October 31, 2011

From China to Boston-An International MBA Student Perspective

Post by:
Kira Sargatzke

International MBA 2012

Hello everyone! I am very excited, because this is my first blog. My name is Kira and I am part of the One-Year International MBA Program here at Boston University. Now autumn has finally arrived in Boston and with it, a lot of work (midterms, group projects, etc.). It’s almost like our summer semester in China. As you may know, the IMBA program starts with a three month summer term in China.

Beginning on May 1st, we spent our first month in Beijing before moving to Shanghai for June and July. Since I had never been in China before, both cities were fascinating in their own way. Beijing is so rich in culture, that it is definitely a must-see on every China trip. If it is the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Art District or the Chinese Wall, everything was worth seeing it.

Shanghai, on the other hand, is totally different. It is the commercial center of China, sort of like New York is the commercial center of the US, and very modern. If it’s the different cultural districts, the amazing restaurants, the nightlife or the shopping areas, Shanghai has a lot to offer to enjoy your stay there.

But besides all these nice leisure activities, the classes kept us very busy. All classes in China are core classes of the IMBA program which means they are required for graduation. While classes in Beijing already required a lot of work, the part in Shanghai was even more challenging. Classes are taught as intensives, which made it a little easier, because you just have to focus on one class at a time. However, at the same time, we worked on our integrated project concerning a business start-up in China which increased the workload a bit more.

Nevertheless, the three months in China just flew by and now we are all in Boston. Starting with the pre-term in mid-August, classes are now already half way done. However, after having studied and lived with all of my 26 IMBA classmates for three months in Beijing and Shanghai, Boston is very different. Now we have different classes, live in different areas of Boston and probably also have different worries than in China. But with all the activities offered by BU (student clubs, cohort cup, cheers with professors) I am really enjoying my time here in Boston. Since graduation is in May, time to explore BU and Boston is very limited. So, we better get started now!

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October 24, 2011

A First Year MBA's Reflection on Approaching the Midpoint of Fall 2011

Post By:

Dana Connolly (center in photo)
MBA Candidate, 2013

If someone were to have asked me a year ago what I expected out of my first eight weeks as a full-time MBA student, I can say without a doubt that whatever answer I would’ve given would only cover a miniscule fraction of what has actually transpired since I came to BU for pre-term on August 22nd. In this relatively short period of time, I’ve already had my first group presentation, Integrated Project is well under way, and I’ve had to tackle a few exams (and not-so-fortunately, there are a few more tests coming up in the very near future). I’ve attended my first Career Fair, participated in informational interviews, and connected with 2nd year students about their summer internships. I’ve had fantastic conversations over drinks – with both classmates and professors, I’ve had the chance to attend a conference and a number of panels, and I have gotten an opportunity to achieve a leadership position in a student organization. Although so much has already happened, I’m almost completely bewildered when I try to justify the speed at which this time has passed. Was it really only 3 months ago that I was still employed and the fall semester seemed so far off in the future?!

Another aspect of the life of an MBA student that I definitely underestimated is the speed of and extent to which my life has plunged into what I like to call “manageable chaos”. To be fair, my experience may not be typical of colleagues, who could have potentially acclimated to the lifestyle of a full-time student instead of a working professional more rapidly and less awkwardly. For example, I have not gone food shopping in over a month, and instead I rely on whatever food I can find in SMG, delivery, and candy as my primary forms of sustenance. I also did not think that I would have to adapt to sleeping an average of 4 ½ hours per night quite this early in the game. Nevertheless, the stress of coursework and career development and my personal care becoming more reminiscent of that of an 18-year old are tremendously small prices for me to pay for the extraordinary benefits the full time MBA has rendered so far on both an academic and, I would argue more importantly, a personal level. Every opportunity that has been presented to spend time with classmates, explore Boston, or broaden my horizons in terms of potential career paths has been too good to pass up, and such experiences make convenience-store turkey sandwiches quite a bit easier to swallow.

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October 17, 2011

Summer in Chi-town

Post by:
Shawn Hay
MBA Candidate, 2012

I have never written a blog before, so here goes nothing! It is great to be back in Boston, especially back at SMG. I am finally in student mode again, and in the zone for job searching and prepping for those dreaded cold calls from professors!

This summer was an eye opening experience, not only for my personal growth, but also for my business confidence. I spent the summer working my internship at AT&T in Chicago, Illinois. I was a part of their Leadership Development Program, and was specifically assigned to work in their Core Installation and Maintenance department (CIM). Going in to the program I expected to spend the summer learning about all the adjacent departments that CIM worked with, networking with executives, and generally learning the feel and structure of the company. Although all of these things happened, I also got a chance to really flex my newly acquired business skills in a real life scenario!

My project was a process flow/data analysis focused assignment where I examined the best way for managers to tackle performance metrics of technicians. Basically, I needed to find a quick and easy way for managers to see where areas of improvement were, and standardize it across the hundreds of garages throughout the Illinois area. I was so thankful I had taken stats, operations, and organizational behavior! Walking in to the project, I could see that the problem was so disorganized that the company did not really know where to start. My managers were pleasantly surprised by how quickly I could absorb the data and use it to tell the story of where the problem was. Little did they know that that was a standard problem we faced repeatedly in our stats class (Thanks Prof. Pekoz!). The rest of the project was using basic DMAIC problem solving practices to set up a solution to the problem, which was also easy after taking Operations, and applying concepts from OB to get the technicians and managers to understand how they could benefit from my proposed method. All of this was really great because this was my first stab at a consulting type of job, and I was really nervous about my ability to handle consulting type projects. But, I was beyond prepared for this project thanks to BU! My confidence in my analytic skills was soaring by the end of the summer, giving me just the extra I needed to proceed in finding myself a full-time job.

