Working in Tech 4Dev

After spending the first half of my internship in Nairobi, I am now wrapping up the summer at Ushahidi’s San Francisco office, where I’ve been working in a business development capacity to develop a new mapping platform. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of product management, an exciting combination of business development, marketing, engineering, and design. In fact, I’ve been surprised how much I’m loving this role thus far- it’s cross functional, involves working with experts, and allows me to leverage my knowledge gained in the first MBA year.

The product I’ve been working on is largely enterprise-focused and still in beta mode, but Ushahidtec4devi’s greater mission of technology for development—“tech4dev”—is worth writing more about. The company uses cloud-based technologies—your smartphone, your computer, and even SMS, to quickly aggregate data from a base of users onto a map. This can include the location of relief supplies after earthquakes, pothole sightings in municipalities, or reports of violence, genocide, and bombings in areas as disparate as Syria, Congo, and Gaza.

The model of “crowdsourced activism” is a fascinating one, and likely to be increasingly important as government and NGO budgets are squeezed.  The City of Los Angeles, for example, used our platform to crowdsource broken sidewalk locations for repair, saving the city a costly location survey estimated at millions. Ushahidid’s platform provides ease of use, transparency, and cost saving solutions that leverage free and readily available technologies that involve the whole community. It’s a dynamic space to be working in that feels like the future of government-tech collaboration!

While I’m not totally certain where I’ll land after graduating in May, this summer has held a number of important lessons: my enjoyment of product management, my confirmed belief that governments and organizations can be made more efficient through smart technologies and data-optimization, and my love of start-up culture. It’s been an unforgettable summer of learning and exploration, and one that I suspect will shape my trajectory in ways I can’t yet realize.

- Jen Bullock, MBA 2015


HBS Social Enterprise Initiative Visits NYC

SEI visits with HBS Club of New York leaders and Summer Fellows the Club is supporting.

A lot can be achieved through emails, phone calls, and meetings, but being in the field helps broaden perspectives. The HBS Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI) did just that – when Matt Segneri, Director, and Margot Dushin, Director of Programs, took a field trip to New York City over a couple of days in July, to visit Social Enterprise students and alumni.

Lunch with Larry Ackman (MBA ’63) and Summer Fellows he is supporting.

Within SEI, we have a lens before fellowships start, when we receive student applications for the Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship or when HBS selects opportunities for HBS Leadership Fellows. We also work closely with students, alumni, and organizations after the fellowships, to hear about experiences. Seeing students and alumni during their fellowships brings us an entirely different angle. They may have just come from a brainstorming session or have on their mind a presentation to senior management coming up next week, and we get a peek into their day-to-day roles and the impact they are having.

HBS Social Enterprise Summer Fellows:

Urvesh Shelat, MBA 2015, arrived with a hardhat in hand for our breakfast with the HBS Club of New York, the fellowship sponsor for his summer internship. Working with New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, he often finds himself going between on-the-ground construction sites and strategic planning meetings at the central office with the Recovery and Resiliency group – a team that started in 2013 in response to the effects of Hurricane Sandy to make the system more resilient against adverse weather and climate change impacts. Urvesh was motivated to pursue this internship by his belief, as he explained, “that efficient and reliable transportation is a critical public service, and that it stands to become only more important as the U.S. population returns to urban centers from the suburbs and as environmental consciousness grows. My mission is to pursue a career improving public transportation, and this summer experience, which is more operational than my previous management consulting and transportation analytics work, is giving me greater skills and insights to manage a system in future.”

Jacob Cohen, New York City Department of Education

We met with Jacob Cohen, MPP/MBA 2016, at his internship with the New York City Department of Education (DOE), between meetings he had scheduled with staff throughout the organization.DOE serves more than 1.1 million students and their families in over 1,800 schools, and Jacob is playing a critical role with senior leadership in the Office of Student Enrollment in mapping and documenting current admissions/enrollments processes to advance the efficiency of daily operations. Jacob told us, “The Education Pioneers fellowship and my placement at the DOE is providing me with an opportunity to work directly with an education agency on the types of strategic issues that have the potential to impact thousands of kids and entire communities.”

HBS Leadership Fellows:

SEI director Matt Segneri and HBS Leadership Fellows (past and present) at Harlem Children’s Zone

A visit to Harlem Children’s Zone connected us with three out of four HBS alumni who are current or alumni Fellows through the HBS Leadership Fellows program, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a select group of graduating HBS students to experience high-impact management positions in nonprofit and public-sector organizations for one year at a competitive salary. Lauren Scopaz, MBA 2007, and Adam Zalisk, MBA 2013, shared how their roles have evolved since their Fellowship years, including Adam’s significant role in the HCZ transition team for their new CEO; and Christina Anderson, MBA 2014, spoke to her upcoming Fellowship year. Each has been working with senior leaders and playing a key role on HCZ’s strategic priorities going forward. Joining us in the conversation was Shana Brodnax, Senior Advisor of Quality Improvement and Strategic Planning, who noted that each of the alumni have “immeasurably enriched” the organization.

