Harvard Business School Online changed my life forever. After completing Management Essentials and learning about general management, psychological safety, and team management from world-class Harvard Business School faculty, I became passionate about management and its related topics.

A deep understanding of implementing strategies, plans, and projects helped me establish my own company, Speakers Alliance Canada. Management Essentials inspired innovative thinking and helped me accelerate my decision-making and take goal-oriented action.

After the course, I joined the HBS Online Community’s Global Chapter as a Chapter Organizer. The Community makes me feel like I’m part of a big, successful team that thrives on sharing knowledge and helping business professionals achieve success through networking and virtual or in-person events.

Participating in Connext 2021

This year marked my first time attending HBS Online’s Connext conference, which was full of surprises, new challenges, networking tables, brilliant academics and speakers, performers, and, of course, Community Members who became part of my daily life. Connext is an excellent way for HBS Online participants to network and share knowledge and experience.

The conference started with opening remarks from HBS Online Executive Director Patrick Mullane, who later held a fireside chat with Senior Associate Dean Debora Spar. Attendees then had an opportunity to watch live and pre-recorded lectures and interviews with Harvard Business School faculty and participate in case discussions led by Professors Nancy Koehn and Sunil Gupta.

I met hundreds of business professionals who’ve taken different HBS Online courses and heard their views and perspectives. I facilitated a networking session through the Global Chapter, where I shared information about the Chapter, including featured speakers, authors, events, and initiatives. I also had the pleasure of delivering a lecture about disruptive entrepreneurial strategies through the “PDC Formula.”

Clayton Christensen’s research, articles, and books significantly impacted me. I became passionate about disruptive and sustaining innovation. After studying and researching the topic, I came up with the PDC Formula, which stands for Plan, Disrupt, Communicate. The “Communicate” component combines internal communications through psychological safety and external communications.

Some examples of disruptive innovations I share during my lectures include Amazon, the World Wide Web, Uber, Speakers Alliance Canada, and HBS Online.

HBS Online is designed to bring the Harvard Business School classroom to you. You stay active in the class by engaging in a new activity every three to five minutes and interacting with peers from around the world. You exchange ideas, experience, and knowledge, virtually. My classmates were from Norway, Italy, Africa, India, Asia, Germany, the US, and Canada, and we still keep in touch today.

HBS Online’s lessons are brought to life through cases that put you in the shoes of business leaders, which was my favorite feature. I believe that HBS Online is a very well-planned and executed disruptive business model. That’s why the first component of my PDC Formula is P: Planning. HBS Online is easily accessible, affordable, and convenient. That’s the core of disruptive innovation.

Management Essentials - Get the job done. Learn more.

As I mentioned earlier, HBS Online has forever changed my life. I founded Speakers Alliance Canada, an international speaking and consulting firm, after taking Management Essentials. The company represents select Certified Speaking Professionals, business consultants, authors, executives, academics, and coaches from the UK, US, and Canada.

I’ve heard the same from fellow participants: If you’ve taken one course at HBS Online, your mindset, views, and business skills will be changed forever. Most of my classmates and Chapter Members have taken multiple courses and are qualified to receive a Certificate of Specialization, which was one of the highlights of Connext.

Why Your Journey Doesn’t End with One Course

Your journey at HBS Online doesn’t start and finish with one course. It’s a whole chapter with new experiences, new connections, brilliant academics, and like-minded business professionals. You grow and develop essential skills every day.

My company’s slogan is, “Sharing knowledge to succeed.” That’s why I lead the Global Chapter and loved joining Connext 2021. Knowledge sharing matters at HBS Online, and everyone is willing to listen and share.

If you have a family, full-time career, and other commitments and question whether to take an online course, I want to share my experience briefly. The HBS Online Community is a place where everyone is welcoming and ready to help you achieve your desired goals. This is a place where networking, community, and support really matters.

When I started Management Essentials, I was pregnant while raising a toddler and balancing looking after my family with other commitments. HBS Online taught me that nothing is impossible. Anyone willing to grow professionally can achieve their goals—no matter how impossible it feels right now. If I can do it, you can do it. We’re a community of like-minded professionals who are ready to connect, support, and guide you in the right direction.

I hope to see you in the Global Chapter. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and, as always, we’re celebrating together. Join us!

If you’re interested in networking with like-minded business professionals, join the Community. For more Connext-related content, explore our past coverage of the event.

Gwen Mdinaradze

About the Author

Gwen Mdinaradze is the president and CEO of Speakers Alliance Canada, an international speaking and consulting firm. She took the HBS Online course Management Essentials.