Yesterday, I went back to Harvard Business School for an alumni conference, which I found energizing and interesting.
Going back was fun, as it made me feel young again. I have fond memories of business school: people were very nice, the professors were nearly always engaging, and many life-long friendships were formed there.
I learned that the school is investing a great deal into entrepreneurship, gender equality, non-profit activity and the environment, all of which I laud.
For me, the highlight of the day was a session with Dean Nitin Nohria, who was very thoughtful. I asked him this: “If the goal of medical school is healing and the goal of law school is justice, what is the goal for a business school?”
Without hesitation, he said: “Prosperity.”
Thereafter came a very impassioned POV, how he is from India and has seen first-hand that a person’s ability to have economic self-determination and provide for one’s self and children is a source of tremendous human dignity. He also added that it was critical to create prosperity for society as a whole, to help others benefit, too.
I thought it was a great answer. You see, way back when, I almost didn’t go to business school, as I wondered about “the meaning” of it all. Ruthless capitalism didn’t align with my values. I was a deferred admit, who could matriculate after one year of work, and after three years of investment banking and management consulting, it would have been easy to go back to school. I really needed a break.
But, I hesitated.
In the end, I went ahead, largely because no other serious option crossed my path, and I went with the vague idea that perhaps “doing well and doing good” would be my goal.
And, I’m so glad I went. For me, business school was transformative and had a huge impact on my life, more so than college.
Some years ago, I asked for the name of, and email for, the admissions officer who read my file and admitted me. I wrote to her and thanked her, that she changed my life.
My friend Jamey Sperans calls this “a gratitude tour,” whereby you identify all of the people who have had a major impact on your life, and you reach out and thank them. I’m on my own personal gratitude tour, and I’d encourage you to consider the same.
So, it was a great conference for so many reasons. I’m very thankful to all the people who planned it. It was a fulfilling visit for me.