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Summer is Finally Here

June 15th, 2011 No comments

At long last, after nearly a full year taking classes at Kellogg, the summer is finally here. After months of taking core classes, fighting to stay at the top (or sometimes middle) of the curve, attending as many social events as possible, and battling through the recruiting season, we all finally finally made it to the summer and get to enjoy a break from all the hustle and bustle of business school.

For JD-MBAs, this summer is specifically exciting, as we didn’t get a traditional summer last year. With me being the exception, none of the JD-MBAs worked full time last summer but instead spent more time focusing on classes, both at the law school and at Kellogg. So this summer, it’s finally a chance to go out and make a difference in the workforce.

Likewise, my Kellogg classmates are also quite thrilled to be working. To have the chance to test there interests and see what new things they are actually interested in. And in some cases work on changing careers. It’s also a chance to make money again, probably more than many students made before coming here.

In general, a lot of classmates will be going into marketing and consulting. Others will be pulling long hours in the investment banking industry. And others will test their leadership skills in general management positions, start-ups and nonprofits.

Geographically speaking, Chicago is always a popular summer choice. The Facebook group that I administer currently has about 135 people in it, which is the highest of any geography for summers. As you might suspect, New York and the Bay are also very popular choices for summer internships for Kellogg students. Though as you might not expect, places like Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Boston are also fairly popular choices.

Personally, I am staying in Chicago, and I just started one of my summer jobs this past Monday 13th, which was a pretty popular start date for my classmates. Like many of them, I’ll also be working in the consulting industry, and fortunately I recently found out that I won’t be traveling all that much for the summer. For the second half of the summer, I’ll head back to the legal industry again, not only to get more legal experience but also as a way to keep both options on the table for next year.

But perhaps more important for me is the fact that I’ve got a few big picture things on my mind too.  As a 2012 McCormick Scholar, I have the opportunity to do a research project for both Kellogg and Medill. And the idea I have in mind is quite big. Furthermore, I also have an idea that I might undertake related to the JD-MBA program, so check back periodically to see how that idea play out.

Either way, it looks like for me, as well as for a lot of other Kellogg students, the work doesn’t end with finals week last week but instead continues throughout the summer. Stay tuned to hear how the summer turns out.

Top Kellogg Employers From 2000 – 2010

June 12th, 2011 2 comments

Just a few weeks ago I wrote a blog post that discussed where students from Kellogg went to work for the summer and upon graduation.  As a follow up to that analysis, I thought I’d also do a bigger one. This time measuring where alumni have gone not only for the past year but also for the past ten years. While some of the results might be surprising, on the whole most of them are probably things I could have anticipated.

I’ve always suspected that a lot of Kellogg grads go into consulting. But after running the numbers, it turns out that a great majority of alumni do. McKinsey, Bain, BCG, and Deloitte are at the top of that list.

It’s important to keep in mind that this analysis doesn’t take into account where alumni began after school. But instead it measure where they were as of the date of the survey, in 2010. Likewise, it also only captures data from those who provided responses to the survey from the career center. Understanding that sometimes we all get busy, there will certainly be a number of alum that were not able to fill out the survey.

With that said, below is the data collected on alum from the past ten years.

 

A few points of analysis:

1. First, one interesting observation is that the top ten employers account for 28% of all people that have graduated from Kellogg in the past ten years. That is to say, the biggest employers are hiring a lot of students.

2. Second, the consulting industry is far and away the largest hirer of Kellogg students over the past ten years. Of all the students that went to top ten employers, 81% of them went to consulting firms. Not that this comes as a surprise given Kellogg has long been known as one of the strongest schools for those that want to recruit for the consulting industry.

3. Third, of all those that went to consulting firms 73% went to the Big Three consulting firms – Bain, BCG and McKinsey. From an absolute standpoint, that means that about 17% of all the population went to big three consulting firms.  And of those, nearly double went to McKinsey versus the next closest firm, which was BCG.

4. Fourth, it is quite surprising that neither high-tech firms nor marketing firms played a large role in the top ten list, as only Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson represent those functions.  On the other hand, it’s probably likely that the next ten employers are dominated by marketing and tech.

5. Fifth, financial services firms, e.g. Investment Banks also didn’t play a very large role. Two banks made the top ten list – Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch – but combined they have less than 10% of those that went to top ten employers. Perhaps on the surface that’s not surprising because many people don’t consider Kellogg to be a “finance” school. But on the other hand, the finance major is the most popular major at Kellogg.

6. FINALLY – services firms generally, generally accounted for 90% of the top ten employment stats (81% consulting + 9% banking).  This is not a large a surprise.  Top MBAs have flocked toward these careers for year, as these firms not only pay more but they are also seen as being launching pads into other careers.

Operations Management

June 11th, 2011 No comments

How many people should be answering the phone at an American Express call center on Friday night? How many people should be working the Apple Genius Bar in downtown San Francisco on a Saturday afternoon in July?  And how many lines should be open at any given time in Whole Foods in Manhattan on Sunday night when everyone is grocery shopping for the week? All tough questions, right? Well, while I can’t tell you the actual answer to any of these questions, I can tell you that these are all things we thought about during my Kellogg Operations Management class this past quarter.

Just two days ago, I finished my last core course at Kellogg. While on one hand it was it a sigh of relief to be done with my core class, on the other hand it was also a bit sad, as many of the core courses (and professors) have also been good. This is definitely true of my Operations Management course taught by Professor Shin.

Now I know what you’re thinking! How can Operations be one of the most interesting classes? After all, at Kellogg, most people leave business school to work in Marketing, Finance, or Strategy; not operations. Further, if you had Professor Hennesey for Marketing, and Professor Mazzeo for Strategy you probably have a pretty high bar for the intro Operations class in the spring.

Fine. On the surface good question. But one thing I’ve learned at Kellogg is that there are a lot of great parts of the experience that you might not have thought about until you were exposed to them. For example, there are a lot of great jobs out there that many of us didn’t think about before getting more exposure to them at Kellogg. And likewise, there are also lots of great classes and professors that may not be at the top of the bid list.

