August 27, 2012

Summer of Social Innovation Finance

Post By:
Tim Pennell
MBA, 2013
The nonprofit and private sectors were abuzz this summer with news of advancements in Pay for Success and Social Impact Bonds in New York City and Massachusetts. I was fortunate to be working for the summer as a Senior Analyst at Third Sector Capital Partners, a leader in social innovation financing and the firm selected to oversee the first-in-the-nation initiatives in Massachusetts.

What is social innovation financing? Each year, the U.S. spends billions of dollars on social programs that fail to achieve measurable impact. At the same time, there are limited funds to grow programs with documented results. Pay for Success programs, when combined with innovative social financing mechanisms, present opportunities to create unique public-private partnerships to redirect resources towards preventative initiatives that measurably improve lives.

As a member of the Third Sector team I was able to apply many of the skills I acquired during my first year at BU - from excel modeling and preparing presentations for negotiations with the state to creating a new company website and writing a case study. Working for Third Sector was the perfect application of business acumen to solving a key issue for nonprofits and governments nationwide. At the end of the summer I will stay on part-time at Third Sector.

I landed at Third Sector by serving as a New Sector Summer Fellow. The fellowship provided the opportunity to receive additional trainings and interactions with other MBAs and students from across the country working in Boston for the summer. 

Tim Pennell is a 2nd Year MBA in the Public & Non-Profit concentration. Prior to BU, Tim worked in fundraising for a symphony orchestra. This fall he is continuing work part-time with Third Sector Capital Partners, his summer employer.

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August 20, 2012

Education Pioneers [Part 2 of 2]

Part 2 by:
Pammi Bhullar, MBA 2013
Renato Orozco, MBA 2013
Dana Connolly, MS-MBA 2013

PAMMI BHULLAR – MBA Class of 2013, PNP -- BOSTON COHORT [Boston Public Schools]

Pammi (left), with some Boston fellows

This summer I worked in the Finance and Budget Office at Boston Public Schools (BPS). BPS is dedicated to improving student achievement by providing the leadership, procedures, systems, and customer support necessary for principals to maximize teacher effectiveness. As a Fellow, I collaborated with central office and school leaders to build a culture of documenting and effectively communicating policies and procedures. My ability to empower employees to execute a cultural change on their own and to effectively communicate solutions in a simple manner enabled BPS to decrease the time spent on transactional issues and more time on empowering leaders to make financial decisions. In the long-term this will support principals in the instructional and managerial aspects of creating more effective, better prepared teachers.

A combination of my EP experience and honest feedback I've received along the way has directed me to a career in empowering others to achieve their potential. This could be through leading professional development or fellowship programs, or through empowerment initiatives for communities through capacity building.

Through EP workshops, visiting schools, and working at Boston Public Schools I gained tremendous insight into several aspects of the educational system, including teacher evaluations, weighted student funding, after-school student learning opportunities, and labor relations. This well-rounded exposure to a sector deeply in need of reform has challenged my initial perspective on what it takes to prepare students for the working world.

During the summer, I became friends with an ambitious young lady and EP Fellow who recently started a nonprofit called FuelEd. Through our connection at EP, we became friends and I was able to contribute to her organization and witness its exceptional growth during its first year of operations. Seeing her dedication to developing teachers' capacity for building more effective relationships with students has been inspirational.

RENATO OROZCO: MBA Class of 2013, PNP -- NEW YORK CITY COHORT [Teach for America]

Renato (left), and a few other NYC Fellows

Teach for America supports, prepares and develops 10,000 teachers to face the challenge of closing the achievement gap in the United States. As a Fellow with the Strategy & Innovation team, I evaluated pilot projects and created a snapshot of how resources are being allocated to support teachers. This analysis was subsequently used to inform TFA's senior leadership on what projects should be scaled-up.

My previous professional background is on business and government. Since I had never worked in a nonprofit, this experience helped me to confirm this industry as my post-MBA career objective.

Through EP workshops, interacting with other EP Fellows and working at TFA I gained tremendous insight into several aspects of the educational system and challenges related to improving education.

I had the chance to organize an EPU (Ed. Pioneers Unplugged Workshop) where I and other fellows pitched our start-up ideas to the audience, receiving feedback. It was great to have so many people help to think through my project and contribute with their advice.


