DI Student Spotlight: Libby Hoaglin

HBS Class of 2017. UC Berkeley alum, ex-Googler (2007–2008), former Facebooker (2008–2015), and native Californian braving east coast winters for the first time. Spent the summer at Greylock Partners focusing on consumer health and consumer robotics. Looking forward to being back in California after graduation.

What role does culture play in building a new company?

The mission of Harvard Business School is to educate leaders who make a difference in the world — but there are so many ways to define what it means to be a leader. To me, the most powerful thing that the HBS experience affords is the chance for each of us to step back and ask ourselves: “what kind of leader do I want to be?”

Coming to HBS, I was most excited to dive into the academic experience headfirst, to plunge into a variety of cases across many different industries and learn about the unique ways that protagonists addressed key challenges inside their organizations. I found, though, that the most thought-provoking things I learned actually came outside of regular class discussions and happened in conversation with my fellow classmates. Here, I’ve been able to interact with individuals that I may not otherwise have had the chance to meet. Importantly, I have had the opportunity to gain clarity about my own personal values, which have ultimately helped to shape the thing I’ve been most excited to learn at HBS: what leadership means to me.

How have social media influencers changed how companies communicate with their customers?

Platforms like Twitter and Facebook have allowed individuals to connect with companies and brands more directly and personally than ever before. Instead of making a lengthy phone call to United Airlines Customer Service to discuss my luggage lost en route from Newark to San Francisco, I can quickly log on to Twitter and connect with @United instantly — and publicly. Whether you are a “social media influencer” or just a regular person, you have more power than ever before on social media. It is imperative that companies consider how individuals are communicating with and, importantly, about their brands online. One option a company could take is to avoid social media altogether — but online conversations will persist, whether or not the brand is there to listen in.
 
 It is more important than ever before for companies to take an active role in shaping these conversations. Whether it means finding a way to handle customer service issues, taking a proactive approach to complaints, or offering exclusive content and “special promotions” through social media, companies must develop a strategic and thoughtful online presence that is responsive, authentic, and empathic in its interactions with consumers.

Libby Hoaglin (HBS ’17) is a member of the Digital Initiative Student Advisory Board. You can follow along with her next great thing here.