<iframe src="https://5923915.fls.doubleclick.net/activityi;src=5923915;type=hbx_core;cat=hbx_b0;dc_lat=;dc_rdid=;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=;ord=1;num=1?" width="1" height="1" frameborder="0" style="display:none">
HBX Business Blog

CORe Student Spotlight: Sheneka Balogun

Posted by Sheneka Balogun on July 28, 2016 at 2:42 PM


Sheneka Balogun is a Program Manager at Western Governors University who enrolled in the April 2015 cohort of HBX CORe in order to advance her career. She will be beginning an Ed.D. in Entrepreneurial Leadership at Johns Hopkins University School of Education this fall.

What do you do for work?

I am Program Manager in the College of Business at Western Governors University, one of the largest non-profit universities in the country that has been featured in Money Magazine, MSNBC, U.S. News, TIME, and even CNN for low-cost education that measures learning rather than seat time.

I performed consistently in the top 20% in the Mentoring Department and was promoted within a month of receiving my passing scores at HBX CORe.

Why did you decide to sign up for CORe?

I took CORe for several reasons. I wanted to advance in my career in higher education, and in order to do that I needed to better understand the core principles of business that would match my work ethic and high performance. I was eager to enroll in an MBA program and later pursue a terminal degree. Completing CORe, I thought, would position me to be a more competitive applicant during the admissions process.

What was your favorite part of the program?

Because there were so many facets of HBX CORe that I enjoyed and that were beneficial in me grasping an intricate understanding of the content, it's hard to single out just one part.

If I had to choose, I would say the interactive text throughout each module was my favorite part. Learning came to life! The videos from the professors, the interactive cold quizzes where you were randomly selected to participate (those gave me chills by the way!), the case studies that enhanced and often captured the essence of objectives and learning goals were all embedded in each module. This made learning fun, engaging, and student-friendly.

I think it's important to mention that the amount of support I felt during the CORe program was incredible! HBX CORe was much more than a tripod of rigorous courses. The sense of community that developed from all the various social platforms that were unique to HBX that provided me the platform to interact with other students from all over the world in various industries were instrumental in my application and understanding of the concepts.

See! I told ya it was hard to name just one favorite part!

How are you applying what you've learned in CORe?

At Western Governors University, measuring learning as opposed to seat time is at the core of what we do to improve student outcomes. As a Program Manager, I am constantly evaluating the current practices the College of Business, and even my individual team of graduate faculty have in place and seeking out innovative strategies that will reduce attrition, increase the number of graduates, and improve learning outcomes for our students.

"HBX CORe has provided me a dynamic understanding of how to measure and understand those outcomes. I can now confidently translate statistical data into a graphical presentation or employ different statistical techniques to help me better understand the pulse of student progress."

HBX CORe has prepared me so well that I was able to quickly matriculate through a number of courses in my MBA program because I understood the basic tenets of both accounting and economics. I also plan to carry those skills over into my newest academic pursuit as I begin working toward an Ed.D. in Entrepreneurial Leadership at Johns Hopkins University School of Education this fall.

The CORe community consists of a rich and diverse group of learners. Want to learn more about other students who've participated in the program?

Read Additional Student Profiles


Topics: Student Profiles, HBX CORe, HBX Student Spotlight

Gaining a Competitive Edge in the Job Hunt: HBX CORe Students Share Their Experiences

Posted by HBX on June 14, 2016 at 3:15 PM


We launched our first cohort of HBX CORe in June 2014. Two years later, we checked in with a few members of our pioneer cohort to see how CORe has made a difference in their lives.

Opening Doors in the Building Industry


I study Architecture, Construction Engineering and Management at Illinois Tech in Chicago. I also work as a design and construction intern at the Duchossois Group. CORe was instrumental in my decision to study construction management and helped me to better understand the potential roles I could play within the building industry.

A plethora of possibilities started to open up after taking the course. Previously, I had only truly imagined myself practicing the technical aspects of my education but CORe helped me see and start to work towards my place as a leader within the building and infrastructure industry.

Economics for Managers was influential in helping me understand how leadership within various industries could make strategic decisions to create value. It was incredibly fascinating to finally understand the constant balance of proactive and reactive decisions and strategies business leaders used to understand markets and as a result people.

