Azella Perryman’s New (Post) MBA Blog

AzellaOn my blog, I write a lot about interesting people that come from top universities and MBA programs.  When I can, I like to write as much as I can about my fellow Stanford alum and fellow bloggers.   Well, another person I know is named Azella Perryman.  Azella is not only a friend of mine from Stanford but she also graduated from business school, and recently started a blog of her own.

According to Azella’s web-page, it’s shaping up to be a busy month. But that’s to be expected since Azella is two years out of her MBA program and has been hard at work for a while now. But it looks like Azella is also spending a lot of time reflecting, not just about the job she has now but also about her career and MBA path in general.

In my view, top MBA programs need more people just like Azella.  Who understand that business school is not only about your next career move but also about reflection on your career in general. The goods, bads and everything in between.

But don’t take it from me, take it from Azella and check out her most recent BLOG POST  (10 Things I Wish I knew About Getting an MBA).

Azella, best of luck with your new BLOG.  Keep me posted on your progress, and let us know how we can spread the word!

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Thursday, March 7th, 2013 Business School, Careers, Other Blogs No Comments

MLT Support Education Matters Campaign

I spend a lot of time talking about one non-profit I am part of: Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT).  MLT is a great organization and our Education Matters campaign is working closely with them. Not only because we share a similar mission but also because MLT is one of our strongest allies.

MLT is committed to preparing minority students for careers in business by prepping them for college, graduate school and beyond. By providing students with networking opportunities and career coaching, MLT is making leadership positions available to a much more diverse group of people.

A few weeks ago we attended an MLT conference in Houston to talk about grad school with up and coming fellows as well as to talk more about the education matters campaign. At the conference, we collected videos from some MLT’s rising stars, who shared not only their own personal stories but they also answered the question that everyone answers, “why does education matter to you?”

See below for the video.

And as always, visit to learn more about how you can get involved with MLT.

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Sunday, May 13th, 2012 Business School, Diversity, Education No Comments

Careers Question: Reach Out, Make Connectons, Find Mentors, Then Do It Again

What if I told you I had the one secret that could help you achieve a world-class level of success. What if I said that Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods became the athletes they are today because they did it.  And that without it, Barack would not be our current president. And that every single Fortune 500 CEO today did the same thing.  Well, the truth is that most highly successful people – athletes, musicians, professionals, speakers, and thinkers – are doing it.  Nowadays, skill and passion can only get you so far.  The most successful people also reach out and find mentors.

It’s no mistake that I said the word “find” in my introduction.  While some world-class performers and leaders did stumble upon their mentors, most people don’t. That’s because the good mentors can be really hard to find. After all, the most successful people in the world work long hours and have limited time, dozens of competing priorities, and goals that they can’t let go by the wayside to help someone who may not even respect their time.

But from experience, I know that great mentors definitely do exist.  And because I was lucky enough to find a SUPER-mentor in my very first job, I wanted to share a few words here on my site that I also shared with a friend – a current MLT fellow seeking out a little advice on networking.

See below for that person’s question, and below that for my response.  I’ll note that I only included selected parts of the conversation, as some of the information might have revealed too much about their identity, and as other parts were less relevant to the content of the message. I’ll also note that this post turned out to be longer than expected.


Hey Jeremy,

(Skipped part of question)

1) I’m glad you enjoyed Leading Matters. (And I applaud your participation in the middle of your exams!! you are a rockstar!) It sounds like your Chicago event was really engaging … (deleted part of message)

2) You are awesome for thinking about MLT in your blog. Myself and my fellow b-school prospectives are juggling a few things that you might find relevant to write about:

(Actual list of things deleted)

The biggest thing on my agenda right now is networking. I am nervous about cold calling people in my industry (i.e. social investing). But I know that I have to get over that initial fright if I want to get anything out of this. (I actually just got back from dinner with someone … who a Kellogg alum put me in touch with!) I also wonder how do I extend those relationships beyond just a one-time informational interview? How do I stay in contact without being bothersome? Should I make myself helpful to them?

Good luck with the rest of your finals!



Hey (Name),

Good to hear from you and thanks for your message.  This is a really good set of questions, and now is the perfect time for you to start thinking about them as you go through the MLT process and start to think about new career options, most of which are challenging to break into. But the good news is that once you get used to reaching out and become more skilled at it, it actually becomes a lot of fun, especially for outgoing and high potential professionals like yourself.  Here are a few of my initial thoughts:

As I said above, I was lucky enough to find a phenomenal professional mentor early in my professional career. I concede, though, that most people don’t have that experience.  And for reference, when I say I found a mentor, I don’t take that word lightly. In my case, mentor means someone that I valued highly enough 1. to turn down a job that paid 20%-25% more in salary right out of school and 2. to subsequently turn down a chance to work at a bulge bracket bank to work him at a mid-sized consulting firm that didn’t carry half the level of prestige as the bank, only carried a percentage of the salary, and had me move across the entire US as a result.

