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Harvard MBA - Clare Simonis '19 (USA)


Name: Clare Simonis
Nationality: USA
Pre-MBA Education: University of Minnesota (Supply Chain Management, Chinese)
Work Before MBA: I worked for two years at in Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy & Operations group. Then, I spent two years in Fresenius Medical Care’s start up division, working for the president to develop and execute on growth strategy.
Work After MBA / Post MBA Goals: I’m interested in working at the intersection of technology and health / wellness. I’ve had a couple random startup ideas, so I might try to play with those ideas during school!
Program Start / Graduation Dates: Starting August 2017 / Graduating (hopefully!) May 2019

Why did I pick HBS? Several reasons: I was really impressed with the class environment, as well as the resources at HBS and Harvard in general.

Class environment: I went to a class, and I realized how much I loved the case method - everyone seemed incredibly engaged. Learning through discussion, disagreement, and open-mindedness definitely plays to how I like to learn.

Resources: HBS has an incredible amount of resources for their students. In addition to the HBS resources, I was drawn to other Harvard resources on campus, such as the cross-disciplinary i-lab.

What am I most excited about: I’m pumped to be surrounded by an inspiring group of people. I’m also excited about being back in the classroom - the campus / Cambridge area is gorgeous.

What am I least excited about: Re-acclimating myself to winter (I’ve been living in Texas for the past couple years).

In my opinion, HBS provides the most opportunities for MBAs entering which industries/functions/geographies? Given the school’s reputation, I’d reckon people wanting to pursue any industry, function, or geography have a good chance with an HBS degree behind them (hopefully this doesn’t sound pretentious). I am not sure exactly where, what, (who?!), I want to be in 5 or 10 years. I have ideas, but I think the degree from HBS affords people flexibility in choices down the road.

What should more applicants know about HBS? HBS has a very robust financial aid program. It’s one of the more expensive programs, but they offer a fair amount of financial aid to those who don’t come from a high paying (banking type) background. I’d also urge people to apply if they think they have even a remote shot. I was very close to not applying because I thought I’d be met with a “thanks but no thanks” letter. I’m happy I took the plunge!

What am I going to be up to this summer I decided to take this summer to explore a potential area of interest. I’ll be interning on a vertical farm in Jackson, WY (Vertical Harvest), working with the president on growing the business and learning more about the urban farming industry.

Feel free to ask me about…?
Deciding whether or not to apply to business school
Why I chose HBS
My experience during the admissions journey
Applications and interviews
// Once I start the program, I’m also happy to talk about my experience in class, outside of class, in Cambridge, etc.!

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Clare, thanks for posting and looking forward to hearing your thoughts on HBS. What a great summer you have planned in Wyoming too! Share a pic when you get there…

Clare and I discuss her background and “last minute” application tips here:


Thanks, Darren! Looking forward to the summer in Wyoming - will definitely share some pictures and stories of farm!


Greetings from beautiful Jackson, Wyoming!

Several of my friends and colleagues who did full-time MBA programs suggested to spend the summer before school either traveling or exploring an “unconventional” job. It may seem a little silly to forgo additional salary before entering into MBA-debt-land, but it truly is a unique time to have some play time.

So, I decided to do a bit of travel and a bit of job experimenting.

I am spending the summer at a vertical farm (Vertical Harvest) helping the CEO with strategy / business operations. The indoor “farm” has been in operations for about a year, and they’re at the point where they are trying to tighten up their operations while figuring out next steps for growing the business. They sit on a 1/10 acre plot of land, yet they generate produce equivalent to what’s generated on a 5 acre plot of traditional farm land (50x the amount!). They could produce a number of things, but right now their focus is on: microgreens (e.g., sunflower sprouts, other fun little sprouty buggers), lettuces, mixed greens, and tomatoes. My favorite is their wasabi greens.

They have a unique employment model - they employ 16 people with varying abilities. In addition to being committed to providing local food to the community, the company is dedicated to helping employ people who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.

I took a roadtrip from TX to WY… and the western part of the U.S. is bada**. There were several highlights on the road trip up - mostly the variety and beauty in the national / state parks, forests. Each state I hit has ~25-60% of its land owned by the government, so lots of great areas for hiking and sightseeing (excluding Texas… <5% of TX’s land is owned by the government). I really liked White Sands National Monument, Tent Rocks, Bisti Badlands, Durango, and the whole Moab, UT area.

Jackson, Wyoming is amazing. It’s a beautiful area that butts up to the Tetons. My commute to work is a mile and a half walk with incredible mountain views.

If any of y’all are thinking you might want to do something fun before school - DO IT!

Mountain life (Teton National Park - Jackon, WY)

I’m an arch, you’re an arch (Moab, UT)
Stacks on salads on stacks on salads (Vertical Harvest - Jackson, WY)


Love this post, and that’s an impressive arch (former gymnast speaking here…). Can’t wait to visit WY for the first time! How did you connect with Vertical Harvest to set up your internship?


Thanks Darren! I had been working on the arch so glad it’s up to gymnast specs - ha!

I was really interested in vertical farming, but didn’t have any industry contacts so I resorted to cold “emailing.” I researched a bunch of vertical farming companies and reached out with any contact information I could find. Luckily Vertical Harvest got back to me, and they were happy to take a summer intern!