Far too often at business school, we get caught up in the flare of certain things. Certain classes. Certain majors. People flock in large numbers to the strategy courses. They bid enormously high for to best marketing classes. And they organize their schedules to that they can fit many of the finances classes into their schedules.

But there are definitely concrete examples that perhaps this isn’t always the best strategy. That other functions, specifically operations, in some cases might be even more important to business success.

But don’t take it from me. Take it from some of the best companies on the planet that focus on having impeccable operations systems.

Apple maintains a world-class operations department to execute on its innovation strategy. For example the company’s introduction of iPhone and other new products show us why inventory management and quality management are important, especially during new product introductions.

Dell also spends a lot of resources managing its inventory. Dell was one of the first companies to keep its inventory at minimal levels and instead use the mass customization strategy to suit the needs of the mass market. That is, they pool as many resources together as they can, and then they wait to put your computer together until after you’ve order your model.

Walmart Mart maintains a world-class supply chain system. And so at every second of the day, the company knows exactly what its inventory levels are, not only inside thousands of different stores but also for thousands of different products inside those stores. Using this just-in-time distribution system, this ensures that the company has the right amount of inventory so that every customer can come and buy what they want.

Toyota is also known for its world-class production system and is often credited with having started the just in time production process.   And because of it, the company  has a great process that not only works faster than other companies, but also produces higher quality vehicles with less mistakes in the process.

Together these companies do things like managing their supply chain and inventory. The optimize throughput and flow time. They calculate things like reorder point (ROP) and service levels (SL). And they pay close attention not only to their specification limits (customer limits) but also to control limits (process limits).  And these are also some of the things we did in the class.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that everyone should work in operations. Likewise, I am also not suggesting that Operations will be everyone’s favorite class. Like any other course, it had its ups and downs. And it was also very much a math-heavy class, which surprised us all.

But in many ways Operations was also a really good class. It combined being interesting while also being useful. It was a mix of the qualitative and quantitative. We got to talk about many of the top companies in the world today. And in my case, I just so happened to have a professor that I liked a lot.

Hopefully I’ll be able to take a couple of interesting classes at Kellogg next year, once I head back down to the law school.

Entrepreneurial Finance

June 6th, 2011 No comments

This quarter, I’ve probably had one of the most most interesting sets of classes that I’ll have in my JD-MBA career.  Not only are the classes interesting and useful but they’re also taught great professors and are a lot of fun. Among others, the classes include Leadership Coaching, Media and Interactive Marketing (i.e. Social Media), and Perspectives on Leading a Sports Entity among others. But perhaps the most interesting of all is Entrepreneurial Finance class, taught by Professor Steven Rogers.

Entrepreneurial Finance is exactly the kind of class I came to business school for.  First because I don’t necessarily now a lot about finance yet, so this class has been a solid way to learn more. Second, because I have a very strong interest in entrepreneurship, not only academically but also professionally.  And as I learned the first day of class, back in April, I wasn’t the only one here at Kellogg that felt this way.

In fact, I remember the first day of class quite clearly. I went to class a bit early to make sure I got a good seat.  And to my surprise dozens of others had already done the same thing. Upon entering the room, I noticed that the classroom was packed from side to side.  And right away you could tell that Professor Rogers thrived in that type of setting. He was lively, engaging, and energized. Definitely skilled at the art of running the classroom.

Fortunately, he’s brought his skill and experience to every class this quarter. Throughout the quarter we’ve answered questions like should I join this start-up? How much equity should I negotiate for? How would I finance this company? And last but not least, what is the value of this business? If nothing else, he’s pounded into us that valuation is a central theme for entrepreneurs.

Twenty five million said one student. Twelve million says another. And forty million was the number I had in my head. At times none of us were right. But at other times, we were all right. That’s because valuation is as much an art as it is a science. And often times there are no right answers. After going through that, he then asks us to evaluate the industry. Then the company. Then the acquirer to determine whether it is a good deal.

You could probably imagine a group of 104 people with different views about what’s valuable and what goes into a good decision. Likewise, each of us has our own level of preparation, both quantitatively and qualitatively. So our viewpoints are often pretty different.

And the professor loves all the different viewpoints. He has a natural enthusiasm for hearing what we all will bring to the case. The challenge of pushing a classroom to bring out more ideas and understand the case better and better.  In some cases, he’ll challenge your assumptions. He’ll ask you why or why not? He’ll force you to respond more clearly and more decisively. No matter what it is you believe.

Because ultimately we’re learning that there’s not always one right answer. That whatever criteria we use to buy a business can work well. And that whatever way we choose to value, can work too – whether using revenues, EBITDA, or Price to Earnings.

And in the end, we see that entrepreneurship is not about being right or wrong, but instead about figuring out how to spot opportunity, deal with uncertainty,  and create value.  And that it was also about how you can gather more information to make better decision and persuade others to believe in you and your idea.

Like I said, this is the kind of class I came to Kellogg for.  Only one problem. Our final exam for the class is due tomorrow. So back to studying and finishing up the case I have to write up.

Overextended

June 5th, 2011 2 comments

Overextended is a word used regularly in the business world today. In the markets it means taking on too much financial risk. At work, it means taking on too many projects and not being effective enough at any of them. And in business school it means taking on more work, classes, and activities than you can actually handle. Despite this though, people in all those environment continue to overextend themselves. The question thus becomes, why?

The technical definition of the term by Webster’s is “to extend beyond reasonable limits or beyond one’s capacity to meet obligations or commitments.” By definition, this happens all the time in business. Companies get greedy and put their names in too many places. They sell too many products. They engage in too many commercials. And in the end,  people get confused by the brands.

Likewise, in business school you see the same thing happening with students. Many of us get involved in too many clubs, recruit for too many industries and sign up for too many social events. As a result, they don’t always have time to do their best work, and at times actually do pretty bad work.

This is especially important in recruiting because you lose track of your goals, don’t have precise answers for a company or industry, and you find it harder to persuade the masses of your ability to add value.