That’s because in my view, these types of strong relationships are critical to your career success – my general motto is “it’s better to learn in your 20s and earn in your 30s.”  But most people still don’t invest the time, and they would never consider the idea of foregoing resources to find these strong relationships. In today’s age where internet is king, Google searching tends to be most people’s first option.  And others look for answers in self-help business books on weekends, rely on opinions of friends and family, and give too much credibility to formalized mentoring programs at work.

Sure, these sources can all be useful, but they’re certainly not perfect.  At my old firms, I often saw how people were given “buddy” roles and mentor titles without an ability to perform in the role. Similarly, I’ve seen how many people rely on friends and family members because they tend to give a lot of positive reinforcement, which is not always what you need. But people still tend to default here.

That’s because but finding real connections, let alone mentors, is hard. For some people, it takes months, even years to find someone who understands you and cares for you and your goals.  And so going through the “networking” process you asked about tends to be the best way to do that.  That means continually engaging with new people, getting and giving new information, and over time connecting with others.

Unfortunately, this kind of reaching is no easy feat and there’s a lot of grunt work involved.  It takes a lot of thoughtfulness, as you write emails, make calls, and navigate your way to finding new connections. Similarly, you have to know more about your target industries and have a better sense of who you are as you go out to meet with these people, so you’re sure not to waste their time. And as a result of that, it takes time, energy, and perseverance. But so do all relationships right? Staying in close touch with friends and family during 1L was almost impossibly hard for every single person I knew. Similarly working toward any dating relationship often takes a lot of time and effort. In my opinion, there’s not much difference. Nonetheless, the grunt work involved in networking tends to keep people from really engaging in the reaching out process.

I do realize, though, that everyone is different, and that one person’s propensity to reach out people may be different than mine or than yours.  So in some respects, you have to do what you’re comfortable with, so you can be effective when you do meet new people. On the other hand, I’d also strongly recommend pushing yourself out of your comfort zone just a bit and reaching out more than you might otherwise get in touch with, especially now as you seek information on business school and careers.  After all, if you don’t get comfortable with it now, you’ll be forced to on the first day of business school a year from now, not to mention for years to come afterward.

Now I’ll respond more practically to a few of the things you mentioned. First, my opinion is that there’s absolutely no need to have any initial fright, because there’s a pretty large many people who would be willing help someone in your shoes. Most people that you’d be reaching out to tend to be proud of their institutions, school, and employers. And even if they’re not, they tend to be proud of the advice they can offer. Similarly, a lot of people are looking for ways to give back to their communities and to those who may want to follow in their footsteps.

I mean, consider the reverse. What if someone came up to you and said, hey (name), I’d love to be just like you someday, and I want to go to (name) University and work at (name) Company.  Personally, I’d be really flattered, and I think a lot of people would feel similarly. And as a result, some of them might really take the time to give the information you’re looking for.  And if you’re thankful, keep the modes of communication open, update them on your progress, and then be sure to reciprocate when you can, then you’ve got potential to make a real connection. And here’s my pitch – that in the end, the process becomes something that’s not even networking.  Instead it’s seeking out new ways of connecting forging strong relationships, and becoming mutually beneficial. And personally, I always strive to be more beneficial when I can.

Next, to directly respond to your last question about how to stay relevant.  That’s a tough one because no two people or circumstances are the same. Because of that, my first thought is to focus on the relationship, not on using fancy tactics. Because when you forge those strong relationships, you don’t have to worry about staying relevant. That’s why you always get back to your best friends and to family members when they get in touch with you. Because those relationships tend to be strong.

But from a tactical perspective, here a couple of things that may help.  None of them are rocket science. In fact you could have come up with all of them on your own. Also, none of them are they my original ideas. Instead, they tend to be things that lots of people do and also things I tend to do when I remember.

1. Try Different Methods. You might try using different methods to connect with people, such as email, phone, in person, LinkedIn, etc.  In my experience, relying on a single source can be less effective in some circumstances, especially if your new contact decided to avoid using that source for a short period of time.

2. Return the Favor. If you have managed to somehow stay on a person’s radar, then you might help return the favor by sharing information to them, on relevant topics. In these cases, I tend to default mostly to things that are HIGHLY relevant, sometimes sending news, connecting them with people in their industries, giving referrals, or passing along hello messages from mutual connections.  But you should be careful of overdoing it and be sure that you’re not forcing your way in. I tend to only do this in very authentic ways, because otherwise it’ll likely feel too forced.

