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Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School
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Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  2,548 Ratings  ·  240 Reviews
Two years in the cauldron of capitalism-"horrifying and very funny" (The Wall Street Journal)

In this candid and entertaining insider's look at the most influential school in global business, Philip Delves Broughton draws on his crack reporting skills to describe his madcap years at Harvard Business School. Ahead of the Curve recounts the most edifying and surprising lesson
Kindle Edition, 316 pages
Published (first published 2005)
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Stuart Nachbar
I have read four “insider” accounts of life at top business schools, three written by Harvard MBAs, the fourth by a Stanford graduate. I read two of these: Peter Cohen’s The Gospel According to Harvard Business School and Peter Robinson’s Snapshots from Hell about the Stanford experience prior to going to business school. I read the third: Robert Reid’s Year One: An Intimate Look Inside Harvard Business School five years after I finished my MBA. Now I’ve read Philip Delves Broughton’s Ahead of t ...more
A nice little memoir of the author's time spent studying for a Harvard MBA before the recent financial crash.

The author's experiences are for me summed up by two anecdotes in particular. The teaching of leveraging up a company with debt not as a strategy that can be pursued in certain circumstances but as a universally right answer and appropriate course of action; and the course taken jointly with the Kennedy School taught by Michael Porter when the MBA approach of being profit focused runs up
Sep 15, 2008 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I didn't work at HBS I wouldn't have touched this book with a 10 foot pole. But I do work at HBS and I know many of the players mentioned in this book and I was there for the stir this book created when it was released. Needless to say the institution was less than thrilled. However, I found the narrator, whose writing a memoir of his experience as a HBS student, very credible and honest. He's willing to admit his own flaws and his own struggles as much as he is willing to expose the perceive ...more
Jun 08, 2009 Aichi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some good quotes to summarize why I like this book:

Hank Paulson:

“Professional happiness would come from being very good at something difficult.”

“The victors are those who made change their friend. (1) Resist the temptation to be a short-termist; (2) Be honest with yourself about what jobs are the right ones for you; (3) Keep your moral compass; (4) Maintain the proper balance between your professional career and your personal life. Do not be career-engineers, but simply learn and grow at every
I.v. Deepak
Mar 08, 2016 I.v. Deepak rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I never wanted to abuse on Goodreads or at-least that's what I decided when I joined Goodreads. But, what the f*king bullSh*t book is this! Everything is so descriptive and no insights what so ever. Glad I realized after reading just 30 pages and then turned some random pages like 100, 130, 180, etc to see if it fits the pattern or not. Very Very annoyed by the book. Strongly recommend anyone with common sense, NOT TO READ the book.
Sep 13, 2012 Kristiana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
I usually enjoy elitist pretentious books, so I was surprised when I didn't really enjoy this book. I went through a lot of "what does it all mean. What will I do in my life as a career?" during and after college. A lot of it. I guess this book helped me see that I'm no longer in that place. I had little sympathy for the British native who decided to get his MBA from Harvard and then struggled with not knowing what to do with his future. It seems like a first world problem.
Relevancy and timing
Jul 18, 2014 Sophia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoyed the first half of the book. It reminded me greatly of my own time at a business school. I was pondering when the author would stop descriptions and tell us already what he really thought of the experience. The second half was full of moralising yet still without a distinct feeling of authors actual position on the matters discussed.
It wasn't until the last pages, that I grew disappointed with ugly double standards.
Worth the read, nonetheless.
May 04, 2015 Vismay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a prospective B-school student, eager to devour the course content of the Harvard Business School, this book comes as a boon. Because it does just that, giving a blow-by-blow account of the curricula of this prestigious institute. But if somebody were to ask me to write such a book, I would readily decline. If you wish to explore Europe, go out and do just that, why study the itinerary under a microscope? That too a one, whose lens are smudgy.

The author is too judgmental and pessimistic for m
May 11, 2011 Robyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Overall, I think this book is a good description of one person's experience at HBS. Like all memoirs, this is a tale of one person's experience, formed by his own expectations, personality, and mindset. HBS, like everything else in life, if what you make of it.

I don't agree with many of the author's opinions - I had a great time at HBS despite entering with the lowest of expectations and serious dread of spending 2 years surrounded by arrogant a**holes, and I enjoyed the digression back to junio
Khánh Trình
Sep 18, 2014 Khánh Trình rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: entrepreneur
Cốt lõi của quyển sách là tác giả không hề thích môi trường học tập ở Havard sau 2 năm ông học tập ở đây. MBA không chỉ là một con đường bạn buộc phải đi nếu như muốn học cách kinh doanh (ngay cả Havard danh tiếng vẫn không chắc chắn sự thành công cho bạn, tất cả vẫn phải phụ thuộc vào việc bạn có đủ đam mê và kiên nhẫn không). Thực tế người kinh doanh giỏi thường không học lý thuyết suông, họ phải kinh doanh thực sự thì mới rút ra bài học thành công cho mình.

