“To educate, empower, and inspire Harvard College students with meaningful employment opportunities and hands-on business experience.” If you read that statement to 100 Harvard students, I would be extremely confident in saying that none would recognize it. Therein lies the problem that my organization faces.
My name is George Guarnieri, and I serve as the Managing Director for The Harvard Shop at Harvard Student Agencies.
The previous statement is the mission statement of Harvard Student Agencies (HSA), the largest student run business in the world, employing 673 undergraduate employees. The Harvard Shop is a subsidiary of Harvard Student Agencies, and it hosts the employment of 110 plus hourly employees.
I joined HSA during my second semester of freshman year. I joined at the recommendation of my roommate, who knew I was interested in business, but not necessarily sure of what field I wanted to enter. I started out as a manager at HSA Cleaners and Dorm Essentials, HSA's most well known and community facing business.
After staying on for the summer, I decided that I was learning a tremendous amount and wanted to continue my involvement with the organization. I felt truly invested because I knew that I was working for a real company, and the stakes seemed so much higher as a result of that. I decided that I wanted to gain higher level strategy management experience, so I have had the privilege of leading a team of 10 managers.
I think that HSA is one of the more unique opportunities I have pursued in my lifetime. I have always felt that I've had an entrepreneurial spirit, so having essentially having been provided with the keys to my own business has been incredible. My own preconceptions about what it was like to manage a team, grow sales, operate on a day to day basis, etc. have been challenged deeply.