Dana (3rd from left), and other Bay Area fellows during a trip to Sonoma

KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) is the name associated with a network of charter schools that began with just two teachers in a single classroom and has grown to more than 2,700 teachers serving more than 39,000 kids in 125 schools across the country. The KIPP Foundation was created in order to grow this network by training outstanding school leaders to open and operate autonomous KIPP schools and supporting excellence and sustainability across the network and leading network-wide innovation efforts.

My specific role was to support the Talent Team, which is responsible for the acquisition, development, and retention of superstars who will maintain the extraordinary momentum of the Foundation and in turn support the growing nature of the KIPP network. I created the first ever “State of the Talent” report to analyze trends regarding turnover rates, professional development opportunities, alignment with core values, and other aspects that define the nature of the Talent at KIPP Foundation; essentially a story-telling tool to influence strategic human capital decisions for the near future.

My intended career path is still hazy, but as a result of this summer I have at the very least become more aware of the breadth of career possibilities that exist within the education sector. This experience confirmed for me that I want to work for organizations or companies that have children (and/or other populations who require a great deal community support to thrive) at their primary core. I’ve been reassured that my degrees and experiences can absolutely be used to help others realize opportunities, achievements, and happiness that they might otherwise be denied.

Another lasting benefit of this summer is the network that I’ve become a part of – and not just with my cohort and Bay Area alumni. I feel a deep connection to all past, present and future Education Pioneers and am incredibly humbled (and still bewildered as to how I even got this opportunity) that I will forever be associated with these people who are amazingly brilliant, driven, and compassionate.

I personally had never spent more than 2 weeks away from my beloved East Coast, but once the Dunkin Donuts withdrawal wore off and I realized that it’s ok to wear a coat in July, I absolutely loved the Bay Area! I got to bond with my Cohort over tacos, street festivals, hiking trips, stoplight parties, after-work discussions, brown-bag lunch sessions, and a party bus to wine country.


To me it seems that the best words to describe the feeling that all six of us are walking away with after this summer are “inspired” and “invigorated” (We’re also relieved that no one was bitten by snakes or had their oxen get ill along the way). The summer gave us exposure into some of the fantastic work that is being done in the education sector and also ignited an undeniable spark to be ready and optimistic about the work that still needs to be tackled so that all kids can have the same access to a phenomenal education and in turn the same chances to achieve in the classroom and far beyond.

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August 17, 2012

Education Pioneers [Part 1 of 2]

Part 1 by:
Matt Roper, MBA 2013
Sonal Dhingra, MS-MBA 2013
Rachel Alexander, MBA 2013 
Intro and blog post coordinating by Dana Connolly, MS-MBA, 2013

This summer, six BU SMG students had the opportunity to be part of a group of over 330 Education Pioneers Graduate School Fellows. This widely recognized national pipeline program, founded in 2003, partners with more 130 education organizations across the country - including school districts, government agencies, charter schools, and other leading education organizations – with a direct focus on fostering leadership and management talent for positions outside of the classroom. The fellowship program will boast around 2,000 alumni by 2013, and has cohorts set up in 7 major metropolitan areas throughout the country.

So, Pioneer might seem like an odd term, seeing as this sector is constantly being explored and there is an overwhelming number of start-up organizations focused on Education reform (not to mention the fact that we’re not going off in covered wagons, catching typhoid or fording rivers…)

In a way though, there is an element of “braving the unknown” in that this fellowship program sets us up to plot a course for a destination that has yet to be reached: one where every child has an equal opportunity to get a great education. The Education Pioneers Fellowship program hones in on creating strong and dynamic leaders that will transform the schools, districts, and systems with the goal of completely eliminating these long-existing inequities and issues.

The beauty of this fellowship program is that although we are all coordinated under the same organization, the experiences of each fellow vary immensely. The six of us thought it would be great to share a bit about our respective summers “pioneering” both with regards to our projects and with our Cohort experiences (On a personal note, I think this is a particularly awesome feat that we coordinated a 6 person blog post from 3 different states…just sayin’.)  

This first blog post includes the contributions of Matt, Sonal, and Rachel.  Check back for Pammi, Renato, and Dana's excerpts next week!

