A Summer Reflection

Looking back on my summer internship at Walmart, I have four main takeaways about the company:

Walmart cares A LOT about maintaining the culture that Sam Walton initially put in place.  It’s actively and constantly managed- 4 core values, 10 rules of doing business, discussions on culture in small team meetings (e.g., what can Walmart learn from GM’s issues with recalls?), murals on the wall listing these values / rules, and so on.  I have never worked in an environment where the culture was such an active focus.

For such a vast company, it feels relatively small thanks to unparalleled access to leadership.  In my previous job as a consultant, I was of the mindset that, if I left consulting for corporate America, I would never get to interact with senior leadership until I was much further along in my career.  This was most definitely not true at Walmart.  About 20 MBA interns had a private Q&A with the CEO, watched a golf tournament from the CFO’s house, and had a training on strategic thinking led by the SVP of corporate strategy (an HBS alumna).  Beyond this, I had the chance to meet several SVPs to discuss my project or my career ambitions.

Walmart’s scale is beyond belief, allowing them to take on some very exciting projects.  One HBS intern was on the clinics team, seeking to roll out basic primary care health services in stores- this has been in the news a bit lately as it ramps up.  I sat next to the Made in the USA team, who is working to get $250 billion worth of US manufactured goods sold in 10 years.  The Savings Catcher feature in the app just launched in August, which checks competitor prices of the items on your scanned receipt and gives you a Walmart e-gift card worth the difference if competitor prices are lower.  I’m sure there will be some kinks to work out as the Savings Catcher rolls out, but I think it’s a pretty brilliant idea to reinforce the one-stop-shop idea for cost-conscious customers.

Relationships inside a company are increasingly important with such scale.  As someone who worked on a dotcom project without sitting out at dotcom (in California), I saw firsthand the importance of knowing the right people to even get basic data.  Walmart understands this and thus strongly encourages networking.  Although at first I felt like I was back in recruiting season, all the coffee chats proved to be a great way to get in touch with the right people for my project plus learn about other interesting teams.

Overall I had a great summer, and I learned a lot about e-commerce and even more about building trust and influence with people both in Bentonville and at dotcom in San Bruno.  While I expected to apply knowledge from finance and strategy HBS classes during my internship, I was pleasantly surprised to be thinking about our Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LEAD) class more than anything else.

- Stephanie Tupi, MBA 2015


CPD on the Road in Manila

I recently visited Manila to meet with organizations regarding recruitment of MBA students and alumni. The Philippines is a vibrant market for business professionals and youth is a key part of the allure of businesses to the Philippines today. The country’s median age is about 24; compare that to the 40+ medians common throughout Europe and Japan. Labor continues to be one of the country’s biggest exports with overseas workers remitting cash to their families back home, but there’s a growing local consumer market. With 38 million internet users—that’s only 36% market penetration—the country is the largest English-speaking online market in East Asia. According to Kleiner Perkins’ 2014 recent Internet Trends Report, the Philippines is one of the world’s top 5 fastest growing internet markets, with 18% growth in 2012 and 27% growth in 2013.

An important upcoming milestone will be the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015. This attempt at regional economic integration should increase business opportunities and cross-border trade for the Philippines. In addition, English is an official language so foreign entrepreneurs essentially find no communication barriers to starting businesses in the country. E-commerce and online services seem to dominate the start-up arena, but tourism and food-relatskyline1ed companies are also springing up. These businesses are targeting not only the burgeoning middle class but also consumers at the base of the pyramid. I had the pleasure of engaging with alumni, as well as representatives from several organizations, including: Ayala Corporation; Globe Telecom; Lenddo; FortmanCline Capital Markets; ICCP Group;; Kickstart Ventures; IdeaSpace Foundation; San Miguel Corporation; Pure Foods; the Asian Development Bank; and JG Summit Holdings.

If your organization is interested in recruiting top talent from HBS, we’re here to assist, so please reach out to me or another member of the team.


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


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