In a proud weekend tinged with a hint of sobriety because of the current economic crisis, Harvard Business School celebrated its centennial this past weekend. What was a yearlong celebration of the school’s centennial ended with the three-day HBS Global Business Summit.
The summit was attended by a wide variety of business and government leaders, from Bill Gates to Jeff Immelt to Meg Whitman to India’s finance minister. And while schools normally have to campaign to encourage their alumni to attend on-campus events, HBS’ centennial boasted a waitlist of over 250 people. By all accounts, it was a terrific celebration of this important institution.
But it was not all caviar and bubbly. On his Financial Times blog, Stefan Stern recounted how the crowd could not avoid discussing the current financial turmoil. HBS Dean Jay Light opened the proceedings with a serious address, pinning the blame for the current turmoil squarely on the same leaders that HBS produces. While the focus of the event was squarely on HBS and not on the markets, current events were very much on the top of everyone’s mind.
It will be up to HBS and other top business schools to dig deeply and decide how they will evolve their philosophy for training business leaders in the future.