3. Don’t Replace Face To Face. I also think face to face encounters tend to be more effective when you’re in the establishing stage. For example grabbing drinks, coffee, lunch, or meeting up at the office all tend to work pretty well, depending on what you’re chatting about. Not only is it a more intimate environment that allows you to discuss real issues and be more open and vulnerable but it’s also more of a mutual investment of time which naturally tends to create a bond.

4. Get Out To More Events. Sometimes the best way to bump into someone, and to actually get the face to face encounters you need, is to go to different types of events where people are out and about. Not only networking-themed events, but also cultural, academic, and volunteer events, where you’ll tend to find people who you have things in common with.

In the end, though, making real strong relationships, is the goal, not finding tactics to stay in touch. Often times for me, I just try to feel it out, since in most cases no two relationships are the same and because time is so limited. But fortunately, there are a lot of smart and successful professional seeking the same thing you are. So once you make a connection, it should be pretty easy to build those relationship.  If only dating were this easy too, right 🙂

Thanks for writing. And good luck!

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Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 Careers, Networking 2 Comments

Recap of MLT’s Kick-Off Seminar In Houston

I’m not surprised that MBA applicants are feeling a little more nervous than usual.  Given the uncertain economic times, many experts don’t even know what to expect in the admissions cycle, let alone inexperienced applicants. It doesn’t help that some applicants still rely heavily on too few schools, so the odds are stacked against them. Others have been superstars since graduation, but now fear the prospects of failing. And for a third group, job insecurity reigns. These applicants work at unstable firms and fear being laid off, so they feel the pressure to get in.  These and other applicants should strive for nearly perfect applications. That not only includes good scores and a well-written application at fit schools, but it also includes a career roadmap and a compelling story to tell the committee. At least that’s what John Rice came to discuss at MLT’s kick-off seminar in Houston.

At long last, the newest class of MLT’s MBA Prep Program was finally welcomed in person at the 2010 kick-off event.  The event took place at Rice University, and the good news was that I was able to get a sneak peak at this year’s new class. Even though I haven’t even finished my first class at Kellogg yet, MLT asked me to volunteer at the event. And I’m sure glad they asked. For one, it allows me to contribute to the MLT community, which is something that’s been on my mind a lot these days, even as a first year law student. It also give me the chance to meet and help current fellows, to re-connect with alumni and with the awesome MLT team, and also gives a chance to become part of a movement that’s much larger than myself.

And so all of that began late Thursday night when my flighted finally landed in Houston around midnight. Interestingly enough is that fact that a current MLT fellow was also in my SuperShuttle, and so that we chatted on the way to the hotel MLT reserved. Like a large number of fellows, she was from New York and also very nice. Arriving at the hotel sometime around 1:00am, I unpacked a few things, took care of a few dozen emails, and prepped for a couple of phone calls and a meeting I had the next morning. Time flew by, and before I knew it, I was hopping in a cab to head over to the conference.

Shortly after entering the building, I joined the current fellows in a session about “MBA, leadership, and success.” As I walked in, a tsunami of laughter went across the room. I suspected that everyone was probably having a good time. Gazing around the auditorium, I noticed the room was jam-packed with over 200 fellows, all intensely concentrating on the guest speaker.   I noticed right away that the crowd of fellows was incredibly diverse. It was especially good to see that there was a good mix of women in the room, something I suspect that MLT is keeping in mind. Before entering the room I figured everyone would all be a lot younger than me, but boy was I wrong.  Not only did I come to find that the average age was something similar to mine, but I also found a number of students that were older than me, and others who were in my class back at Stanford, including my really good friend Khalilah Karim.  (Any current fellows who stumble on this post should definitely take a few minutes to meet her!)

And not only did I catch up with her for a bit, but I also spoke to a number of fellows on Friday. Working with Michael Pages, a friend from my MLT fellowship class (2009), we spoke with a good number of people at lunch, between sessions, and later that night until the wee hours of the morning. Working with a bigger group of MLT alum on Saturday, we discussed application myths and took part in a Q&A, as part of an organized panel. Our approach was to structure part of the initial discussion and then let everyone pick topics based on interests. The session was highly energized, non-stop, and went well.

But more than a single energizing panel, the conference was the combination of lots of interesting sessions led by alumni, staff, and guest speakers, many of which were compelling, especially to the new fellows.  Similar to my year, almost every session was informative and interesting, and collectively the sessions began to foster ties between having goals in business and concurrently having goals that improve the community, where that topic pinnacled during John Rice’s session about passion on Friday.

