Things I Recommend One Bring With Them To Business School.
Perhaps the best part about being in the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is that I’m constantly learning. Everyday I’m learning about business, the world, and learning about myself! I have the extraordinary opportunity to interact with fascinating people — and get to ask them all kinds of provocative questions. I love it because I’m curious — I always have been. In fact, I’d say a thirst for knowledge may be the most important part of being successful at a top MBA program.
But, it’s not just curiosity that will lead you to success in business school. I learned early in my first year that if I was going to make it out of this program I needed to develop a thick skin. Teflon-like, really. Because, you’re dealing with a culture of highly opinionated, extremely competitive, A-type personalities, who all have an opinion … on my lack of hair, my clothes, the comments I made in class, what I do out of class, you name it— they probably have something to say about it.
Bottom-line: as a underrepresented minority in a top MBA program, you have to be willing to deal with a lot of nonsense. The only way to handle it is to know exactly who you are, and remember, the noise is just that— noise!
And last — but, not least: My Financial Industry Twitter feed. It quickly keeps me up to speed with the day-to-day changes in the business world. Combine that with my Capital IQ account, and I have everything I could ever want to know about a company, every bit of historical data on the economy, every last morsel of information on everything from tax rates to share buybacks is now, just a click away. So, if you don’t have some type of news feed (Yahoo! Finance, Google Alerts, etc), I would strongly recommend you get one before you return back to school.
Starting My Post-MBA Career in Seattle (Starbucks Coffee)
Man? I’m excited to say that I’ve finally decided on where I will be “taking my talents” (Haha!) post-graduate school this coming May. It really was a tough task in going through all the different companies that I interviewed with last semester and making the best choice for the start of my new career. That being said…
… I am proud to announce that I will be heading back to Seattle, WA and working with the fantastic partners at Starbucks Coffee Company.
Here’s something else that you might find interesting, but over the Christmas break, I thought it would be a good idea to get store experience so that I have a better understanding of not only the company and it’s product. I also think this will give me better insight into where there might be areas of opportunity to improve operations and also to have a better understanding of some of the challenges the stores face on a day-to-day basis. So, starting today, I will be working as a barista at the Starbucks store on my campus here at Wisconsin School of Business! I think it will be fun and insightful. Not to mention, something interesting to write about in this last semester of business school. Check back here if interested.
All in all, I am just excited about the opportunity and looking forward to the chance to work with a fantastic brand, extremely bright partners, and fantastic leaders. God is truly awesome! Can’t say that enough.
“Thank you” to all of you who have supported me throughout these past two years. I definitely appreciated your encouragement and support. One more semester! *crossing fingers*
Final Note: Check out my past summer at THE Coffee Company HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnHeu0aK3Eg&list=PL4DD39D3B9D8389D3&index=1
Thanks again, everyone! Onward.
MBA Case Competition: Sony Corporation (San Diego, CA)
End of 1st semester of my 2nd year was a BLUR! Not only was I juggling classes and class projects, but I also was interviewing and doing career fairs in Chicago and Indianapolis. While times were pretty hectic, I did meet some great people along the way from a variety of companies and schools and to me that was an invaluable opportunity that one does not get a chance to do everyday. One of the other things that I am extremely proud of was competing in the 2012 Sony Corporation Strategy Case Competition this past November, which took place in San Diego, CA. It was a great opportunity and really tested what I learned over the course of this past year with MBAs from other schools.
First, I must mention that I did sign an NDA and therefore will not disclose any details about the case itself, but I will share my thoughts on the experience.
The competition was a high-caliber study amongst MBA students from all over the US. I learned about the opportunity from an email sent to me by the MBA Veterans group out of my hometown of Chicago, IL. I was very attracted to the uniqueness of the competition based on the fact that I would apply as an individual and be paired randomly with students from other schools if I was accepted. Plus, I wanted to have a couple case competitions under my belt as senior management at my summer internship all raved about their case competition experiences during their MBA trek, and I wanted to have those same experiences.
The beauty of the competition was that not only are you figuring out recommendations for a very complex case but also going through the quick group accustoming process all within less than 8 hours (sort of like consulting). This is an area where I felt I needed more experience in.
When I arrived in San Diego, I was quickly reminded how much I missed the Southern California area. I spent nearly two years of my life there through travels and the United States Marine Corp. I really love San Diego and could easily see myself living there at some point of my life. Once I got to the hotel, I quickly unpacked my things and started going through my financials and investor reports on Sony and the electronic industry to make sure I was familiar with whatever question they were looking for us to tackle the next day. I then went to sleep rather early as to ward off any effects of jet lag or fatigue from the class week back in Wisconsin.
The next day, we were shuttled from the hotel (where all the MBA competitors were being housed) to Sony HQ outside of San Diego. The building is amazing and showcases a lot of the history of the company right when you walk inside the door. While I was on the bus, I made myself familiar with as many of the people on board as possible. There were people from all different schools and backgrounds. From Ivy league schools all the way to local schools like Rady School of Management in the San Diego, CA area. Ironically, one of my Consortium cohorts from the University of Michigan was also participating in the competition. It was good to see a familiar face. One of the things I love to do is meet and connect with new people. This competition, not only was going to give me the opportunity to employ my skills from this past semester, but also a great opportunity to make connections with other extremely bright MBAs. Although it was an extremely fast and short weekend, I am confident that I now have added value to my network.
