Title- What They Teach You at Harvard Business School
Author- Philip Delves Broughton
Length- 283 pages
Synopsis (Amazon)- When Philip Delves Broughton abandoned his career as a successful journalist and enrolled in Harvard Business School’s prestigious MBA course, he joined 900 other would-be tycoons in a cauldron of capitalism. Two years of Excel shortcuts and five hundred of HBS’s notorious business case studies lay ahead of him, but he couldn’t have told you what OCRA was, other than a vegetable, or whether discount department stores make more money than airlines.
He did, however, know that HBS’s alumni appeared to be taking over the world. The US president, the president of the World Bank, the US treasury secretary, the CEOs of General Electric, Goldman Sachs and Proctor & Gamble – all were bringing HBS experience to the way they ran their banks, businesses and even countries. And with the prospect of economic enlightenment before him, he decided to see for himself exactly what they teach you at Harvard Business School.
Philip Delves Broughton’s hilarious and enlightening account of his experiences within Harvard Business School’s hallowed walls provides an extraordinary glimpse into a world of case study conundrums, guest lectures, Apprentice-style tasks, booze luging, burn-outs and high flyers. And with HBS alumni heading the very global governments, financial institutions and FTSE 500 companies whose reckless love of deregulation and debt got us into so much trouble, he discovers where HBS really adds value – and where it falls disturbingly short.
Review- So, this is not the type of book I would normally read and I only picked it up because my husband left it lying around, I have no desire to ever get an MBA! I did however, enjoy the book.How business-y this book is varies a little as you go through it. The first hundred-ish pages would appeal to anyone vaguely interested in the world, or academics. After that there is a lot more business chat. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any before that, it’s just that it’s more accessible to non-business types. After another fifty-ish pages the business chat dies down a little.
In terms of the work, I really enjoyed the discussions of the cases, not a lot of detail was given, but it was still really interesting. The other aspects of the classes were far less interesting to me, but I imagine if you cared about business, you would find them interesting. I also really enjoyed the more personal aspects of the book and the wrap-up in that sense towards the end of the book in particular.
Some of the take-home messages from the MBA would probably surprise some people. A lot of people I know make a lot of unkind and unfair assumptions about those with an Ivy League (or Oxbridge education), those are the people that might find some of this book surprising. Other parts will be just what these people expect of those in this environment.
Reading this has made me realise that there are a lot of people in the NHS that would massively benefit from doing an MBA. I won’t go into that or I would be here all week.
So, if you are interested in business/business school, or generally interested in the world this is a decent read. If you usually just read YA, or dislike education, you will absolutely hate this.