01 Apr 2002

Student Conferences Spark Discussion, Promote Interaction

Re: Brit Dewey (MBA 1996); Ken Powell (MBA 1974); Mugo Fields (MBA 2002); Marleta Ross (MBA 2002)


Beginning in late January, the School's student clubs host a series of annual conferences that explore a wide variety of specialized business issues. Organized and staffed by hundreds of hardworking HBS student volunteers, the conferences bring in provocative speakers and expert panelists to discuss areas of interest ranging from opportunities in Asian markets, to managing work/life balance, to the impact of wireless technology on business strategy, to the achievements of African Americans in business. Highlights of some of this year's events follow.

For more coverage, visit the "Special Reports" section of HBS Working Knowledge at www.workingknowledge.hbs.edu.

Technology and Tradition at Cyberposium

If attendance at the 2002 Cyberposium is any indication, student interest in the high-tech sector remains intense despite the dot-com economy's downturn. Over one thousand students representing 25 top MBA programs attended the conference, which brought together some two hundred speakers and panelists for an exploration of new-economy topics that ranged from the wireless Internet to digital-rights management in media and entertainment. The lineup of keynote speakers included Internet guru Esther Dyson, chairman of EDventure Holdings; Matthew Szulik, president and CEO of the open-source software company Red Hat, Inc.; and Dean Kamen (7th OPM), chairman and CEO of Segway LLC and creator of the Segway Human Transporter.

A Saturday morning panel featured speakers from corporations described as "American icons" by moderator Tom Davenport, director of the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change. Jack Duffy, SVP of corporate strategy at UPS, noted that the process of integrating technology into the company's infrastructure has been part of a gradual shift. "Now it encompasses how we think about everything," he remarked.

"Information technology has to march in lockstep with business," agreed Verizon CIO Shaygan Kheradpir. Software that automates complex transactions and expanding customer service on the Web are both ripe for high-tech development, he noted. "We're getting back to basics," said Bruce Harreld (MBA '75), SVP of strategy at IBM. "Our goal is to increase the efficiency of organizational systems by creating software that remaps how processes work together." Steven Elterich, president of Fidelity eBusiness, who expects that technology will one day allow brokers to talk to Internet customers in real time, cautioned that advances in quality and service should be introduced over time. "It's important to stay on the leading edge with customers without falling off," he concluded.

"Technology has always been a major source of both evolutionary and revolutionary advances in business," said John N. Maxemchuk, who, with Marie-Laure Goepfer (both HBS '02), cochaired the three-day February conference, sponsored by the High Tech & New Media Club. "This year, in addition to addressing the keen ongoing interest in entrepreneurship and high-tech advances, the conference examined the application of technology in traditional businesses and the innovations that will influence the everyday activities of a broad spectrum of companies."

WSA: Focus on Work/Life Balance

"Women have always been dynamic, and they've always been in business," declared HBS professor Nancy F. Koehn in the opening keynote address at the Dynamic Women in Business Conference, held at HBS in late January. Organized by the HBS Women's Student Association, the eleventh annual event attracted a sold-out crowd of nine hundred attendees.

In her talk, Koehn drew on examples from the history of women in business to give her audience some perspective on the transformational effects of economic independence. Among the first places U.S. women worked outside the home were textile factories in Massachusetts, she noted. The work was often arduous and the hours long, but the upside for women was the power to control their own money and time. Koehn quoted Josephine Baker, a factory worker who, in 1847, wrote, "The money we earn comes promptly and comes to us. When we are finished we feel perfectly free until the time to commence again." Koehn also drew on the lives of women who had carved out business opportunities despite formidable odds, including Madam C.J. Walker, a
daughter of slaves who founded a million-dollar hair-care enterprise.

