C’est le provisoire qui dure (“it’s the makeshift that lasts”). Nestled near the end of the case that RCs were assigned for Friday’s BGIE class, this adage was a thought-provoking highlight amidst a dense and challenging account of Bretton Woods and the liberal world order spanning 15½ pages (plus 14 exhibits—ECs, don’t you miss BGIE?).
At HBS everything moves so quickly that we can often feel as though many aspects of our lives are provisoire. RCs will this week take their BGIE midterm, a shocking reminder that the semester is flying by. Many have recently secured their summer internships or are hoping to pin them down by May, but will those turn into a long-term career? Friendships that are just beginning to solidify among RCs will, in just a year, become the ones that are currently causing ECs pangs of sorrow as they think about leaving HBS. One of us is deep into rehearsals for the HBS Show at the moment, but those will be finished in little over a month. (A shameless plug while we are at it: save the dates! Performances will be on April 8, 9, and 10.)
It can be discomfiting to reflect on the makeshift nature of our lives, so what to do? Maybe we can embrace it. If it now seems that our world is always in flux, has this not always been the case, although the HBS bubble perhaps magnifies that truth? In the grand scheme of things, even those aspects of our lives that seem permanent are fleeting.
This week, churches around the world will observe Ash Wednesday, a day on which Christians reflect on their mortality. Many other religions also emphasize the transitory nature of our lives. The best response to this reality is to make the most of the time that we do have in places such as this one. Knowing that to some extent all our experiences are makeshift, what will you do with this particularly provisoire period in your life?
That question was surely on the minds of our forebears at this School as they, too, navigated the whirlwind that is HBS. Therefore, we can end where we began—with a maxim in French. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (“the more things change, the more they stay the same”).
Gabriel Ellsworth (MBA ’20) came to HBS from HBS, where he worked for five years as a research associate, most recently as a casewriter with a faculty member in the Strategy Unit. Before working at Harvard, he managed grants at Tenwek Hospital in Bomet, Kenya. He read English literature as an undergraduate at Yale, where he also studied Japanese and French. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Harbus and a performer in the HBS Show. As a young boy, he fantasized about becoming a novelist, but he quickly realized that he did not actually have any ideas for novels.
Ryo Takahashi (MBA ’20) originally from Japan, is a management consultant and writer. Prior to Harvard Business School, he worked as a Project Manager at the World Economic Forum (WEF) and was a Senior Associate at McKinsey & Company. Prior to these roles he worked at the Economist and the Japan Times. His writing has appeared in Time magazine, the Economist, the Japan Times, and the World Economic Forum, among other outlets. He received his B.A. in Economics (with Distinction) from The University of Tokyo and was also a Rotary Scholar to the London School of Economics.