Bên cạnh đó tác giả cũng phê bình lố
Mar 16, 2011 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5) What it's like inside Harvard Business School (for someone who's not well prepared)

Just prior, I read The Idea Factory: Learning to Think at MIT, which is a similar project (though Idea Factory is MechE masters student experience at MIT, this one's MBA student experience at Harvard). I think I liked the MIT one better, but both were good about sharing actual problems, interview questions, case studies, so it felt more concrete.

The first half of this one is pretty good, the narrative moves
Harvard certainly is not how I imagined it to be after I read this book. I found that it gives me hope as much as disappointment. I feel hope because apparently I can be Harvard MBA students' boss if I can. It does not really matter which college you are truly from, so many Harvard MBAs are having hard time finding jobs at google, yet my high school friend who is currently in pursuing of her San Diego State University Business bacholar degree is able to get the job with google. Just because you ...more
Michael Scott
Jul 25, 2009 Michael Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I very much enjoyed this ironic and witty account of the experience of graduating from the Harvard Business School (HBS). Mr.Delves finds the right balance between personal and objective (academic) experience, including details on the curriculum, the interviewing and learning experience, and the presentation of the top businessmen who lectured to the HBS studentship. On the negative side, I found the book too long, and the analysis of the HBS school very European-minded (read: focused on social ...more
John Hibbs
Aug 16, 2008 John Hibbs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for the fourth time. As I have matured in my business knowledge, focused on my upcoming transition into the business world, determined what I want out of my life, and seen the disastrous effects of the financial crisis, the more this book resonates. I recommend this book for everyone.

Great book that will be read by business students for decades. Raises serious questions about the role of business schools, capitalism and business leaders in society. Very surprising how insecure m
Ryan Mac
Dec 21, 2008 Ryan Mac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
This was an excellent account of two years at the Harvard School of Business written by a journalist from the UK. I have a business degree from undergrad and have no interest in going back for more but it was still very interesting. I enjoyed his observations about his fellow classmates, his thoughts about the non-US born students (and how they saw many things differently) and his internal struggles between taking a job that you probably won't like to support (but rarely see) your family and wor ...more
Jun 01, 2016 Zahedul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A firsthand account of the business school life from the ivory towers of Harvard Business School. The humorous narrative takes us through the author's two-year journey through different intricate courses, summing up with his core takeaways. The author focuses primarily on the good, bad and ugly parts of business schools in general and HBS in particular. This book can be a good resource for those planning on pursuing a business degree from US, particularly in an Ivy League University.
Nov 05, 2013 Joux rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely witty, it is obvious the author has a great penchant for autobiographical and earnest writing. He also has the same personality type as me so I could resonate with his character's interaction. The book has a good balance of the technical business terms, personal account and feedback of the HBS MBA system. A very light, entertaining and stimulating read.
Jul 26, 2014 Vilmantas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is like a gateway to land of HBS. You can get to know teaching, learning format, what subjects are mandatory etc. I've just got so much from this text - it's great.
Oct 15, 2008 Alana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone considering business school.

As a person considering business school, this was an obvious read for me. A timely insider account is worth quite a lot -- and given the current economic crisis, people definitely want to examine the worth of a Harvard MBA and its role on Wall Street.

Philip Delves Broughton wrote Ahead of the Curve to chronicle his two years at Harvard Business School. He didn't come from a finance background -- in fact, he was Bureau Chief for The Daily Telegraph in Paris -- and he insists that he didn't go to
Mar 26, 2016 Zach rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you ever wanted to go to Harvard but not put in the work, this is a vicarious look at like at HBS (as it’s called) as author Philip strives to get his MBA. Along the way, there are many interesting anecdotes which makes this a worthwhile read.

