08 Dec 2015

Living the Legacy

Siblings set a record for completing HBX CORe business fundamentals course


When Ray Kusisto (MBA 1986) graduated from Harvard Business School, he knew he had been part of a unique experience.

“I still feel that way,” says Kusisto, now CEO of Ortho NorthEast, the premier orthopedic clinic and specialty center in northeast Indiana. “I trained at a place that has no peer. HBS invented management education. This is where great ideas emanate.”

Ray and his wife, Kathryn, who holds an MBA from Northwestern, have four adult children with very different interests. It was important to the couple to pass their passion for business acumen onto their offspring. When Ray heard of HBX CORe, a three-course online program that teaches the fundamentals of business, he knew his children would benefit from the content and the high quality of instruction that had set the foundation for his own career success. Ray recommended HBX CORe to his children, and the Kusisto family set a record of achievement. All four children completed the HBX CORe program, three simultaneously in the 2014 pilot cohort.

What makes this family unique, however, is that they represent a microcosm of what HBX CORe offers. Each sibling is pursuing a different dream. They have distinct personalities, varying interests, separate career goals, and only one is pre-MBA. Yet each was able to acquire a set of business fundamentals applicable to their specific needs.

Laura, the eldest, has a Masters in Family Sciences degree with a concentration in marriage and family therapy from the University of Kentucky. She expects to establish a private practice and perhaps a retail business in bridal styling.

“HBX CORe gave me a window into things I had never considered,” she says. “It showed me business practices I do and don’t want to replicate.”

While Laura particularly enjoyed the strategic modules, it is basic accounting that is coming in handy at the moment. She points out that, in addition to handling advance payments, dealing with the challenges of raising capital, scouting locations, and building clientele will all draw from her CORe experience.

In using the CORe platform, Laura found the real world examples and progress monitoring tools especially motivating. “I’m less intimidated about business after taking this course,” she confirms. “I already know the terminology.”

Paul and Kevin, the Kusisto’s twin boys, have very different career interests. Paul is “all about business,” according to his father, while Kevin is an aspiring writer, creative by nature, and a journalism major at Indiana University. So why is HBX CORe relevant to someone already on an MBA track? And why should an aspiring writer study business fundamentals?

“I wanted more depth and breadth,” says Paul, a junior at Indiana University in Bloomington majoring in computer science with minors in business and math. As his interests in business crystallized, he realized he couldn’t switch to a business major and still graduate in time.

“I knew HBX CORe would increase my business aptitude to make me more confident and more marketable to employers,” says Paul. While his favorite module was economics, he is already utilizing the business analytics tools he mastered in CORe. “Being able to create histograms to quickly visualize data makes me more efficient in class,” He says.

For Kevin, a business education would not typically be part of his studies, yet his dad saw merit in it. “I see this program serving him as a line of defense, arming him with critical thinking and a basic understanding of how the world works,” says Ray. “After HBX CORe, I don’t think he’s going to be snowed by someone talking to a room full of reporters. He’s not just going to sit there and nod. He’s going to question assumptions and refute them.”

How does CORe differ from other online programs? Paul felt that HBX maximized the web platform whereas many other online programs don’t. It was a “holistic experience… an experience that worked.”

Paul also shares an anecdote that confirms the community-building potential of CORe. While working at a cyber security company this summer, he met a colleague who kept talking about a “cool Harvard Business School program.” Turns out this coworker was taking HBX CORe. Paul felt an immediate kinship, which fostered a strong professional relationship.

Cera, the Kusisto’s youngest daughter, is a J.D. candidate at University of Michigan Law School. She is looking forward to a summer job at a large legal firm in Chicago.

Because business education was not an undergraduate requirement, Cera missed an opportunity to learn about potential clients—what was important to them and how they viewed themselves. “HBX CORe appealed to me as a way to prepare myself to represent corporations,” She says.

Not only did her participation in CORe convey a sense of initiative to prospective employers, but interviewers commented that they felt “all law students would benefit from such a program.”

“I would be lost without the knowledge I gained in CORe,” says Cera. “Because I now have a foundational understanding of how businesses operate and what they care most about, I’m able to predict legal rules more quickly than my classmates, who struggle to grasp non-legal business dynamics.”

As for Ray, the father of four HBX alumni couldn’t be prouder. The experience was “a quantum leap for all of them,” he says, reiterating that he didn’t force his children to take the program. “I just spoke with them individually, telling them why I thought CORe would be good.”

And he’s noticed changes since his children completed the course. “Their vocabulary is more business-oriented. Now they talk about economic trade-offs, balance sheets, and revenue issues. I can see thought structure and confidence in the way they approach things.”

The “Kusisto kids” would probably agree. They are living the legacy, and good-naturedly challenge others to beat their family record of 4 for 4.

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1986, Section E

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