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HBX Business Blog

An Insider's View: A Transformative Experience at ConneXt

Posted by Patrick Aveni on May 9, 2017 at 10:27 AM

Ethan Bernstein leads an HBX case discussion in a classroom on the Harvard Business School campus

As I begin another seemingly ordinary week, I can't help feeling extraordinary.

On this particular morning, I made my usual stop at Starbucks. I answered emails, as I routinely do first thing in the morning. And I prepared for the various meetings I have scheduled for today, as I typically do on Mondays. Nothing about what I’ve done so far today is different. However, I feel different.

My perspective is new and fresh. The feeling of change, in and of itself, is not new to me. I know transformative experiences well.

I spent much of my youth on stage learning how to perform in front of a live audience. I learned preparation, improvisation, failure and resilience in the face of failure. I once left my tightly-knit family life at home for college in Boston (Go BU!). I enrolled in law school and ultimately became an attorney. I argued a case (successfully) in front of a tribunal of Justices at the Massachusetts Appeals Court as a law student. I opened a company in order to transition from the traditional role of "attorney" to that of strategy consultant. And I have traveled as much as possible over the last few years, seeking out new opportunities to learn about other cultures and enhance how I perceive the activities of my own life.

HBX ConneXt now belongs on my list of transformative experiences.

This past weekend may not have been as intensive in nature or lengthy in duration as some of my other life experiences, but its impact was extremely powerful. Yes, being on campus at Harvard Business School is somehow simultaneously frightening and liberating. There is a unique amount of pressure to be the best version of yourself as well as a palpable feeling of confidence that you can change the world. Sitting in on an MBA-caliber class session (as I did in Professor Ethan Bernstein's classroom) is an absolutely electric feeling. And, having the opportunity to converse with some of the world's most renowned academic minds in the field of business is something many ambitious professionals wish they could do, but fail to realize.

If you considered any of the above reasons to be why I feel different today, I wouldn't fault you. Each is worthy on its own. You’d probably even be partially correct. The real reason, however, originates from something else. And perhaps this is why HBS continues to be the leading B-school in the world. The real reason is grounded in the numerous conversations I had with the talented people I am proud to call my peers. These people, as it turns out, come from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. The breadth of their experiences in the aggregate is unquestionably mind-boggling. This becomes increasingly evident as you move through a crowd at an event like HBX ConneXt.

I feel different today because I am aware, now more than ever, of the unpredictability of tomorrow’s possibilities. A relationship created during CORe, further reinforced at an event like ConneXt, may ultimately lead to a business venture in India. Some unforeseen project may be just around the corner, possible only because of a friendship I forged over the weekend with a classmate from a different cohort. This is what I imagine to be one of the top strengths of the MBA program: a magical mixture of diversity, talent and ambition. If I can sense it after a single weekend, I can only begin to comprehend the effect of the full-time MBA program.

Community can be a powerful platform for success. The HBX community is one such platform. Despite still being in its infancy, the program shows immense promise. Ever evolving, the HBX division of the school challenges the traditional medium of education. It provides a pathway to arguably the most influential professional network in the world, that of Harvard Business School. And most importantly, it fosters new relationships and sparks new ideas between like-minded, ambitious people looking to further their business acumen.

How fortunate are we to live in an age when we can be a part of such a program? The awesomeness of this is not lost on me. And while the HBX community is primarily based online, it’s almost preferable. Today, almost all network connections are sustained online. We are a community of doers with the ability to learn together, learn from one another, and connec(X)t. I look forward to cultivating more relationships and connections. I look forward to traveling the globe to visit new friends and peers. And I especially look forward to contributing to the HBX community in whatever way I can.

Patrick Aveni

About the Author

Patrick J. Aveni, Esq. is a strategy consultant and attorney from Connecticut. His management consulting firm, Aveni Consulting, provides strategy advice to small business owners and managers. Patrick earned a B.A. in Political Science from Boston University and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. In September 2016, Patrick took CORe and is currently enrolled in Disruptive Strategy. 

Topics: HBX Insights