What’s interesting though is that many people know that they do this, but continue to do it, sometimes at their own peril.  From a logical standpoint, this suggests that people see benefit in overextending. And not only in the short term but that they also project a benefit in the long term. Whether the benefit is a larger network of friends, experience with more activities and positions, or simply enjoyment from partaking in more activities. All valid benefits.

On the other end of the spectrum is the notion of not extending yourself enough. Where you block off extra time in your calendar to ensure its not taken up. Or you take measures to ensure you’re not tired at the end of the day. And you don’t go to events in the evenings because you’re just too tired.

Here’s the thing: on paper neither of these options sound perfect. You either end up not working hard enough or don’t have enough time to do your best work. But on the other hand, business school still creates overextension. So what’s the reason.

From experience, one reason is that so it can push you to do more than you can do otherwise. Take on more activities. Get involved in more things. Find new ways to contribute. And  learn to do more in a shorter period of time.

But perhaps the trick is to learn to do that while maintaining quality and still producing a superior work product.  Easier said than done. Sure. But if an organization (or school) can provide a platform for people to push further and teach them to do more, while still maintaining quality, perhaps everyone will be better off for it.

In sum, if you overextend in a reasonable way, you’ll be able to accomplish more than you could when you began.

Merger Article: Reflecting on the 2010-2011 School Year at Kellogg

June 1st, 2011 13 comments

To the second year Kellogg students from the class of 2011 that will graduate in two weeks, congratulations! What a wonderful achievement! To the class of 2012 about to head off to your summer internships, congrats on finishing your first year, and best of luck for the summer. As a current MBA student, I can’t say enough about how unique the MBA experience is. For many it’s the long-awaited gateway to a new career. For others, it’s a way to learn more about not only about the world but also about yourself. And for some, it’s considered to be the most transformative two years of their lives. But no matter which camp you fit into, it’s important to reflect on the year. And just a few weeks ago, the Merger selected me to write the “Year in Review” article where I talked about just that.

In just two short days, the last version of the 2010-2011 Merger will become available. For the past year, I’ve written articles in each of the newspapers, andI had the great fortune of being asked to write one of the “year in reflection” articles for this edition. Not only was it a great chance to reflect on the past year, but also a chance to challenge the students and myself to do great things after Kellogg.

See below for the article.

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YearReview

Title: Reflecting on the 2010-2011 School Year

Author: Jeremy C. Wilson

2010 was an interesting year. Most of us left high-paying banking and consulting jobs and finally decided to return to business school. And what timing! The financial crisis was finally starting to fade and the prospects of recovery left the business world enormously hopeful. At the same time, the nomination of Sally Blount as the first female Dean of Kellogg had just made business news history.  Many of us were excited to be back in the classroom during such interesting times, especially as we knew the markets were recovering just in time to land our dream jobs at business school.

But one thing we didn’t know is that many of us would also be scrambling in business school. Many of us had to scramble to learn accounting and finance since it was our first time ever taking the classes.  Others of us scrambled to stay awake in DECS and MECN, after spending the night before prepping for upcoming job interviews. And some of us scrambled all year trying to figure out exactly what our dream job was, or if that job even existed.

And so that leads me to the million-dollar question today. The one question that’s been on everyone’s mind since last August. What is the best opportunity to pursue at Kellogg? And what can I do to ensure that I maximize my success?

Having heard from a lot of successful alum over the past year, there’s a variety of things go into it.  Getting started early, laying the groundwork, putting yourself in the right position at the right time, knowing how to seize opportunities, and most of all having passion.

Because making it all the way to the top is hard; and the competition can be stiff. We all saw it in our core classes at Kellogg and during recruiting. Someone always knew more, someone always worked harder, and someone always practiced more cases. Every time. It was inevitable.

But business school is a piece of cake if you compare it to becoming world class at the professional level. Coming up with the idea for the next big internet start-up, becoming a Fortune 500 CEO, winning a seat in congress, or being part of the deal team that takes Facebook public.  In fact, statistically speaking, you have a better shot of becoming a professional athlete.

In a recent talk few weeks ago, Jonathan Reckford, CEO for Habitat for Humanity emphasized that same point. That it’s not just about going to the best school or getting the good grades.  But that made it to his position because he figured out his “professional purpose” and did everything he could to pursue it.

Jim Hendry, the General Manager of the Chicago Cubs agreed when he spoke in my Sports Leadership class. That it takes 1,000 little things to go right to make it to the top, so passion for your industry more than anything else makes the difference.  Because if you’re not ready to go all out, then you’re not taking the big risks, and you’re not making the sacrifices. He noted that he turned down a job that paid nearly three times as much, just before landing his GM role in Chicago.

There are plenty of MBAs from all the top schools that face this same dilemma. They get good grades and work at “top” firms but don’t have passion. So they never become the Managing Partner, can’t land a coveted CEO role, and can’t garner the support to fund their political campaign.

Don’t get me wrong.  The majority of Kellogg alumni go on to lead highly successful lives by almost every possible measure. Good jobs. High incomes. Happy families. And I have no doubt that all of us will achieve the same upon graduation. But for just for one minute, I’m talking about something a little more. Like creating the social network that becomes Silicon Valley’s most admired company. Being the first female to Dean at two top business schools. Or best of all, figuring out a strategy to capture the world’s most wanted criminal after eight years.

So for just one moment, what’s more important than heading off top firms for the summer is that we all take a moment to reflect on all the lessons we’ve learned in our first year at Kellogg.  Furthermore, we should also understand that to achieve our utmost success, it’s imperative that we spend next year uncovering our deepest passions and doing everything we can to relentlessly pursue them. Only then will we be able to put all of our talents to their best use and unlock our greatest potential for change.

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Please let me know what you think. I welcome all comments and all feedback.

