What was the most valuable part of your HES experience?
I moved to Boston in February 2019 with two suitcases and no friends or family, having only visited the city once. Harvard instantly gave me a sense of community and belonging, with events and organizations ready to fill that void.
My best advice for anyone considering a degree from HES is to take advantage of the on-campus experience, from the community to resources to networking events.
I attended the Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association conference every year since my arrival.
Through this conference, I met HBS dean Srikant Datar and spent 10 minutes getting feedback on my then-startup company. He made space for me to explain what I was building and the impact I wanted to have, which was symbolic of my experience on campus — everyone wanted to help.
I also learned that HES degree-seeking students could qualify to participate in the Harvard Innovation Labs semester-long startup incubator.
My proudest moment as a student was seeing my startup listed on the Harvard Innovation website — the same place where companies like Plastiq, Wise Systems, and Visible Hands all got their start.
All 13 Harvard Schools are represented in the programming and I spent long hours in the Innovation Lab with students from multiple Schools, all focused on building something special while happy to share resources and advice.
The most transformative part of the Innovation Lab is the Experts-in-Residence program, which offers 30-minute sessions with entrepreneurs and business leaders across Harvard for advice on fundraising, pitch decks, investor introductions, and anything else!
I met the CIO for Mastercard, a partner at a prestigious VC firm, and a Harvard Ph.D. graduate, who each played an essential role in my eventual success.
In my final fall semester, I took Strategy Management Class with Professor Areen Shahbari. She was energetic and organized while keeping us on our toes all weekend.
Through group presentations, strategy games, and round table discussions, she breathed real-world scenarios into the material and fostered engagement from the entire class.
We connected so well as a class that I later asked Manoj Sharma, my then-classmate, to be the CTO of my startup!
From start to finish, Harvard has given me a lifetime of experience for a fraction of the cost of similar programs. I am forever grateful I made the move.
Soon, I will graduate with my master’s degree in Finance and a dream job in commercial banking here in Boston.
What’s something unexpected that you learned about Harvard?
Because I had exposure to students from different Harvard Schools through the innovation lab, I learned the resources we are given as students at HES are very similar to students of other programs.
I never felt othered or treated differently being an HES student in comparison to students participating in a different program.
What are you going to miss the most about HES?
While building my startup, I benefited tremendously from access to Pitchbook, Crunchbase, IBIS World, and other subscriptions that are free for students, but could cost thousands of dollars for individuals.
Access to those subscriptions is worth the tuition cost, in my opinion!
Describe your HES experience in one word.