McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68
London Business School | Ms. Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
IU Kelley | Mr. Fortune 500
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.2
N U Singapore | Mr. Naval Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthtech Venture
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Columbia | Mr. Senior Research Analyst
GMAT 720, GPA 3.58

The Reinvention Of Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria (Photo by Susan Young. Courtesy of Harvard Business School)

A couple of years ago, Nitin Nohria co-authored a Harvard Business Review article entitled “The Seven Things That Surprise New CEOs.” The Harvard Business School academic wrote the essay after several years of teaching and observing newly appointed chief executives who came to Harvard for a two-and-one-half-day workshop.

When Nohria penned the article with HBS star professors Michael Porter and Jay Lorsch, Nohira had no idea that he would soon assume a CEO-type role himself—the deanship of the most powerful and influential business school in the world. Now a year into his job, Nohria concedes that he has indeed been surprised by the unrelenting demands of the position.

“I used to be horrified at the lives of these CEOs who lived every day in 30-minute increments meeting with different constituents,” he says with a laugh. “Most people had to learn the job. Nobody was ready for it until they got it. It is a job that you grow into. It’s not a job that you are ever ready for. Some would say it’s ironic that I should be surprised and yet in many ways I had that same surprise.”

Surprised? Maybe. Unprepared? Hardly.

Within 12 short months since becoming dean of the Harvard Business School last July 1, Nohria has racked up accomplishments that would have taken some B-school deans a decade or more. They include:

  • Crafting and then communicating a new agenda for the school known as the five Is for innovation, intellectual ambition, internationalization, inclusion, and integration (See related story: The Five Priorities of Nitin Nohria).
  • Putting the leadership of the world’s most prestigious MBA program in the hands of an iconoclastic master teacher whose appointment raised eyebrows.
  • Pushing through significant changes to the MBA program against the concern by some that he was moving too fast.
  • Bringing in a record of women–39%– in his first entering class of MBAs.
  • Raising millions of dollars in donations, including a $50 million gift from India’s Tata Group and its philanthropic interests.
  • Creating task force groups to study everything from the school’s recruitment and retention of female faculty members to its disclosure policies on potential conflict-of-interests among faculty in the wake of the film Inside Job.

To some, the pace seems dizzying. “If you are a scholar of change management, you might shake your head and wonder whether it’s feasible to change so many things in an already well-run institution,” says Tom Eisenmann, who teaches entrepreneurship and heads up the elective curriculum at the school. “But we’ve made significant progress against all of them.”

FRESH FACES AND SWIFT CHANGES SHAKE UP THE OLD GUARD

At an institution known to gain comfort in conformity, Nohria has shown an eagerness to assume unusual risks, on both people and the flagship program for which the school is known. Some HBS old-timers were puzzled, for example, when Nohria named popular marketing professor Youngme Moon as the chair of the school’s MBA program, the first woman to hold that prestigious post. Though Moon has long been an exceptional teacher, she herself doesn’t have an MBA. She earned her PhD in communications–not a core business discipline–and perhaps more crucially, hasn’t hesitated to speak her mind.

On her personal website, Moon notes that Harvard “is an institution that was built on the backs of alpha males and even today the place seems to chew up junior faculty just for the fun of seeing how far it can spit them back out.” Such directness might have banished her to the doghouse in earlier years. Nohria concedes that when he announced the appointment, “A lot of people looked at me and said ‘really?’”

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.