S*** MBAs Say: All’s Well that Ends Well

After five posts of MBA bashing and after nearly two weeks since the conclusion of the course (and after two good nights' sleep in my bed in New Jersey), I think it’s time to talk about the good people of “Doing Business in China.” After all, I've already covered the bad and the ugly.

Despite numerous posts about the entitled and (more often than not) common-sense-lacking students I had to manage throughout the course, I met a few good eggs who made the experience worthwhile. Two MVPs come to mind: one of the students in the course whom I’d like to praise is a former research associate. After she discovered that I was a RA (rather than a teaching fellow for the course), we struck up an exchange via email about her time at HBS and what I was doing for my boss in addition to running the course. She even offered to meet with me to talk about her transition from being a RA at HBS to being enrolled in the MBA program (something I will be taking her up on once Harvard’s spring break ends). In my experience, at least, the majority of the MBAs (in the spirit of opportunistic networking) don’t tend to take the time to help out people unless there’s something in it for them. And after dealing with so many obnoxious people in the course, it was really encouraging and satisfying to see someone make an effort to help me even though I have nothing to offer in return.

Another student from the course might just be the best person I've met in the Harvard network, period. A jolly cross-registrant getting his LLM over at HLS, HM had lunch with me the Monday following the course and kindly spent the next hour or two discussing how he ended up in the US from Australia and how he decided on a career in Chinese corporate law in Hong Kong. We also talked about what I hoped to do after I finished working at HBS and where I hoped my crustier-by-the-day Chinese language skills could take me in the long term. And then came the question of a Fulbright in China followed by law school...? (to be continued in another post). He gave me a great little tour of HLS and introduced me that afternoon to two interesting fellows: a HLS professor who works on East Asian law, international trade, and intellectual property with a focus on China (I had no idea who this person was, but now I've booked a meeting with him for the beginning of April--in the meantime, I'm drooling over his CV) and a real character of a student at Harvard College (a 29-year-old junior and serial entrepreneur who is launching an interesting start up in China in which I'm hoping to get more involved).

Even though I'm nearly dead by 3 o' clock, HM also convinced me to attend a spring reading group on China's rise that happens every Wednesday at 4PM at Harvard's Institute of Politics (IOP). This session featured Richard McGregor, the author of "The Party," which I believe is the most important book that has been written in the last decade about the PRC. Everything McGregor had to say was more or less in his book, but it was great to see the man in the flesh (and one seat away!). But even better was HM formally introducing me to a certain HLS professor who works on IP law in East Asia. I'd been emailing the professor for over a month to set up a meeting, and thanks to HM, I met him in a matter of days: we were introduced on Wednesday and met on Friday. The meeting was extremely productive, and was amused to learn that my boss had emailed this professor on Thursday and told him he should meet me "even though [he] didn't want to pawn me off anywhere outside of HBS or FAS." I got a huge kick out of this, because my boss didn't tell me about this email and had no real way of knowing that I was already trying to get a meeting with this professor. CAN HE READ MINDS?! 

I wouldn't be surprised. He's a bit of a wizard. At any rate, having my boss advocate on my behalf to help me figure out where I'm going post-HBS and beyond really warms my heart and makes me do a happy dance--which, since I'm back in NJ, must be something like an ironic fist pump.

So the past two weeks have been good ones in that I've started to do what I've been hoping to do since I got to HBS: connect with new people that will connect me to a future in--or at least involving--China.