29 May 2019


HBS Career Coaches Hit the Road to Serve Alumni

Clubs news: clubs get career services; NorCal explores complexity
by Margie Kelley

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Clubs News

Clubs News

A team from HBS Career & Professional Development (CPD) hit the road in March with a goal of bringing career education and coaching services to alumni in 27 cities in the U.S. and Canada over a 12-week span.

The initiative, called Renew Your Work & Life, gives alumni the opportunity to connect with each other and to HBS during a workshop exploring career and life decision-making, and showcasing the many career and professional resources at HBS available to them.

“We wanted to increase awareness among alumni of our many resources,” says Phillip Andrews, Corporate Relations Director in CPD. “It used to be that once you graduated from HBS, your relationship to CPD ended. But now we offer lifelong career services to alumni. This roadshow is a way to engage alumni and remind them of all we offer.”

The HBS Club of Arizona hosted the first CPD workshop in Phoenix, where many local alumni are retired. Still, the club’s co-president, Paul Engle (MBA 1974), says five alumni attended the workshop. Andrews adds that this group included mid-career professionals looking at what might come next.

“Some were looking to channel their creativity and experience into something useful,” says Engle. “The workshop was excellent and provided guidance on how to consider our goals, strengths, what we love to do, and what the ideal environment might be.”

Andrews says that while the workshop tour is not specifically partnering with alumni clubs, CPD has been reaching out to clubs as a first contact to ask for support with logistics and outreach. “If clubs want to partner with us, that’s ideal, but it’s not a requirement. In fact, it’s important that we also go to cities where HBS has less of a presence so alumni there know they have this lifelong connection to HBS.”

CPD recently wrapped up workshops in Seattle and Indianapolis. Other cities on the tour include Toronto, Salt Lake City, Charlotte, Houston, and St. Louis.

Northern California Alumni Consider the High Cost of Complexity

Etienne Deffarges at HBSA Northern California

Though the United States currently spends approximately $3.5 trillion a year on health care—the equivalent of the entire GDP of the world’s fourth-largest economy—our life expectancy has decreased for the last two years in a row.

“This is really quite unique among developed countries,” says Etienne Deffarges (MBA 1985), author of Untangling the USA: The Cost of Complexity and What Can Be Done About It.

Deffarges, a health care entrepreneur and investor, talked about his book and the concept of complexity to a gathering of 60 alumni from the HBS Association of Northern California (HBSANC) on May 9 as part of the association’s Civic Engagement Series.

In addition to costing trillions, Deffarges says complexity in healthcare, government, finance, and other large systems is causing a broad range of other negative impacts on society, including the opioid crisis, crippling political partisanship, increasing inequality, and staggering bureaucracy.

“But complexity is not in our DNA. The United States Constitution is a perfect example of simplicity,” says Deffarges, who also serves on the Executive Council at the Harvard School of Public Health. Other examples of simplicity he cites: single-payer health systems and the 37-page Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited banks from making risky investments. Deffarges compares that to the 2,300-page Dodd-Frank legislation, which “added immense complexity” to the law.

“I was one of the first to buy the book,” says Mark Belinsky (MBA 1982) who drove almost three hours to attend the talk. “The topic is extremely timely. Everybody seems to know these problems in healthcare and finance, the environment and government that need to be fixed. The question is ‘What do we do?’ Etienne offered some good ideas that struck a chord with many of us.”

One solution in healthcare, says Deffarges, would be to expand Medicare so that people of all ages can enroll through an age-tiered process. “Let’s take what works and offer it to everyone.”

Approaching these problems from the bottom up may also be critical. “Who will take us down the road to simplicity? We can’t rely on the federal government, which was designed as an exception,” says Deffarges, pointing out the state-by-state initiatives that are enacting Medicare-for-All. “States will show us the way home.”

Belinsky says that grassroots approach struck a chord with him. “That was thought-provoking,” he says. “I can potentially have more impact locally than federally. That energized my thinking about what might be possible.”

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Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1974, Section J
Class of MBA 1985, Section D
Class of MBA 1982, Section B
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