What a day!
I haven’t been back for HBS graduation since my own decades ago. But yesterday Mrs. T. and I went, and I am so glad we did. We’ve become quite close to a person whom we met before she went to HBS, and so, we wanted to be there to see her graduate.
It’s funny how life can be: you show up as a net-giver but then realize afterwards that you’ve been a net-taker. It was incredibly rewarding to see her receive her diploma in addition to the 270+ students whom I know in the Class of 2023.
A faculty procession, led by drummers, started off the ceremony.
It was a picture-perfect day, and the HBS lawn was crammed with excited graduates and loads of friends and family.
After some speeches, each graduate was called up to the stage by name. It’s an informal custom, but professors can gather at the side of the stage to greet each student just after they receive their diploma. I was surprised to see so many tenured professors, who don’t have to do anything they don’t want, there to congratulate their students.
The Case Method is different: you get to know your students extremely well, particularly during office hours. You really do care for your students, and you hope that you played a small part in their education as MBAs and in their formation as people.
The looks of my students as they left the stage were priceless: unbridled joy and dis-belief it seemed all at the same time. I waited for each student to initiate what interaction they wanted, and nearly all opted for hugs.
And what hugs they were!
I hope they achieved some closure after such an intense MBA experience. I know I did, and I plan on coming back each year for graduation.
Today, on Friday, I’m back in the office. My favorite professor from when I was a student, Bill Sahlman, is across the hallway, and we are working on our courses. It is very much still surreal to me that I am at HBS, honestly. It’s very much a “circle of life” thing that I once was Bill’s student and am now his office neighbor.
What am I working on? The schedule for the Venture Capital & Private Equity course I help teach is locked and loaded, but there’s work to be done to get ready. I already cannot wait for the fall semester!
Congratulations, Class of 2023! As I wrote previously (here), graduation is just the beginning of your HBS journey.