An Opportunity to Connect

Henry Giwa ’21 grew his network through his participation in Harvard Business School’s Virtual Venture in Management program.

By: Meghan Kita  Thursday, July 16, 2020 10:55 AM

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Henry Giwa ’21

Henry Giwa ’21 learned about the Harvard Business School’s Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP) from a mentor he’s had since high school who’d participated in it. Ordinarily, SVMP is a week-long educational experience held on Harvard’s campus for 160 students from groups that are underrepresented in business schools and in the corporate world.

COVID-19 necessitated moving the program to the virtual space, which allowed organizers to accept more students—about 1,000—for the 2020 Virtual Venture in Management  (VVM) program. Of those, more than 700, including Giwa, are now part of a GroupMe chat in which participants swap knowledge and share information about scholarships and job opportunities for first-generation students and students of color.

“Just because things went virtual, it’s not taking away from the networking opportunities,” Giwa says. “If anything, it’s making them stronger.”

Giwa, a finance major with minors in business administration and political science, attended the virtual sessions in June over his lunch break from his full-time, remote internship with Bank of America’s advisory development program. 

The organizer of both SVMP and VVM is the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration Anita Elberse, whose expertise is in the business of entertainment, media and sports. Some of the sessions reflected that, such as Monday’s case study of several marketing contracts offered to basketball player LeBron James early in his career and Friday’s capstone session with special guests Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, and his wife, the singer Ciara. The midweek sessions brought in Harvard Business School alumni of color and SVMP alumni to discuss their experiences in business school and after it.

While Giwa isn’t sure whether business school is in his future—a bigger priority is obtaining his certified financial planner and chartered financial analyst certifications—he knows he wants to apply for SVMP when it’s offered in person next summer. More immediately, he’s planning to meet some of the New York City-area VVM participants he connected with on GroupMe in person.

“My networks are very strong now,” Giwa says. “I’m continuing every day to connect with more students.”