Category Archives: FIELD Experience

Ask about the FIELD Immersion during your next interview

From Argentina to China, over 900 first-year students recently wrapped up a 10 day immersion experience with organizations around the globe. The immersion is part of the FIELD curriculum where student teams develop a new product or service concept for an organization in an emerging market. Not only is this a unique experience for HBS MBA students, but it provides an interesting perspective for recruiters.  The FIELD immersion exposes students to a variety of areas that can shed light on the skills they could bring to your organization as a new hire.  With first-year recruiting in full swing, here a few ways to learn more about candidates through their FIELD immersion experiences:

Teamwork – A central and crucial component to the FIELD immersion is teamwork. All of the students work in small teams of six with the end goal of presenting their final idea to their global partner.  By asking students about their team dynamics during FIELD, you can gain insight into how they might interact within your organization.

Consumer interactions – During the immersion, students interact with customers to gain insight into their organizations’ target demographic. These interactions shed light on a student’s ability to engage with a diverse group of people and apply the knowledge he/she gained from those conversations to solve a problem or dilemma.  Delving into the customer interaction experience provides insight into a student’s ability to work with diverse audiences.

Ambiguity – During FIELD, teams are presented with partial information and they must work to fill in the gaps. In many ways, the immersion simulates a real life version of the case method providing insight on how students deal with ambiguity and uncertainty.

These are a few suggestions to keep in mind as you interview students to learn more about their FIELD immersions as well as different skills they can bring to your organization.

– Kendall Borges, HBS Career & Professional Development

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HBS FIELD 2 – A good sneak-peek into consulting

One of Harvard’s most interesting experiences during the first year of the MBA is FIELD 2. FIELD 2 is a program where students work in small teams to complete projects for companies operating in emerging economies around the globe. In my case, this meant being paired with five unknown classmates in a trip to Malaysia.

I was incredibly lucky. We were going to work with the global partner AirAsia X (our client), one of the most successful airlines in the world which, to the astonishment of the whole industry, has made low-cost long-haul flights a reality. I was very interested in the assignment because I had worked for Airbus as a project manager before coming to HBS and was familiar with the industry. However, I must confess that I was skeptical of the whole FIELD 2 concept: How much work can really get done in 10 days in the field, regardless of our US preparation? Will we really deliver value?

“Don’t worry, Yolanda. This will be like consulting: you are going to be amazed at the intensity of the experience”- One of my team mates, a former consultant, said when we landed in Kuala Lumpur.

And it was true.

My first surprise was to see was how open and collaborative AirAsia X was in its way of working: We had to solve a problem in limited time and therefore they made sure that we had access to all the resources we needed. Small meeting with the chief of marketing? Of course! Problems in understanding technology? Let’s ask the relevant engineers. Data on consumer insights? Sure! In other jobs, access to these resources is usually a limiting factor. As “HBS student consultants”, it became a matter of asking the right questions to gather the right information. The collaboration and partnership atmosphere helped us have a great start.

Getting to understand the real consumers was also a challenge. Interviewing passengers and realizing their actual needs, turned upside down part of the assumptions we had before arriving in Malaysia. Second consulting lesson then: make sure to get customer feedback early and that you don’t get lost in theory. Thankfully, this also went well.

As days passed I was not so optimistic though. Our team analyzed the data and tried to extract conclusions, but the first analyses did not answer our questions. Step by step we tried to understand what was going on: small financial model, excel data filtering, hypothesis validation with data… We were trying without success, and that made me nervous. However, by the end of our stay the pieces of the puzzle started coming together and the picture became clearer.

My consultant friend was not so surprised: “Yolanda, this always happens. The amount of work is substantial and at the beginning it seems that you won’t get to anything valuable… But the responses appear in the end if the work has been done properly”.