It might be a little telling, but what I enjoyed the most was the slapdown of some least favorite aspects of what could be any college or recruitment experience. There’s the exposure of the word passion – the best employees have a passion for success. Bu
Pada awalnya, saya mengira buku ini akan sharing tips-tips praktis mengenai bisnis yang diperoleh sang penulis setelah menyelesaikan studi MBA-nya di Harvard Business School (selanjutnya ditulis “HBS”). Ternyata, isi buku ini adalah berbagai macam pengalaman dan kesan yang diperoleh si penulis selama 2 tahun di HBS. Buku ini merupakan semacam liputan, reportase, inside peek mengenai dunia yang ada di dalam HBS. Tidak mengherankan, karena penulis buku ini sebelumnya adalah seorang jurnalis yang s ...more
It is one of the least appealing features of company accounts, and perhaps their greatest flaw, that humans appear only as costs on income statements, never as assets on a balance sheet.

The idea is not to find certainty but to deal more comfortably with uncertainty

Margie Yang - When doing business in as lawless a place as China, it was more important that ever to have a set of values to anchor you. But any business person operating in China over the past thirty years who told you he hadn’t done
The Harvard Business School is considered one of the top programs in the world to get your MBA from. The name alone carries enormous weight, to the point of people and companies begging for your attention after you graduate. Ironically enough, the number of MBAs that graduate every year in the US alone, 100,000, create a surplus of people with top skills. There are not even that many openings for MBAs to fill, and this happens every year.

The author of this book attempts to cover what the experie
Emilia P
Aug 09, 2011 Emilia P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: real-books
First and foremost, the worst offense of business school and its offspring, to me, is their relentless, unapologetic abuse of the English language. You cannot make yourself more important by using big words incorrectly, and you do not have a sense of higher purpose just because you say you have one in 7 different poorly-put-together-ways. It makes me want to stab myself in the eye.

Which is the main reason why I liked this book. PDB is a journalist by previous career, and writes like one. With a
Aug 22, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I'm interested in business, I thought Ahead of the Curve would be a good read, and I was not disappointed. This is the tale of one man's experience earning an MBA from Harvard Business School. The author comes from a background that's different than most of the other students in his class (i.e., he's a family man and former bureau chief of the London Daily Telegraph). This is a book filled with insightful reflections, great writing (it helps to come from a journalist background), and lots ...more
Feb 28, 2013 Kunal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book to give you a good overall perspective on Harvard Business School. One disclaimer I have to say though is that the author went to HBS in 2006 coming in as a former journalist from London at the age of 33 with a pregnant wife and 1 kid already so he has a much different persona than the typical 27 year old single former investment banker coming into HBS.
He does a good job in walking you through his 2 years at HBS and it was truly an eye opener for everyone out there who may
Aug 28, 2013 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in going to business school.
I picked up this book to learn about someone's experience at business school. I can't lie, even though I have no interest in going there, I picked this book partially because it’s about the Harvard Business School (HBS). There were high and lows for this book. The great part is that the author isn't as overtly biased as I expected and not in the way that I expected. What I mean by that is that he has his issues with HBS and isn't afraid to mention them. He goes into life in his Section and the f ...more
David Willem
This could have been a contender. Any pre-the-credit-crunch critique of the world's premier business school from the inside and from any non-capitalist perspective would now be a classic. But Delves-Broughton, like the rest of us, isn't sure enough of his ground to mount a serious attack on the preening behemoth that is Harvard Business School. When you boil it down, it's just a student diary by a successful journalist (Paris correspondent of the Daily Telegraph) who decided to go to Harvard to ...more
Feb 01, 2015 Rahkeem rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. I am seriously considering attending business school and decided to read this book to understand what exactly I was endeavoring to do.

The author does a good job with indicating the not-so-pleasant aspects of attending Harvard Business School (HBS) without coming across as bitter or whiny. At the same time, he does indicate the positive aspects of HBS. The book is written from the point of view of a 30+ year old, former journalist and this is apparent in his portrayal of the
Jan 18, 2016 Justin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Completely different type business book, but also very engrossing. It is the autobiographical story of
thirty-something British journalist (the Guardian), former Head of the Paris Bureau. He had an early mid-life crisis, quit and went to HBS. The book is set in 2006, so the events occur at the height of the
Iraq War and just before the subprime mortgage market crash of 2008/(commonly referred to in Business books and news as the Great Recession).

Full disclosure - I read this book primarily hoping
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I grew up in England, graduated from Oxford University and was a journalist for ten years for The Daily Telegraph and The Times of London. I was The Telegraph's bureau chief in New York and Paris before going to Harvard Business School in 2004 to obtain my MBA. I now live in Connecticut with my wife and two sons."
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“It felt like one of those movies where a bunch of misfits, each gifted in his own way - one in explosives, another in disguise, another in forgery or karate- are thrown together to achieve a dangerous mission.” 0 likes
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