March 29, 2012

Student Life in Pictures II

Post By:
Asad Butt
 MS-MBA in Media Ventures, 2012
The Women's MBA Club
Winter formal
Winter formal
Candle pin bowling, a New England tradition
Hanging out while bowling
Net Impact Case Competition winning team
Students getting a bite to eat at a restaurant across the street from the School of Management
MBAs playing soccer/futbal
Volunteering at Waltham Fields Community Farm

Asad Butt is a second year MBA/MS in Media Ventures candidate focusing on digital strategies for media companies. Asad enjoys playing soccer and taking pictures when not studying or obsessing over "Words with Friends."

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March 26, 2012

Career Support and Job Searching

Post By:
Shawn Hay
MBA, 2012

I was lucky enough this year to lock down my full-time job right before winter break.  This has been great in relieving the pressure going in to my last semester and has allowed me to enjoy other aspects of the MBA life as things begin to wind down.  But, all of this could not have happened without hard work and support from the career center and my negotiations class.

With a background in construction/engineering project management at Disneyland, I came to school looking to switch in to management consulting.  Although that is not where I ended up focusing my career search, through the process I was able to learn (as my econ professor Rebitzer would say) “a tremendous amount” of job searching strategies.  Using the career center, the consulting community, job fairs, and seminars I learned the art of translating a job description in to a focused cover letter, using informational interviews to tailor my resume to bring out my important qualities that would best suit me for the job, and mock interviews to experience the pain of going through a horribly difficult interview (thanks Gary…).  With the Feld Career Center’s seminars on networking and the required informational interviews (back in week 1 of my first year) I got proficient at my 30 second pitch, asking the correct questions to find out what the company culture was like, and if they had positions that would fit what I most wanted out of a job.  Further, with the help of professors, my classmates, and others from the Career Center I learned the importance of molding my story to show my future employer how my past experience has led me to this job and why I would be the best fit.  None of these skills were in my career “tool-kit” before I started, and now I feel comfortable enough to do this any time!  Of course, the biggest help has been my peers who are supportive and excited anytime I mentioned I had an interview coming up.  My favorite part of my preparation was sitting down with my friend Parker and having him interrogate me as if he were the interviewer and explain why he should hire me.  The character he played would be a very mean boss and thankfully I never had an interview quite that hard.  All of the skills helped me get to the point of getting an offer, which brings me to my next topic.

Negotiations is a popular class here at BU, mainly because it is really fun and extremely applicable to the business world, and life in general.  The intro project is to get 10 “NOs” from people, as long as you ask for something of substance.  Most students end up with free premium channels from Comcast, discounts on clothing, or a free drink at a restaurant.  It is a ton of fun and forces you in to getting comfortable asking for things as long as you can give reasons for why you deserve it!  Professor Levin established a solid course load where every day we were involved in some type of negotiation (competitive to collaborative to a mixture of both) and we soon became very comfortable in dealing with complex negotiations and learned frameworks to manage tough deals.  This came in handy as offer letters started coming in.  Prior to this class I was very uncomfortable asking for things (specifically countering offers) and I did not understand the importance of backing your numbers up with concrete facts and thorough research.  Although I was extremely nervous to attempt a serious salary negotiation without the safety net of the classroom, I undertook it with confidence and structure from the class.

My story is just one of hundreds of others that my peers have experienced.  To those still looking, I wish you the best and I have complete confidence you will find your dream job in the coming months.  To those of you who are done searching, congrats and enjoy the rest of the semester!  To the first years and prospective students, the feeling when you finally say “yes” is one of great satisfaction—finally realizing that the hard work you put in, the sacrifice of leaving the workforce for two years, and the excitement of walking out of the MBA with your dream job is what you came here for!  You will soon know how that feels and you earned it!

Shawn Hay is a General MBA concentrating in Leadership and Organizational Transformation. Prior to his MBA he worked at Disneyland as a project manager for the construction department. Shawn really enjoys the collaborative culture at BU.

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March 22, 2012

BU MBA: A Collaborative Culture

Post By:
Nishant Sharma
MBA, 2013

‘Collaborative Culture’ is one of the hottest buzzwords among B-School applicants. As I considered the schools I wanted to apply to, collaborative culture was one of the most important factors I considered. Eight months into the program, I believe the BU MBA has exceeded my expectations in terms of the amazing collaborative culture. 

The curriculum at BU promotes team work and builds strong relationships. The effort by the Graduate Programs Office to form teams comprised of people from diverse backgrounds is worth applauding.  The Integrated Project is a semester long project in the fall semester where you work with a group of 6-7 classmates on preparing an acquisition pitch for a brand. The complexity of the project and the diversity of the teams makes it a great learning experience in respect to team dynamics. The challenge of managing communication, schedules, and effort as a team made it my best experience of the fall semester. 

