- Perfect Paperback
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; Open Market ed edition
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141037865
- ISBN-13: 978-0141037868
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What They Teach You at Harvard Business School: My Two Years Inside the Cauldron of Capitalism Perfect Paperback
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The author shares with us key ideas learned in both the required courses and also electives. Finance is about valuation, and in particular risk-adjusted valuation. If competitors can easily replicate what you are doing, then that is not much of a strategy. And of course we also get one person's perception of the faculty and students. At times this view leaves us impressed, as is the case with strategy Prof Felix (who I have met, and I agree with the author). At other times the experience seems like an bubble holding in the insanity as we see students chasing interviews with banks or when we understand just how debt is used (and business people take their cut).
My only real disappointment is that we don't get a clear answer to what the author decided to do after graduation. I won't ruin the ending, but perhaps the answer is deceptively simple.
Character of the book and author are world known journalist, decided to study at Harvard Business School. The book is written in first person (so it's easy to read it). this all book is about authors experiences in world known business school. The book describes not only the school teaching style, but the school implemented to the culture approach to class-fellows and teachers as well as relationships with potential employers.
The book starts with the background of the writer; his wishes to study at such school and his two years of experience in graduate business studies. Author depicts study program and subjects, job search for internship, businesses modeling, interviews with prospective employers, graduates and of course his class-fellows.
The book describes the principle the HBS is so well known - learning from "case study" approach. The book raises questions about internal management, culture and attitude to students and society.
<...Kim Klark, the dean said that our class consisted of 895 students, chosen from, 7100 applications reflecting 12.6 percent acceptance rate. We were very fortunate to have gotten in, he said. Thirty four percent of our class was women and 32 international. The average age was twenty seven ...>
<...once I got to the garage I found a space on the third story - but not before passing the most extraordinary assemblage of student transport I had ever seen. Ascending the ramp of the car park, they went , roughly, BMW, Lexus, BMW, BMW, Mini Cooper, Lexus SUV, BMW, Porche, ....> <...'Have you seen the cars in the garage?', I asked him that morning.
`Yes'. Vivek only ever answered the specific question you asked him.
`Well, how come I`m driving a two thousand-dollar Toyota and everyone else has a BMW?'
`Lots of people buy them when they get into HBS and want to get financial aid.'
`Once you are accepted by HBS, you want to clear out your bank account so that you get more financial aid'...>
<... Graduation was a washout....> <...but say you have a list and everyone bolted upright and prepared to take notes P.J. list was:
1. When we look back, the big thing will look small and the little thing will look big.
2. Comparison is the death of the happiness
3. We are all we have. No one else will rescue us....>
interesting thoughs about iner policy and culture of HBS
dynamic writting style about authors experience
book is small and light so it is a good companion in long flights
Sometimes the author's "philosophic" reflections deviates too far from the main theme in the book and sometimes not rally related with the content
description about networking with class-fellows provided is too shallow
good reading before sleep and travels
I recommend it for those planning to enter business graduate studies
Personally I come from a community where the term LSE gets passed between parents enough, as do Harvard and HBS. All speak of international success. I have to admit, when growing up shaped by such values (and then failing to go down that road) I got more than a little curious for what exactly I was missing out on that is so lauded.
Other reviews appear to have dissected the book well enough, so I'm not going to bother in that direction. However I do want to highlight some points.
The author's writing style kept me going. I found the book immensely enjoyable to read (it made me laugh) and would recommend it for this reason alone.
Regarding what the title purports to offer: anyone with common sense shouldn't expect every paper and case study to be contained in detail in this book. But to expect so also misses a point made towards the end of the book. The stories and explanations contained certainly allude to the complexities of knowledge and methods passed from teacher to student. People are being trained to work long hours "crunching" numbers for some grand as-yet-to-be-defined-but-should-be-expected-nonetheless purpose. Yet, amid all this complication there remains a central kernel of truth: HBS had a direct role in shaping those who were involved in the global financial collapse. If I bought the book for any reason, it was perhaps to broaden and clarify my awareness about the core of what Harvard does and does not teach. I wasn't expecting the fine details of risk arbitration technique to be written. I was hoping, and amply rewarded, to find some of the basic perspectives, beliefs and assumptions, faulty or not, being passed to students. Such information fails to qualify for that which is quantifiable (cookie-cutter HBS students appear to need the quantifiable like fish need water - see writing about McNamara in the last chapter) but it is this core stuff - like how students are trained to relate to responsibility (to themselves, their families and people they will affect even if they never meet) - that, I think, makes the book shine. In the last chapter, as HBS convenes to discuss the global financial collapse in its aftermath, the author notes a few speakers who seemed to "get it", asking why business leaders had lost the trust of their fellow citizens. "It was an obvious question, but he alone seemed to understand its importance."
Years after leaving my Swiss friend at Harvard to venture elsewhere, I was invited to dinner at his family's home near Zurich. When the topic came to where we met I inquired about his experience. He came away disappointed, to put it simply. I won't go into the specifics but will say that most of his complaints can be found in this book and that, for his own tastes, he is finally enjoying himself at LSE.