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HBX Business Blog


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HBX Staff Spotlight: Anna Vallee

Posted by HBX on May 25, 2017 at 2:58 PM

Anna Vallee in HBX Studio

We sat down with Anna Vallee, a Research and Teaching Associate on our content team, to talk about her role at HBX and to learn what goes into designing and developing new courses. 

Anna Vallee in Cap and Gown
What is your academic background?

I received a B.A., Political Science from DePaul University and a Masters in Education Policy and Management from Harvard Graduate School of Education. I was also in the very first group of HBX CORe students in 2014...Go Pioneers!

What is your role at HBX?

I assist in the design and delivery of courses. I started working with Professor Jan Hammond on the Business Analytics course in October 2016.

Any former CORe student will understand how awesome that was – like working with a celebrity after watching their film! Collaborating closely with Professor Hammond on student support and course delivery showed me how much her commitment to education comes out in everything that she does.

What projects are you working on right now?

After getting my feet wet with course maintenance, I moved into development in January and am now building out new courses for HBX. My current project is a cross-Harvard collaboration around K-12 school leadership and management.

The role has involved a lot of work with the Graduate School of Education and the Kennedy School, and it has been rewarding to make contributions at the intersection of my interests in business and education. The work that we’re doing certainly fulfills HBX’s mission of educating leaders who make a difference in the world wherever they are; good principals and school leaders have a monumental impact on a child’s future.

Anna Valle with the Red Sox Mascot, Wally the Green Monster

What does your typical day look like at HBX?

Trick question…there is no typical day during the course development process! At any given time I can be found in meetings, writing up a storm, collaborating with faculty, or preparing for filming. I’d compare the work to something between writing a book and making a movie.

The process is incredibly creative and collaborative, and working with the HBX team makes it lots of fun! My favorite part is being in the studio and watching the faculty bring the material to life.

How has HBX shaped your academic interests and plans for the future?

I’m on the fence about whether I’d like to go back for more schooling. Regardless of my decision, HBX has helped me shape and solidify my career trajectory and professional interests. Before coming to HBX I was at another edtech firm, and I’ve found that I really enjoy the energy of a technology startup that’s coupled with the mission of a non-profit.

Anna Vallee eating a lobster

What's you favorite things about living in Boston?

I grew up in the landlocked region of the Midwest near Chicago. The people are really nice, but the seafood is terrible and the land is flat, so I never learned to ski.

Since moving here three years ago, I have fully embraced the New England diet with open arms and an empty stomach. I could eat a lobster roll a day if given the choice (and the budget). Skiing…well, I’m working on it. I’ve been told I’m a natural at cross-country, but I’m probably a hazard to others going downhill.

I also enjoy watching New England sports teams, albeit only about once a year. If I could choose any game at random, it would be watching the Celtics play. The players make the movements look so fluid and poetic - it’s almost a dance! 

What's your favorite hobby?

I’ve dabbled in watercolor and ink illustration and I’m starting to learn Japanese this summer in anticipation of a trip to Tokyo.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Karaoke. I’m pretty sure all of my friends are tired of hearing me sing Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” by now. 

Topics: HBX Staff Spotlight

A Look Back at HBX ConneXt 2017

Posted by HBX on May 8, 2017 at 1:25 AM

A group of students who've participated in HBX CORe pose for a group photo at HBX ConneXt

On Saturday, more than 400 HBX students from nearly 40 countries gathered on the Harvard Business School campus to meet their classmates and participate in a day of learning, networking, and exploration.

Half of the participants came from more than 1,000 miles away, with some traveling from as far as China, South Africa, Australia, and India. Every HBX course was represented, including a handful of students from the June 2014 pioneer cohort of HBX CORe.

Professor Bharat Anand stands at the podium on stage and welcomes an auditorium full of students to HBX ConneXt

HBX Faculty Chair Bharat Anand started the day by welcoming learners to campus, looking back at the first three years of HBX programming, and giving a sneak peek of the new HBX Mobile Platform that is currently in development.

"The promise of digital learning is not about reach, it's about engagement."

– Professor Bharat Anand,
HBX Faculty Chair

Students laugh during the morning keynote session at HBX ConneXt

Next, HBX Executive Director Patrick Mullane introduced Meghan Joyce, the East Coast General Manager for Uber and HBS MBA ('13), who explained how her experiences in the HBS classroom – especially the use of the case method – have informed her work at Uber and helped her solve real-world problems.