Rounding Out Liberal Arts Educations 


CORe enabled me to become more business-focused; I always knew that I wanted to enter the business world, but coming from a liberal arts background I needed to expand upon my experience to understand what that really meant. Competing against undergraduates from business institutions can be intimidating, but understanding even basic terminology can help put your mind at ease.

CORe gave me the background and confidence to pursue a business career after college. It even helped shape an independent study that I conducted during my senior year at Bowdoin, looking at Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives at four major banks in the United States. I do not think I would have applied this interest to corporate banks had I not had an introduction to the foundations of the business world from HBX CORe.

As I began interviewing for full-time positions during my senior year, HBX CORe definitely helped me stand out among my peers. I truly understand the value of a liberal arts education, and that is something that I would never replace. However, coming out of a liberal arts institution with some sort of an introduction to the business world is unbelievably valuable.

Since HBX CORe was still so new when I completed the program, I really caught the eye of many interviewers and companies interested in learning more about it. The knowledge that I gained helped me tremendously as I interviewed and looked into different companies to join upon graduation.

I know that CORe has set me up well for a future in the business world and I would love to pursue an MBA in the future.

Giving Engineers a Competitive Edge 


When I took HBX CORe, I was in my sophomore year of college and had begun actively thinking about my future career. I had heard of all of the great advantages of having both a science and business background but I was worried that I would struggle if I took business classes in school.

CORe really broke down all of the business concepts I had vaguely heard of and introduced new material in the clearest way with unique examples. My experience with the CORe program gave me the confidence to pursue my Business Administration minor and I plan to apply for an MBA in the future.

Having CORe listed on my resume has really helped me stand out to potential employers. Every internship interview I have had since participating in this program has involved me explaining this program and its benefits. Most employers are surprised to find an engineering student with a background in business so it usually makes me seem more impressive and gets me closer to getting through the door.

I plan to become an Industrial Engineer and explore how to improve complex systems and processes. I know that pursuing knowledge of business with my background in engineering will shape my career path in unexpected ways.

Instilling Confidence to Pursue Careers in Financial Consulting


CORe helped me solidify my knowledge of financial analysis and introduced me to the world of business analytics. Coming from a primarily non-finance background, HBX definitely provided me with the confidence needed to continue pursuing a career in financial analysis and consulting.

HBX has been discussed in every single interview I’ve had since completing the program and I’m fairly certain that the HBS brand helped me land a few of those interviews. A few times the program has been met with skepticism, but when you begin to explain how the structure of the program and the platform itself are unique compared to traditional online coursework people begin to warm up to it and ask more questions. It really boils down to it being the best online replication of a real-life classroom that I’ve ever experienced. When I reflect upon the experience, it actually feels like I was in a real classroom.

Creating Relevant Conversations with Prospective Employers


I took CORe for an introduction into the language of business that would complement my STEM education. I was doing mostly technical classes at school, but I was interested in business as well. After the program, I realized I wanted to pursue a career in technical management and business.

I actually decided to apply for my upcoming position partly because of CORe. I got interested in Amazon after the case study about them in one of the program modules. Learning about some of the principles behind their operations motivated me to do in-depth research about the company.

The case study was part of the conversation when I first connected with recruiters during a career fair and CORe also came up during an on-site interview. I explained how the certificate would help me transition from a very technical background into a more business oriented position, and it must have worked because I got the job!

What can CORe do for you?

Learn more about HBX CORe

Topics: Student Profiles, HBX CORe, Student Bloggers, HBX Insights

CORe Student Spotlight: Leslie Pico

Posted by Leslie Pico on January 26, 2016 at 4:31 PM


An entrepreneur and mother of two living in Phoenix, Arizona, Leslie braved the condensed eight week HBX CORe program in July of 2015 and lived to tell her story! Read on for details about what inspires her and how she is using what she learned in CORe to grow her business.


Where are you working?

I am currently the Principal of Pacific So West. When I initially began my company, I only offered web design and front-end web development services. My passion lay in bringing traditional brick and mortar and small businesses to the online space.

As I was completing CORe, I began to apply these new toolsets to my professional services and strategy, resulting in rapid growth of my clientele and an expansion on what I could offer to them. I had previous experience in copywriting and marketing that I was able to incorporate into my service offerings. CORe significantly helped me to identify ways to combine my passion for small business and technology.

Why did you decide to sign up for HBX CORe?