Thank you to students, alumni, and organizations for the chance to meet with you and learn more about your experiences in making a difference in the world!

Matt Segneri, Director, Social Enterprise Initiative
Margot Dushin, Director of Programs, Social Enterprise Initiative

The HBS Social Enterprise Initiative applies innovative business practices and managerial disciplines to drive sustained, high-impact social change. It’s grounded in the mission of Harvard Business School and aims to inspire, educate, and support leaders who make a difference in the world.


Create a Personalized Approach to Recruiting through Company Appointments

Company Appointments allow you to connect with students on an individual or small group basis. Students get to know you and your recruiting structure through a less formal setting which can be a great avenue to evaluate how a student will fit in your organization. These appointments also allow students to gain insight into your company culture and assess whether it might be a good fit for them.


Leverage the Power of Alumni Networks in Recruiting

A few weeks ago, the HBS Career & Professional Development (CPD) team had a very successful trip to Minneapolis where we met local recruiting partners, alumni and current students pursuing internships in the area this summer.

The trip was a success due to many factors but one in particular stood out – the power of the HBS alumni network. Although we talk about it all the time, it is another thing to see it come to life right before your very eyes. DuNetworking2ring our alumni event, we witnessed alumni offering their time, energy and resources to support one another in a way that made it feel like a group of old friends getting together. Many alumni spent much of their time sharing updates with one another about their current roles and organizations, providing details on the work that they are doing and discussing opportunities that exist within their respective organizations now and in the future. The power of this forum to build relationships and connect with others who may be looking for opportunities for career growth is an exceptional one for organizations in a local area. By encouraging current employees to connect and engage with candidates from their alma mater, your company’s talent pipeline will inevitably expand.

Additionally, leveraging employees to spread awareness of opportunities at your firm can be an effective way to recruit students.  Last year, our office conducted a study to gain insight into what really matters to students as they embark on the recruiting process. Overwhelmingly, students reported that interacting with HBS alumni who are current or former employees at a particular organization was a very effective recruiting tactic. This is an important note for recruiters to keep in mind as they plan their recruiting strategy for the upcoming year. For example, if your organization is participating in a company presentation, consider sending an alum of the school to help present.

Our office will continue to travel to many US and international cities over the coming months and we encourage alumni to attend our networking events and to support their organizations in the search for talent. For additional recruiting strategies, contact your industry or location dedicated employer relations manager.

- Betsy Strickland, HBS Career & Professional Development

Launch Your 1st Year Recruiting Efforts at Company Information Day

Company Information Day is the first day organizations are able to present on-campus to 1st year students. Students do not have class on Company Information Day which maximizes your attendance numbers. It is a great way to introduce your recruiting structure, promote opportunities within your organization, and connect with students at a Meet & Greet in the afternoon or evening. Learn more about Company Information Day:


Mid-summer Update

I’m flying back from a mid-summer report out at Danaher’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. The past three days were full of reflection and feedback, as well as some fun after-hour jaunts in the city. For some of the interns, it was a chance to hear more about the work that’s happening in other operating companies. For others, it was a valuable mid-course correction on project scope and impact. For all, it was an opportunity to meet senior executives including Danaher’s enigmatic CEO Larry Culp (HBS ’90), hear his story of becoming CEO at the age of 37 and growing the company from $1B to $19B over the course of 15 years, which is nothing short of legendary. He GongKeAtBeckmanCoulterGenomicshad cases written about him and the company! I’m a little embarrassed to say that meeting Larry in person had a bit of a celebrity-sighting effect on me.

Over the course of the trip, we all received a strong dose of DBS (Danaher Business System) and witnessed its culture in action at “ground zero”. There was much emphasis on being data-driven and self-driven. We spoke to past MBA interns who have joined the company full-time and have done exceptionally well. We learned about new HR initiatives aimed at improving career movement and development of MBA hires. We also talked about family-life balance and diversity. All of these discussions gave us meaningful glimpses into what a full-time gig at Danaher is like, and whether it would be a good fit for us.

For myself, I had just kicked off a round of customer surveys for the marketing plan that I’m working on at Beckman Coulter Genomics. On the first day of presentations, I was at the edge of my seat not because of the content, as engaging as it was, but because I couldn’t wait to start reviewing survey results. The direction of the marketing plan and my next steps all hinge on the feedback from customers. We needed high quality results and enough of them to make the data statistically significant. Back at the hotel that night, I was finally able to take a first look at the results. Some strong trends were already emerging. If they continued, I will be able to confirm and reject several hypotheses already. It also looked like I was off to a good start, with the number of results reaching almost two-thirds of the target already.

The rest of the days in DC went by like a blur. I’ll need a few more days to unpack the content, but one of Larry’s comments stuck with me clearly. He said “I was pretty much like this when I came out of HBS,” in reference to his leadership style. He then followed it up with a wink and said “that’s what HBS will do to ya.”

- Gong Ke Gouldstone, MBA 2015


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