It’s no surprise that the highlight of these weekends often tends to be John Rice’s session, “Defining your passion.”  It’s funny, inspiring, insightful, and participatory. John did a similar session my year, which was a big hit, and it seemed like it went over pretty well this year. “Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep in this session” he began, as his session took place right after lunch. And after reeling in a quick laugh from the audience, he moved on to substance and gave a crash course on figuring out your passion and integrating that into your story and essays.

“To have the best chances at admission, you need to have a road map” Rice said.  “And to be truly great, your passion has to be part of that road map.”   In layman’s terms, applicants should think about passions, goals and other personal issues that are often left out of MBA applications. What an insight for the new class! This isn’t what many us first hear about MBA applications. I sure didn’t. But John emphasized the idea and then illustrated it in a real-time activity in front of the class, keeping the session interactive as possible. In the end, the session was more refined, fun, and compelling than I even remember from my year.

Sitting in the session this weekend also made me think about my conference two years ago and about meeting my cohort for the first time. My group was lucky enough to connect fairly early, which is something I relayed to the new class this weekend. And although a few people in my cohort transitioned slower than others, somewhere along the way we all really jelled. We brainstormed ideas, shared personal stories, provided feedback on career thoughts, and learned from each other in a way that helped us to really grow, both as applicants and personally.

And in the end, we not only became a cohort that worked well together, but also a group that had a stake in each other’s success.  And still do. And that’s one of my biggest takeaways from being a fellow—that there’s power in having a small team of people where everyone has a the same specific interests, similar common goals, and everyone is on the same page.  And in some sense, I suspect that’s part of why I was excited to head back this weekend, to see that connection again.

And after day one of the session I began thinking.  What if all MLT alumni decided to come back? And what if everyone started going to all the big MLT events? And not for the sake of networking or to enhance career opportunities, but instead to work together on bigger issues that impact broader global communities. And what if they worked just as well together, or even better, than my cohort did?  Sounds impractical? Maybe.  But definitely not a bad idea. Because the best leaders understand that there’s power in teams, that sharing common values harnesses even greater potential, and that having both together can lead to profound impact.

And for the second time in my life, I left the an MLT Kick-Off Seminar with inspiration and a competing need to get back to work. But this time not on applications or in the office. Now, I have to finish up my second semester of law school.

But either way, I still sort of know how the MLT’ers feel, and I encourage the fellows to join forces as you head through the year of MLT together. Good luck!

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Sunday, March 28th, 2010 Admissions, Business School, Diversity 10 Comments

NBMBAA Conference Recap

I just got back from New Orleans this past weekend from the NBMBAA conference. I had an incredible time. Thousands of people came from all over the US, enthusiastic to network with other business school students, optimistic to make that one special connection with a recruiter, and eager to get a competitive advantage and get one step closer to a full-time, six-figure dream job after graduation.

I arrived on Thursday early morning and after checking into my hotel, went straight to the career fair. Upon walking into the convention center, I saw hundreds of people scrambling to the registration room, all dressed in their best suits and in their shiny black shoes. Some were quickly running through their resumes before heading to talk to employers, others scrolling through emails on their blackberries, and others looking at the maps trying to find their target companies.

The crowd was incredibly diverse. It not only consisted of Black MBAs but also many of the world’s diverse cultures–Asian, Indian, Hispanic, White, and more. It was good to see that there were also quite a few women at the conference. Professionally, the people were mostly business school students.

Having been in MLT and having gone to lots receptions and admitted student weekends over the past year, I’d had the chance to meet a fair number of these people before, so it was nice to have a chance to see them all again. MLT was there in full force. Not only did dozens of MLT’ers from my class come out, but people from other classes came too. MLT also had a booth right near the front door. It felt like a mini-reunion.

Kellogg kids were also abound at the conference. Being in downtown Chicago at the law school, I don’t get to go down to Evanston as much as I’d like to, so it was nice to get together with everyone. Like MLT, Kellogg had a booth at the conference, and I spent a good deal of time there hanging out with the admissions team as well a with all the 1st and 2nd year students. About 15 or so other Schools were also in attendance, including the University of Chicago Booth, which is pretty close to Kellogg here in Chicago.

But despite all of the mingling, make no mistake about it, the highlight of the conference was Career Fair. Over the three days, more than 400 employers came out to actively recruit MBAs for summer internships and full-time positions. And this year, in these “odd” economic times, people didn’t take it for granted. My Kellogg counterparts were definitely on point. I chatted with them a lot about their job searches, and most of them had 1st and 2nd round interviews at the fair.

