How I became an entrepreneur by mistake


As RCs move into recruiting season, and ECs face down its home stretch, Agustina Rosenfeld (HBS MBA ’14) shares her experience charting her career during her time at HBS.

There is some truth to John Lennon’s idea that life is what happens while we are busy making plans. But isn’t life better when we set aside time for planning?

Forgive me for stating the obvious: you are not at HBS by pure chance. As HBS students you are all excellent at being two steps ahead in your life, even the most terrible procrastinators on campus are much better at this than the average population.

No matter how much luck might have come in your way, you made it to this top business school because you were able to seize opportunities as they came along; because you were sharp and brave –or even rightfully stupid – enough to go after that dream, to push yourself harder, to stretch and reach out to that wonderful mentor who helped you redirect your career path. For creatures like you and me, a greater life is what happens because we make plans.

But what happens when we are missing the clarity to identify what the next step should look like? What happens when we run out of personal or borrowed plans? Life still goes on… but we feel uncomfortable in the absence of a map, and feel unnerved to discover that our compass no longer points to our true north.

I will dedicate this column to my tale, the tale of a girl who went from “picture perfect” –working at JPMorgan and ready to embark on her HBS experience- to graduating as the 3% without a job offer. How did a girl who graduated magna cum laude in Philosophy while also completing a full-time major in Economics became a woman who, for the first time in her life, did not know which path to follow? When did she lose sight of her direction?

I will bare my soul and share my journey with no intention other than allowing you to learn from my mistakes. There will be little self-praising and a lot more about lucky discoveries. Next chapters will include personal and career faux-pas such us “How I was the living joke as of MBA as Married but Available” as well as “How a to turn a rookie mistake during an interview into a next round pass” and “How to massively fail in an interview but still leave it with grace”.

My main goal is to create a space where, while voicing my own experience, I can channel your concerns, your fears, your anxieties, and make you feel like there is someone holding your hands and telling you “It is ok. It will be fine”. You will notice that there will be a lot of personal and professional anecdotes intertwined, because –let’s face it- life is always somehow messy.

Feeling lost was beyond scary at first, but it turned out to be one of the most liberating and empowering experiences of my life. I don’t think I would have become the happy, fierce, fearless woman I am today if I hadn’t navigated such dark streams.

By no means I encourage you to walk my footsteps. But if you find yourself on such a path, I hope my story encourages you to take the risks that you need to take; that my story motivates you to reach out to the right friends and mentors; that my story makes you feel less alone and more empowered.

Let’s share this journey together and create a forum where mistakes are seized as learning opportunities. A forum where uncertainty and doubt can become a way toward better-informed decision-making processes. A forum where a turbulent recruiting process can be an eye-opening experience. And most importantly to create as space where be learn to laugh at ourselves, because no matter how great over-achievers we might be, we are still humans and make mistakes.

If anything, as a current entrepreneur and a former undecided student I have learnt that there is great knowledge in embracing and understanding the rejections and obstacles than come in our way. And while plans might enable a greater life, make sure that before sketching your next and best version of life, and before outlining the strategic moves to achieve that version, you first set aside time to allow yourself to be lost and listen to your inner gut, as confused as it might initially appear.

Expect to face uncertainty and prepare yourself to be comfortable with doubt, as an even greater life is what happens when we our greatest plan is to become our true selves.