Pranay Harsh, Wharton School Learning things I never knew I needed to know

I had of course expected to see a variety of classes across accounting, marketing, strategy and finance in the core Wharton curriculum but I was a bit surprised when I first came to know that we’d be taking a quarter-long class on legal studies and business & public policy. However, much to my delight, this class has been one of my favourite so far.

Up to this point, I think that I hadn’t paid much attention to the legal aspect of running a business, believing that such things would be best left to the legal advisers. However, this class highlighted particularly well why I needed to change my mindset.

In short, I left knowing that it is the business strategist’s responsibility to take into account legal ramifications of all strategic decisions that a business undertakes. This class highlights why I believe that business school can be extremely valuable for those who don’t yet have formal training in the field – it reveals to us the “unknown unknowns” that we should know.

The second half of this class introduced an even more interesting topic – how should businesses interact with and present themselves to non-market stakeholders. In particular, we learned how to formulate a strategy to interact with stakeholders such as activists, the media, government and beyond.

Before taking this class, I had the completely wrong idea of how I would interact with these stakeholders if I were leading a business. However, after this class, I feel confident that I have learned a variety of valuable frameworks to interact with the stakeholders mentioned above. Moreover, I’ve also become more aware of the strategies that others are using as business leaders.

As many such leaders have come to speak at Wharton, I’ve been able to identify moments when these speakers have used the above strategies to some degree and I feel that I’ve been able to absorb their message with a more objective perspective.

All in all, I’m glad that this class has reinvigorated my desire to take more classes that may lie outside my direct areas of interest because I know that I may find many such classes that teach me things I never knew I needed to know.