Learn about HKS Executive Education from faculty and alumni. More information at http://bit.ly/2Cxe7Ii. Transcript below.
VOICE-OVER: There’s just so much drive and energy and motivation here. You see how excited people are about what they do.
AKASH DEEP (SR LECTURER IN PUBLIC POLICY): It is an intense experience, it’s almost an exhausting experience but we want it that way.
GABRIELLE DOLAN (HKSEE ALUMNA): After a day and a half, I thought, “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. This is going to be different.”
PETE ZIMMERMAN (LECTURER IN PUBLIC POLICY/SR ASSOC DEAN FOR STRATEGIC PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT): What’s special about this place is a chance to engage with people who’ve committed their lives to public service and who have a common interest in advancing the public good.
DEBRA ILES (HKS EXECUTIVE EDUCATION SR ASSOCIATE DEAN): The people who come to our programs are already seasoned professionals with the kinds of jobs where they can make a difference for their country or their community. They are ready to learn and very excited to be here.
DOLAN: It truly was the most challenging leadership program I’ve done. Because of the diversity in the room, you’re hearing things that you just wouldn’t normally hear. Hearing those stories has been amazing and inspiring.
ZIMMERMAN: When we started executive education in the 1970s, the core idea was to bring together the expertise and experience—the deep, deep functional, granular knowledge that people have in government and the nonprofit community and combine that with the best minds in economics and politics… history… and a wonderful synergy will happen. And that, I think, over time will prove to be the core idea of “exec ed.”
SOLOMAN OBANGE (HKSEE ALUMNUS): The chance came for me to look for a program in the United States. My first choice was Harvard. I had done training at other places but I was looking for a wider perspective, a global perspective that I thought this would be an opportunity to sit down with my counterparts from different parts of the world and exchange ideas.
DEEP: The typical program that we run has about a thousand years of experience in the room: fifty participants with twenty years of experience. Bankers, lawyers, government servants, elected officials—all in the same room. Typically this set of people are sitting across the table in the real world situations but here is the chance where they all sit on the same side of the table and teach each other.
HANNAH BOWLES (SR LECTURER IN PUBLIC POLICY): Watching that flame ignite, and the relationships grow and the mutual support networks blossom over the course of the week is always a very powerful experience. Many of them really do stay contacted and they cheer each other on in very meaningful ways.
DOLAN: Creating some really strong relationships, and what I now know will be ongoing friendships, has just been an amazing experience. Walking back to our accommodation, my colleagues would go, "Stop. Stop.” And I’d go, “What?” “We’re at Harvard.” On the last night, I said, “Will you stop doing that?” And then I went, “No, actually don’t stop doing that—it’s pretty cool.”
DEEP: We do understand that all of our participants’ time here is very valuable so we try to make every minute worthwhile and that means almost all of our participants saying they worked harder in these few weeks that they were here than probably they’ve ever worked before.
DOLAN: The days start early and you’re not only in the classroom together but you’re having breakfast together and having lunch together and having dinner together. And the relationships that form, the discussions you’re constantly having, reinforce all the training.
BOWLES: The need to make what we do professionally relevant and useful, I mean that is just demanded by the executive education participants.
DEEP: Everything translates into, “How does this work in the real world?” So instead of taking a set of academic concepts and then trying to apply them, here is a set of applications which we then step back and bring the insights of theory and academic research into trying to deal with these problems.
ZIMMERMAN: At the end of the experience, these are people who will be back in the office on Monday. And if we’ve done our job and they’ve done their job, there will be some different things happening on Monday morning.
JOSEPH SCHMITT (HKSEE ALUMNUS): My job is to go back and implement the concepts and techniques of the procedures I learned here at Harvard. Learning for a week, going back and employing what we’ve learned for those 90 days and then coming back for the next class, to me that’s what’s most impactful.
ILES: People do find it very inspiring to come back, be refreshed in their commitment to a life of public service and be in a classroom filled with other people who have made the same choices. It’s actually at the very core of what we do and a huge part of why our programs are so successful.