The team experience as part of the Pharmasim project supplements the Integrated Project team experience. Pharmasim is a three day marketing simulation focused on applying concepts learned as part of the marketing course as part of a new team. This allows for exposure to new perspectives that helps your team performance in other projects. In addition to these two major projects, students are encouraged to participate in discussion forums around problem sets and share interesting information with the class to promote good discussions.
The team experience carries forward into the spring semester when students work on team projects for all the courses. The teams formed here are different from the first semester hence expanding your horizons of social interaction and collaboration.

What also makes the program special is the opportunity to get involved in team activities beyond academics. I have participated in two projects for non-profit organizations with different teams involving faculty advisors which made them great learning experiences. Also there are opportunities to participate in case competitions which allow you to form teams and develop specific skill sets that you may desire.

Although I cannot comment on the culture of other schools, the opportunities available at BU to participate in team activities make it a remarkable program. The support provided by faculty and the fellow students to help you realize your goals makes it an excellent well-rounded collaborative experience.

Nishant Sharma is a 1st Year MS-MBA with experience in Information Technology and developing sustainable practices. Most recently he was spotted participating in Karaoke with his cohort. Follow @tweet_nishant on Twitter.

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March 19, 2012

Diverse Backgrounds Provide Unexpected Insights

Post By:
Phil Duffy
International MBA, 2012

Prior to joining the International MBA program, I’d read multiple sources that claimed learning from classmates constitutes a major part of the MBA experience. However, as a slightly older student with 16 years of management experience, I was skeptical that classmates with less experience would significantly broaden my business knowledge. Luckily for me, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

The BU IMBA program recruits from a wide distribution of nationalities and professional backgrounds, and that diversity brings with it a collective wealth of cultural and business experience. Learning from such a diverse group requires nothing more than an interest in people and a good ear. Within hours of arriving in Beijing I was learning about green energy systems in the Middle East and non-profit programs in Africa, and classes hadn’t even started yet!
The China semester capitalizes on the student-student learning experience by bringing everyone together in a single space, under intense conditions. Living, studying, exploring and relaxing together everyday for three months forms a bond amongst classmates that MBA students rarely experience. But it’s more than just a bond of friendship. As groups break for dinner or drinks, conversations often reflect on the day’s classroom activity with students applying the models taught to their own industries or modifying concepts to work within their own cultures. I’ve seen students who struggled with Operations Management concepts in class become enlightened when a fellow student applied the concept to the restaurant they were dining in. Other students drew on their legal expertise to expand on issues brushed over in our accounting class, whilst others challenge classroom teachings by contrasting scenarios with real life trade-offs.

The China semester is also a boiling pot of entrepreneurial innovation, with countless virtual businesses being founded, managed, critiqued and extinguished. Concepts are exchanged like wildfire, with students drawing on their own experience, encounters in China and concepts taught in class, to visualize the next billion-dollar venture. 
A good professor introduces theoretical concepts during class, which they often illustrate with one or two concrete examples. But in my experience the majority of applications and deep-level processing come through conversations with classmates in non-classroom environments. In the IMBA program you’ll be amazed by how much expertise surrounds you. I’ve never experienced anything like it before and expect it will rarely be repeated in the future.

Collaborative foundations were laid during the China semester and continue throughout the time in Boston. The combination of diverse backgrounds, shared experience and unified training produces colleagues that are educated, driven and share the same values. I have no doubt the bonds formed during the IMBA experience will remain key relationships, both professionally and personally, long beyond my time at BU.   

Phil is an International MBA candidate concentrating in Marketing. He's originally from the UK, but has been living in Asia for many years. He has experience in design for manufacture and started an entrepreneurial venture in Hong Kong. Phil can often be found puttering around campus, or propping up the bar at Cornwalls.
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March 8, 2012

Field Seminar to Silicon Valley

Post By:
Erica Hanson,  MS-MBA, 2013
Eric Whitney, MS-MBA, 2013
Eli Mather, MS-MBA, 2013

During winter break, a group of MS-MBA students traveled to Silicon Valley and San Francisco in order to learn from company leaders, entrepreneurs, professors, angel investors, and many other people. This course was a one week intensive held in Silicon Valley. 

The course was designed to achieve two objectives -- first, to develop an appreciation for the role of Silicon Valley in Digital Innovation and, secondly, to examine how digital innovations are impacting key shifts in specific sectors. This year, the course focused on three sectors: Healthcare, Energy, and Digital Content/education/media. Students were placed into teams and were expected to develop specific insights as the basis to engage in interactions with corporate executives, alumni, and follow classmates. Teams also visited leading companies involved in each sector and developed and presented their team's perspective on key digital trends and leadership challenges for their sector. 