MATT ROPER: MBA Class of 2013, PNP & Finance -- TEXAS COHORT [Educate Texas]
Matt (right), enjoying a Rangers game in his home state
A leading catalyst for progress, Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas, is an innovative alliance of public and private groups that share a common goal: improving the public education system so that every Texas student is prepared for success in school, in the workforce, and in life.

My work focuses on organizational goals, strategies and metrics for Educate Texas which help track the performance of the main programs and initiatives that are currently being run. My main role involves a project aimed at identifying specific metrics that can be used to track progress and effectiveness of the strategies and creating a tool that will allow Educate Texas employees and partners to easily capture the defined metrics.

I chose to become an Education Pioneers Fellow to gain further understanding of the major issues in education and bring my leadership, organization and quantitative skills to the sector to help expand and increase the effectiveness of potential solutions. This summer has helped me determine where I want to focus my work in education - on out of school time nonprofits and social ventures.

I think the cohort experience is the strongest benefit to the program. Meeting with a group of individuals that all want to improve education but in different ways helps expand your views and find new areas where you can grow. I met some great people in my cohort and look forward to continuing to build our relationship and seeing where we all end up in 5-10 years.

One of the fellows in my cohort was placed with the George W. Bush Institute this summer and due to this placement, all of the fellows in the Dallas area were able to meet with former President Bush for about an hour to talk education and the goals of his foundation. It was an extremely interesting experience. Regardless of politics (mine or yours), it was incredible to meet a former President and something that only happened because of my involvement with Education Pioneers.

SONAL DHINGRA – MS-MBA Class of 2013, PNP & LOT -- BOSTON COHORT [Curriculum Associates]
Sonal (above) and her project being presented to a group of around 200 (below)

I chose to become an Education Pioneer Fellow because I wanted to see what the variety of opportunities were in the Ed space besides being an educator or administrator. Prior to the fellowship, I was a Massachusetts Promise Fellow (AmeriCorps) at Science Club for Girls in Cambridge, MA and before that I worked in IT service delivery at State Street Corporation.

My project is to create the digital and social media presence for Curriculum Associates relatively new education technology product, i-Ready. In my role I've created the questions, slated customers for interview, filmed the interviews as well as edited the footage. Soon this footage will be used to build up the organization's YouTube channel and expand CA's social media footprint. So far I've traveled to North Carolina, Louisiana, Ohio and California and am slated to make some final stops in New York and Connecticut.

Coming from a non-educational background (State Street and then AmeriCorps), I always thought that you could only be a teacher or a principal in the education space. But since my time as an Ed Pioneer Fellow, I've learned that there are a ton more things that are going on in this sector and I'm excited to see first-hand that digital and social media marketing are a part of this space.

RACHEL ALEXANDER: MBA Class of 2013, PNP -- BOSTON COHORT [Boston After School And Beyond]
Rachel (second from right) with her hybrid group in Boston
I was part of the Greater Boston cohort, with a placement at Boston After School and Beyond, a public/private partnership dedicated to supporting, strengthening, and expanding the city's after-school sector. I worked on a development strategy for the organization, identifying major funders in the field and the best paths for connecting with them in order to build a long-term, sustainable revenue stream.

While I was already certain that I would return to the field of education after business school, the fellowship helped me refine my understanding of the type of organization I'd like to work at: one that is nimble, collaborative, and moving the field forward in a significant way. It also showed me that I'd like a job where I'm working with kids at least some of the time -- some hybrid of the organization-strengthening work that is so important, and the youth-interaction work that is the heart and soul of a career in education.

The best moments spent with my cohort were those in which I got to learn about other Fellows' backgrounds and experiences. Talking with former teachers informed my understanding of systems-change at the school level, while conversations with those coming from private-sector roles showed me why an outside perspective is sometimes so important. I know that it is this network of professionals, all of whom care deeply about education equity, that will be the most valuable element of my experience in years to come. 