Apply to the 2012 Morgan Stanley Early Insights Program

May 31st, 2011 No comments

Investment banking is one of the most difficult professions to break into. Not only is the work hard and the hours long but there are also thousands of other competitive applicants given the unusually high compensation levels. As a result, firms spend a lot of time making sure they hire people who are the right fit for the role.   Given this, anything you can do to prepare in advance of the recruiting season will be useful as you seek a career in the industry. And one way you can get started before coming to business school is by participating in the Morgan Stanley Early Insights Program.

Incoming first year Kellogg students (and top MBA students from all program), if you’re considering recruiting for the banking industry, then you should also consider applying to this program. Not only does it provide a unique opportunity to learn about the investment banking industry but it also gives you a short list of contacts before you even get to business school. And when recruiting for banking, the people you know can be enormously beneficial throughout the process.

In general, I love these diversity programs. They help provide information to those that don’t otherwise have it. They provide access to resources to those that on average have less. And they open up new careers that might feel unachievable.

More broadly, they ensure that we can continually live in a world of possibilities. They provide access to those that work the hardest no matter they start. And in the end, they recognize that there is limitless potential in every person, no matter what there background is.

See below for the blurb from Morgan Stanley.

Get connected early with the Morgan Stanley MBA Early Insights Program. It provides outstanding Black, Hispanic, Native American, LGBT, and female rising first-year MBA students an up-close, first-hand opportunity to learn about Morgan Stanley’s businesses and culture. This two-day program showcases our global industry thought leaders, highlights key areas of our business, provides practical insights on professional development and the recruiting process, and encourages networking and social interaction with senior management and other professionals.

We welcome applications from those students who are beginning their MBA program in Fall 2011. Please click here to apply. This event will take place in New York City, beginning with a dinner and reception on July 19.

Questions? MBAEarlyInsights@morganstanley.com

Learn more at www.morganstanley.com/diversity

Application Deadline: June 13, 2011

Countdown to Summer in Chicago

May 28th, 2011 2 comments

With just two weeks before summer, all of my friends in MBA programs are finally counting down until the end of the school year. First year students are counting down until their last finals and first day at the summer employer. Second year students are counting down until they finish their last class and they get a few weeks off before moving out of Evanston to start working full time. And second year JD-MBA students are counting down to the summer because it’s the first w’e’ll finally not have to take classes.

At long last, the summer season is finally approaching. Fortunately for those staying local, Chicago is traditionally regarded as one of the best places to spend the summer. Not only is the sun out and the weather warm, but there’s also a lot of people out and about downtown, a lot of happy hours in the city, lots of events and concerts in the parks, and of friendly people ready to have a good time.

Further, for Kellogg students, staying in Chicago also means that we don’t have to move. This is particularly beneficial considering most of us don’t have much time off between our last final exam and first day of work. It’s also beneficial because subletting your place is hard in Evanston, so many people working in other locations end up subsidizing some of their summer rent in Evanston.

But even for my classmates that won’t be staying in Chicago, the summer will be a lot of fun for them as well. Whether they go to San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, or Minneapolis, there will certainly be a critical mass of Kellogg students (and top MBA students) in a variety of geographies. So the summer will give students a chance to meet new friends, explore new cities, make a little bit of money and enjoy their time without the pressures of school assignments.

As for me, I’ll be staying in Chicago this summer, splitting my time between a law firm and a consulting firm in downtown.  Splitting isn’t necessarily the norm, as this year, I’m the only JD-MBA splitting my time between two firms, but either way, I am looking forward to it. Likewise, I’m also planning to take a class this summer to help lighten the load at the law school for next year. A couple of my JD-MBA classmates are doing the same thing.

But today, it’s still a little hard to think that far ahead. Not only do we all still have final exams, papers and projects lingering but we also want to spend time with our good friends before going our separate ways for the summer.  Especially this weekend, which is Memorial Day weekend.

Stay tuned to hear more about how the spring quarter finishes up. And stay tuned to hear more about spending the summer in Chicago.

Cristo Rey High School. VIVA! And the Education Industry

May 26th, 2011 No comments

The model of American business schools is radically changing. In times past, students came to business school, looked for the highest paying jobs they could find, and looked forward to making lots of money upon graduation. But in today’s age, the business school experience is different. Today, it’s more possible than ever to pursue socially-driven goals at business school. To work with organizations that not only want to make a profit but also want to make a difference. One of those organizations that I’m working with at Kellogg is Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. And just last week, I had the great pleasure of attending Cristo Rey’s annual fundraiser in downtown Chicago, as an incoming Board Member for 2011-2012.

Just last week, I had the pleasure of attending Cristo Rey high school’s annual VIVA! (CLICK HERE for description and pictures) scholarship fundraiser at Millennium Park’s Harris Theater rooftop terrace.  And what a great event it turned out to be!  It was a day of inspiration for those who wanted to reflect on how well the school had done last year. A day of celebration for the school’s former students and employees. And a day of participation, not only for volunteers wanting to get more involved but also for people in Chicago, including the city’s new mayor, Rahm Emanuel.

In addition to being a hit, the event was also my introduction to Cristo Rey, which is important as the incoming Kellogg Board Fellow for the next year. So I met with the Chairman of the board and the Chairman of one of the board committees. I met with the Director of Development, and another members of his team. And I met with a couple of past board fellows who not only loved their experience on the board but also continue to serve the organization by working on the junior board today.

But more important than seeing the mayor and meeting with board members was that I also had a chance to finally see the school first hand. To take a peak at the institution that’s considered a long-time pioneer in the education field. And the school that’s praised for coming up with one of today’s most innovative business models in urban education. A model that allows the students to earn a percentage of their tuition by working five full days each month in entry-level positions at top corporations in downtown Chicago - major banks, law firms, hospitals, and consulting firms.

And at the root of this innovation was the idea that top organizations, like Cristo Rey, do well because they use business to do good, not just to make profits. And that its board members and board fellows understand that with this privilege of being successful comes responsibility. Not just to go out and do well, but also to give back and to make the world better. And to do it in a way that has lasting impact.

Personally, I want to have impact in the education field. And in the end, it sounds like joining Cristo Rey will allow me to do just that over the upcoming year. I look forward to joining the Cristo Rey community.

