Online Students Reunite at Harvard Business School for First Ever Gathering

HBX ConneXt closing session in Burden Hall

BOSTON—Earlier this month, nearly 500 students from more than 20 countries gathered on the Harvard Business School (HBS) campus to meet their classmates from HBX online programs and visit the Harvard Business School campus, most for the first time.

The occasion was HBX ConneXt, a first-of-its-kind event hosted by HBX, Harvard Business School’s digital learning initiative, which created an opportunity for students from the HBX online programs to meet and build stronger relationships with each other and with HBS faculty members at Harvard Business School.

Nitin Nohoria
Nitin Nohoria

HBX ConneXt offered a full day of academic exploration and community-building for HBX past and current participants. It was also an opportunity for the HBS faculty and administrators that developed the first HBX offerings to meet their students and welcome them to Harvard Business School. The HBS team included Prof. Bharat Anand, faculty chair of HBX and creator of the CORe Economics for Managers course; Prof. Jan Hammond, creator of the CORe Business Analytics course; Prof. V.G. Narayanan, creator of the CORe Financial Accounting course; Prof. Clayton Christensen, creator of the HBX Disruptive Strategy course; and Patrick Mullane, executive director of HBX.

“Today is about community, a chance to nurture relationships,” said Anand, as he welcomed attendees in a packed HBS auditorium during a morning session. “The story of HBX is still being written, and you will help shape that narrative.”

Bharat Anand
Bharat Anand

Anand described HBX’s origins from an idea about how to leverage technology to extend the School’s mission of educating leaders who make a difference in the world. He also explained how the design of HBX was rooted in the School’s famed case-method pedagogy. Some of these principles – active learning and peer interaction – sparked online and offline collaboration that eventually inspired HBXConnext. “Online going physical – it’s not something we ever imagined,” he noted.

After opening comments, three HBX students shared their stories and best practices with attendees through a moderated panel. “As I moved forward in my career, I realized that in order to be successful in any organization, I would have to contribute, and to contribute I had to learn,” said Carlvin Dorvilier, a past participant of HBX CORe. “Being able to speak the language of business in job interviews helped me land a dream job at Tumblr.”

HBX ConneXt attendees had the opportunity to participate in faculty-led case study sessions in Harvard Business School classrooms. They also participated in breakout sessions in the Harvard University Innovation Lab that included hearing presentations on the MBA program, having their resumes reviewed and professional headshots taken, listening to new research from Professor Christensen’s Forum for Growth and Innovation, and participating in conversations in an “HBX Innovation Room” about new content offerings and formats.

The closing session for HBX ConneXt included remarks from Professors Hammond and Narayanan, as well as a panel discussion about the future of online education led by Prof. Anand with Anne Dwane, partner and co-founder of GSV Acceleration; Chip Paucek, CEO and founder of 2U Inc.; and H. Lawrence “Larry” Culp, former president and chief executive officer of Danaher Corporation and currently a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School.

“Talent is widely distributed, but opportunity is not,” said Dwane. Focusing on HBX, she said, “The more opportunities people have to discover and be discovered creates a level of engagement among peers that supports the realization of potential as individuals.”

When asked about the future of online education and how it would be viewed by employers, Paucek noted that while online programs are increasingly viewed favorably, participants in HBX courses can “play an important role in helping make online education even more mainstream. Your energy, intellect, and the quality of Harvard Business School’s digital offering can help encourage even broader acceptance of online education.”

In a closing session, Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria took questions from ConneXt attendees, covering a wide range of topics, from the future offerings of HBX to ways in which the School can help facilitate the HBX community.

“In the end, we want to have impact with the education that we offer, said Nohria. “Our goal is not just to inform people. Our goal is to allow them to be transformed and make progress in achieving the dreams of their own life. To allow them to become leaders who make a difference in the world.”

HBX is currently accepting applications for summer cohorts of HBX CORe and Disruptive Strategy with Clayton Christensen.


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