Although this is a business school blog, it is perfectly acceptable to have fun during your internship too so let’s talk about it! I loved being in Chicago (for the summer, I think the winters would kill me. I am a southern Californian!).

The leadership program held a few events, including a rooftop bleacher day for the Cubs game! Wrigley is an amazing stadium and the atmosphere is something everyone should experience!

Outside of that, I got to explore Chicago, the suburbs, and a little of Wisconsin for the 4th of July weekend! Another great perk of being in Chicago for the Summer is Lollapalooza (a huge 3 day music festival). This was right in the middle of downtown Chicago at Grant Park. I have never seen so many people in one place before!

Another first I got to check off my list was working in a high rise building. Our cafeteria was on the 30th floor! That was so fun for me!

The biggest things I am going to miss about being in Chicago are the beach scene (which is surprisingly awesome!) and Ian’s pizza! Go to Ian’s pizza…I am not going to tell you anything about it, just go!

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October 12, 2011

Math Finance 10 Year Celebration!

Post by,
MSMF Candidate 2013

The leaves are beginning to change color - a subtle reminder that the semester is flying by. Not only has this semester gone by in a blink of an eye, but the MSMF program is quietly aging as well. This weekend the MSMF program celebrated its tenth anniversary in grand fashion. The celebration included three keynote speakers, Harry Markopolos of “Chasing Bernie Madoff,” David Ye, Chief Risk Officer for State Street Global Markets, and Mark Kritzman, President and Chief Investment Officer of Windham Capital Management. The celebration also included an alumni career panel featuring graduates from the program. The celebration was open to all current students in the School of Management as well as all BU alumni. The day was a great opportunity for me and my classmates to speak with previous graduates of the program; learn from their varied experiences; and hear inspiring advice regarding the program and their career paths.

The first speaker was Harry Markopolos, an Independent Financial Fraud Investigator and Bernie Madoff whistleblower. Harry worked in industry for some time before being victimized by financial fraud. After witnessing many instances of financial fraud, he decided to take action and put a stop to as much fraud as he could. Harry is now a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and handles many large scale fraud cases. The biggest case, the Bernie Madoff case, took 8 ½ years. The details of the case can be read in No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller by Harry Markopolos.

The second speaker was David Ye, the Chief Risk Officer for State Street Global Markets. He started his career in mathematics. He received his PhD from Duke University in 1991 and he began teaching. One day he received a call from a local bank requesting his assistance. After they described the problem, he realized the intricacy of finance and that he was very interested in applying his knowledge in mathematics to finance. David has worked primarily as a Risk Officer throughout his career and lectured about the importance of risk management and the utility of understanding the market.

The final speaker was Mark Kritzman, President and Chief Investment Officer of Windham Capital Management. Mark’s lecture was on measuring systemic risk, a topic which has grown more and more important since the financial crisis of 2008. In short, Mark would use the results of his analysis to determine an optimized ratio of stocks to bonds in a portfolio.

The 10 year anniversary celebration was an important milestone for the MSMF program and we had a great time celebrating with alumni and our wonderful presenters! Here’s to the next ten years.

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October 3, 2011

A Summer Internship Abroad

Post by:
MBA/MPH Global Health Candidate, 2012 Council

As a dual degree MBA/MPH student with a concentration in Global Health, I knew that I wanted my internship in the summer after my first year to be working for an international company outside of the United States. I was also hoping to get work experience in Sub-Saharan Africa after having several brief prior experiences in Kenya. I was thrilled when BU alumni Paul Chen and several professors at the School of Management and the School of Public Health contacted me last spring about the potential opportunity to work in Ghana with Vestergaard Frandsen, a Swiss-based company that operates under a unique humanitarian entrepreneurship business model.

Vestergaard Frandsen (VF) has turned corporate social responsibility into their core business. They are most well-known for their long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets which help prevent malaria. However, the work I completed for them over the summer involved the LifeStraw, a water filtration device designed to prevent diarrhea which results from drinking contaminated water. It’s not always popular to talk about, but diarrhea is the number 2 cause of death in developing countries such as Ghana, especially for children under 5. In fact, diarrhea kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined! Fortunately, filtering water with a high membrane filter such as the LifeStraw in the house immediately before consumption can reduce diarrhea by up to 63%.

Living in Ghana was an adventure in itself. I was fortunate enough to travel and work with two other Boston University students for this internship and was definitely grateful that we could explore Accra together. Additionally, Kristen McCormack, faculty director of the Public and Non-Profit program at SMG and recent alumna Sayaka Koseki were with us in Accra for the first week of our internship to make sure we got off to a good start. I’m definitely excited about the relationship that BU has formed with VF and I look forward to seeing what kind of collaborations we can work on in the future. Stay tuned for details about a symposium that we’re planning in January where we will highlight some of our work.

The BU Team with co-workers from Vestergaard Frandsen’s Accra office:

Here is a picture of us after taking a dance class:

The LifeStraw water filter being used in a rural school that we visited:

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