Gail J. McGovern, president of Fidelity Personal Investments in Boston, asked audience members at the afternoon keynote, "How many of you would be fifteen minutes late for an appointment with your CEO?" A cautious few raised their hands. "Now, how many of you would be fifteen minutes late for an appointment with a friend or family member?" she inquired. About half of the audience slowly raised their hands. Her point on the importance of balance in work and family life was well made. McGovern, named one of Fortune magazine's fifty most powerful women in corporate America in 2001, smiled and nodded knowingly. "Treat the appointment with a friend or family member as you would a meeting with your CEO. It is just as sacred."

Participants enjoyed sessions on topics that ranged from biotechnology to media and entertainment to social enterprise. A panel of six entrepreneurs, moderated by HBS professor Lynda M. Applegate, discussed their experiences in light of the recent economic downturn and agreed that whatever the climate, entrepreneurs have to make tough choices all the time. Andrea C. Silbert (MBA '92), founder and CEO of the nonprofit Center for Women & Enterprise, advised, "Don't go with your gut without doing analysis." In contrast, Roxanne Quimby, founder, president, and CEO of the personal-care products firm Burt's Bees Inc., adopted a different approach, recounting how a twenty-minute yoga session recently helped her make a difficult business decision. "Follow your bliss," she told attendees.

Asia Business Conference Looks Ahead to Economic Recovery

Five years after the first rumblings of the Asian financial crisis, students from the HBS Asia Business Club and the Harvard Asia Law Society hosted "Phoenix Rising," a two-day conference with some seven hundred participants that focused on the future of sustainable economic growth in the region.

The annual conference, held on the first weekend in February, featured a keynote address by Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, who, during her tenure as U.S. Trade Representative from 1996 to 2001, pursued an aggressive agenda to open foreign markets around the world. Barshefsky, currently senior international partner at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, discussed China's inclusion in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

As a member of the WTO, Barshefsky said, China is moving from a protectionist position to a more active, strategic role, an international function it hasn't played for the last two hundred years. In forecasting the possible effect of this development on Sino, U.S. relations, Barshefsky was cautiously optimistic. "I think the Chinese will make a strong, good-faith effort to implement the WTO agreement," she told the audience in Burden Auditorium. "We have to work with China and the international community. I do think this evolution will take a healthy direction, with the end effect of helping both of our governments manage crises more efficiently."

Additional keynote speakers included Jin Liqun, China's viceminister of finance, and Jeffrey R. Shafer, managing director of Salomon Smith Barney and vice chairman of SSB International. Saturday's discussion panels examined four main themes: restructuring and economic reforms, humancapital development, industry adaptation in Asia, and multinational corporations and entrepreneurship.

A plenary panel on leadership in Asia's recovery, moderated by HBS associate professor Yasheng Huang, opened with a spirited presentation by Ko Kheng Hwa (AMP:ISMP 152), managing director of the Singapore Economic Development Board. "Asia is not just China, you know!" he said. In addition to highlighting Singapore's contributions to what he called "rising Asia," Hwa noted that India's economy is the secondfastest growing in the world and that Japan, despite its troubles, is the world's second largest.

Panelist Richard Smith, president of Eli Lilly's Asia division, noted that China seems to be the odds-on favorite for leading Asia's recovery, but cited potential for social unrest as the disparity between rural and urban populations widens. Wanda S. Tseng, deputy director of the IMF's Asia and Pacific Department, offered an overview of Asia's current economic strengths and weaknesses. "There are no quick fixes," she stated, an observation echoed by other participants. "The strongest results will come through the consistent pursuit of policies that streamline the judicial process, strengthen corporate governance, and liberalize markets."

Fitzhugh Conference Marks Three Decades of Achievement

In celebration of its thirtieth anniversary, this year's African-American Student Union (AASU) conference was renamed in remembrance of H. Naylor Fitzhugh (MBA '33), a leader in industry and a pioneer in business education honored for his role as a mentor to generations of African Americans. Held the last weekend
in February at the Cambridge Marriott, the conference, titled "Excelling in the New Competitive Landscape," brought together some 450 participants to focus on challenges arising from the current political and economic climate.

