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The Reality About Harvard- Teaching and Experience

Career insights by GGI is a new series by GGI sharing hacks and tips around management consulting, MBA, product management and public policy.

In this GGI career insight, we will be sharing insights into: the teaching system and experiences of Harvard University.


Have you ever wondered what an education ecosystem system looks like at Harvard? Or what are your chances of learning in prestigious institutions such as Harvard? In this career insight, I am going to map my experiences and share how I got to study at Harvard Business School with a GMAT lower than 750. Like always, I have divided this career insight into 2 broad sections.

  1. Experiences

1.1 Classes

It is safe to say that your classes account for the largest part of your experience at your educational institution. My first class at Harvard Kennedy School revolved around public sector innovation. It was taught by the former mayor of New York. To top that, he often invited prominent guest speakers.

One such highly accredited speaker was a former McKinsey employee who worked with the State Department. I remember having a candid chat with her about how the schools no longer teach us proprietary skills to its students. Eventually, it is the firms such as MBB of the world that foster our soft and hard skills.

Moving onto the second component of a classroom- the students. The most interesting aspect was the diverse nature of the students taking the class. In my Kennedy Classroom, on my left sat the managing director at Bain Capital, London. He had also previously taught at the London Business School and Duke University. Humble and curious as ever, he always asked for my opinion on Indian policies since I had previously worked with the Government of India. The noteworthy detail is that he did not mention his role as managing director until the end. This experience taught me a great deal about humility. As it is often said, you are the average of the 5 people you interact with. In this aspect, Harvard can be quite overwhelming.

Jumping to my next class, it was on launching technology ventures at the Harvard Business School. Other than the quality of my peer network, what stood out for me there was the no laptops policy. This ensured that all students were alert, and solving the case with their full attention. These classes were centred around the concept of active, not passive learning. One was expected to come to class after putting their thinking caps on.

1.2 Peers

After classes, your peers are invariably the most important aspect of the education ecosystem. Your peers are with whom you will interact the most during and after college. Emphasizing my love for diversity, I have lost count of the number of different nationalities I interacted with.

I distinctly recall doing a project with a Brazilian and a Mexican, both of whom have come to do great with their lives. In fact, I am still in touch with a number of my Indonesian and Chinese friends. This really broadened my perspective and outlook on life, and I starts to think differently and holistically. You tend to become the best version of yourself by taking into account the different experiences of each person and respecting heterogeneity.

1.3 Travel experience

Taking my first international flight to Boston was a milestone in itself for me. As a resident of Delhi, it took me a while to get accustomed to the extreme temperatures of -18℃. Albeit that, travelling internationally and experiencing new cultures opened a lot of thought horizons for me.

  1. So, how was I able to attend Harvard?

Having expressed my fondness for my time at Harvard, I shall begin to explain how I got this lifetime privilege, to start with. With a GMAT score of 690, my journey to Harvard did not come easy.

As an MBA student at ISB, Hyderabad, I was extremely clear that I wanted international exposure by studying abroad. To fulfil that, I applied to Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. As a Fletcher student, I had the opportunity to take classes at Harvard and MIT.

It was a great experience, so much so, that my peers regretted not applying for the Fletcher exchange. In my opinion, one must experience international education from a reputed university, provided they can manage the finances and the logistics involved.

At Global Governance Initiative, you are taught using Harvard Case Method, where you put your thinking caps on to solve the problem and learn competence skills. We have a diverse network of over 5500 alumni. As a GGIian, you get quality education, from quality teachers, amongst quality peers.


Author: Shatakshi Sharma, Co-CEO Global Governance Initiative, Ex-BCG Management Consultant, Former Policy Advisor, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change


If you are interested in learning about GGI's MBA Scholar program, you can learn here.

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