The team at Sony was very impressive and made sure to show all 40 students a good time. Every one of them was very friendly and welcoming. Several of the students from Wisconsin MBA were now members of the Sony team in some capacity. All came from the case competition. There was also several Consortium alums in their ranks, including their Sr. Director of Talent Recruiting, who after a few conversations I learned has worked in numerous fields within HR and was extremely bright and accomplished.
The Sony team also made sure that no contestant walked away empty handed as every student brought home a Sony git bag with a few goodies placed within it.
After an introduction to Sony and a quick introduction to our teams, we were whisked away to begin working on our recommendation for the question being posed to each of the 10 different teams. The rooms were filled with all of the essentials one may need to complete the project, including a HUGE white board space.
I love white boards!
All in all, it was a tremendous experience. Not only did I get to work on a project that Sony was considering implementing, but I got a chance to learn about a company that I had very insights on initially. It seems like a great place to work and who could argue with “Southern Californian weather” (They say it never rains there)!?
My team and I placed 2nd in the competition and definitely made a lasting impression on the company. We also had a post celebration dinner/award ceremony at an authentic Mexican restaurant in downtown San Diego (another thing I miss about San Diego). It was a great time.
Here is my team posing with our Publisher Clearinghouse phony check! Haha!
Do Grades Matter in Business?
Students, b-school officials, and employers discuss whether MBA grades make a difference.
When Jerry Goolsby, who directs the MBA program at Loyola University New Orleans’s Butt College of Business, refers to MBA degrees becoming “largely irrelevant because of dumbing down of the curriculum and grade inflation,” he means business. “I have eliminated any instructor who gives everyone an A, [of] which we had a few,” he says. “We had one professor who gave [almost] everyone an A, but only one student each semester got a B+. I wondered, what the hell did that person do to deserve a B+?”
Many MBAs paint a similar portrait of business school grades, which, they say, just don’t matter all that much. When she evaluates prospective employees, Elle Kaplan, founder and CEO at Lexion Capital Management in New York, focuses on candidates’ passions and professional achievements, rather than their GPAs. “Although it is still important to do well, I believe that grades have an inflated level of importance that does not always translate directly to the workspace,” says Kaplan, a 2005 executive MBA graduate of Columbia Business School. Other MBAs, such as Naresh Vissa and Matt Richter-Sand, also question the relevance of business school grades. “I likely graduated in the bottom quartile of my class, and I think I had the highest starting salary at graduation,” says Vissa, senior producer of the online financial station, The Stansberry Radio Network, and a recent graduate of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. Richter-Sand, founder and CEO of NX Fitness in Los Angeles, initially cared about his grades as an MBA student at University of California—Los Angeles’s Anderson School of Management, but by the time he graduated, he couldn’t have cared less. “The MBA is usually the last educational stop for most of us, and those who focused on their grades exclusively often missed the bigger picture,” he says.
But other MBAs and executive coaches say business students should take their grades more seriously, at least in certain circumstances. “It’s brutal out there. Competition for summer and permanent positions is more intense than ever before. Even students from top tier b-schools are graduating without jobs,” says Roy Cohen, an executive career coach in New York and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide. “Companies that hire are looking for the trifecta: good grades, great experience, and presence. So yes, grades do matter.” But good grades don’t guarantee success on the job, Cohen warns. “Five years out, a stellar student may be a mediocre employee,” he says. In the fields of management consulting and investment banking, which have “the most structured recruiting processes” and adopt a “methodical approach” to identifying talent, GPA is one of the factors that recruiters weigh, says Eric Thomasian, head of product at online video tech startup Blayze in Los Angeles. But in other fields, b-school grades don’t matter, according to Thomasian, a 2012 MBA graduate of and career coach at UCLA Anderson. “Most students who are not pursuing those paths tend to not even post their GPAs on their résumé,” he says. [Read about the best jobs for MBAs.]
Other MBAs say that grades can impact business students if they are either really high or really low marks. If students are at the top of the class, or win an award, they should add that to their résumés, says Ruthanne Feinberg Roth, a partner at and cofounder of the New York-based executive recruitment company, Hudson Gate Partners. “Unless you are one of the two sides of the bell curve, I personally don’t think it matters at all,” she says. Alex Sukhoy, a career coach and adjunct professor at Cleveland State University’s Monte Ahuja College of Business (previously the Nance College of Business Administration), agrees. B-school grades are so inflated that a B+ signals average performance, she says. “Unless a student earned a 4.0, most will graduate on par with their fellow classmates.” That realization hasn’t stopped Monica Giffhorn, chief marketing officer at WeLearn Educational Software and an MBA graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School, from mentioning her 4.0 b-school GPA “front and center” when she has applied for jobs. Prospective employers never asked her about it, she says. [See why one undergrad professor grades students based on Klout scores.] Sandy Arons, a divorce mediator in Nashville, says her academic achievement award from her MBA studies at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management “does look impressive,” but getting jobs has come down to whom you know, not what your grades say you know. “Here’s a joke for you,” she says. “What do they call the person that finished last in their medical school? A doctor. Same goes for business school.”