This fact highlights the biggest difference in recruiting at business schools and law schools. My MBA counterparts were hustling around for almost the entire conference, because for them, recruiting began before school even started. However at law school, we don’t start recruiting until December, which supposedly gives us a chance to focus more on our school work. As such, there isn’t much pressure for us to scramble around to find a job. As a JD-MBA I felt like I was part of both worlds. I was really interested to watch the recruiting process from the front line, so I definitely chatted lots of firms. But as a current law student, I didn’t feel any of the stress the MBAs felt, and I didn’t target any interviews during the conference.

Instead, my approach was to get a bird’s eye view of the recruiting environment and to see how all the companies fit into the puzzle. I spent my time talking to companies about the economy, asking questions about their financial well-being, and getting their perspectives on diversity. Most employers were quite willing to talk, especially since I probably came off as quite sincere given I didn’t have a hidden agenda of getting hired. On a couple of different occasions I was able to engage recruiters for 45-60 minutes at a time, whereas most people had closer to 10-15 minutes to make a pitch.

I was also able to learn a lot about a couple of not-for-profits who were at the conference. I spent a good deal of time with Education Pioneers and The Gates Foundation and went to their reception on Thursday evening for a couple of hours. The people at both organizations were fantastic, and I look forward to spending a lot more time checking out both organizations in the near future.

After a long two days of watching people run around looking for jobs, the career fair finally ended Friday at 5pm. At that point a lot of people went home to rest for a few hours before a night out on the town. I decided to head over to a private BCG reception at the local W hotel to mingle with some of the firm consultants. I’d met the Director of Diversity Recruiting a few times before, but it was good to see him again. After that, I went to the awards ceremony at another hotel to pick up my NBMBAA scholarship award with the other ten or so winners. As you might guess considering we were in New Orleans, the ceremony was more of a big celebration than anything, and it was a great lead-in to an unforgettable night on Bourbon Street.

I had a flight back to Chicago Saturday morning. I was on a flight with an MLT buddy who I wrote essays with in Boston, and I arrived home just in time to finish writing my Legal Writing paper for Sunday afternoon. It was quite a long weekend, but it was definitely worth the time. If you’re thinking about going to the NBMBAA conference in the future, you should definitely consider attending. The caliber of people are high, the opportunity to learn about companies is paramount, you’ll probably be in a pretty lively city, and the employers will likely be aggressively recruiting, which is especially nice in these “odd” economic times.

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Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 Business School, Careers, Diversity 3 Comments

MBA Conference in New Orleans

Tomorrow at 5:45am, I’ll be hopping on a plane to head to the National Black MBA (NBMBAA) Conference. The NBMBAA conference is about recognizing the achievements of blacks in business schools around the country. What an incredible opportunity to meet many of the future minority business leaders from all across the top business schools in the US.

As part of the conference there is a 2-day career fair. Over 400 companies will be there (click here for a partial list), including Accenture, American Express, Google, Booz Allen, Pepsi, Deustche Bank, and Bank of America, just to name a few. Many of these companies will be interviewing MBAs for summer internships and for full-time positions. I won’t be doing too much interviewing at the conference because of the nature of my JD-MBA program, but I do have a short list of companies that I plan to chat with a bit and to keep in touch with over the year. I always find it a lot of fun to learn about companies from recruiters, who usually know more about their companies than anyone since they are the gatekeepers. I’m also quite interested in the strategies that companies employ to attract and retain talent and their approaches to increasing diversity, given my high interest in labor issues.

I don’t know how many of you have been to these types of leadership conferences, but they’re usually worth the trip. Not only is it the perfect venue to meet lots of ambitious and talented people and a way to position yourself closer to a great summer job, but it’s also a good venue to enjoy your experience in a new and interesting city. Personally, I’ve never been to New Orleans before, and I’m excited to explore the city.  The good news is that I’ll see a large number of my MLT friends and Kellogg friends at the conference. It’ll be nice to reconnect with everyone.

I’ll be in New Orleans on Thursday and Friday, and I’ll fly back to Chicago Saturday morning, just in time to get back to my reading for law school and finish up a legal paper by Sunday.

Stay tuned for an update on the conference!

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Thursday, September 24th, 2009 Business School, Networking No Comments

MBA Diversity & Hispanic Heritage Month

This weekend, I’ve been doing a lot of research trying to finalize my plans for the NBMBAA (National Black MBA) and NSHMBA (National Hispanic MBA) annual conferences. Having recently won both scholarships as incoming business school student, I am lucky to be able to attend both conferences at no cost. Considering how fortunate I am to be in this position, I’ve been thinking a lot about diversity, and decided I would take a moment to talk a little about it here, especially in light of Hispanic Heritage Month.

