Meet The MBA Class Of 2023: Kristina Brown, Harvard Business School

Kristina Brown

Harvard Business School

“Curious, people-oriented, relationship builder, strategic, fashion and style-obsessed.”

Hometown: Kingston, Jamaica

Fun Fact About Yourself: I thought I was going to be a doctor until the end of my senior year at Duke. After taking every premed course and even the MCAT, I decided to change course and follow my passion for style and fashion. After graduating, I surprised my family and myself by moving to NYC with no job or fashion experience!

Undergraduate School and Major: Duke University, Cultural Anthropology 

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Chanel, Brand Marketing Lead

What word best describes the Harvard Business School students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Impressive, both as people and professionals. Throughout the application process, I was blown away by how eager to help the alumni and current students were. Despite their many obligations and responsibilities, they were generous with their time which made a lasting impression on me.

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? The case method puts you in the seat of the CEO or general manager facing a significant business challenge. It’s a teaching style that forces you to distill a complex issue, make a decision, and communicate your thoughts effectively to others. This is a vital skill set for any CEO and manager, and the HBS classroom is a great way to practice for life post-MBA.

Aside from your classmates and cases, what was the key part of Harvard Business School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? With my long-term goal of founding a retail company, I was inspired by HBS’s focus on entrepreneurship, specifically the courses and resources from the Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. A few of my favorite retail entrepreneurs like Jen Hyman (Rent the Runway) and Katia Beauchamp (Birchbox) are HBS alum and the companies they started as students have made profound impacts on the fashion and beauty industries.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Harvard Business School? I’m excited about quite a few things at HBS. In terms of student clubs, I’m looking forward to joining AASU (African-American Student Union) and the Retail and Luxury Goods Club.

When you think of Harvard Business School, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Transformative. After two years at HBS, surrounded by trailblazing professors and classmates, I’m confident I’ll grow not only as a business leader but also as a person. I’m really looking forward to learning all that I can from the many experiences I’ll have and the people I’ll meet throughout my time.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment in my career so far was founding the first Black Employee Resource Group (ERG) Chanel, the Black Employee Collective. After the death of George Floyd, I started the ERG to provide Black employees a safe space for us to find community and an avenue to drive change within Chanel. It was exciting to see the group grow by 400% over the course of this past year, and witness new relationships between employees from all over the country. Through the BEC, I interviewed trail-blazing women like Nikole Hannah-Jones and Dawn Porter, making space for tough conversations about racism and racial equity.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? Because of COVID-19, I worked remotely from Jamaica and was able to spend more time with my family than I have in the last ten years. Being away from the office pushed me to reassess my priorities both professionally and personally, and was a salient reminder that who and what matters to me outside of work shouldn’t be treated as secondary to my career.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I decided to pursue an MBA to develop the financial acumen and leadership skills needed to become a successful founder and CEO. An MBA will help me better understand how to build, manage, and influence teams to effectively drive change within organizations. In the short-term, I plan to become a management consultant to further hone my problem-solving and analytical skills. Through consulting, I hope to get a breadth of experience in the retail space and become a thought leader within the industry.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, Duke, Kellogg

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Harvard Business School’s MBA program? Be confident and don’t downplay your strengths. In the application process, it’s easy to be hyper-focused on GPA and test scores but always remember that you bring more to the table. Use every part of the application to reveal more about you and your unique story. HBS wants to know who you are, so use the entire real estate of your application to show them!


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