Some of the companies that we visited were:
Our visit to Kaiser Permanente's Health Care Innovation Center was a remarkable demonstration of utilizing physical space to drive innovation. In modeling a hospital floor, patient rooms, and a home setting, Kaiser Permanente enables healthcare workers, patients, and even building contractors to test out new ideas on all their respective roles in defining the healthcare experience. Instead of doctors trying to understand what their working environment will feel like from looking at a floor plan, movable walls and full-scale mockups of medical equipment allow instant comprehension and feedback.

Chevron demonstrated their commitment to out-of-the-box thinking with their Innovation Zone lab. Innocuously tucked inside one of the many office buildings on the sprawling Chevron campus in San Ramon, the space breaks down traditional barriers of thinking to foster creative and innovative problem solving. Innovation Zone director Jack Anderson demonstrated how Chevron teaches employees concepts such as the Innovation Cycle, and how thoughtful approaches to better understanding the problem at hand result in increased idea generation and intellectual breakthroughs.

For over a year now, we have been exposed to the hottest technological advances to reduce energy consumption. From electric cars to thermostats that adjust themselves based on room occupancy, when we sat in the conference room at Trilliant, we were exposed to a leading company in the smart grid area. The following two hours were critical in our understanding of how the industry functioned from a governing perspective. This is the side that is most often glassed over, but the truth of it is that the regulatory framework of the energy industry is the largest barrier to developing a measure of global energy consumption. Until that is addressed, we may only continue learning about new technologies instead of using them.

“Last night I got in my car after a long day at work. As I drove, I let my house know that I was coming home. She (I had programmed a female voice) asked me if was cooking dinner. After registering my ‘yes,’ she turned on the oven off the microwave to save energy. A few minutes later, I decided to order take-out. I told my house and promptly, she turned the oven off, microwave on, and asked me if I wanted my normal selection from my favorite Chinese food restaurant ordered. 15 minutes later I arrived home, food in hand. As I walked in, my favorite music began playing, the lights went on, and after I sat down on the couch, the music was replaced by my favorite television show. What a welcome home!"

That scenario is not reality… yet, but that is one of a couple amazing technologies that we saw at Ericsson’s Experience Center. The crazy part? Most of their innovations had working prototypes, meaning that these seemingly fictitious scenes are closer to reality then we think! About 1½ years ago, Ericsson created an internal innovation area to keep their products forward focused and create a more innovative place to work. They work off the IDEO method and through a brainstorming exercise with the director and staff member of the Innova team, we got to explore how it works.  What an inspiring visit at Ericsson!

NextBio enables users to systematically integrate and interpret public and proprietary molecular data and clinical information from individual patients, population studies and model organisms, thus applying genomic data in novel and useful ways, both in research and in the clinic.

Before our week in Silicon Valley, we felt that the point of innovation experimentation was to test applications of disruptive technologies and push the promising ones into the marketplace. Now we see that strategic experimentation can be used to anticipate market shifts and build out capabilities required as roles shift. Thus, to manage risk, you could simultaneously build a platform around yourself and decouple your product offerings. Building these capabilities will allow you to drive shifts in the market and be prepared for the ones you can’t foresee. 

Corporations such as Chevron, Ericsson and Kaiser Permanente are divorcing business process from innovation in order to prototype and test new ideas gradually. Entrepreneurs are teaching each other about the lessons they learned the hard way, yet they are the ones most risk-tolerant and willing to challenge the status quo. Similarly, Venture Capitalists are betting that one or three entrepreneurs will be able to make a difference and they are betting for them.

Erica Hansen is a second year MS-MBA with a concentration in Marketing and a passion for all things digital. She is an officer in the Marketing Club and MS-MBA Association. Outside of school life she enjoys great friends and conversations, and can't wait to spend more time traveling!

Eli is proud to be a second year M.B.A and M.S. in Information Systems candidate at Boston University's School of Management.  Professionally, Eli has launched three brick and mortar distribution warehouses with retail showrooms and has experience consulting on design challenges.  As an advocate of locally produced foods and crafts, you can find Eli walking his dog and playing Ultimate Frisbee around Jamaica Plain.

Eric Whitney is pursuing dual degrees from Boston University’s School of Management, including an MBA with a concentration in nonprofit management as well as a Masters in Information Systems, and is the President of the Public & Nonprofit Management Club. In his second year of the program, Eric is consulting with several nonprofits on their data management strategies to identify and track metrics for measuring organizational and program success. 

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March 5, 2012

First Semester in Summary

Post By:
Masato Muso
MBA, 2013

Touring Fenway Park with classmates
The first semester was often a period of information overload with multiple events happening at the same time.  When I faced the challenge of managing my time and choosing which events to pick, I thought about what I want to get out of my MBA.

Throughout the semester there were many memorable experiences, but there are 3 major highlights.