Professor Mike Wheeler leads a case discussion in a Harvard Business School classroom during HBX ConneXt

After the morning keynote, participants made their way to their assigned classrooms for faculty-led case discussions with Professors Bharat Anand, Ethan Bernstein, Mihir Desai, Jan Hammond, V.G. Narayanan, and Mike Wheeler.

Case topics ranged from financial policy at Apple to a challenging negotiation from the Civil War and a Napa Valley winery's dilemma about when to harvest its grapes.

Professor Jan Hammond leads a case discussion at HBX ConneXt while dressed in her iconic blue suit

During these sessions, students got the chance to experience the famed HBS case study method (and dreaded cold call) in person, most for the first time.

Mark Hardie leads a discussion about entrepreneurship at HBX ConneXt

After lunch, students made their way to the Harvard University Innovation Lab for breakout sessions, including entrepreneurship and design thinking workshops, presentations on the HBS MBA program, resume tips and tricks, and charting a career path, professional headshot stations, and campus tours.


Participants were also invited into the HBX Innovation Room, where they tested content and provided feedback on various ideas and designs, shared ideas for new courses, took a quiz to discover their spirit faculty, and more.

Harvard Professors Rebecca Henderson and Michael Sandel sit on stage discussing the future of capitalism at HBX ConneXt

In the afternoon keynote, Harvard Professors Rebecca Henderson and Michael Sandel discussed the future of capitalism.

"You don't have to make a choice between believing in capitalism and caring about the world – Businesses can make money and do good at the same time." 

– Professor Rebecca Henderson

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria reflects on the loss of colleague David Garvin

Later in the afternoon, HBS Dean Nitin Nohria reflected on the recent loss of a beloved member of the Harvard Business School faculty and the author of our newest HBX course, Professor David Garvin

"David was the kindest, most wonderful human I know," he said. "He was a teacher's teacher."

The dean went on to describe a recent email he received from Professor Garvin, who was trying to instill a greater sense of urgency in the HBX team to complete work on his new course. Due to his declining health, Professor Garvin worried he wouldn't have enough time left to see it through.

"I was amazed that a colleague, in his final days, wanted so badly to create a course that you can benefit from for the rest of your lives." 

–Nitin Nohria,
Harvard Business School Dean

The HBX team is immensely proud to be associated with Professor Garvin's Becoming a Better Manager course, which will be officially announced in the coming weeks.


After the closing remarks, participants wrapped up their HBX ConneXt experience with a networking reception.

4530 (1).jpg

Many people lingered at the end of the evening, still actively engaged in conversations and hesitant to acknowledge that HBX ConneXt had come to a close. Perhaps none more so than Professor Bharat Anand. 

Professor Bharat Anand at HBX ConneXt.jpg

Want to see more from HBX ConneXt? We will be sharing additional photos, videos, student stories, and reflections throughout the week. 

Topics: HBX ConneXt

Coming to ConneXt? 8 Things to do While You're in Town

Posted by HBX on May 5, 2017 at 3:19 PM

Boston skyline as seen from across the river in Cambridge - Photo courtesy of Megan Burkes

We cannot wait to welcome hundreds of HBX CORe credential holders and HBX certificate holders from around the world to the Harvard Business School campus this weekend for ConneXt 2017. If you have built a little tourist time into your trip, here are our top six places to visit while you are in Boston! 

Paul Revere's statue in front of the Old North Church - Photo courtesy of Megan Burkes

1. Freedom Trail

Looking to soak up some history and explore some of Boston's most charming neighborhoods while you get some exercise?

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile path that takes you past 16 historically significant sites, including the Old North Church, Bunker Hill Monument, State House Building and more!

As you weave your way through Boston's North End, stop by Mike's Pastry for a cannoli - one of Geri's favorite treats!

Fenway Park_ Stock Photo

2. Fenway Park

Baseball fan or not, a visit to Fenway Park is a must for anyone interested in sports, history, or willingness-to-pay. Our friends at Ace Tickets can hook you up for a game, or you can take a tour of the historic stadium while you are in town.

People relax in the grass on Harvard Yard - Photo by Chris Larson

3. Harvard Yard

You will be spending all day on the Harvard Business School campus on Saturday, but don't forget to stroll over to Harvard Square and do some people watching in Harvard Yard. You might just meet a Nobel laureate or two!

