Chocolate-coated Strawberries at Hermès…
Divya Surana '15
Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 9:30am

The first semester starts with a whirlwind of activities, which make you realize how lucky you are to be at Columbia Business School, and the following months are C-R-A-Z-Y!

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is real. For most of us, this is our last experience as a full-time student and it’s easy to get carried away, like I did, and want to get involved in absolutely every activity possible. At any time you will be deciding between multiple events that you can attend. Managing those with the core curriculum is stressful but not impossible. The most consistent advice I received from my lovely Peer Advisors (which I hope to become soon) is that you can’t be the best at everything. Academics, social life, career, and clubs are all vying for your attention – so focus on the most important goals you wish to achieve from the MBA and make them a priority. The rest will fall into place…

As a J-term student, I can happily push back the focus on career till August and instead devote my time to clubs and academics in the spring semester. One of my favourite clubs is the Retail & Luxury Goods Club (RLG) and the first event I attended was a Corporate Classroom at Hermès’ headquarters in NYC (also the same day as my Statistics midterm!). We learned about Hermès’ strategy directly from senior management including the President & CEO, Robert Chavez, while we snacked on giant chocolate covered strawberries. It was an experience that I will cherish forever. The fact that he spent half a day with us and personally took us on a tour of their flagship store on Madison Avenue was incredible. Similarly at the RLG conference we had the Presidents/CEOs of Cartier, Hudson’s Bay, Bonobos, Equinox, and Nanette Lepore answer our questions on the “retail revolution”.  A few days earlier we listened to leaders from Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, and Maclaren talk about digital marketing.

Undoubtedly, the impact of the CBS community and our NYC location play a significant role in the constant and powerful access to senior leaders from every industry. The tough part is deciding whom you want to meet! 

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