Back from Harvard Business School (HBS), I could not be more grateful to the Industry Leaders Fund, Geoff Vogt and the Board for the incredible opportunity they offered me as a 2019 ILF Scholar.
Involved with the start-up ecosystem in South Australia for about 6 years now, I first heard about the “Launching New Ventures” program (https://www.exed.hbs.edu/launchingnew- ventures/) at HBS 4 years ago – So you can guess my expectations of this entrepreneurship program were extremely high. I talked to alumni of this program and met other ILF scholars who attended HBS during the ILF application process – They all had extremely positive experiences. The bar was high, but I aimed for it.
I do not think I have ever been so impressed. Harvard, the faculty, and staff, the facilities, delivered way beyond my expectations.
Although a short program (1 week), it is more than intense! 2 weeks before it starts, you receive 28 cases studies – Harvard is famous for the Case Method teaching methodology, a balance between planning and spontaneity, led by the teachers and involving the entire class, to come to solutions for complex business problems – The cases are all recent real business cases. Needless to say that it does not leave much time to sleep when you run a business!
On campus, everything is catered for your needs in a 5-star environment – each day starts at 7am and finishes at 8pm, but that’s without group work and further reading for surprise cases – When you arrive, the class is divided in living group of 8 students who then share a living quarter and prepare the cases together, including pitches and presentation.
Over the week, the world class faculty go over the cases – All Professors are absolute leaders in their field in many cases with firsthand experience on given cases – They are also extremely approachable and happy to help, including by providing their contact details and answering questions on each student’s business. HBS also flew in several business owners to answer questions on their companies represented in the cases (from the US, UAE, Australia…). A behind closed doors insight on incredible companies not available anywhere else.
The program was incredibly valuable – it was all about asking the right questions and making decisions. Topics included Entrepreneurship, Managing launch, Business Model Analytics, Finance, Branding, Sales and Marketing, Leading growing ventures, Marketplaces, Venture Capital, Founder Choices, Pitch contest… The leadership of the teachers was instrumental to the program and the livelihood of the exchanges with my peers was incredible. 23 countries represented for only 61 participants with Australia the second largest group after the US. Multiple industries, start-ups to large corporations.
The feeling is almost impossible to describe. This was certainly a once in a lifetime experience and I now look forward to implementing what we learnt and to working closely with this new impressive network. Once again, my very sincere gratitude goes to the ILF for helping me grow my leadership skills and hopefully I am now even better equipped to contribute to Neumann Space and to South Australia’s growth.