4. Harvard COOP

Cardullos is conveniently located right next to the Harvard COOP and bookstore, so stop in and browse for a minute if you're in the market for any Harvard memorabilia. From t-shirts and coffee mugs to teddy bears and golf balls, the COOP has it all. Even copies of all of your favorite professors' books! 

Please note: the Business COOP on the HBS campus is closed on the weekend, so stock up on your Harvard gear Friday or make your way into the Square.

Cardullo's Deli Sign - Photo by HBX

5. Cardullo's

Revisit one of your favorite cases from Financial Accounting by stopping by Cardullo's in Harvard Square. Buy yourself some imported chocolate or have the deli dish you up one of their speciality sandwiches. The benches alongside the Charles River are a great place to dig into your Cardullo's delicacies, and from the Cambridge side of the river you can look across at the beautiful Harvard Business School campus.

Boston Duck Boat Tour

6. Duck Tour

No visit to Boston is complete without a duck tour.

Hop aboard one of the colorful W.W.II style amphibious landing vehicles for a great way to see the city (from the streets and from the water)!

7. Public Garden

It is springtime in Boston and flowers are blooming everywhere you look. No place in the city is more spectacular this time of year than the Boston Public Garden. The first public botanical garden in the US, it is striking in its beauty and centrally-located between the historic neighborhood of Beacon Hill and Newbury Street, the go-to destination for all of your shopping needs.

We are thrilled that you are joining us for ConneXt 2017, and hope you enjoy our beautiful city while you are here. For those of you unable to make the trip, we hope your travels bring you to Boston sometime in the not too distant future!

Harvard Art Musuem - Photo courtesy of Kate Pilbeam

8. Harvard Art Museums

If the weather isn't cooperating or you just want to spend some time indoors, Boston is home to a number of incredible museums, including the Harvard Art Museums, Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science, Contemporary Institute of Art, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and more!

The Inside Scoop on HBX Admissions 

Posted by HBX on April 25, 2017 at 1:09 PM

Accepted Graphic.png

We sat down with Geri Fox from our admissions team to talk about the HBX application process. Curious what makes for a successful applicant? Read on!

What do you do at HBX? 

My official title is Associate Director of Enrollment Geri-Full.jpgManagement. What that means is that I work closely with the admissions team, product management,and marketing teams to understand 
the qualifications a participant needs to be successful in a particular HBX course. My team then evaluates applicants accordingly.  

What does a normal day look like for you?

For me, a typical day at HBX involves reviewing applications from people who have applied to any of our five programs, tracking how the applicant and registrant pools are shaping up, and keeping a close eye on our yield (the percent of people who register of those we admit). I also spend a great deal of time with our development team planning and testing new functionality to improve our application and administrative systems. 

What makes a good candidate for HBX programs?

A strong candidate for a HBX course is someone with proven academic success who shows determination to get through an intensive course. Candidates should also demonstrate an interest in being a strong community member, willing to share knowledge and help others.

What does the typical HBX student look like?

FullSizeRender.jpgTruthfully, there is no typical HBX student. Our students come from incredibly diverse backgrounds. We have students who are in graduate school, others who are undergraduates, and some who have worked for over 25 years. We have students who come from very different industries and from nearly every country around the world. HBX students are doctors, English majors, engineers, lawyers, IT professionals, and entrepreneurs. Essentially, there is a broad range of people who find value and succeed in our courses.

What does the application process for an HBX course look like?

Our applications vary slightly depending on the course you apply to. Generally speaking, it includes the following:

  • Biographical information: address and phone number
  • Educational history: school attending (or attended) and degrees received
  • Employment information (if applicable): years of work experience, industry, and function
  • Short Essay: up to 300 words in response to a basic open-ended question

How long will it take me to hear back?

geri 1 use this one-678741-edited.jpgYou should expect to receive an admissions decision from us approximately one week after your application is submitted.

Any tips on how to write a great application?

It is important to submit a thorough application and to be as honest as possible. Our goal is to get to know a bit about you through the application and, since we aren’t able to meet in person, this is the next best thing.

Do military members get a discount? How do they note their military status in the application?

Military members and veterans do in fact get a discount. In the application we request proof of military status or proof that you are a veteran. There are clear directions within the application on how to provide documentation.

What's your favorite book?

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I am really good at Dance Dance Revolution!

TV show you never miss?

I never miss a Game of Thrones episode.

Favorite food?