Integrated Project
Integrated Project team hard at work
This is a team-based project that includes acquiring a brand and re-branding it to make it a successful product.  The project runs throughout the semester and all subjects, including accounting, finance, marketing, and distribution, had to be addressed to make a successful final presentation. I learned and experienced more about team dynamics and team collaboration through this process that other schools do not offer.  We all understood that we could not accomplish this project as individuals and we had to lean on each other to accomplish our project goals.

Boat Cruise and Winter Gala
On the fall boat cruise
Aside from all the team projects and studying, we also had official student council run events that included the ‘prom’ of graduate school.  We all had fun dancing the night away and hanging out with friends!  I have enjoyed getting to meet  and know more of my classmates through these events.

West Coast Networking Club–Technology Trek
West Coast Networking Trek with classmates
Coming into this MBA program, I knew I wanted to work on the west coast. So I joined the West Coast Networking Club and visited technology companies through their Technology Trek.  We visited companies such as Google, VMware, Cisco Systems, Accenture, IBM, and so forth.  Actual visits to these companies really allowed me to visualize myself working there and I was able to get an “inside scoop” from managers who worked there.  This was a unique opportunity to see more of the real world and introduce myself to technology companies. 

Lastly, I wanted to mention that I have never been more challenged to push myself to the next level than I am in the MBA program.  An MBA is a balancing act of career search, academics, clubs, interview preparations, networking, and fun.  Throughout this process, I have appreciated the support I have received from my fellow classmates and friends.  When we can help each other to succeed together, we see how everyone is in a win-win scenario.  Without a doubt, I could not have survived my first semester without the help of very intelligent and insightful friends. 

Masato Muso is a 1st Year General MBA, focusing on a marketing concentration. 

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March 1, 2012

StartUp Scramble

Post by:
Phan Huynh
MS-MBA, 2013

If I ever got a tattoo, it’d say “fortes fortuna adiuvat."  Fortune favors the bold. 

A fortune. I don’t pursue goals, I pursue fortunes. And I don’t mean gold. I mean vast amounts of freedom – the freedom to scoff at forty hour work weeks, the freedom to teach unpaid at a community college, to master the Theremin, to write short comedies about my folks, to fly cross country in a hot air balloon. And to earn my keep, I’ll happily build and manage community social enterprises (for-profit entities with for-profit claws but a nonprofit soul, like Grameen Bank).  

To favor. Different from a promise, because lady luck still calls the shots. But she can be wooed.  

The bold. People may not like them or think they’re smart enough, but that’s neither here nor there because the bold are too busy not giving a crap. And the bold are always smiling, as if their magic eight ball actually works.  

My ongoing pursuit towards boldness more or less began my first semester at Boston University School of Management. I cautiously pushed my comfort zone, sometimes sacrificing study time for networking events, clubs activities, and business competitions. I even took time during finals week to submit my pet project (a website that generated social gatherings to build community) to a startup competition.
 By the second semester, I was itching to up the ante. My opportunity came in the form of the Startup Scramble. First, it was a commitment of two and half days. Second, there was a small fee. And third, I’d have to forfeit that weekend’s homework. The Old Phan nagged, but the Bold Phan ultimately put his foot down.

Scramble Day 1: Stephen Douglass (Scrambler founder and Master of Ceremonies) had us shed our shells by pitching our worst business ideas. He had also brought in speakers from Microsoft and Highland Capital. That day I met Rey Faustino, a Harvard Public Policy student by day and a social enterprise hero by night. I was instantly sold on Rey’s proposal: One Degree, the Yelp of social services.

Scramble Day 2: I attended three hour-long presentations on business entities, accounting, and web development, which inspired me to learn Dreamweaver. Rey and I brainstormed revenue models and market assumptions, machine-gunning our ideas onto whiteboard after whiteboard. We left after our admittedly crappy “dirty pitch”, but we were pumped about at our progress. 

Scramble Day 3: Rey and I spent most of the day improving our dirty pitch, with the help of six mentors from local companies. We consumed many more whiteboards. The day ended with the ten teams pitching to a panel of four judges. Most of the presentations had evolved leaps and bounds. One Degree was announced the winner and Rey went home with a Microsoft Kinect trophy.
Fortes fortuna adiuvat. The Startup Scramble was a bold move for me, and I was rewarded handsomely. One Degree became the concentration for my semester-long entrepreneurial class. Now I’m upping the ante again by working with my new buddy Rey to enter One Degree into the Harvard Business Plan Competition and the $100K Mass Challenge. Next, I’m considering a move to San Francisco this summer to help launch the pilot across several schools. I’ve still got a way to go before hot air ballooning, but at least for now, I can postpone that tattoo.

Phan grew up in California where he earned his engineering degree (UCSD '06).  In 2009, he kissed his surfboard and career goodbye and moved to Boston to be a PM for the EITC Antipoverty Campaign.  Phan is now pursuing a MS/MBA, with a Public Nonprofit concentration, so that he can help nonprofits put on for-profit armor. 

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