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August 10, 2012

Asian Field Seminar, Spring 2012

Post By:
Sheri Cheng
PEMBA, 2012 

From May 27th to June 8th, a group of 21 MBA students along with Professor Jay Kim of the Operations and Technology Management department and Dave Veira of the Graduate Program Office traveled through Asia for the Asia Field Seminar.  The trip included PEMBA students from both the Charles River campus and the North Campus, and a few full-time students who were completing this trip as the last course of their MBA program.

In our exploration of Beijing, Shanghai, and Seoul, Professor Kim encouraged us to look at areas of opportunity in Asia in the current globalization movement.  Professor Kim also led by example in the importance of networking and maintaining strong alumni connections worldwide.

Caroline Keely enjoys the tabletop touchscreen computer in the Lenovo showroom
The group, in Tiananmen Square in Beijing
(L to R) Evan DiLeo, Jonathan Caldwell, Ken Hoge, Caroline Keely, and Gaurav Tanna take smoothie break with Professor Kim in the Forbidden City in Beijing
Maggie Liu and Caroline Keely with Professor Kim at the Great Wall in Badaling China
Mark Duthe rides a Segway at Olympic Stadium in Beijing, China
Gaurav Tanna pours baijiu for Mr. Harry Sung, president of the AC division of LG China as a ritual of respect
China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) campus, Shanghai, China
The group at the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ), a planned urban area outside of Seoul
The group at GM Korea
With the Korean BU MBA Alumni Association, whose motto is always, "One BU!"

Sheri Cheng is a former science teacher and tech director at an urban charter school in Boston with a penchant for 7th grade humor. An MBA student concentrating in Entrepreneurship and Leadership & Organizational Transformation, Sheri expects to finish her coursework in December 2012. Follow her on Twitter @sheriann13.

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August 3, 2012

European Field Seminar, Spring 2012

Post By:
Tom Cantwell
PEMBA, 2013

Team members from the trip getting to know each other at the welcome dinner
Right after Memorial Day Weekend, 20 MBA students traveled across Europe for the European Field Seminar.  Led by French native Professor Frederic Brunel, our trip brought us to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and Budapest as we gained a breadth of knowledge on the impact of European culture and government structure on a variety of industries.  Having led a number of seminars in the past, Professor Brunel provided a great context for business in the European Union, and made an exceptional tour guide during our brief moments of downtime.  Kristen Fischer from the GPO joined us as one of the group leaders as well, ensuring that the group was both organized and safe!  Our class was a mix of both full-time and part-time students with a range of different cultural backgrounds, and graduate concentrations, which provided a great opportunity for everyone to deepen their personal and professional networks.

Monica at the Audi plant in Hungary
Inside the European Commission
Through exposure to a multitude of companies, we learned about many of the unique impacts of both European culture and government on different industries.  In Amsterdam, we witnessed how the efficient nature of the Dutch had an intrinsic impact on operations at Flora Holland, the largest flower auctioneer in the world.  At the Audi plant in Brussels, we learned how plant manager’s general concern for worker safety inspired line workers to drive innovation in the workplace.  We were impressed with the analytical capabilities of the workforce in Budapest, and had the opportunity to learn how financial firms like Morgan Stanley are positioning themselves to develop and maintain a direct line into the emerging Hungarian talent pool.  

Team members posing in Budapest
The timing of the trip was especially unique as we were in Europe during the thick of the Greek debt crisis.  During our visit to Brussels, we were able to meet with economists, financial sector leaders, and members from the European Commission throughout the trip to get their perspective on contributing factors to the crisis, and requirements for a sustainable solution.  We also gained a deeper understanding of how our own economy is interlinked with that of the European Union.

Team members in Paris during the weekend
In front of a windmill outside of Amsterdam the weekend before the trip 
As a member of the Leadership and Organizational Transformation concentration, I personally gained the most in learning about leadership in different European cultures.  In many of the companies we visited, I observed how leaders adapt their styles to get the most out of a European employee base.  Through this observation, I learned that leaders were using the same leadership frameworks that we employ, however they were adapting them to the culture of the organization that they were leading.  The importance of situational leadership has now grown on me, and I have been able to carry apply many of my observations in subsequent leadership coursework. 

Tom is a Manager in Process Improvement at Liberty Mutual Insurance.  He is expected to graduate from the Part Time Evening MBA Program at BU in 2013 with a concentration in Leadership and Organizational Transformation.  

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