Day 48 & 49: Lights Out At Harvard Business School

The Baker Library at night

Lights Out At Harvard Business School

As they say, all good things must come to an end. And in keeping with our class' character, we chose to go with a BANG!

True to its reputation for academic excellence, our mornings are still spent attending our professors concluding lectures. And being consummate academic professionals, our professors also ended their course with a BANG!

It was truly a stupendous moment! Where both pupil and teacher came face to face and both bowed in admiration for each other. As a gesture of how much we appreciated their efforts and how life-changing the whole experience was, we gave our professors a standing ovation that made some of them blush and embarrassed from the entire class' adulation.

Farewell Dinner at the Four Season's Hotel

As a fitting send off to all of the participants of the Advanced Management Program (AMP), the faculty and staff of Harvard Business School, led by its Senior Associate Dean Das Narayandas, organized a farewell dinner at the Four Season's Hotel in Boston.

It was a touching moment, where we bid each other farewell, where we hugged and where we expressed our appreciation to each other for being a part of each others learning journey. I personally was very touched, when a number of my classmates came to me and expressed their appreciation for all the inputs I contributed in class and quite surprisingly a commendation for raising the Asian flag from my Asian classmates.

Below are photos of that marvelous evening.

Day 46 & 47: Entering The Final Week of AMP

The Final Week of AMP

The final week of the Advanced Management Program (AMP) had arrived and I didn't quite know what to feel. On one hand, I was so excited that finally I will be coming home but on the other hand, I will be missing a lot of things in Harvard Business School.

First, would be the first-rate education that all of us received. Until today, my mind is still immersed with all the frameworks, models and business tools that were taught to us by all our Professors. In fact, despite being the last week of our program, our calendar is still filled with sessions and classes - no dissimilar to our schedule on week 1.

Needless to say, I will miss my favorite hang-out the Baker Library, which has served as my second home while on campus.

It was here where I spent reading most of the daily cases assigned to us as we got into the second half of the AMP. It's ambiance coupled with its wooden bookshelves, panels and tables makes it the perfect site for learning.

It was also here that I worked on my personal case. The amount of material that is well within reach is just astounding, to say the least.

Living Group 52, back row: Niramarn Laisathit, Tim Twitty, Gary Ang, Ron Vollebregt; front row: Vince Abejo, Stuart Machin, Ruedi Temperli, Romeo Kumalo (not in photo: Christian Martinez)

 Of course, I will miss very much the members of my living group - Living Group 52. We've supported each other, bantered with each other and cajoled each other at times. We've seen each other at our best and we've seen each other at our worst. And the best part of all, we accepted each other for who we are. I hope that we cross paths sometime soon. To Nira, Tim, Gary, Ron, Romeo, Reudi and Stuart - I salute you all - cheers!

On a lighter note, I will also miss the squirrels and the birds, who call this campus of higher learning their home, and who probably had a crash course on animal rights from the Harvard Law School, which is just down the block. Several blogs ago, I wrote about how perplexed I was when the animals didn't get out of my way as I walked on the pavements of Harvard Square.

I will of course miss all the professors and the administrative staff of the AMP, without whom Harvard Business School, would just be a hollowed out concrete shell albeit with well-manicured lawns.

Despite being the last week, our professors show no let-up in imparting knowledge to the AMP participants. In fact, the pace of the lectures have intensified and we're slowly seeing how the lessons converge to the point where it's almost difficult to delineate one class from the other.

Class Lessons

Why Leaders Lose Their Way
  • Life has both a positive and negative narrative that is the source of our motivations and distractions, the key is to identify, accept and if needed, address it
  • Leadership is lonely, so the challenge is how to keep yourself grounded
  • It is the people who make you successful; the leader's job is to set the stage to make them shine
  • To be an authentic leader, does not mean you have to be perfect
  • Sustain your leadership energy and focus through:
    • introspection
    • physical exercise
    • support team
    • time management
    • leaving a legacy
  • At the end of the day, always know what is important to you!
  • When introducing change, always untangle the cultural piece - communicate up, down and across
  • To be an effective leader, you need to answer the following questions:
    • what will you stop doing?
    • what will you continue doing?
    • what will you start doing?
  • Don't design plans in isolation of culture and people
  • Failure should be celebrated to make sure it does not get repeated
  • Always guard against the benefits of loyalty exceeding the cost of loyalty
  • Wrap service around the product to enhance, if not create, differentiation
  • Customer management systems tie in with talent management systems
  • 4 items to manage:
    • strategy
    • management
    • operating systems
    • performance
Leading Change
  • The notion that you have to be perfect as a leader is a fantasy - none of us are perfect
  • The world is drum-beating everyone to be a manager - rise up and be a leader
  • Work with both leaders and managers in order to become a better leader and a better manager
  • Drive yourself up the leadership ladder, even if these are small steps only
  • In life we always have a choice
I'd like to end this blog with a quote from the preeminent author on Leadership, Prof. John Kotter, whom we've had the privilege of hearing in class.

" With a humble heart and open mind, you can learn from anyone at any place."
Prof. John P. Kotter (right) posing for a photo after his lecture