Berkeley Haas | Mr. Poet At Heart
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Yale | Ms. Impact Investing
GRE 323, GPA 3.8
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Food Waste Warrior
GMAT Not written yet (around 680), GPA 3.27
Stanford GSB | Ms. Future Tech Exec
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Georgetown McDonough | Ms. Air Force
GMAT 610, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Sustainable Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.86
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Kellogg | Mr. Finance To Education
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Columbia | Mr. Aussie Military Man
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0 (rough conversion from Weighted Average Mark)
Harvard | Mr. Hopeful Philanthropist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.74
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech
GMAT Not Taken Yet, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Analytics Man
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Cornell Johnson | Mr. FinTech Startup
GMAT 570, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Darden | Ms. Teaching-To-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Wharton | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Future Angel Investor
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Wharton | Ms. Software Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.84
Harvard | Mr. PE Strategist
GRE 326, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. FBI To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.85
Harvard | Mr. MBB Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Cal Poly
GRE 317, GPA 3.2
Darden | Ms. Business Reporter
GMAT 2150, GPA 3.6
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65
Harvard | Ms. IB Deferred
GMAT 730, GPA 3.73

HBS Goes Hollywood With Gordon Ramsay

British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay in a promotional video for Harvard Business School’s HBX online learning initiative

It’s not exactly what you would expect from Harvard Business School.

British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay sits in the back seat of a moving car talking about his career with multiple bleeps to mask an onslaught of obscenities –all in a black-and-white, film noir video to promote HBX, the school’s online learning initiative.

The blunt and acerbic Ramsay is the featured star in a new video series launched yesterday (Jan. 10) called DRIVEN to bring greater attention to the school’s quickly growing portfolio of online learning courses. The two-minute-44-second debut clip is subtle in its HBX marketing. Not once is the brand mentioned, other than as an overlay on the screen during the beginning and the end of the video.

The idea for the series was hatched after the school tried to film Scott Cook, an HBS alum and co-founder of Intuit, during a visit to campus. “Our plan was to catch some time with him at the end,” says Chris Linnane, HBX creative director. “We set up a nice interview but we weren’t able to pull it off because he had to leave. We thought wouldn’t it be great if we could just jump in the car and capture him then. And then we thought this could be a very cool, flexible and cheap production model for video.”


The concept? “If you were to randomly share a cab for a few minutes with a high-powered businessperson, what would you ask them?,” explains Linnane. “We then decided to ask these business leaders about an ‘aha’ moment in their careers. Ultimately, we wanted to capture something that was both candid and reflective, something that would give viewers food for thought as they contemplate their own careers.”

In the debut clip of the series, Ramsay recalls opening his first restaurant in London at the age of 33 with an obsession to win three stars from Michelin. Once his Chelsea eatery gained its stars, he says, “it made me stop for five minutes and think, you know what, I’ve made it. But I hadn’t because winning it was one thing. Maintaining it is ten times more difficult.

But the biggest kick in the balls for me was the next day…a customer asking me for tomato F-ing ketchup” to put on what Ramsay called the best sea bass he had ever cooked in his life. “Man, it’s true. Are you kidding me? I just won three Michelin stars. I just cooked the best sea bass in my entire career and you ask me for f-ucking tomato ketchup? Man, get your white sneakers out of restaurant. What a donut!”


In little more than two minutes of monologue, Ramsay is bleeped out at least seven times, with the F-bomb coming fast and furious. In fact, at the end of the clip, he says half-jokingly, “Knowing what I know now, having been cooking for over 21 years, I wish I had learned to cook, swearing f-ing less.” Then, he steps out of the car and away.

Linnane, who a former colleague praises as “the Michael Moore and Steven Spielberg of videography” on his LinkedIn profile, says the bleeped swearing is authentic to who Ramsay is, even if it is unconventional for an academic product. “For me,” says Linnane, “anytime someoone can truly be themselves on camera you are going to have much more compelling content. We are showing his real personality and with that comes passion, depth and some extra levels of interest. It’s a little bit different but I think the content is so strong that it speaks directly to what we talk about and what we teach. It’s okay that we get a little bit extra personality along the way. ”

Linnane says that when the video was filmed in Van Nuys, California, near the chef’s studio, and Ramsay was about to make an exit, he couldn’t get out of the car because the child safety lock was on. “He swore at me, and I see that as a badge of honor. It had nothing to do with the filming. I had done my job well, but I still got yelled at by Gordon Ramsay! That was a good day.”


HBX says it plans to feature leaders from a wide variety of industries including tech, retail, entertainment, education and the government each week through mid-March. “We can just grab people from all these sectors and have them speak to our students,” adds Linnane. As for the subtle promo for HBX, he says that  “we didn’t need to plaster it all over. We just want people to know there is great content there and we didn’t want to over brand it.”

Linnane thinks of DRIVEN as a “series” that if successful will be renewed and go into a second season. He is also working on another series “with a similar vibe, something fun and spontaneous,” he says, that will feature students and faculty.



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.