Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
A revealing insight into HBS, a crash course in business and a self-help book for your career all wrapped up in one!
on 27 November 2008
Having done a business degree I picked this book up out of curiosity more than anything... is the much-vaunted HBS really all its cracked up to be? Having read this brilliantly written and perceptive book I was left half-wanting to enroll tomorrow and half-hoping to never set foot near the place.
Broughton gives a candid and insightful eyewitness account of what HBS is really like. He paints a vividly beautiful picture of Harvard itself, making it sound more like a high-end country club cum boutique hotel than a university. His stories of the people he comes across there are often funny, sometimes sad and occasionally acerbic. I suppose its to be expected that the place where "W" did his MBA would be a machismo-fuelled goldfish bowl full of Spring Break jocks chasing big money careers. But what struck me beyond this is how the individuals who didn't want to drink vodka from an ice luge or go into investment banking were somehow made to feel like outsiders - a pointer perhaps towards why Wall Street is currently eating itself.
However the expose of HBS is only partly what this book gives its reader as reward....
Firstly, if you're new to business then by reading this book you'll get a crash course into how industries and economies work, written in an easily accessible style which reflects the authors journalist background and his own lack of business knowledge prior to enrolling. The famous HBS technique of teaching through case studies does indeed provide a powerful vehicle for learning and Broughton shares much of what he himself studied during his time there.
On top of that what I found most rewarding about Ahead of the Curve is that without overtly trying it made me think long and hard about what I want from my own career and by extension of that my own life. By following the author's own journey of career discovery you find yourself asking the same questions. In a world where its all too easy to become consumed by chasing your ambitions (and the cash that comes with them) it was refreshing to be able to reflect on this using the non-judgemental perspective that Broughton offers. To hear that the leaders of E-Bay, Google as well as numerous investment banks and law firms have taken decisions to the benefit of their careers but to a cost in other areas of their lives requires pause for thought. They didn't always regret the trade-offs (although I got the distinct impression that Meg Whitman did) but the fact they were aware of them was probably enough
Broughton leaves you having made choices about his own life that he probably didn't forsee when he started out at HBS. On balance I felt that his time at HBS had been a good thing, in part because of the knowledge and skills he acquired around business. However this was all-the-more enriched by the perspective it had given him and for the subsequent choices he made when, having finished his MBA, he largely turns his back on the direction that the majority of his fellow students choose. I haven't changed own my life as a result of reading this book but I maybe now go to the office everyday with a slightly healthier perspective on who works for who.