I had valid work experience in management and marketing, but I knew I lacked a solid foundation in the language of business. The tech industry really fuels my drive, and I had focused my education on programming and engineering. There was a gap there that I needed to fill. CORe bridged this gap between my education and experience.
Leslie and her daughters at Disneyland.

What was your favorite part of the program?

"Participating in the student discussions and answering cold calls was empowering. It ignited a drive within me to learn and absorb as much as I could."

I wasn't afraid of giving the wrong answer. Having the perspective of my peers and all the constructive conversation encouraged me to think in new and creative ways. So much of the business world is about working with others to accomplish a common goal; knowing that your peers were rating your participation and reading your contributions was truly compelling.

How are you applying what you've learned in CORe?

In my current position, I am not limited to one set of duties. I am a technologist, designer, content strategist, marketer, analyst, and data scientist. Even before I had completed the program I was able to fully understand the process my company had created, identify the blockages, and make the necessary changes. I also 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.
The poster Leslie’s daughters and fiancé made to celebrate her completion of CORe.

Any advice for people who will be taking CORe?

If you're entering CORe, it's important to view the program as more than a personal commitment. It needs to become one of your top priorities. CORe isn't something you can cram at the deadline or complete in your spare time, but the experience is incredibly gratifying and rewarding. Falling behind is not an option; the CORe program is very hands on and requires daily involvement. The peer help area, cold calls, and discussion throughout the modules allow for a discovery process that garners a significant intellectual return.

The CORe community consists of a rich and diverse group of learners. Want to learn more about other students who've participated in the program? Read Additional Student Profiles


Topics: Student Profiles, HBX CORe

CORe Student Spotlight: Bethany Larsen

Posted by Bethany Larsen on December 18, 2015 at 3:28 PM

Bethany conducting a Monitoring & Evaluation training for program staff at Health Development Initiative in Rwanda. Her team was developing the logical framework for their sexual and reproductive health program in order to organize their project design and develop indicators for evaluation.

Bethany Larsen is a former Director of Development for a Rwandan public health non-profit organization. She signed up for HBX CORe to aid her transition from the non-profit field to social entrepreneurship and to help prepare her for an MBA program.


Why did you decide to sign up for HBX CORe?

Before HBX CORe, I had no business experience. I graduated in 2013 from a liberal arts school with a BA in Anthropology. I then moved to Kigali, Rwanda to work with a local public health non-profit organization where I spent the next two years. I have always had a passion for international development, but during my time in Rwanda, I felt limited in what I could offer within the foreign aid system.

I began to shift my sights to social entrepreneurship in the hopes of finding the best way to use my skills to create change. I am currently in transition from non-profits to business, so I signed up for CORe because I was looking for a program that would give me the vocabulary and the tools I needed to get started.

What was your favorite part of the program?

The platform was engaging, innovative, and it allowed me to interact with the material in a way that I never expected from an online course. The professors were incredible, and the way they used cases to support their lessons allowed studnets to connect the material to real-world examples that not only aided understanding and retention, but also application.

My favorite part of the program, though, was the peer discussions. I learned so much from asking and answering peer help questions and engaging in debates with other students both on and off the platform. The students in CORe supported me as I learned new concepts and challenged me to question my assumptions about issues like drug pricing and minimum wage. I am truly grateful for their insight and support.

Bethany in front of Cotopaxi, an active volcano in Ecuador that she and a group of friends hiked.

How are you applying what you've learned in CORe?

On a very basic level, I went from having zero accounting knowledge to understanding the language of business, which has been incredibly empowering. I now understand financial statements and can read the Wall Street Journal without using Investopedia every two seconds.

I have also been able to apply CORe directly in the workplace. For example, I do a lot of e-mail marketing in my current position, so I started with A/B marketing after Module 3 in Business Analytics.

"Those skills are all very useful, but I think my biggest takeaway from CORe is a new perspective on complex business challenges. This lens has given me a more balanced perspective on sensitive topics like LIFO reserves, minimum wage, and drug pricing that will make me a more informed citizen and wiser leader."

Bethany with a group of summer volunteers that conducted a knitting training for afemale artisan cooperative in Cyaruzinge, Rwanda. Knitted goods are a fairly new market in Rwanda, so the women were hoping to use this training to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Any advice for people who will be taking CORe?

