing your mettle and going for an MBA, then you might want to read his story.
(review by Kendall Giles)
For more depth, and critique, of management consulting and the strategy business, you might look to Matthew Stewart's "The Management Myth."
If you want something more personal, about this people, this is great. It's a quick read I couldn't put down; five stars.
I really liked the fact that the author is very straightforward and honest about the "painful" experience of getting an MBA. It is not just about the financial burden this endeavor has, but also the peer pressure and the worst pressure of them all, yours.
The books is truly filled with accurate insights about doing an MBA. I would recommend it to everyone evaluating this option.
And do not get scared, although this is a very unique and hardcore experience, after all the sacrifice, it is completely worth it.
The book provides what appears to be an accurate and well balanced account of the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program of the venerated Harvard Business School (HBS). The writer is admittedly an atypical MBA candidate, but nonetheless has apparently succeeded in capturing the culture of HBS and the philosophy of its MBA program. Broughton encapsulates the MBA curriculum and provides some detail about the famous `case study' method developed by HBS,. He also provides a mostly sympathetic description of his fellow members of the `Class of 2006' and their motivations. Broughton himself is somewhat conflicted as to why he wants to acquire an MBA , but he gives a straightforward account of how one goes about achieving a Harvard MBA. Also he is willing to share some of the kind of knowledge that he gained while in the program which gives tangible examples of what HBS students actually learn.
So what is taught in the HBS MBA Program? Well by this account, essentially it is number crunching. HBS graduates know a lot about financial risk, costs and revenues, leverage, and increasing profitability. They also know how to document such knowledge using spreadsheets and graphs. Not surprisingly the majority of Broughton's MBA class went into either financial services (investment banking, hedge funds, etc) or management consulting. Indeed one gets the impression that HBS has more or less focused on financial management to the exclusion of management of people or processes. The information provided by Broughton is a fascinating account of what to some of us is a very exotic place, but perhaps more importantly a good summation of what those considering trying for a Harvard MBA have to expect.