How a Harvard MBA became a significant asset for a tech leader

In a recent blog on the Harvard Business School’s website, alumna Ellen DaSilva explained how a Harvard MBA became an important asset for her despite her industry being extremely skeptical of the degree.

Picture: Twitter

“Tech moves so quickly,” she was advised, “it won’t be the same when you return. Taking two years away from the workforce is risky.” Colleagues and superiors were weary of her taking a break for another degree, let alone an MBA. “The MBA isn’t exactly praised in Silicon Valley,” she admits in the blog. Consequently, the stakes were high, but they did pay off for DaSilva, who is now a director at OpenGov, a Silicon Valley technology company, that offers cloud-based software for public sector budgeting, reporting and open data.

According to DaSilva the benefits that she gained from her Harvard MBA were immense. Here is what she liked best:

  • The curriculum is incredibly relevant to all leaders, and will be a gift that continues to materialize through future years, the alumna wrote. “Every day I could walk into the classroom, put myself in the shoes of a case protagonist, and decide exactly what I would do and how I would do it.” She particularly recommended the Leadership and Organizational Behavior class.
  • Business school also helped Ellen DaSilva to search for authenticity. In particular, she mentioned a class called Authentic Leadership Development, as addressing self-reflection, in her eyes a critical part of leadership.
  • However, the most irreplaceable aspect for her were the connections she made during her time at Harvard: hearing perspectives different from her own, meeting people from all walks of life, and embracing the diversity of the student body.
  • Her final words beautifully summarize the community that was built up during the two-year degree: “The MBA has taught me not only how to see many sides of the same problem, but also how important it is to include voices different from my own in every conversation. I feel lucky that I have friends from all walks of life who can continue to teach me in years to come.”

Read more on HBS

Barbara Barkhausen