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To learn more about Cristo Rey, CLICK HERE for the website.  Also, see below for the video on 60 minutes.

Finding More Time in Business School

May 24th, 2011 No comments

Because business school is demanding, getting caught up in all the hustle and bustle is easy to do. Most of  us not only spend the majority of our time in the same building but also in the same spots in Evanston. But the problem with spending too much time in a single place it is that over time you start to feel a bit one dimensional. But fortunately, students in business school take the notion of time pretty seriously, especially at top schools like Kellogg, where students are so busy.

I bring this topic up as a lot of people in the first year class are talking about it. How to get more free time before the summer. How to ensure they achieve balance during their internships. And how to maximize their experience, not only now but also next year.

This topic is also something the second years are thinking about as they graduate in just two weeks, and will eventually head back out into the workforce.  Below are a couple of things I’ve been thinking about recently, as I’ve been seeking to create a bit more balance and ensure that I enjoy my time.

  1. Decrease the time I spend in the building. More recently, I’ve been thinking about how much time I spend at Jacobs (MBA building), and getting out a lot more than I used to. This isn’t to say I don’t put in long hours. After all, sometimes being busy calls for you to put in a lot of hours in some cases. But it does mean ensuring I’m not stuck in the building all day, especially on nice spring days. So I’ll find other places to do work.
  2. Identify things that take up a lot of time. I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that take up a lot of my time. And in general, if something is taking up a lot of your time, I think about how valuable it is. Unnecessary meetings. Unnecessary talks on campus. Distracting websites online. Anything where I realize I’ve spent far too much time. The exceptions are things that you consider to be highly valuable.
  3. Block out non-work time. One thing we’re told from day one, but don’t really understand until later in the year is to protect your free time. So nights, weekends, and times you want to do things for yourself, such as work out. In general, it’s important to block off time outside of school to maintain your sanity.
  4. Be ruthless with your time. One of my best friends, Marquis Parker, told me this quote before business school began. Having heard it from an MBA alum before he began at Stanford GSB, he said the best advice he got was “to be ruthless with your time.” So this year, I’ve tried to do the same. Because if you don’t, you’ll see that your time just disappears and that you don’t have anything to show for it.

By thinking about some of these ideas, I’ve done a lot to find more time during the year. And I’m glad I did. Because upon reflection, if I couldn’t find more time now, in school, where our schedules are more flexible than every, chances are I wasn’t going to find it after graduation either.

Good luck!

Failure In Business School

May 23rd, 2011 2 comments

Failure is the best teacher. That’s the lesson my parents always taught me.  It’s also the lesson many of us have heard from our professors and bosses as we’ve navigated our professional careers so far. But how accurate is this advice? And can you ever think back to a time where you didn’t necessarily agree with it? Well, after seeing lots of successes and failures over the past year in business school, I’ve come wonder about the same question. Is failure actually good for you?

As you might imagine, there are two competing sides to the argument.

On one hand, conventional wisdom says that the best way to learn is to learn from failure.  Because yoou’re more heavily invested. More emotionally connected. And think about things more intensely when everything goes wrong. Especially entrepreneurs, who have to learn because they can’t afford to make the same mistakes two times.  This concept is also reinforced in business school, where almost every activity is set to have a lot of competition. And since everyone can’t win, then a lot of people have to fail. This forces you reflect on the things you didn’t do well enough, and figure out how to do it better the second time.

On the other hand, most people know that failure is also hard to take. Especially when the stakes are high and you’ve put a lot of  time and effort in to pursue your the end goal. This happens every year in business school during the core classes, where only 40% can get As, meaning that 50% have to get Bs and 10% have to get Cs. And these 10% are usually very smart people. This also happens during the recruiting cycle, where people spend hours pouring over cases and studying industry trends but aren’t successful pursuing certain jobs. In some cases, failure can not only hurt emotionally, but also undermine your self-confidence. There’s been many stories about that at the top business schools, not to mention complaints from students who participate.

Upon reflection, in some cases, I wonder if people actually learn anything from failure.  Maybe instead, they are worse off. And even when things end up better the second time, it’s because those who failed are simply better at trying the second time around than the first time. And so no matter whether they succeeded or failed the first time, they are better than people who haven’t done it before, but not necessarily better specifically due to failure.  And even when they aren’t “actually” better the second time around, maybe other people think that they’re better so give them more support, helping them to do better the second time.  In this way, the act of failure hasn’t added value.

But don’t confuse my argument.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t learn when you fail.  After all, in some cases failure can offer you the most unique insights that you might not have gained otherwise. But in the end, I just wonder whether creating a culture of failure, and specifically constant failure as created in business school, is actually better than a culture of success. And are MBA programs doing the right thing by setting up these scenarios where students fail, on average, a lot more often than they succeed.

I don’t know the answer. Either way, it’s an interesting debate.

“What Would You Do if You Weren’t Afraid?” asks Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

May 21st, 2011 No comments

We’ve all heard the saying before. That to be great, you have to pursue your biggest passions. Those seemingly impossible goals that come to mind in your bravest moments. Those game-changing ideas you want to pursue when you feel like you’re on top of the world. But also those ideas that fleet faster than the blink of an eye, when the notion of fear takes over. Well, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, discussed some of those same topics in a recent talk she gave.

In a recent graduation talk at Barnard, Sheryl Sandberg, addressed this very topic. That professionals, specifically women, need to think big when they are thinking about their careers. And although her talk was specifically directed at the graduating women, many of its principles can be applied more broadly.

Sandberg talked about her experience at Facebook, and some of the lessons she learned there. She noted that one thing she learned working with great entrepreneurs (Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google) “was that if you want to make a difference, you have to think big and dream big, right from day one.” And that at Facebook, they try to keep employees thinking this way all day. She noted the posters around the walls, used to motivate employees. One of them said, “Fortune favors the bold.” The other asked, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Broadly speaking, the idea was this. If you don’t shoot for the stars, you’ll never know what you’re capable of.  You’ll never have the chance to write the screenplay. Or create a groundbreaking documentary. Start your own company. Or take part in changing the world. And she said that the message rings true for everyone, especially those with more to lose from failure.