I believe that in America today, we are in a “race” to bring diversity to our professional communities. Even in my short career, I’ve already learned that diverse teams are essential to success in the market place. Just as cross-functional teams are used to create value in the market, so too do cross-cultural teams offer the richest possibility to improve our businesses, laws, and policies in today’s diverse economy. Hispanic Americans represent a large part of this diversity. They make up more than 15% of the US population and add immeasurable value to America’s economy and its communities.

Coming from Arizona, I experienced this firsthand, where Hispanics represent nearly a third of the population and where they contribute to every single part of the economy, white collar and blue collar. Hispanic Heritage Month is the period to recognize all of this value that the Hispanic Americans have had in the United States and a time to celebrate their culture. The observation of the month started in 1968, and more than 40 years later the event is still largely celebrated. The month begins on September 15th, because that day represents the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua (Mexico and Chile also celebrate their anniversaries in September)

Here at Northwestern Law, a good friend of mine happens to be the Hispanic Heritage month Co-Chair for the Latino Law Students Association. She’s currently a 2L, and she’s putting together a wide range of events to recognize the efforts of the Hispanic here in the US. Knowing her dedication to the club and to Northwestern, I am certain the events are going to be terrific.

I don’t know exactly what she has in mind, but I suspect it will be something to engage the entire community. An obvious first point of reference being in law school is Sonia Sotomayor, our new US Supreme Court justice. Sotomayor is now the first Hispanic American ever to serve the court, as well as only the third woman. Not only is it a monumental moment in history, but it’s also at a time when our economy needs her most.

As the economic crisis still looms over the business and legal worlds, progressive schools have realized that recruiting exceptional Hispanic and other underrepresented minority students is one of the keys to re-establishing America’s long-term success. At the top 20 MBA programs, there are still only 7% to 10% blacks and Hispanics, and in the world of Fortune 500 companies and blue chip law firms, the percentage of CEO’s and Senior Partners is about half that.

Although our integration process is still far from complete, we do continue to see progress take place at top graduate schools, especially business schools. Kudos to organizations such as the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), and the Consortium Scholarship Program, which give access to Hispanic (and other minority) scholarships and professional training.   I suggest that anyone who qualifies for these programs consider them as you are applying. And as usual, I’ll give a special endorsement for MLT, where the best and the brightest come while applying the business school.

But for a moment, what’s more important than winning scholarships and fine tuning your career is that on September 15th we all take a moment to reflect and appreciate the impact that Hispanics and all minorities have had on all of our lives. Furthermore, we should also understand that to further improve our society, it’s imperative that we continue to increase the diversity in our schools as well as at all levels of our labor force and ultimately work in teams together. Only then will we be able to put everyone in our nation to their best use and collectively unlock our greatest potential for change.

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Monday, September 14th, 2009 Business School, Diversity 12 Comments

MLT MBA Prep Application

Hey there prospective b-school applicants. I wanted to pass along a quick reminder about applying to MLT’s MBA Prep Program. I’m an alumni of the program and think very highly of it. As I’ve mentioned in a few posts before, MLT is definitely a tremendous resource, not only in terms of applying to school but also in terms of the resources you will have afterward–career counseling, mentoring, networking, training, and more. And the good news is that applications are currently being accepted.

That’s right. Applications are currently being accepted for MBA Prep 2011. That’s relevant for minority MBA applicants who intend to enroll in an MBA program as the class of 2013. For more details, feel free to check out my past post and the MLT website.

For those interested in applying this year, below are the two application deadlines:

1. First-round application deadline is September 15, 2009
2. Second-round application deadline is October 31, 2009

If you are considering applying in either Round 1 or Round 2, MBA Prep does encourage you to consider Round 1. Over the past few years, more and more applicants are applying to MLT, so as a result, it is becoming more competitive. You should never rush your application and should always put your best foot forward. But, on the margin, earlier is better.

Since today is already September 12, some of you will not be able to apply by the September 15. I encourage you to submit on or before the October 31 deadline. Feel free to post any comments or questions you have, and I will respond.

Good luck!

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Saturday, September 12th, 2009 Admissions, Business School, Diversity 6 Comments

PepsiCo Challenge

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a pre-MBA workship with PepsiCo in New York City. The purpose of the event to show the attendees a little about what it’s like to work in marketing at Pepsi. I was personally interested in the session because Pepsi has a huge presence in Chicago, so I know that at some point, I might make my way there for interview or at the very least, an event they sponsored for Kellogg.

