Harnessing The Power Of Harvard’s Global MBA Classroom

Sneha Biswas, left, and her friend in the Harvard MBA program. Courtesy photo

On Sneha Biswas’ first day of HBS classes, she made a new friend.

Biswas, who was raised in India, immediately clicked with a Pakistani woman in her MBA class when the pair realized how close their backgrounds were — despite the long history of enmity between their two countries.

“Culturally, a lot is similar between India and Pakistan, such as family values, food, ambitions, and socioeconomic backgrounds,” Biswas says.

Her friend’s stories of fearless ambition, bold choices, and the struggles of being a woman in South Asia all resonated with Biswas. “When you meet someone from the same region as you, it feels comforting,” she says. “Like in many developing countries, being a female deprives you of some choices; you’re always a minority and you have to fight for opportunities, which begins to feel normal when you’re doing it so repeatedly, but it’s not.

“Thankfully, both of us had progressive parents.”


Sneha Biswas: “The kinds of conversations you can have, personal ambitions, and your value system is what brings people together.”

Biswas learned early in life to connect with people from multiple different backgrounds.

Her mother always pushed her to learn outside of school while growing up. Aware of the limited exposure a small town offered, she was pushed to read books, follow the news, and frequently talk in front of people in different situations.

Her mother had the foresight to teach Biswas what would be relevant in the next decade. This eagerness to learn outside of school led her on an interesting career path prior to attending HBS — and it took her around the globe.

Following her science and engineering undergrad at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur, Biswas landed a role at Teach for India, which works to build educational equity across India. Then, she took a job as a chief field geophysicist at Schlumberger, where she stayed for eight years. There, she led offshore operations and exploration on ships in the Gulf of Mexico, Kenya, and Somalia. Nearly four years in, she transitioned to a global technical sales manager role in London, England, and eventually moved to the company’s headquarters in Houston, Texas to become the company’s strategic marketing economist.

Through this experience, she gained friendships with people from all over the world, such as Saudi Arabia, China, and the UK. “Most of my friends are from faraway countries, yet they’re all pretty similar” she says. “At a certain point, everyone begins to look alike, which was a big revelation for me.”


For her, HBS was another way to experience a global learning experience — this time, through academia. “The MBA classroom composition is very carefully designed,” she says. “Diversity of nationalities, professional experiences, and gender are all taken into account.”

Through opportunities to travel through HBS’ field courses, she gained even more exposure to diverse people, cultures, and perspectives.

“I went to Shanghai, China for my field course, and many of my friends went to Brazil, Morocco, Tanzania, and other places,” she says. “This experience helped me to understand how business runs in different parts of the world.”

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