This same question also echoes in the halls of Kellogg. Especially now, as graduation is lingering and students are thinking not only about their jobs after school, but also about their long term career goals. Will they risk it all to be great and to impact the world? Or will they take the route that provides more stability?

In an event with my former company, Bottlenotes, last night, CEO, and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Alyssa Rapp said it best. She said, “You have to be brave.”

Well, I agree with Alyssa and I agree with Sheryl that you have to be brave. Furthermore, I challenge all of my readers (and myself) not be afraid. And instead to go where no one has gone before. To try something you’ve never done before. And to risk it all to do something big.

In the words of Sheryl at the very end of her speech: “Ask yourself, what would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it.”

—-

For the best parts of the speech, I recommend you watch 16:00 until the end.

Also, for more information about Alyssa Rapp and my trip to the Bottlnotes event in 2010, CLICK HERE.

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The 24 Hour Rule

May 17th, 2011 No comments

Have you ever received an offensive email from someone but didn’t quite know how to respond? I have. Well what about an offensive comment that was delivered in person? Yeah, that’s happened to me too. In fact, my hunch is just about every single one of us have been in that same situation. Well, just recently, Jim Hendry, the General Manager of the Chicago Cubs came to speak to my class class. And in addition to sharing his thoughts about the sports industry, he also gave us his theory on this dilemma, named the “24 Hour Rule.”

The 24 Hour Rule seemed to be one of his personal mantras. The rule says, if someone says something that irritates you, then you should sleep on it first, and then if it still bothers you by the next day, you should be sure to respond thoughtfully within 24 hours.

The idea is that you shouldn’t respond too quickly, because you more than likely run the risk of overreacting due to your emotion. On the other hand, you also shouldn’t wait too long to respond, because after 24 hours, it may feel too late to bring up the conversation again.

In reality, most of us lean one way or the other. We either spend far too long deliberating whether to bring it back up. Or we respond too quickly, failing to come up with a more thoughtful response.

On the other hand, great leaders have superb communication skills. Not only do they address critical issues quickly, but they also address them thoughtfully and with consideration for the other person.

So how are you going to respond to the next offensive comment you hear?

Unsure? Then maybe try the 24 hour rule to see if that helps.

The Five Percent Rule of Leadership

May 15th, 2011 2 comments

Every day, the managers at your company have a direct impact on your career. They hire and fire team members who you will work with. They make important decisions not only about the team’s work but also about your work. And they are the ones who make decisions about your future at the organization. These are the kinds of things many of us are thinking about, or at least should be thinking about, as we’re considering our careers after Kellogg. And it’s also something, we’ve been thinking about in my leadership coaching class.

In my leadership coaching class each Friday, we talk a lot about what it means to be a good leader. And we discuss the things we can do to develop into good leaders ourselves. As part of that, we also think about the things we valued in our previous managers, and the types of leaders we want to be one day.  In fact, last week, we wrote leadership statements and then read them in front of the class.

The class reminded me of one of my favorite mottos in business. The Five Percent Rule.

The Five Percent Rule (as I’ve learned it) says that if leaders just focus on others for 5% of the time, then it’s worth their time because they’ll get far more than that 5% of time back in performance from the person they coached. Specifically, if they spend time each week coaching you, sharing their vision with you, helping guide your career, and being a resource for you, then you’ll do better work, you’ll have a greater sense of loyalty, and you’ll work harder, easily making up for that 5% of time they spent.

And this holds true for every level in business, even at the top. Because even the best leaders need to brainstorm have someone help them think about what’s going on.

Fortunately, I had mentor like this in my last two jobs. What about you?

 

SumZero: The Facebook of Wall Street? Bloomberg Interview with Divya Narendra

May 14th, 2011 No comments

There is a new entrepreneurial movement taking place in the business world today. Professionals and students all over the world are working harder than ever before to come up with innovative ideas to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. To tackle some of the most difficult challenges both in business and in law. Well, one of those entrepreneurs is my classmate, Divya Narendra. Over the past 18 months in the JD-MBA program, I’ve watched Divya Narendra work tirelessly to build his financial services social network start-up, SumZero.

Divya is undoubtedly a different type of student. While most people in my class are headed to corporate America for the summer and after graduation, Divya never once considered it. Instead he’s been working non-stop on his company ever since stepping foot on campus. Even as a 1L at law school when everyone else was cramming for final exams, Divya was taking calls from investors and future members during exam period. Likewise, I remember sitting next to him in Constitutional Law. While everyone was ferociously outlining notes during class, he was responding to emails from users on his website in addition to taking notes.

One thing that has always inspired me is people who do things differently. Those who don’t go the conventional route. And people who give it their all to do something novel, even outlandish.

Fortunately, for Divya, all the risk and the work have paid off, as today he’s built one of the top start-ups on the planet. Recently dubbed “The Facebook of Wall Street” SumZero has been featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and FastMoney. And just this past week, Divya also did another interview on Bloomberg. On the interview he talks about his company SumZero, and what it means to build a social network for the buy side on Wall Street.  See below for information on Divya, SumZero, and the interview.

CLICK HERE to see that interview.
CLICK HERE to go to SumZero.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Divya

Graph of Tiredness During First Year in Business School

May 10th, 2011 2 comments

Being a business school student can at times be a pretty tiring experience. In the beginning students are excited, so they stay as busy as they can for as long as they can. In the winter quarter, you work hard, in hopes to land your dream during recruiting season.  And in the spring quarter, you want to enjoy the new-found sunny weather and take part in all the activities on campus before the year is over.  In the process, most students also get pretty tired during the year, so, I’ve dedicated a quick post to discussing how exhausting the first year of business school can be. This post comes as a continuation of the post I wrote, called Happiness During First Year of Business School.

