Harvard Business School spun itself into a tizzy after reading Philip Delves Broughton’s account of his two years at the school in the recently published “Ahead of the Curve.” Delves Broughton’s criticisms of the school itself are minor (only professors with experience running companies should teach entrepreneurship, grades should be abolished, etc…). His real beef is with the capitalistic strivings of the school’s graduates who can’t seem to hold their marriages together, call their children “strangers” and work 100 hour weeks with regularity. Harvard Business School is a “factory for unhappy people,” Broughton writes, albeit an efficient and well run factory.
As an insider’s view inside an American institution, the book delivers and may be entertaining to any graduate of the school. There are several amusing vignettes in the book, ranging from an account of cross-dressing at the annual Pricilla Ball (recent grads better scrub those pics out of their Facebook profiles, ahem.), the labyrinthine hiring process at Google and the barrage of personality tests the school encouraged students to take.
Venture capitalists will likely chuckle on hearing of Delves Broughton’s Harvard-sponsored trip to Silicon Valley. First there is the careful and sympathetic recounting of a meeting with KP’s Russell Seligman [sic: That’s Russ Siegelman (HBS’89), for the detail oriented]. The investor spoke to HBSers about how many people saw VC as a fast track route to riches, but how it wasn’t really.