Understanding the Fundamentals of Business.

As a PhD candidate in applied physics, Jun Song has always maintained a strong interest in business. “Although my undergraduate training focused on science and engineering, I took two years of business courses and completed a minor in technology and management,” she explains. “I wanted to keep learning about business as a graduate student, but it can be difficult to take advantage of opportunities to learn from HBS professors when you are so focused on your research.” Song discovered the “mini MBA” offered by the Harvard Graduate Business Club (a student-run organization supported and sponsored by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences) which gave her an overview of many areas of business. She wanted to go much deeper, however, and apply her knowledge to solving practical problems in business.

In spring 2014, Song received an e-mail from the Office of Career Services (OCS) that described a new program launching on Harvard Business School’s HBX online platform, open to all students at Harvard. The HBX Credential of Readiness (CORe) program is designed to provide participants with a basic general management toolkit and a solid understanding of the fundamentals of business. Built around HBS’s real-world, case-based learning model, HBX CORe covers three essential business topics—business analytics, microeconomics for managers, and financial accounting—helpful in a wide range of jobs and careers.

Curious about the program, Song connected with staff from OCS and attended an information session where two HBX professors introduced the program to interested FAS students. “I realized that HBX was a great opportunity for students like me who want to acquire a deeper and broader knowledge of business,” Song says. She applied and was accepted to the program.

HBX CORe introduced Song to the language of business, giving systematic overviews of each area while providing detailed learning on critical concepts that prepare students to handle real-world business problems. The accounting session, for example, demonstrated how to evaluate a company’s performance by analyzing financial statements, a critical skill when making business decisions. “HBX is indeed a great complement to my graduate study, because now I can combine the knowledge I gained with my analytical research skills to solve complex business problems,” she says. “I believe it will help me significantly in the future.”

Song is focusing her PhD dissertation on the development of portable medical diagnostic devices that deliver faster and more accurate results. She knows that her research coupled with HBX CORe will inform her work going forward. “I have strong interest in both technology and business, so I want to pursue a career that enables me to do both,” she explains. Initially, she plans to seek a position in management consulting to gain more hands-on experience, ultimately working on technology commercialization or business management for technological innovations. “I believe I will be using the knowledge I learned from HBX CORe very frequently. It is absolutely an essential part of my business education.”

HBX CORe Program

Photos by Ben Gebo