A Harvard Executive Education course…in Mumbai…

So last week, I attended a course conducted in Mumbai by Harvard Business School, for experienced managers and leaders. Was quite a good experience ! HBS has created a full-fledged b-school class-room in Taj Land’s End and this course was a 4-day residential program there. Three profs from HBS, Boston had flown down for the course, 2 American-Indians and one American. All three were high-class teachers with scores of scholarly papers and books written between themselves. So, their coaching was really world-class.

Coaching was indeed more of a challenge given the diverse profile of the participants. Of the 62 participants, 11 were from Africa, 2 from UK, 1 from Japan, 1 from Australia and 1 from the US. Rest of course, being Indians from India. The participants were Principals & Partners in professional services firms (Audit, Tax, Consulting, Law), owners of small-medium services businesses, a few P&L leaders, Business Development Managers, and even P&L-oriented Architects (!!) and Doctors (!!!).

The profs used 13 Case Studies of services firms covering a variety of topics – Strategy, Customer Service Orientation, Motivation, Leadership. The diversity of participation was well-managed by them, drawing in smarter points into the main discussion and weeding out superfluous points,  without showing that explicitly. I think Case Study method is a tougher one for profs than the powerpoint “take it or leave it” method – because you need to not drift astray with “unusual” points raised by participants as well as keep the discussion on track to get the learnings extracted well.

An important point of the course was the interactions that the participants had on the side, in the coffee breaks and over meals. There were at least 20-25 high-quality case studies between us and most of us did well to benefit from quite a few of them, through our on-the-side chats.

There was a bit of camaraderie and bonhomie that was also seen amongst a few of us (unbelievable, given the short period we were together). Possibly, the intense discussions in the class room and the emotionally charged atmosphere of learning lent itself to the building of bonds in such a short time. Let’s see how much of that continues…

All in all, a pleasantly surprisingly value-adding experience for me…better than what I had expected !! You can indeed teach some new tricks to an old…

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