Need Harvard Business School (HBS) to make an update?
The institution began to demand that their students will use laptops in 1984 and sent its graduates to top-level positions in companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Facebook Inc. no longer set the standard when it relates to education management issues in the Internet age, say students, faculty and alumni.
Meanwhile, competitors such as the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and the Sloan School of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have established themselves as the most prominent executives to prepare places for the technology industry, according to data provided by the own institutions.
Business School of Harvard University still very coveted among applicants for MBA program two years and accepts only 12% of the candidates. However, the size and the legacy of the business school may complicate efforts to keep abreast of the rapid changes taking place in technology and business.
Compared with MIT or Stanford “We, in a sense, less technology in the air,” says the dean of the business school, Nitin Nohria, but notes that Harvard sends many of its graduates to major technology companies every year.
Students, faculty and alumni argue that strict adherence to the method of the case studies focuses on business dilemmas for years or decades, rather than addressing the forces that are transforming technology markets today, including issues that graduates of the program should dominate.
Nick Taranto, a graduate of Harvard MBA in 2010, and co-founder Plated Inc., startup food on the Internet, says Harvard prepared him for managing his company, which has about 300 employees. “However, in the early stages of the company, had no idea of the preparation for product management, client discovery, web design, the difference between HTML, CSS, Java, and user experience,” he says. “I had to learn everything on their own.”
Another graduate of the Harvard Business School, who prefers to remain anonymous, tells a similar story. “HBS enables students to executives, managing directors of marketing, all kinds of leadership positions, except CTO or computer to be president,” he says.
Some suggest that HBS students have mandatory classes programming or applicants who come from the area of engineering specially treated. Current students and recent graduates say HBS classes should offer a curriculum with a greater technological component addressing, for example, the analytical data in the field of marketing or the impact of growth Airbnb Inc. in the big chains.
Harvard has already made some updates. Nohria launched in 2013 Digital Initiative, an interdisciplinary project, to have a voice in the digital transformation taking place in every corner of the economy.
Colin Maclay, who is in charge of the digital initiative, says the group is suitable to technological initiatives, including research and courses. Maclay helped organize a summit in April to address the challenges posed by the digital transformation of enterprises and says there will be about a dozen of these events throughout the year.
A recent graduate who is now a senior executive in a technology firm in New York said that an “initiative” nebula does not constitute a breakthrough. “They’ve been talking for years,” he says. “Nothing has happened”.
One problem, says Nohria, is geographic. Both Stanford and MIT, engineering schools and businesses are close to each other and are closely integrated. The Harvard School of Engineering, however, is located more than a kilometer and a half away from HBS. The planned transfer of the Harvard School of Engineering will leave almost in front of HBS, which will provide more opportunities for business students take classes programming and major innovations in science.
As for the case studies, the dean emphasizes that teachers have been writing cases with the latest updates related to digital issues, although some students complain that some cases become outdated when they reach the curriculum.
The challenges facing HBS are common in much of the academic world: how to reconcile the teaching material that has stood the test of time with the pace of events in the real world?
Marco Iansiti, who heads the Division of Technology and Operations Management, estimated that about two thirds of the required classes for his department during the first year of the MBA focus on operations, including a 12-hour exercise that simulates the management of a plant operations of a factory.
The class covered based business networks and crowdsourcing-a microfinance mechanism collectively for the first time this semester, and Iansiti says he is interested in adding more content related to technology management and reduce some based on traditional management operations,
Optional courses HBS offers that have to do with technology, are full, say teachers. Demand is high for a course management product offered by Professor Thomas Eisenmann and Prem Ramaswami, a product manager for Google. 45 students take an idea from concept to product launch and learn how the Internet works and what questions to ask about products and user experience. Ramaswami says the goal is to prepare students to be product managers or at least understand how they think developers.
As more MBA seek careers in technology, applicants with these aspirations now think more Silicon Valley than in Boston, says Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of mbaMission, a consulting firm college admission.
The small number of people who get admission to both HBS and Stanford, candidates with technological mentality generally opt for Stanford says Shinewald. But the HBS Students are still going well in the technology market, as recent graduates are hired at companies like LinkedIn, Google and Uber Technologies.
For now, many students find solution to its shortcomings in technology. The technology student club, which has about 500 members, last year organized three workshops to learn programming, and the three recorded oversubscribed.
“I love the fact that students are enthusiastic about digital transformation,” says Professor Iansiti. “At the same time, it serves as a reminder: Am I working hard enough for there to be changes?”.