My favorite food is a cannoli from Mike’s Pastry in Boston's North End.

Get to Know Professor Mike Wheeler

Posted by HBX on March 21, 2017 at 11:08 AM


We recently sat down with Harvard Business School and HBX Negotiation Mastery Professor Mike Wheeler to talk about negotiation, close encounters with sharks, and his internal timekeeping superpower.

What’s the biggest misconception about negotiation?

That it's an innate skill - something that you're either born with or that you'll never have. That's ridiculous!

The hardest part about developing my HBX course was ______________.

Making sure the passion that my colleagues and I have for negotiation is understood, and ultimately shared by, the students who will take our course.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I love learning from my students, especially when they spot issues or raise questions I hadn't anticipated.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not at work, you can find me _________________.

In my hometown of Gloucester, MA, where I still see friends I went to kindergarten with years ago.

Mike Wheeler Sailing on a boat

How would you describe yourself?

I'd say that I'm curious, optimistic (for the most part), and a bit of a contrarian.

What’s your personal motto?

“For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”

– Journalist and essayist H.L. Mencken

What's the best book you’ve ever read?

Right now I'd say Sarah Bakewell's How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in one Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer.

What was your favorite subject in school?

I was an American Studies major in college. I loved the mix of history, literature, economics, and the arts (and still do)!

Where do you get your news from?

An eclectic mix of sources. I probably spend less time than most people on so-called breaking news. I'm more interested in longer-term developments.

What’s the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

In the summers when I was in high school and college, I worked on a commercial tuna boat. The striker would harpoon these giant fish (mostly 500-800 pounds). Then, another guy and I would be put into a dory to haul them in. I've had some interesting encounters with whales and one particular shark.

Mike as a Cornell hockey player in the movie Love Story

People would be surprised if they knew ______________.

If you look quickly, you can spot me in the movie Love Story as a Cornell hockey player.

Do you have a hidden talent?

It's not exactly a talent, and it's both weird and utterly worthless: when I wake up in the morning, I usually know what time it is almost to the minute without looking at a clock.

If you could travel anywhere in the world (that you haven’t yet been) where would you go?

Sailing around Cape Horn - though I'm mindful of the adage, "Be careful what you wish for."

What's the best advice someone has ever given you?

A professor in college, Henry Steele Commager, told me, "Do what you most love, and everything else will take care of itself."

Want to learn from Professor Wheeler? Apply to his new HBX course, Negotiation Mastery: Unlocking Value in the Real World.

Learn More

Staff Spotlight: Liz Hess

Posted by HBX on March 14, 2017 at 10:51 AM

Liz scuba diving

We recently had the chance to sit down with Liz Hess, the Senior Managing Director of Product Engineering and Development at HBX. Liz is a self-described serial intrapreneuer, technocrat, and ed-tech enthusiast who has been with HBX since day one.

What do you do at HBX?

I oversee how our learning platforms and course experiences are designed, built, and delivered. I work across several streams of work including course development and delivery, user experience architecture, software development, quality assurance (QA), and synchronous course production (HBX Live) to facilitate learning using technology.

Liz on a boat holding two lobsters

What does a normal day look like for you?

Solving problems, coaching people, talking to customers, reviewing content, and tuning operational resources — I am constantly working across many teams to help people make connections and leverage each others' expertise, creativity, and energy.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I attended the University of Pennsylvania where I studied Art History. I later went on to earn a Masters of Higher Education from The Harvard Graduate School of Education. I have also had the opportunity to participate in technology-specific training as well as executive education programs on business, finance, and innovation.

How did you become interested in education and technology?

My first job out of college was working at an auction house where I was responsible for managing a gigantic paper-based general ledger documenting daily sales. I had heard about IBM’s software called LOTUS 1-2-3 and wanted to implement it. Lotus 1-2-3 was a spreadsheet program, and I was convinced it would be a more efficient and effective way to manage and track our sales.

I asked the company’s treasurer if we could try using the software and she said no — so on my own time, I built out the ledger in LOTUS and quickly thereafter won the support of the treasurer to replace the paper ledgers across the company. I really believe that technology has the power to dramatically change the way we work and live for the better, so I was determined to have a career around it.

Several years later I started working at Harvard University in the intellectual property office and began to see the power of technology in academic research, teaching, and learning. Over time I was able to shift my focus at Harvard to working full time in this area.

Liz with flowers grown in her garden

How did you become involved in HBX?

