AHEAD OF THE CURVE by Philip Delves Broughton


Two Years at Harvard Business School
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What it takes to become a Master of the Universe (aka, an MBA).

Broughton, sophisticated Paris bureau chief for the London Daily Telegraph, figured he needed a change. Learning accounting might be just the thing, he thought. So he entered Harvard Business School, class of 2006. There, the naïf in matters commercial joined a student body largely composed, it seemed to him, of McKinsey alumni, military veterans and earnest Mormons. He took the dodgy but requisite personality test and assiduously devoted himself to macroeconomics, entrepreneurship, operations management, regression analysis, spread sheets, growth projections and, of course, leadership. All around him, student industrialists, pretend hedge-fund chieftains, pubescent investment bankers, acolyte venture capitalists, pretend Gordon Gekos, Rupert Murdoch wannabes and eager beavers channeling robber barons—classmates the author treats seriously and with respect—acquired the slogans, buzz words, jargon and acronyms considered de rigueur accessories to the HBS Master of Business Administration. Broughton summarizes the history of the school, first of its kind when founded in 1908. He reviews the ubiquitous case studies and depicts the learned profs and puissant guest speakers who invariably promoted a passion for challenge and leadership. A naturally proficient writer, now facile in matters financial, the author asserts that he enjoyed his two-year stint. Yet he had the faintest suspicion that the “transformational experience” HBS sold was missing something in the way of humanity. Faculty and visiting autocrats of the boardroom preached that family always came first, but these pundits and plutocrats never followed their own advice. The astute Broughton (sole member of his class without a job at graduation) reveals much about a place that caters to smart students who seek a path to wealth beyond Trumpian dreams of avarice.

A discerning tour through the vaunted Hogwarts of capitalism.

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59420-175-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Penguin Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2008


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