17 Dec 2015
A Bridge to the FutureTopics:
Photo by Susan Young
Returning to the place where their HBS experience began, students in the MBA Class of 2015 convened with sectionmates in their first-year classrooms in late April to participate in an innovative new capstone course. Bridges, part of a larger effort to strengthen the second year of the MBA Program, gives students an opportunity to reflect on their time at the School and to consider how they want to make a difference in the world.
“Our goal is to help you get ready for the next chapter of your adventure, and to remind you of the many bridges you have back to HBS,” said Kristin Williams Mugford (MBA 1993) during the opening session. She and fellow senior lecturer Stephen P. Kaufman (MBA 1965) serve as faculty cochairs of the program, which was supported by about 65 faculty members and 55 staff from the HBS community.
Over the course of three days, students gained and shared insights both practical and poignant. The program included keynote presentations from two Harvard University professors: Jonathan Zittrain, who spoke on the future of the Internet; and Daniel Schrag, who addressed the impact of climate change. In their section classrooms, students discussed a case focusing on how much one can, or should, plan out a career, and they shared concerns about the challenges they would face. Students took advantage of sessions designed to help them navigate specific sectors and to introduce them to lifelong career resources available through HBS’s Center for Professional Development.
Sectionmates also broke into small groups for a paying-it-forward exercise in general reciprocity, during which they could ask for and receive assistance from classmates as they embarked on their new paths.
Advice from alumni and faculty members formed another integral component of Bridges. Written “life lessons learned” were gathered from 350 alumni, who provided heartfelt guidance for students to discuss, and seven faculty members chosen by the class offered TED Talk–like counsel about following one’s passions, making time for family and friends, being true to one’s values, and setting priorities while remaining flexible.
During the closing session, speaker Frances Frei, UPS Foundation Professor of Service Management, invited students to strive for greatness, lead by example, make life better for those around them, and understand the importance of love if they truly want to make a difference.
“Bridges has been exactly the capstone I had hoped it would be,” said Lindsay Ullman (MBA 2015). “I’ve heard from professors who disseminated their life wisdom and from classmates who shared personal stories about what it was like for them to be here and what they’re taking away. We have been able to come back together and sit in the place where we started this whole journey with the people who made it so interesting and transformative. I can’t imagine not having had this opportunity.”
Class of MBA 2015, Section D