I’ve worked at Harvard for 24 years and across six different roles — all of them involving faculty and their interaction with technology.

In 2014, while leading HBS’s effort to leverage educational technology, I was asked to staff a small group of HBS faculty who were asked by the Dean to make recommendations on how HBS should be thinking about distance learning. Those recommendations turned into HBX, and my special assignment soon turned into a full-time role at HBX.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

Working with the HBS faculty and HBX team to continue to innovate. We have done a lot to leverage technology to facilitate new learning models, but there is more we can do to improve teaching and learning, increase student engagement, and build community. Technology moves so fast that there is always some new challenge or some approach we can leverage.

What’s the coolest things you’ve done at HBX?

Where do I start? It is difficult to name one thing. Pushing the button to turn on the HBX course platform at the initial launch of Disruptive Strategy, walking into the HBX Live studio to see the technology working for the first time, working with the team, faculty, and school leadership to grow the organization... if I had to pick one thing, maybe it is a simple as coming to work every day.

Favorite book?

River of Doubt by Candice Millard.

Liz scuba diving next to a fish

What are your hobbies?

Extreme gardening, ocean conservation and exploration, shark advocate.

What else should we know?

I was the 5,067th person to have a Facebook profile. Kind of cool considering there are over a billion users.

What’s your personal motto?

It changes from time to time but in the past few years some comments from Diane Nyad, a long-distance swimmer, have stuck in my mind; "never give up,"  "you are never too old to chase your dreams," and “it looks like a solitary sport but it takes a team."

Topics: HBX Staff Spotlight

Celebrating Women in the HBX Community on International Women's Day

Posted by HBX on March 8, 2017 at 2:04 PM

8 Inspiring HBX Participants in Honor of International Women's Day

In honor of International Women's Day, we thought it would be fitting to celebrate some of the diverse, inspiring women in the HBX learning community who are pursuing their dreams, excelling in their careers, and empowering others. 

"When I’m in a room with other professionals, now I feel like I have the language that matches my passion, that matches my work ethic, my goals and dreams... 

I hope that as my kids look back on the many pursuits that I’ve embarked on, in particular, HBX CORe, to be brave. Because then that means that they will pursue opportunities that seem challenging, that seem out of reach, that seem hard. And, so I hope that from this experience that they felt mom was just a little bit more brave than I was before I started."

Sheneka Balogun
CORe Participant

"I firmly believe that balanced gender diversity in business is crucial to innovation, success, and a higher collective intelligence. When the decisions of a woman positioned in the corporate world make significant impacts fiscally or culturally, then you begin to see the tangible value of a diverse enterprise. HBX has given me the foundation to exemplify this in the services I offer my corporate clientele."

Leslie Pico
CORe Participant

“One of my biggest passions is bringing opportunities to minorities, to women, in subjects like science, technology, engineering, math, making you change your mind about who it is that looks like an engineer.” 

Daniella Patrick
Disruptive Strategy Participant

"I'm a mom. I work full time. Like others, I have a demanding schedule and struggle with balancing life with work. I'm interested in pursuing a Master's degree, but haven't convinced myself to commit to a three year timeline.

I saw CORe as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn from the brightest and interact with global community who shared a commitment to learning as I did without the long-term time commitment. CORe not only gave me the confidence that I can tackle more, it inspired me to be more and continue my education."

– Kalie Work
CORe Participant

"I am working as part of a project team in India that is working to set up the world's first rural-based social network usable by non-literate persons. A key part of my job is to understand the needs on the ground, and convey the insights to the technology and design teams who are making the product - an activity that CORe greatly helped me with via the Economics for Managers and Business Analytics courses. Both these courses help you to better understand the people you are working to serve as an enterprise and learn how to draw insights from the data in front of you."

– Anindita Ravikumar
CORe Participant

"My strategy and message for my team and how we communicate with our customers has begun to shift. The biggest takeaway is looking at my product on the shelf and always trying to gauge 'what is the job to be done here?'

I have also started to pay a lot more attention to what the other vendors within my stores are doing. I can truthfully say this has already made me a much better listener. When we all have things to say, listening is one of the first things that can get lost, so I have not only found a stronger voice but a much better and tuned set of ears."

Paige Peterson
Disruptive Strategy Participant

"Within 5 days of finishing the course I had a plan of action for a major part of our business and presented it to our corporate executive. It applied the theories of the Customer Job To Be Done and caused us to rethink our strategy to get the customer to “hire” us over the competition."