The fact that people get tired in business school is certainly not a surprise. After all, the hours are long. The work can be tedious. And the number of activities can at times feel overwhelming, In hindsight, I think one of the reasons people get tired is due to taking on too much too soon. Without actually knowing how busy business school will be, students become over-committed very early on, singing up for activities and clubs and gong to a lot of corporate presentations. This becomes especially apparent during the recruiting season, when you need every extra minute you can find, but often times you can’t find one.

One way that people start to overcome the tiredness is by learning how to say no. You realize that you don’t have to take part in every activity. That you can’t go to every social event. That you don’t have to get every answer to every problem correct. And at some point, the 80/20 rule starts to make a lot more sense, because using it helps you to manage your time and your fatigue levels a lot better.

So, without further ado, below I’ve made a “Tiredness” Graph. Note that this graph is not reflective of every student’s experience. In fact, it isn’t even a reflection of my own experience per se. Rather, it’s simply meant to highlight the trend of tiredness levels of the average MBA student, not only at Kellogg but at many top schools. Especially those that operate under the quarter system.

 

A few pieces of analysis

1. More important than if the actual levels are all reflective of your experience is the idea that the tiredness levels trend downward. I think this correct, as over the course of the year, students get better at prioritizing, at saying no, and frankly at taking on less activities.

2. I also think it’s important to see that most students start out pretty tired. For JD-MBAs this is especially true given we’re taking final exams, recruiting at law firms, moving to Evanston, and going on KWEST all at the same time, right before CIM starts. But even for 2 year MBA students, KWEST and CIM are enough to exhaust you right from the outset.

3. Transitions also prove to be the most tiring parts of Kellogg. Transitioning from summer finals to KWEST/CIM (for JD-MBAs), from CIM to classes, from Ski Trip to winter quarter, and from GIM back to spring quarter are all tiring moments during the first year.

4. Constant fatigue also looks to be the norm. Even though there are a number of points where fatigue levels are low, there are significantly more points where they are high. Likewise, the average number is always closer to seven than it is to any other number. Everything I know suggests that this is done purposefully by MBA programs.

In the end, it would have been interesting to do something similar in law school. I suspect there would have been three differences. (1) One, that the average level of tiredness would have been higher. (2) Two that there would have been more consistent tiredness levels rather than peaks and valleys. (3) And three, that tiredness would have trended upward as pressure mounted more and more toward the end of the long semester. Not that this should come as a surprise. After all, law school is often considered to be the most grueling year in any graduate school.

Stay tuned as I plan to continue the series on future posts.

* Have something to add? Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas.


Top Employers of Kellogg MBAs Last Year

May 8th, 2011 4 comments

We’re finally in the midst of spring quarter here at Kellogg. For most that means recruiting is finally over, and we finally get a chance to have some fun for  a couple of weeks before starting our summer jobs.  But in spite of all of our free time, many of us have still been thinking a lot about what we’ll be doing for the summer and if we’ll end up liking it. Likewise, I too have been thinking a lot about the summer.  And because I’ve been looking at the careers report recently, I thought it’d be interesting to share some data I found on how things have shaped up over the past year.

Like many of you, I was under the impression that internship and summer employers had a fair amount of overlap. But before running the numbers, I didn’t quite realize how much overlap they had. Likewise, I also suspected that more full-time offers were given out than internship offers. But that too is much more clear now after organizing the data. And finally, I also knew that most people here went into the Big 3 industries – consulting, banking and marketing. But I didn’t quite realize how much consulting and marketing dominated until actually finishing up some of the numbers.

Here below I’ve listed the Top 10 recruiters of full-time jobs and internships last year at the Kellogg School of Management. And below that, I included a few notes about the data.

** Various @ 5 hires includes AT Kearny, Accenture, Barclays Capital, Baxter, Danaher, Deloitte, General Mills, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, PRTM Management Consultants

 

** Various @ 7 hires includes AT Kearny, Accenture, and Goldman Sachs

A few pieces of analysis/ information

1. On average, the big three consulting firms hired 25% more full time consultants than interns.  When considering these numbers, also note that the pool of interviewees is also different, as it doesn’t include those who were happy with their summer internships at other companies and did not recruit in their second year.

2. Of the three consulting firms, Bain is the only one that hired less full time than for internships. This is more an interesting fact than anything else, as the others had a pretty significant increase in their full time hiring.

3. Deloitte and Booz did not make the Top 10 list for summer internship employers, but they place #4 and #5 respectively on the full time list. This suggests that both firms hire a lot more full time MBAs than they do for the summer. So aspiring consultants might be inclined to recruit their during their second year.

4. If you look at all the consulting firms in the top ten, there were 36 more jobs for those who recruited full time than for those who sought out internships. That represents a 41% increase.

5. Overall, the top ten employers hired 23 more students, an 18% increase, suggesting that the big employers enjoying coming back to Kellogg a second time in the fall to scoop up a few extra MBAs. However, this does not take into account that multiple employers tied for #10 for both summer and full time employers.

6. For full time employers, only one financial services firm (Goldman Sachs) made the top 10 employer list. For summer internships, three made the top 10 list (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital). This is inclusive of having multiple employers tied for #10 on each list.

7. And finally, one of my biggest observations was that there were not any nonprofits in the top ten. Not that this came as a surprise. I suspect that the same is true for all the top business schools. On the other hand, think about how things might look in society if one, even two, of the employers here were nonprofits or government agencies. Could be interesting.

Stay tuned for similar posts in the near future!

Leadership Development Class at Kellogg

Conventional wisdom in leadership development classes is that you should just about always discover and focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses, assuming they are aligned with the goals of your organization. Because no matter how much you work on your weaknesses, chances are you’ll make more progress on the things you’re good at. Not everyone in the leadership community agrees, but in some ways it’s a reasonable approach. And it’s also something we’ve been talking a lot about in my leadership development class this quarter.
One interesting class that some people take at Kellogg is called Leadership Coaching. This course is a unique opportunity for students not only to discuss personal development goals and grow as a leader but also to do that with an experienced coach who facilitates the ten person class. As part of the class, we recently took a test created by Gallup, named Strengths Finder, version 2.0.
Similar to the Meyers Briggs test, the results are intended to tell you more about what you’re good at, so you can untap natural talents you never knew you had, or so you can optimize the ones you already knew about.  Even better is that the test serves as good reminder about how important it is to know your own strengths and weaknesses.
Below are the five strengths the test gave me. And CLICK HERE for a full list of possible strengths on the test.

