Classes started the other week and I am settling into the busy hum of case studies, student club events and catching up with classmates. Each conversation is a new opportunity to reflect upon my summer experience. Looking back, my time at Danaher was an intense period of learning, action and self-discovery. I got a glimpse of how Danaher operated through the lens of Beckman Coulter, an operating company. I scratched the surface of the healthcare and diagnostics industry and put theory to practice with lots of customer interactions.
The second year at HBS is a wonderful time because we can choose classes of interest. I discovered a newfound curiosity in healthcare this summer and decided to change my course selection to include Healthcare IT. Since my project at Danaher brought me in close working relations with the marketing and sales team, I’ve become very interested in B2B marketing and sales operations. I plan to audit Business Marketing & Sales, one of the classes that focus on exactly that. In the Winter term, I will be taking Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise (BSSE) and General Management: Action and Processes to further my understanding of general management.
As I embark on this next stage of learning and discovery, I am certain that my summer experience at Danaher will provide a valuable benchmark and perspective.
-Gong Ke, MBA 2015
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 had 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
I started my internship search with an amorphous criterion of “something different”. Having worked in high tech and consulting so far, this definition only eliminated two, albeit large industries, leaving still endless number of exciting opportunities around the world. Several company presentations and interviews later, it was clear that I needed to narrow down my focus.
In a conversation with my HBS career coach, she asked me “what would be your ideal internship?” “Well”, I said “perhaps something that allowed me to learn a new industry, strengthen or develop a weak skill… while allowing me to be with my family for the summer.” As soon as I said that, I realized that it was the right fit and reflected what was most important to me. Guided by those criteria, I narrowed down my search to roles in the Boston area that would allow me to improve skills where I was weak or experience marketing, operations or sales.
As luck would have it, I interviewed with Danaher, a global science and technology company with operating companies in many different industries and locations. They had a marketing role open at Beckman Coulter Genomics located in the nearby town of Danvers, MA. I hadn’t heard about Danaher prior to the job search process and wanted to find out more about this company. So I reached out to current and past students who have worked at the company in full-time and internship positions and spoke to my hiring manager at length about their experiences and expectations, respectively. I was impressed by the amount of impact that interns can have and even more so, Danaher was well regarded for developing their associates into senior leadership positions.
By the time I received the offer from Danaher, I was very excited to face the challenge of working in a new industry and invigorated by the steep learning curve that it represented. My hiring manager at Danaher also shared with me the internal process for defining internships and criteria of a successful internship. I appreciated the thoughtfulness that went into the selection and scoping of the internship projects. It was clear that Danaher expected real useful work to be done in the summer which was exactly what I wanted to do!
I accepted the offer shortly afterwards and closed the chapter of my summer internship recruitment, elated.
-Gong Ke, MBA 2015