Q. What was your overall impression of AMP?
AMP was a truly unique experience. It combined intensive business curriculum—in finance, accounting, marketing, strategy, and other critical business topics—with a special learning approach. From the building to the schedule, from the case studies to the living groups, every piece of the experience was intentionally designed.
AMP has broadened my perspective in so many different areas. I have expanded my knowledge in global business practices, and also become better able to appreciate different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences. It has helped me reshaping how I think.
Q. What was it like to be on the HBS campus for eight weeks?
The campus is amazing. The living quarters, the common spaces, and the classrooms are designed to be very conducive to learning—individually, in living groups, and in the classroom. AMP is the premier program in executive development, and the campus living experience is at that same premier level. Through FaceTime I gave my family a tour of my living quarters to connect them with my experience and to show them that I was privileged to be in an exceptional learning environment.
Q. What are the highlights of the curriculum?
The curriculum really forces you to think, and frankly, it's quite demanding. You might think, "I can do this. I've been to college and grad school." But both the content and the workload are very challenging.
If you put in the effort, you will sharpen the skills and strengths that you already have, and also build skills in areas where you need more work. At first, I took my own work experience for granted, but I found that although I'm in an HR function, I could contribute—in class and in the case study preparation—in other areas like strategy and finance.
Q. How did your living group enhance the learning?
When I first learned about the living groups, I wasn't sure what to expect or how to get comfortable. But once we got past the "getting to know you" stage, I began to see the advantages of working and learning in living groups. Now I realize it was a brilliant way to help us expand our ideas and broaden our perspectives. The living group experience is a very important part of what makes AMP special.
At the office we work in groups all the time, but what's unique about the living group is that it's not about a person's company or job title. Each person brings a different culture and language, different life experiences, and different work experiences. That creates very different perspectives. Working together and sharing all of those perspectives broadened each of us and brought us together as a group.
Over eight weeks, we experienced an amazing transformation in our relationships. We went from being a study group to considering ourselves family. That same family is now a sounding board for me. If I need to ask for help on a particular topic or issue, I can call on the members of my living group, as well as the entire network of classmates. That's an amazing benefit I will not take for granted.
Q. What other aspects of the program stand out?
The faculty were truly exceptional people and exceptional professors, not only because of their expertise and individual intellect and knowledge and research, but also because they understood how to teach and extract shared learnings from experienced executives which is different than teaching younger students. I highly recommend scheduling time outside of class with the faculty to get to know them, whether informally over lunch or in one-on-one meetings. The more we got to know them, the more we understood that they too appreciated being part of AMP. They considered it the best job at HBS and there was a sense of mutual respect between the faculty and AMP participants.
Each faculty member had unique strengths. I loved Stu Gilson's classes, for example, because he was very good at adapting his approach to his audience. Not everyone in the room is from a finance background, so he found creative ways to teach very technical terms, formulas, and principles in a way that everyone could understand.
When I called home, I shared many stories about what happened in the classroom—the incredible level of energy in the room, the way professors engaged us, or how one of them taught a subject in an unconventional way to get across a point.
Q. What advice do you have for an executive considering AMP?
I have 23 years with Walmart. That's a lot of experience in retail and in business. One might well ask, what more can I learn? HBS does a wonderful job of stretching everyone's abilities. Even if you come into the program as a functional expert in finance or accounting, or if you're a CEO—no matter what role you have—I promise you that AMP will take you to the next level.
You should not think of AMP as a training program, or even a development course. Think of it as a way to help develop the future c-suite team in your organization. It's not meant to develop or strengthen basic business skills. Instead it's meant to take exceptional leaders in your organization and prepare them to become successful presidents or CEOs, or run an entirely new venture. That's really a high bar—and Harvard does an exceptional job of delivering against that promise.