Robbee Minicola
Disruptive Strategy Participant

"Having a better base for business terminology that is used every day in my work as a business analyst is invaluable. I am also able to offer new ideas for business metrics to our company's leadership and relate to real world examples of how other businesses have implemented improvements thanks to the case studies that were presented as part of the program."

Michelle Headrick
CORe Participant

"I applied it to both my teaching and research. For teaching, after summarizing what I learned from this program, I introduced finance in a 90-minute class to junior and senior college students in order to show them different ways of doing business plans in the leisure and sport domains." 

Jingning Ao
Leading With Finance Participant


International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Learn more at www.internationalwomensday.com

#IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange



Topics: Student Spotlight

Get to Know Professor Mihir Desai

Posted by HBX on January 24, 2017 at 9:55 AM

A still of professor Mihir Desai teaching his HBX Leading with Finance online course

We sat down with Harvard Business School and HBX Leading with Finance Professor Mihir Desai to talk about finance, dream vacations, and his penchant for British crime dramas.

What’s the biggest misconception about finance?

There are really two big misconceptions - the first one is that finance is rocket science. That misconception grows out of the tendency of finance folks to use jargon that intimidates more than it illuminates - often that jargon just reflects that they don’t know how to talk about it simply. Finance is really intuitive, and it’s important for people to know that in order to succeed as professionals and for all of us to succeed as citizens.

The second misconception, which is growing in importance, is that finance is evil. For many reasons, finance has been demonized – and sometimes that reputation has been well-earned. But, the reality is that finance is a really important tool for improving society; the appropriate allocation of capital through markets, institutions and firms can have enormously beneficial consequences for society.

So, we have to make the practice of finance better but demonization of finance doesn’t help that. Part of my goal in teaching Leading with Finance is to fight against those misconceptions.

Professor Desai walking through Baker Library on the Harvard Business School campus

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I’m fortunate as it’s easier to identify my least favorite part of my job since many parts of my job are wonderful. The only thing I don’t like is grading. Aside from that, it’s hard to choose my favorite. Broadly, both the production and dissemination of ideas are enormously rewarding. Producing ideas is a really creative, demanding, and addictive activity that has intrinsic rewards but also extrinsic ones. Seeing your work become part of the larger progression of knowledge is enormously gratifying.

On the dissemination side, the challenge of explaining complex things is also really demanding and rewarding - and, of course, the thought that we might just slightly change the trajectory of someone’s intellectual or professional life is why we do what we do. So, hearing from, or bumping into, former students and hearing about their growth – and basking in their reflected glory – is always a highlight for me.

What’s the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

I’m not sure it was that unusual, but washing dishes and then making pizzas at Stromboli King Pizzeria in Madison, New Jersey taught me more about hard work than anything else I have done since then.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I hate to be sneaky but it’s an around-the-world trip with stops in Patagonia, Namibia, and the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve overdosed on cities and need to do a little more nature.

The hardest part about developing my HBX course was ______________.

…keeping a straight face during hours/days of videotaping with a crew that was hilarious (and wonderful).

People would be surprised if they knew__________.

…that I have a weakness for British crime dramas – Broadchurch, Luther, River, The Fall, Happy Valley, Peaky Blinders – I’ll watch anything with coppers and accents.

Best book you’ve ever read?

Impossible to answer - here are three recent favorites from different genres that were favorites:

  • Larissa MacFarquhar’s Strangers Drowning is so well-written and such an interesting idea (extreme generosity).
  • Arvind Adiga’s The White Tiger is the best fiction relating to India I’ve ever read.
  • Asne Seierstad’s One of Us (about the Oslo/Utoya murders) is both terrifying and edifying.

The writing in all three of them is amazing.

Professor Mihir Desai works in his office alongside a photo of his parents

Best advice someone has ever given you?

My father was filled with great advice – the two best individual pieces were probably:

1. Learn to trust your instinct – I like this because it’s not about trusting your instinct but learning how (and when) to do that – a far harder thing


2. Not as effective when translated from Gujurati, but, “When Laxmi (the goddess of wealth) comes to bless you by putting a chandlo on your forehead, don’t ask if you can go wash your face.” Translation: Don’t hesitate when visited by good fortune.

Interested in gaining a toolkit for making smart financial decisions and the confidence to clearly communicate those decisions to key internal and external stakeholders?

