Building a Stronger & More Inclusive Community

The Harbus sits down with the tenacious trio from the Student Association who are responsible for adding more color to the HBS community to get an exclusive scoop on what is in-store for the rest of the 2016/17 year.

As the Chief Community Officer (CCO), Deepika Thakur (DT), is passionate about making a long lasting impact and shaping the culture of her community. Stemming from her previous experience working for a start-up in Dubai, where she was challenged by her colleague to “do something” about the drastically changing start-up culture, she took up the challenge of shaping the community experience at HBS because the vision of Libby Leffler and LaToya Marc (SA 2016-17 co-Presidents) resonated deeply with her beliefs.

As she was busy coordinating the first TGIF, the petite but fierce Deepika reflected on the overarching vision that ties all communities event that her team helped planned for the rest of the year: “HBS can be a confusing cacophony of activities where often times you will have to weigh the tradeoff between your time and the benefits gained. To borrow some finance jargon, we believe that we can create a higher return on your invested time by creating greater common benefits for the community. We’re also very conscious to make our campus events inclusive based on multiple dimensions, such as affordability, timing, types of activity and therefore expand the boundary of inclusion beyond common interests and social affiliation.”

Broadly, the community events focus on fun and engaging campus activities and meaningful community service. And to help bring the vision to life, Deepika draws the support from Adzmel Adznan (AA) and Zhihan Ma (ZM) as VPs of Community.

“I remember talking to Deepika at the end of RC year about the lack of community engagement beyond the standard section experience. Furthermore, there’s very little interaction between ECs and RCs and a lot of the social experience happened outside of campus, either through treks or group travels. While these are part of social interactions that students come to expect at HBS, we firmly believe that there is no reason we can’t recreate some of this magic on campus,” commented Adzmel.  As an International implanted from Malaysia, Adzmel also feels strongly about creating a more engaged international community at HBS.

Zhihan, who focuses on community service offerings, reflected on her motivation to be directly leading the SA’s service initiatives. “As the social impact rep for my section last year, I experienced the excitement and challenges of organizing community service events on campus. The SA is a great platform to leverage all the resources and ideas across the school to make things happen on a greater scale.” The focus for community service this year is to bring people with diverse backgrounds together through impactful initiatives. It also helps, occasionally, to put things in perspectives by stepping outside of the HBS bubble and seeing what’s going on in other parts of Boston, in other people’s lives. “After all, NPV and cycle time are not the only things a business leader should care about!” quipped Zhihan.

The Harbus: So how has the feedback been so far?

DT: The SA has in fact been hearing great feedback this year from the students including both ECs and RCs. RC Field Day had one of the highest satisfaction ratings among all the orientation activities this year. ECs told us that they really liked having Instagram cutout props, a live DJ and a photographer at the RC Carnival last semester. Students also liked that we are experimenting with food options such as ice cream, candy floss, popcorn, and more. Feedback has been positive about the frequency of events too.

ZM: All our community service activities have also been fully subscribed to and that has encouraged us to do even more of these than we had planned earlier.

AA: The common feedback I always received during TGIF is “why are you always running out of beer/white wine?” which I guess is a good indication that the events were well received by the community! We’re trying our best to meet the demand for events like TGIF but we also want to stretch our budget so that we can also provide great variety and frequency of events to the community.

DT: And yes, all this great feedback makes us want to work harder to serve the community!


The Harbus: So you’re off to a great start! What else can we expect throughout the year?

AA: In the fun and engaging campus event category, the students can expect a few more TGIF-like events as we try our best to work with the weather. We also have a couple of sponsored TGIFs and collaborations with other student clubs in the coming weeks. At the end of October, we’re planning an inaugural Fall Carnival so please look out for more details about that in the coming weeks. We’re also planning to attract more food trucks to be on campus, small social events such as game nights, movie nights, and a few other social options throughout the year.

DT: And we’re also collaborating with the Sound Society to throw the first ever Daybreaker. This is something that we’re excited about and perhaps could go down into the annals of history as one of the great HBS traditions.

ZM: We have a three pronged approach to service initiatives this year; new school-wide service activities to let students branch out of their section and get to know other students with common interests, on-campus service that requires minimal time commitment such as the blood drive, and streamlined events offering to foster collaboration among SA, student clubs, and section leadership for a more impactful contribution.


The Harbus: All that sounds fantastic, we wish you all the best in creating a stronger and more inclusive HBS community.

DT: Thanks for giving us the chance to share our vision for the community. We believe there is no standard community experience that each student should have at HBS. Therefore our role as the SA Community team is to create opportunities for students to personalize their HBS experience. This way students can pick and choose those events that resonate best with them and meet like-minded people from across sections, or they can choose those events that help them go beyond their comfort zone and thereby meet new people. All the while making their own HBS community experience.

If you have any other feedback regarding community experience and events on campus, please feel free to email us at