Given the prominence of Fitzhugh's legacy throughout the weekend's events, it was a particularly fitting time for the PepsiCo Foundation to announce an additional $100,000 donation to the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professorship, a capstone contribution for the three-year, $5 million fundraising effort that included earlier gifts from PepsiCo, alumni, and corporate donors. "H. Naylor Fitzhugh left a legacy of achievement as a business executive and a business scholar," said Maurice Cox, PepsiCo's vice president of corporate development and diversity. "Helping to endow the chair at HBS, as well as establishing the fellowship program in his name, is a small way for PepsiCo to acknowledge his many, many contributions to our business and community."

In a break from tradition, the Civic Commitment Award , usually given to an alumnus, was presented to HBS professor emeritus James L. Heskett for his role in creating the Summer Venture Management Program (SVMP). Founded sixteen years ago, the SVMP, a weeklong session held at HBS, exposes talented minority college juniors and seniors to general management issues through the case method and encourages them to consider careers in business.

A Saturday morning packed with sessions covered topics ranging from consolidation in the media industry to privatization of the public education system. Ann M. Fudge (MBA '77), recipient of the Bert King Service Award, delivered the lunchtime keynote address. In her talk, Fudge, a former group vice president at Kraft Foods, emphasized the importance of community service and strong values. "Hold on to honesty, integrity, and respect, for yourself and everyone else," she said. Material goods are all well and good, she continued, but the value of "stuff" doesn't last. "What happens to it all?" she asked. "The real wealth is family. The true currency is love and friendship."

Later that afternoon, teams of entrepreneurs presented business plans to a panel of leading venture capitalists. Taking top prize were Kareem Howard (HBS '02) and Olufemi Omojola with VehicleSense, a venture that will manufacture wireless magnetic sensors for use in the telematics area of the transportation industry.

Pamela Thomas-Graham (MBA '88/JD '89), president and CEO of CNBC, received the Professional Achievement Award and addressed participants at the black-tie banquet that evening. Calling on the audience to realize their full leadership potential, Thomas-Graham said, "Be visible, lead in a visceral way, even if it means putting yourself at risk."

Another highlight of the conference was the announcement of a partnership between the HBS African-American Alumni Association (HBSAAA), the AASU, and the Boys & Girls Club of America to launch "Connecting Through Caring," an initiative led by Ann Fudge that focuses on improving literacy in children from kindergarten through fourth grade. The first phase of the initiative , an on-campus book drive led by Matthew S. Fields and Marleta Y. Ross, both HBS '02, has resulted in the collection of nearly one thousand books. In its second phase, the initiative will include a reading and coaching program staffed by HBSAAA volunteers in Atlanta and Boston, the initiative's pilot cities.

"We hope this positive, hands-on approach to reading will extend the horizons and imaginations of our youth and will favourably impact their academic performance," said Kenneth A. Powell (MBA '74), president of the HBSAAA. "This will give HBS African- American business leaders and their colleagues the opportunity to have a direct and positive influence on the development of children, our most important resource for the future."

A number of potential MBA students who participated in the conference also attended a Prospective Students' Day on the HBS campus Friday afternoon. The oversubscribed event included a case study led by HBS professor Thomas J. DeLong and a talk by Lillian Lincoln (MBA '69), the first African-American woman to graduate from HBS. "Prospective Students' Day is an integral part of the School's diversity outreach efforts to provide minority students with an opportunity to visit HBS and get to know the community better," said Brit K. Dewey (MBA '96), managing director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid. "This year the event was particularly successful due to the terrific energy and collaborative spirit of alumni and the School's minority student leaders. We're very grateful for their support."

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1969, Section D
follow @lillianllambert
Class of MBA 1988, Section H
Class of MBA 1977, Section D
Class of AMP 152
Class of MBA 1992, Section H
Class of MBA 2002, Section K
Class of MBA 2002, Section B
Class of MBA 1975, Section F
Class of OPM 7

Post a Comment