Learn more about Leading with Finance

Topics: HBX Finance

Announcing HBX ConneXt 2017!

Posted by HBX on January 19, 2017 at 1:36 PM


For many of you who have taken an HBX program, the social learning component is a highlight of your experience. The HBX team is excited to invite all CORe credential holders and HBX certificate holders to campus for ConneXt 2017, where you can meet up with other HBXers, hear from faculty and business executives, and experience a day on the beautiful Harvard Business School campus. HBX ConneXt 2017 will be held on Saturday, May 6th. Registration will be open soon and is first-come, first-serve.

Interested to learn more about ConneXt? Two past participants blogged about their experiences at last year's event. In My HBX Journey: Why I Took CORe, and You Should Too!, Sam Campbell touched on the importance of forming lasting connections with fellow students:

"These accomplished adventurers you will meet are CEO’s of Silicon Valley startups, aids in Washington, DC, and interns at Facebook. They are world changers, to say the least. So, don’t just grow your LinkedIn profile – communicate with these people. Network. Establish relationships."

Kayla Lewkowicz spoke to the diversity of HBX students in The 5 Most Inspiring Moments from HBX ConneXt:

"Alumni traveled from as far as Australia and as close as Allston, from all walks of life, work experiences, and backgrounds. Together in one room, you could really see how much we had to learn from one another."

Our Executive Director, Patrick Mullane, also wrote about his experiences with ConneXt in The Power of Community:

"We saw digital world relationships become physical world friendships. We saw how helping peers online led to bonding with colleagues offline. We saw what I believe is the beginning of something very special."

Mark your calendars for a day of learning, networking, and community-building. We look forward to welcoming you to campus in May!


5 Things You Didn't Learn in Undergrad Economics

Posted by HBX on January 17, 2017 at 2:55 PM


Many prospective students ask us whether it is worthwhile to take HBX CORe if they have a background in business economics. With a number of economics majors on the HBX staff, we found this question especially interesting, so we've rounded up five things we teach in HBX CORe that weren't a part of our undergraduate education.

Willingness to Pay

In a typical undergrad microeconomics course you may learn a lot about utility, indifference curves, wealth, and substitution effects. But post college – and in CORe – it’s all about Willingness to Pay (WTP). This is the maximum amount someone is willing to pay for a good or service (e.g. my WTP for an UberPool is around $4), but collecting accurate data is easier said than done, as there is often a gap between people's hypothetical and actual WTP.

Market Demand

This brings us to our second point – did you ever learn how to properly measure demand? Two tools in every marketer’s pocket are polls and surveys, but understanding proper poll and survey design is essential to collecting accurate demand information. Most economics courses miss the boat on this one.

Conjoint Analysis

Surveys and polls are one thing, but if you want to dive deeper into demand for specific features you will need to know Conjoint Analysis—a statistical approach to measuring consumer demand for specific product features. This tool will allow you to get at the surprisingly complicated feature and price tradeoffs consumers make every day.

For example, pretend you are Apple Inc. and you want to know what part of the iPhone you should improve; battery life, screen size or camera. A conjoint analysis will let you know which improvement customers care about more and are worth the company’s time and money. 

Cognitive Biases

Undergrad economics makes a lot assumptions on how people behave. It’s often assumed that people are (1) aware of all the different options available to them and (2) that individuals are able to accurately rank the varying options based on their preferences. However, these assumptions often fail, sometimes in meaningful ways.

There are hundreds of examples of cognitive biases that affect our decision making processes. For example, you may rely too heavily on the first piece of information you receive, reducing the value of all subsequent information. Or maybe you only listen to information that confirms you original inclination.

Understanding these cognitive biases is crucial when trying to predict human behavior in the real world.


Business strategy is a field in and of itself, but it is often glossed over by undergraduate programs. If you stick to purely undergrad economics, you may miss out on critical tools and frameworks to develop, maintain and assess different strategies, including Porter’s Five Forces, SWOT Analyses, and Core Competencies.

In short, what sets HBX CORe apart from many undergraduate Economics programs is it's focus on applicability and real-world situations. We don't just want students to be able to memorize concepts and formulas, we want them to be able to solve problems, inform strategies, and execute ideas that will help move their organizations forward.

Interested in learning Financial Accounting, Business Analytics, and Economics for Managers?

Learn more about HBX CORe

Topics: HBX CORe, HBX Insights