First, be prepared for a time commitment. I think there's an assumption with online courses that the material will be less demanding than if it were taught in a regular classroom, and with CORe this is simply not true. The material is challenging, especially for students like me who had no prior business experience. It takes time not only passing through the modules, but also participating in peer discussions, both of which are extremely important for mastering the material.

That said, it is definitely possible to complete the course and participate while juggling a hectic schedule. There were rockstars in my cohort who were running their own businesses and had newborn infants at home yet still managed to complete the course while being active participants. You just need to be honest with yourself about whether or not you are ready to make CORe a priority.

Second, connect! CORe brings together a diverse group of students from a range of countries, ages, and backgrounds that have deeply rich experiences in fields ranging from engineering to non-profits. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet so many great peers! Attend (or organize!) a meetup near you, join the Facebook group, and reach out to as many people as you can. I have met so many people who have challenged and inspired me through CORe, and the experience would not have been the same without them.

The CORe community consists of a rich and diverse group of learners. Want to learn more about other students who've participated in the program? Read Additional Student Profiles


Topics: Student Profiles, HBX CORe

CORe Student Spotlight: J. Holden Gibbons

Posted by J. Holden Gibbons on October 6, 2015 at 4:18 PM

While a member of Combined Joint Special Operations Task-Force Afghanistan, Holden had the pleasure of serving alongside various international allies, including the Swedish Army, pictured here.

Holden Gibbons is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who returned home with a commitment to social change. He enrolled in the June 2015 HBX CORe cohort to realize his entrepreneurial ambitions and gain a strong business skillset. 

What prompted you to sign up for CORe?

I am the quintessential entrepreneur whose creativity and ambition is boundless. Yet I lacked some of the (no pun intended) core competencies to be able to bring my ideas to fruition. My first tech start-up failed in 2008 due to lack of financial and managerial discipline, and I joined the Army to be able to afford to go back to school and realign myself.

I told myself that before I would try to start another non-traditional business, I would do myself a favor and seek an educational foundation to allow me to understand, and converse, with the more corporate/fundamental side of the business world, on their terms. When I heard about CORe, I knew I had found the right program.

What was your favorite part of the program?

My favorite aspect, by far, was the truly astounding variety of students that HBX drew together for our cohort. I have met several of them in person, often resulting in significant gains for me intellectually and personally. I really cannot underscore the ability of HBX to use the power of the Harvard brand to bring together a truly impressive mix of individuals, who are motivated to impact the world around them, in a myriad of ways. Even though our cohort is all wrapped up, I am still meeting people, or deepening my connection with them, via social media and personal interactions.

How are you applying the skills you learned in CORe?

As a recent Honorably Discharged Veteran of the war in Afghanistan, I am working feverishly to use my life experience, and intellect, to create a more empathetic and sustainable world. To that end, I am currently completing my undergraduate education on the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

I am working with my University at the highest levels to increase Veteran enrollment, as well as catalyzing the Veteran community to better understand progressive issues that could use authentic Veteran support such as gender equality, civil rights (on many dimensions), financial reform, and access to quality education and employment.

Holden with fellow ROTC members and 40 of the 78 living recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor gathered for a private memorial service in Cambridge, MA.Holden with fellow ROTC members and 40 of the 78 living recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor gathered for a private memorial service in Cambridge, MA.

CORe has helped me make the business case for one of my main initiatives, Veterans Combating Child Hunger, which utilizes volunteer labor to sustainably farm vacant and delinquent land in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland, OH) for the purpose of engaging more stakeholders in the community, reducing government budget waste, reducing society's carbon footprint as it relates to food supply, and reducing government food subsidy reliance by replacing it, slowly, with locally scaled/owned/operated/sourced food.

Kevin, Lewis, China, Nicole, and Arzell during an impromptu outdoor classroom session covering urban agriculture, environmental awareness, and healthy nutrition.Kevin, Lewis, China, Nicole, and Arzell during an impromptu outdoor classroom session covering urban agriculture, environmental awareness, and healthy nutrition.

I have utilized all three courses taught in CORe to make the case, from Opportunity Cost (Economics for Managers), Ethics/concept of a “going concern” (Financial Accounting), to being able to identify and quantify hidden/significant variables via regression analysis (Business Analytics). We are now one week from our inaugural harvest, which will go to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland!

Recently, I have begun work on my first post-Army tech startup. My ability to not only have an amazing concept, but make the business case for it to potential Venture Capital/early stage investors, would not be holistic were it not for my newfound knowledge base, thanks to CORe.