As expected, our day was jam-packed with panels, Q&A sessions, case studies, and a team based project, just like all the sessions I’ve been to. Also, like most of the other boot camps I’ve been too, I was really impressed with all the senior folks who took time from their day to come chat with us. There were a couple of Senior Managers, one or two Directors, and a VP. All the executives came from schools such as Kellogg, HBS, Stanford, and USC, and they all seemed to be high trajectory employees. Reflecting on the personnel who attended and on the rigor of the event, it’s pretty clear that the event was twofold: 1) to sell us on why Pepsi (and marketing) is a great company and 2) to profile potential applicants to PepsiCo down the line.

While I don’t plan to interview for marketing roles after school, the session definitely opened up the marketing profession for me. I got the chance to experience firsthand how marketing professionals approach problems and how cross-functional the marketing role is, at least at Pepsi.

I was also impressed to the extent to which the employees talked about values and how they used them to employ marketing strategies. While a lot of talk a lot about values, Pepsi definitely stood out. Every color they used, slogan they created, and campaign they launched touched on important company principles, such as youthfulness, daringness, larger-than-life attitude, and human performance. It was pretty impressive to see how everything connected behind the scenes.

The highlight of the day was our team project, where the groups was broken into teams, and each team was charged to come up with a new product for PepsiCo to sell. There were 8 or 9 groups, and we all broke off for about 90 minutes to brainstorm, come up with the product details, draw out a informal presentation, and pitch our idea to the Pepsi executives. It was pretty cool to see the variety of different products that the teams came up with, such as a new health drink, a new low-fat ice cream bar, and a new energy snack.

As I’ve continued to experience in these sessions as well as in my pre-MBA consulting career, there is definitely an art to working effectively in diverse groups. No matter how good you are with people or how charismatic you are, working effectively in a group of 5 or 6 people, especially type-A personalities is really hard, especially when there is no clearly assigned leader. I look forward to continuing to practice at Kellogg, where teamwork definitely takes center stage.

Reflecting back on the overall session, I learned that marketing is less about creativity and fuzzy ideas than it is about analytics and rigorous business analysis. The teams who did the best in the Pepsi challenge seemed to work pretty well together and had a solid business plan to back up their creative products.

After chatting with the executives, I also learned that there’s not a whole lot of room for JD-MBAs in the marketing profession, at least not right out of school. While JDs are definitely smart enough to do well in the profession, many of the recruiters don’t see a strong academic fit. The good news is that if you are considering the JD-MBA and if you are interested in marketing, the business development function (a cousin to marketing) is definitely a good fit in the long run because of its deal, negotiation, and contractual components.

Although I don’t plan to go into marketing after I graduate, I’m still glad I went to the PepsiCo event and ecstatic that I’ll be going to Kellogg, where I’ll learn a lot about marketing and where I’ll probably get more “teamwork” than I can handle.

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Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 Careers 2 Comments

A little about Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) and MLT on CNN last week

Hey everyone!  I want to take a few moments to write about an organization that I am part of called  Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT).  I’ve written about the program before, but I’m giving them a bit of special recognition for two reasons. (1) Because I recently finished MLT’s MBA Prep program this June and (2) because MLT was recently hosted on CNN’s Black in America series last week. 

I am definitely fortunate to have been part of MLT as an MBA applicant, the program is  top notch. Click here to see a clip from CNN that says the same thing. 

In terms of the mission of MLT, here is a blurb from the website: “MLT’s MBA Prep prepares early-career professionals for admission to top MBA programs and to make successful post-MBA career transitions. Individual coaching, seminars led by admissions officers, relationship- and skill-building workshops, mentoring from alumni, and in-depth boot camps led by corporate partners are all part of this highly successful program.”

Practically speaking, the program took place over an 18-month period.  In that time, I spent lots of time with my cohort, my individual coach, and my MLT friends, and together we visited campuses, interacted with current MBA students, reflected on personal goals, studied for the GMAT, wrote essays, and met with partner companies and admissions representatives. It was definitely a rigorous experience balancing the program with work, especially as a consultant, but it was well-worth when I got into a couple of really great schools and feel like I have a good head start to accelerate my career.

I just finished my MLT year in June, along with about 150 other fellows. The majority of the fellows got into one of their top choice programs—“overall today there are over 500 total MBA Prep Alumni, 90+% get into one of their top three business school choices, and most attend top 10 business schools.”

My cohort members were located in Boston and upper New York. There were about a dozen of us all from VERY different professional backgrounds and with very different professional interests. But the common denominator is that everyone is headed to great schools this fall, including Wharton, Booth (multiple), Kellogg (multiple), Tuck (multiple), Columbia, and others. We definitely had a lot of talented applicants.

