Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Harvard MBA

One of the books below on the list is Ahead of the Curve which is the story of a person who changed careers in their 30s and went back to Harvard to get an MBA. I've been thinking about getting an MBA lately so this book caught my eye. I don't really want an MBA as much as I want to study the things in an MBA program. There would be lots application to what I do at work as well as lots of generally interesting stuff (at least to me).

The book is really a fascinating insight into the kinds of people who find their way into the Harvard MBA program and how that program is respected (or treated) around the world. A couple of the more interesting points.

  1. The MBA program at Harvard is respected around the world. People from all over the world come to Harvard and the folks who graduate from Harvard seem to have their ticket punched around the world. They are treated like royalty when visiting companies and countries.
  2. The quality of folks in the program vary from very, very smart people who are the best from their countries to many who get in because of their family, a legacy relationship or where they work. There are numerous places in the book where you find out that many of the folks in the program aren't that sharp. There are cases where students ask really dumb questions of really smart people. It is quite funny (or sad) actually.
  3. Accounting can't answer as many questions as one might think. Lots of assumptions are made. Lots of places where different interpretations could lead to different results.
  4. People in the program many times compromise their goals and values as they go along. It is easy to get caught up in the hype of having a Harvard MBA.
  5. The book has lots of interesting discussion about strategy, people, ethics and finance. Ok, I found that interesting. Sorry.

I found the book to be an interesting insight into what it is to enter this level of MBA program. It is probably about the same at the University of Chicago, MIT, Stanford, etc.

When I finished my BS in Electrical Engineering, I got an internship at AT&T Bell Laboratories at Murray Hill, NJ. That was the center of the universe for high end science and engineering in the 80s, and earlier. I worked in the acoustical research department and I met the people who invented UNIX. I played Go with a Nobel prize winner.

I was intimidated about being there with other students from MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, etc. What I learned was that at the end of the day, it didn't matter what school you went to. It mattered how hard you worked. Some of those kids from those fancy schools were pretty lame. Others were brilliant.

An interesting book.

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