1. Individualization
2. Achiever
3. Activator
4. Communication
5. WOO (Winning Others Over)

In the end, I enjoyed taking the test, though I probably enjoyed the Meyers Briggs test a little more. Likewise, I also enjoyed getting some of my “Strengths” though I was quite shocked that one or two of the other didn’t show up on the list.

But more important than the test you decide to take and more important than the actual strengths the test gives you, is that you start the process of thinking about them. Because self-reflection is probably the most important leadership trait you can have.

According to Kellogg Professor Harry Kraemer, “If you are not self-reflective, how can you truly know yourself?” writes Kraemer. “If you do not know yourself, how can you lead yourself? If you cannot lead yourself, how can you possibly lead others?”

Kellogg KWEST 2011 – Come to KWEST Ecuador!

May 3rd, 2011 4 comments

Just about everyone knows that relationships are just as important as the academic part of business school. And that meeting a good group of friends early in the business school process can really set you up to have a fun year at Kellogg. In my view, the best way to do that at Kellogg is on the pre-orientation KWEST trip. And because I had such a blast taking part in the KWEST Mystery Trip last year, this year I’ve decided to lead one. So at the end of the summer, me and four of my best friends at Kellogg will be leading a trip of 20 incoming students to Ecuador.

In my opinion, Ecuador should be one of the most fun trips possible. As you can see from the description on the website, our trip is probably one of the more activity-driven trips you can go on. Not only does it give you a taste of the Andes but it also takes you to the Amazon and to a variety of other places in the region, including to a Shaman’s house in the jungle and on a hike that will eventually lead to white water rafting. We’re all very excited for the trip!

A few other noteworthy trips this year include Italy led by one of my good friends Diana Ricketti, France led by one of my good friends and JD-MBA classmates Kunal Gulati, Spain led by my roommate Greg Sherman and friend/JD-MBA classmate Divya Narendra, and Greece led by my other roommate Jon Greer.

But in the end, no matter which trip you ultimately go on, I’m sure each and every admit will have a complete blast. Because more important than just the adventurous hikes, breathtaking views, unique cultural experiences with locals in the region, is that you’ll also get to share all of those experiences with classmates, many that will become friends and close friends at Kellogg. Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Still interested? If so, see below for the description I wrote on the trip. CLICK HERE for a link to the official Ecuador website.And CLICK HERE to see all the other KWEST trips.

Good luck!

Description of KWEST Ecuador

“Indescribable” is the first word that comes into mind when describing the high-impact jungle-driven trip we have in store for you in Ecuador. Join twenty incoming students from different “walks” of life eagerly awaiting the chance to “walk” through the Amazonian jungle and dive right into the Kellogg experience … literally. You’ll dive in the waterfalls of Ecuador with a beautiful backdrop of lush jungle. You’ll ride one of the highest aerial lifts in the world up one of Ecuador’s grassy-sloped volcanoes on the Andean Canyon. You’ll walk through the hot springs surrounding the paradise of the endemic Polylepis forest. And you’ll spend the day with a Shaman, learning how to hunt, how to protect yourself from jaguars, and how to survive in the jungle like Tarzan. And with the Tarzan and Jane juices flowing, you’ll swing all the way to the long awaited BIG REVEAL on Thursday, where you’ll not only reveal your backgrounds with your KWEST-mates but also revel with them in the jungle afterward, survivor style. But not to worry the trip isn’t all roughing it. To spice things up, we’ll also visit the nearest discoteca where you can drink some “jungle juice” and bust a few dance moves as well as let you take advantage of one of Ecuador’s finest spa treatments. And when it’s all said and done, you can say you were part of the most daring yet exciting tribe of students at Kellogg. Sound fun? Then Water-fall in love with Ecuador” is the trip for you!

MBAs Learn About Business and Busy-ness

April 30th, 2011 2 comments

One thing I’ve recently noticed is that my classmates have been a lot busier than I expected this quarter. Some are still looking for jobs. Some are taking the maximum number of classes this term, even though they don’t have to. Others have gotten involved in even more clubs than they were last quarter. And others are challenging themselves in the classroom to learn as much as possible before heading into a new industry for the summer. The question that comes to mind is, how much of this busy-ness is actually worth it?

Over the past nine months, I’ve come to realize two things.

One, is that business school will keep you busy.  In fact, everyone becomes so busy that they start making to-do lists. Crossing things off and putting more things back on the list. Finding more activities to get involved in. Taking more classes. Going to more events. And doing more and more analysis to support the answers on problem sets, even when that analysis isn’t needed.

The second thing I’ve found is that doing this “busy-ness” is far easier than actually doing “business” even in business school.

That’s because busy-ness feels natural in our environment. From day one, the environment makes you used to the idea of not having enough time. You start learning the importance of firing off emails every few seconds. Talking to more people at the same time. And figuring out ways to get more things done.

But the problem is that often times, “busy-ness” is completely unrelated to “business” as business is about creating value not just producing.  It’s about creating new things for the market. And not just things the market wants but also things it doesn’t have enough supply of. And at its best, it’s about creating things the market doesn’t even have yet.

To that end, what if you spent all of tomorrow thinking about what those thing are?  And so you didn’t send any emails. You didn’t cross anything off your to-do list. And you didn’t do any analytical exercises for assignments.

But instead, you brainstormed a new idea for your class project. You thought about a way to launch that internet company you’ve been thinking about.  You wrote down ideas for a documentary. And you thought about how to create value in a massive way.

I challenge you (and me) to stop being busy for just one hour and instead do business. Only then will we be able to create new value and eventually change the world.

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