Before leaving Malaysia we made our final presentation to the CEO. He was satisfied with the results, happy to receive a fresh perspective and thinking about implementation and next steps. It felt great to have such impact, helping in the understanding of customer behaviors that the company didn’t know before, and setting it more prepared for improved financials with our project. The best part for me was working in the team. If I had been lucky with the client, I had been even luckier with the team. Spending so many hours with smart and fun people, getting to learn from them, and being so coordinated while still having such diverse backgrounds was fantastic. Overall, FIELD was a beautiful consulting experience that has reaffirmed my desire to work in consulting for the summer. Great work and great team.

– Yolanda Anton-Perez, MBA 2015

A Passion for Consulting and Entrepreneurship

Kristen Jones HeadshotIt’s crazy to think my first year of Harvard Business School is over. It was one of the most enlightening, and most challenging, years of my life. I learned so many new things – how to value a business using a discounted cash flow analysis, how to compute a customer’s acquisition cost, and how to determine whether a strategic acquisition makes more sense than contracting out for services, to name a few. As I embark on my internship with Deloitte Consulting, I am incredibly thankful for the year of training I’ve received; I can’t wait to start putting some of the skills to good use!

I came to business school knowing I wanted to learn more about two fields: consulting and entrepreneurship. HBS has been great for a lot of reasons, but for me the main one is that I received hands-on experience in both areas through Harvard’s new FIELD course. FIELD, which stands for Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development, is a three part course that is meant to help HBS students transfer the knowledge we receive in the classroom to the real world. During the second part of the course, we were all assigned global partner companies who asked us to help them come up with new products or services to address their most pressing concerns.  Working with my team in Chile, I gained valuable insight into the life of a management consultant – so much of the work is about listening to the client’s needs and managing expectations – and I’m incredibly happy I learned these lessons while still in school.

FIELD 3 was fantastic because it taught me some very valuable lessons about starting a business. The startup my team launched, Rentern.co, has done well over the past few months and I look forward to seeing it grow. However, I am still excited about consulting – I see this as an opportunity to continue learning about new industries and to strengthen my business acumen.

As I begin my summer with Deloitte’s New York office, I can’t wait to see what industry I land in and what sort of project I’ll be working on. Before we started, Deloitte asked us to indicate what sort of work we were interested in doing. After a full year of school, learning about every industry under the sun, you’d think I’d have a handle on what type of project I wanted, but the truth is I can’t wait to take on another new problem with an industry I know little about. That, to me, is what makes consulting fun!

Now be forewarned: client confidentiality will mean I won’t be able to share specifics about the company or provide great detail regarding the project, but don’t worry – I’ll have plenty to share regarding the experience (like traveling four days a week…we’ll see if I’m cut out for it!).

Until then, enjoy your summers and I look forward to the next post!

– Kristen Jones, MBA 2014

Running into Summer!

Amanda Post 1
At Nike in South Africa with my FIELD 2 team

As I look back on my first year at HBS, one of my most memorable experiences was the international FIELD project. I had the incredible opportunity to travel to South Africa and work with a company that’s been a part of my life since I learned to walk. A lifetime athlete, I have a long history with Nike – my first basketball shoes were Nike, I crossed the finish line of my first half-marathon in Nike running shoes, and my favorite yoga pants now sport the famous swoosh. Like the five other HBS first years on my team, I was honored to help Nike think about its strategy to grow access to shoes and apparel in Africa. The experience was so rewarding for me, I vowed to put every effort I could into finding another way to work with Nike. Using the knowledge and skills I developed working with the South Africa team, I interviewed for the Nike World Headquarters internship in the Corporate Strategy & Development group – believing my prior work as a consultant and my passion for sport would be a winning combination. As I prepare to fly to Portland for the summer, I’m thrilled to accomplish three things: to better understand the role of an internal strategic planner, to use the new skills I’ve developed during my first year, and to make a valuable impact in a company that’s left such a positive mark on my life. I suppose I should confess to one more goal – I’d love to leave with some awesome new shoes, too.

– Amanda Burlison, MBA 2014