I won’t pretend to be a perfect student, but since our cohort has finished, I have found myself continuously referencing my notes and ‘take away bundle’ to reaffirm my understanding of a concept, such that I can properly utilize it for my real world activities.

"CORe has been my Rosetta Stone in helping me to translate my ideas and visions for the world around me into empirical reality.“

KarmaBoard.com, a jobs board/social media platform that connects businesses/employees/customers that share the same values, (and mobile app versions) will be launching in Spring/Summer of 2016, and CORe helped me communicate effectively with stakeholders necessary to make that happen. In the Army, as a member of the Infantry we had a saying, “jack of all trades, master of none.” With the help of CORe, you can be a “jack-of-all-trades,” and the master of your own trajectory.

Any advice for people who will be taking CORe?

I have two suggestions: First, try to look at the course syllabus beforehand and try (your best) to set aside appropriate time to be able to digest material, and be able to interact with others in the discussion tabs, complete the modules/weekly assignments thoughtfully. It is important to offer help to those who might not be as quick as you, for you may be in the same boat down the line! This will also help save you undue stress as technical issues and last minute time crunches will inevitably crop up.

Second, reach out to as many people, from as many different backgrounds, as possible. Often times, “birds of a feather flock together,” holds true, but that would strip CORe of one of its primary features: the diversity of your fellow cohort members. I shamelessly ‘added’ everyone in my cohort on social media, and don’t regret it, at all. I have been challenged, supported, and enriched by all of them, and I know this will only continue as I maintain and grow these personal relationships.


The CORe community consists of a rich and diverse group of learners. Want to learn more about other students who've participated in the program?

Read Additional Student Profiles


Topics: Student Profiles, HBX CORe, HBX Student Spotlight

Setting the Stage – and the Table – for a Successful Career

Posted by Jill Baker on February 27, 2015 at 3:29 PM



Ellie Andersen, a senior at Amherst College majoring in History, participated in CORe during the summer of 2014. It may be fitting that she helped pioneer this first cohort because she comes from hearty stock.

Raised on a family farm in Pennsylvania, she never had formal business training but appreciated the value of it. Her older sister and eldest brother had both graduated from Harvard Business School, and in her parents, she observed the business savvy required to build a successful livestock and produce operation.

“I always saw myself going to business school at some point,” Ellie explains, “but HBX CORe gave me a way to test the waters. It supplemented my education and complemented my lifestyle.”

That lifestyle included an unpaid summer internship with Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a Rockefeller-founded agricultural site in New York State with a field-to-table restaurant. “I get a kick out of combining history, food, farming, and events because they all hinge on business,” she explains. “Sometimes that combination surprises people,” she says with a twinkle in her eye.


Ellie was able to integrate her interests by exploring business fundamentals through CORe. “I particularly enjoyed the Enhanced Participation,” she says. “I had a chance to ask questions as well as answer them and to engage with my fellow cohorts.”

Establishing a community of learners is one of the goals of HBX. Peers can reach out to each other individually or in groups without the intervention of faculty. 

Utilizing the case study method that distinguishes HBS classrooms, CORe presents real-world examples via video interviews with executives from a diverse range of companies. Ellie found this approach extremely effective. “I learned about economics, statistics, and principles I can apply to daily life” – and she’s already doing that.

Powerhouse Ellie Andersen

As Campus Community Coordinator for Amherst, Ellie serves on The Power House team, a group of students charged with transforming a former power plant into a venue for social gatherings. Tasks include making building improvements, setting policies, and establishing operational systems. Thanks to HBX, Ellie has brought her budgeting skills and inter-personal finesse to the project.

That confidence has carried over into her personal life where she can now converse with a family friend who works in Finance. “I think of business differently now.  I have a whole new source of understanding, and I’m excited to learn more,” Ellie explains. “I know I don’t know everything, but I can at least talk to people on a basic level.”

What advice does she have for others considering HBX? “Throw yourself into it and remember that no question is a bad one. Approach CORe with a blank slate and be open-minded. I never saw myself as particularly math-oriented, but I moved through Financial Accounting step by step, and it all worked out. It was fun.”

Lucky for us that Ellie sees connections where others might not.  Thanks to that – and some HBX training – we may some day dine on locally grown cuisine at her historically-correct establishment while enjoying live entertainment.


Topics: Student Profiles, HBX CORe