In general, MLT has lots of kids going to these and other top schools this year. Additionally, MLT also sent a lot of kids to Kellogg this year, which I personally am excited about, it will be great to have a lot of friends down in Evanston.

If you are interested in MLT, you should definitely consider applying. Information sessions are happening all over the US in August for applicants who want to apply in 2010/2011 and graduate in 2013. Take a look at the website and see if any sessions are in your geography. Also, feel free to email me or post any questions about the program here on my blog.

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Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 Business School, Diversity 13 Comments

Mckinsey & Co Boot Camp

Along the lines of my last post about Citibank, I also recently went to a pre-MBA boot camp event with Mckinsey & Co in their New York office. It was part of the same weekend as the Citi event back in June. The session was terrific, and I was especially attentive considering that I’m targeting consulting firms post-graduation. There were about 35 or 40 people there, which was useful because I got a chance to meet all the other students in the room as well as the recruiters, consultants and firm partners. I spent a good deal of time with the Kellogg recruiter, which was great, although unfortunately I don’t think she’ll be the Kellogg recruiter again next year.

Overall, the consultants there seemed pretty similar to the folks I’ve met at other consulting recruiting events–diverse backgrounds, really smart, highly accomplished, well-groomed, pretty humble, really poised, and definitely headed towards doing big things.

One point of distinction, however, was the fact that “structure” seemed to seep through everything they did. The event itself, the presentations, the conversations, and the way the consultants thought about things and presented all had a real structure to it. I have quite a number of friends who’ve worked at Mckinsey over the past few years, and from what they told me, there is a really structured way of doing everything there, from billing, to traveling, to staffing, to using frameworks on projects, to even ordering food in the evening. I don’t tend to be overly organized or structured by nature, but I’d be fine with that approach in a firm.

A couple of other things that stood out for me were that Mckinsey definitely came off as a place that values personal development, that is quite cooperative (not competitive at all), and that has an aura of prestige in the room. For me personally, what probably stood out the most about Mckinsey is that it also prides itself in being the relationship-driven firm. While relationships are definitely vital to all the firms, I think Mckinsey sticks out in this regard. For one, they’ve done a good job at staying in touch with the attendees ever since the event. Also, as you can even see from the picture I posted from their website, relationships are at the forefront of what they think about.

What I also saw about Mckinsey is that they like non-MBAs a lot. Not only do they have whole teams dedicated to hiring both non-MBAs and JDs and they had a slew of law graduates and dual degree’rs at the office while I was there. Both of these facts give me a bit more confidence going into the application process. Given how selective the firm is, I’ll take every advantage I can get.

Aside from all these things I learned about the firm, my favorite part of the session was the group case study. Mckinsey broke us up into about 7 or 8 randomly selected groups, and we spent about 2.5 hours with our teammates hashing through a study that Mckinsey actually did a couple of months ago. We were tasked with recommending which country in South Africa should a the client foundation fund for the cure of aids, and we were given a 50-page packets with information on about 12 of the countries. It was definitely a good test of some the typical consulting skills– working with lots of information, navigating an unfamiliar topic, structuring an analysis, working in teams, and presenting. It was pretty interesting to see all the teams present different countries.

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Friday, July 10th, 2009 Careers No Comments

Citibank and Leading with Your Heart

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a pre-MBA boot camp event hosted by Citigroup in New York. It was the capstone event that finished off my yearlong process with MLT. I spent one of the mornings with Citigroup’s subsidiary Citi Cards and was fortunate to hear 40-year old CEO Paul Galant give a talk. Boy was he sharp. There were about 100 of us there, and Paul thrived in front of the crowd. He talked lot of about leadership and the turbulent times in the financial services industry. His style was charismatic and sincere, and he often referenced the idea getting through to the “hearts and minds “of your workers.

I’ve often heard the phrase “Great leaders win over the hearts and minds of others.” What’s interesting about the phrase is that the word heart comes before the word mind in that phrase. I don’t think it’s a mistake that it was created this way. The heart is what a person believes, dreams about, values, and is committed to. When you can touch someone on that level, then you can become a better leader.

In my experience, this is not often emphasized in today’s business world, where the bottom line is king and where analytics and process usually trump values, teamwork, and inspiration. As an MBA student and business person, I can’t argue with things like bottom line or with P&L, but I would definitely debate that being profitable in the long run is as much about good leadership as it is about cutting costs and doing analysis.

I liked Paul a lot, and I agree with his philosophies about running an organization. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough of that experience at my last firm. When I graduate in 3 years, I hope to work for a firm that values inspirational leadership and looks for that ability in its firm leaders and in the people it recruits. Stay tuned to find out how things turn out.

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Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 Careers, Leadership 3 Comments

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.


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