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We Can Be Heroes: How These Illustrious HBS Alums Would Change History

Chuck Davis

CEO of, Ex-CEO of, HBS '86 I think if the United States or the western Allies were first in creating and owning technologies that included GPS and mobile phone transmission, then in 1939 the beginning of Germany's advance into what became World War II could have been averted. Thirty million people died including innocent millions transported by mobile killing vans and then trains to concentration and death camps. I have a hard time today coming to grips with the horrendous mass scale crimes that could have been prevented. Technology solves problems and we see this mostly for our everyday utilities. But saving lives, preventing conflicts, and saving innocents is where I would spend time -- past, present, and future.

Gurcharan Das

Acclaimed Author, Ex-Head of P&G India, Hbs AMP '91 The standard recipe for making a poor country rich is to export labor intensive, low-tech manufactured goods. It transformed East Asia, China and South East Asia into middle class societies. In the early 1960s it was becoming clear to the world that Japan was creating a huge number of jobs based on the export of toys, shoes, and simple manufactures. Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore saw this and quickly followed suit. All of them went on to become first world countries. The countries of South East Asia also followed this model to become respectable middle-income economies. China is the latest and it was so successful that it became the world’s factory. India missed this bus. It is hard to blame Nehru because he a product of the socialist age, looked eastwards. Indira Gandhi sneered at the World Bank’s suggestion in 1968 that India might learn something from Taiwan and Korea. Instead, she nationalized banks, committed other lunacies, and India lost a whole generation. After 1991, the reformers did try to emulate the Asian model but the overhang of bad socialist policies and red tape defeated them. This (read: BJP government elected in 2015) is the first government to make a determined attempt to fix the manufacturing ecosystem and make it easier to do business. If I could go back in history I would have adopted the Japanese model in the 1960s and the rest would be history.

Jim Breyer

Founder & CEO of Breyer Capital, Partner Emeritus at Accel Partners, HBS '87 I would go back only to January 1, 2016/stay in present. I am passionate about Human Assisted Learning and artificial intelligence representing a venture capital/investment opportunity over the next decade that will provide greater returns than did social networks in 2005 and the internet in 1995.  It is truly a magical time to be an entrepreneur and investor in Human Assisted Learning foundational enterprises.

Jonathan Bush

Co-Founder & CEO of Athena Health, HBS '97 I would never go back in history to change anything. Each tragic development is incubated by layer upon layer of contributing factor that made conditions ripe for tragic events. Our calling as humans is to pick the narrative we inherit up and ride it to a better place. Dig in our edges, keep our balance, open our heart, choose our battles, and leave a slightly better set stage for those who come behind. I don't bemoan the bad events of the past, thank god for them. The make your enormous calling to make the world better than before a little easier and the path (at least the one not to take) a little clearer

Sid Yog

Senior Lecturer at HBS, Founder & Managing Partner of Xander Group, HBS '04 Instead of focusing on the past, we should look to the present and think about the things we need to change today to shape our collective future. As Longfellow said, “Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act, act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o’erhead!”

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