Manager Spotlight: Akanksha
Dara Li headshot
Dara Li
April 8th, 2019
First in a series of employee spotlights, I interviewed Akanksha Sah, the Managing Director of The Academies at Harvard.

Hailing from Southern California, Akanksha Sah is a pre-law sophomore at Harvard studying philosophy and government. She is interested in child advocacy, specifically with reforming the adoption and foster care systems. Outside of HSA, she is the External Relations Chair of The Harvard Undergraduate Legal Committee, a group focused on public interest law.


Why did you join HSA?

I joined HSA on accident. Freshman fall, I came into Harvard wanting to join three activities: a community service group, a student group, and paying job. I thought that HSA was just going to be a one semester job for my Freshman fall. It wasn’t until I got through three interviews in HSA’s recruitment process that I realized that HSA was a full fiscal year commitment. By that point, however, I was so bought into HSA’s mission and realized what a cool commitment HSA would be. Similarly after my first term at HSA, I thought I would leave to pursue a sophomore internship at a legal firm. But my experience at HSA was so compelling I couldn't bring myself to leave.


Why did you choose to return to HSA instead of pursuing a legal internship?

It was a tough decision. One of my college advisors once told me: “Don’t try to do law school in college. Do the things you can’t do in law school in college and leave law school for law school.” Following that advice, I decided to commit to trying unique experiences.


What positions have you held at HSA?

During my first year at HSA, I was Head of Business Development at Campus Insights, a UI/UX Research Firm. I was talking to companies, trying to get clients, and talking to higher ups at large firms. My favorite part of working at CI was that since it was a newly acquired agency, I was able to help build the company and set the infrastructure for future years.


I am currently the Managing Director at The Academies at Harvard, which is HSA’s newly founded brand. When I learned that HSA was building a new agency called The Academies at Harvard, I decided that I’d love to be at the frontlines of shaping that as well. The Academies at Harvard’s mission is to brings motivated high school students together from all over the world in learning about business, technology, politics, and medicine. I manage a team of three student managers and the instructors that teach for the 21 week-long summer academies. The Academies at Harvard also has a shorter weekend program that travels around the globe with past programs in Houston, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Switzerland.


What new agency do you think HSA should start or acquire in the next 5 years?

An ice cream truck. I’ve been told once that we tried and lost half a million dollars. But I still want an ice cream truck agency.


What is your favorite part of HSA?

My favorite part of HSA is its focus on education and providing experience for students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience running a business. It’s hard to enter the workforce as undergradutes because employers always demand experience. HSA is the place to get your foot in the industry and get that experience. It’s crazy that HSA spends an entire semester paying you to “train” to be a better employee, which is bizarre for college students. It’s like instead of going to college and paying tuition to learn, HSA pays you to learn. HSA selects for passion and hustle instead of prior experience and skills. HSA trusts its employees so much - where else can 18 year olds talk to PMs and Heads of UX at large tech companies?


To learn more about Akanksha, connect with her on LinkedIn or reach out to her at akanksha.sah@hsa.net.