November 29, 2012

The Real Sunday Night Football

Post by:
Sam Cecala
MS-MBA 2012

Here in New England, you know it's fall when the air becomes cool and crisp as the leaves change color. While it's a beautiful time of year on its own, the fall is somehow missing something when we leave nature to her own devices. It's not truly fall until we pair the majesty of nature with the poetry of humanity. I'm referring, of course, to football.

To my eternal embarrassment, the powers that be at Boston University terminated football in 1997. But fear not-- the pigskin tradition continues, and the magic of fall lives on in BU's intramural flag football league. Here, about once a week, 10-15 full time MBA students gather to exhibit their guile and managerial prowess as they're chased about by tireless undergrads, all of whom seem to have just rolled out of bed for the evening kickoff.

For the past two years I've had the honor of organizing the 2013 MBA intramural football team, “SMG Tools.” Last fall marked an auspicious debut, as we won our division and made a playoff appearance. This year, we weren't so fortunate, and although we failed to qualify for the playoffs, we learned many valuable lessons about sharing, punctuality, and what it means to be a true friend.

By now we've also learned a great deal about the rules well. If you like rules, you'll love intramural flag football at BU. You've played flag football before, but not like this! Be forewarned if you're thinking about blocking or playing any kind of meaningful defense, because the eagle-eyed undergrad officials will call you on it. Hilariously, they'll also fail to call pretty obvious things like actual tackles.

Once you learn the rules (again, this takes about two seasons) and more importantly, that no one, especially the officials, really knows or understands them all (this part takes about 5 minutes), intramural football is actually really fun. Last fall it was a great way to unwind, however temporarily from the madness of the Integrated Project, and this year it's been a great way to stay in touch with classmates who no longer share the same schedule.

Now that it's all over, I'm not sure how fall next year, or any future fall, will really be complete. I'll manage, somehow, if only because I know that Sunday evenings, down on Nickerson Field, there will be another group of future MBAs out there chasing down undergrads, confronting befuddled referees, and winning games, all while remembering one thing:


Sam Cecala is a second year MS-MBA. Previously he's worked in entertainment, specialized publishing, and family governance. He once spent half an hour as a guest on a talk radio show alongside former Washington DC mayor Marion Barry and appears in the final episode of Arrested Development.

November 26, 2012

What Does it Mean to be an International MBA?

Post by:
Kim Ramsdell
International MBA 2013

What exactly does it mean to be an International MBA student at BU? People ask me this question all the time; mostly because they assume it means a class made up of students from outside the US and yet, here I am – your ‘typical’ American. So then what does it mean?

Untamed curiosity. Adventure-seeking. Insatiable wanderlust. Desire to make a difference.

These are the words and phrases that come to mind when I think about my IMBA classmates.  When I first started this program less than a year ago, I had never left the United States but that didn’t mean I lacked curiosity and adventure-seeking. In fact, the newness of the experiences made me even more open to the lessons I could learn – and my classmates also helped me expand my perspectives, from the cultural and historic to the culinary and social.

View of the Forbidden City
One of my greatest memories in China happened by accident. After an exhausting day walking through the Forbidden City, two classmates and I decided to climb to the peak of Jingshan Park where you can get a view of the entire Forbidden City – truly breathtaking. As we started our descent, we could hear the sound of people singing but we couldn’t tell where it was coming from. We decided to walk down the mountain the hard way, towards the sound.  We found ourselves surrounded by various groups of people all over this public park. Some singing. Some playing instruments. Others dancing. I had never seen anything like it.  I was so taken by the sights and sounds that I found myself joining in a traditional dance along with my classmates.  What made this so powerful was that I was completely immersed in the culture; I had put my camera down and participated rather than observed and truly connected with the culture around me.

My experience in China along with the daily learning experiences from my classmates has only intensified my desire for more. I now realize that I still have so much to learn about the world: the people of the world and how their interactions differ from my norm; the corporations of the world and how they interact within their own country’s political systems as well as within the global economy; and how I can use my unique set of skills and experiences to make a difference.

Students enjoy a bike ride in Shanghai
My next adventure begins in January when I set out for Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as part of a field seminar with BU. This trip allows students to understand the changing role of sustainable business development and corporate social responsibility in emerging economies. I’m excited for another unique set of social, cultural, and business learning experiences.

When I graduate next spring from the one-year International MBA program, I will have been to China, Japan, Brazil, and a yet-to-be-named country for spring break (Iceland in March is a good idea, right?). In addition, I will have completed a consulting project for a nonprofit currently supporting improvement in health, nutrition, and education of communities in Guatemala.

So what does it really mean to be an International MBA student at BU?  Having a desire to learn and understand people, cultures, and business practices of all types while creating value for the world.  My IMBA class is a microcosm of the world in and of itself with classmates from Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and North and South America. Despite our differences, the intense three-month bonding experience in China has made us a family and being part of it has changed my life. 

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Kim is an International MBA student with experience in operations improvement and growth strategy. If you ever want to go biking around Boston, Kim is the one to talk to. Just don’t try keeping up.

November 15, 2012

History in the Making

Post by:
Jessica Friesen
MBA 2013

From October 18-21 MBA students from Boston University and from across the country gathered at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center for the 2012 Reaching Out MBA Conference: Together, Building Community

Externally, ROMBA might have appeared to be your run-of-the mill business school conference. It was well funded and attended by top universities and firms from across the country with an impressive array of heavily subsidized food and beverages. BU’s School of Management showed up with our expected leadership and volunteerism, as multiple Cohort Q (SMG’s LGBT association) members helped organize activities. On Friday, I coordinated the nonprofit breakout session, Brave New World: Charting a Path for Social Impact in the 21st Century. On Saturday, Stacey Sharer (MBA 2014) led a nonprofit consulting case workshop for business students to provide recommendations to a local nonprofit, and the Feld Career Center recruited at the pre-MBA fair. Each morning of the conference, Tim Pennell(MBA 2013) rose early to coordinate sponsored runs.

So, while ROMBA may have looked like your run-of-the-mill conference, ROMBA was actually a much more momentous event than a great line up of recruiters (BCG, McKinsey, Bain) and panels (consulting, marketing, human capital). ROMBA was significant in that it demonstrated the enormous progress our country has made towards equality in the last decade. 

How did the conference demonstrate progress? The Reaching Out MBA conference is the annual national gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) graduate business students. Why is this significant? Not only are LGBT employment protections still nonexistent in 29 states, but a decade ago the idea of openly gay senior executives was unheard of. However, Reaching Out is a small part of a groundswell of corporate support for LGBT equality. At a national level, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos contributed $2.5 million to support gay marriage, which was on the ballot in Washington. UPS is among a number of firms defunding Boy Scouts of America for policies that ban gay troop leaders and scouts. As companies put resources behind their commitment to LGBT equality, progress becomes attainable. 

Solutions to global challenges like the human rights of the LGBT community will only come if we are able to address them across sectors. And on November 6, as the country experienced a landslide for LGBT equality (marriage passed in three states and the first openly gay congresswoman was elected), I found myself thinking about ROMBA and how firms like Walt Disney Co., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Teach for America, and Unilever are playing an important role in this process. Reaching Out demonstrates and is part of this progress. Cohort Q and members of the SMG community are privileged to see and participate in this history. 

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Jessica Friesen believes in cross-sector solutions to social change, is a member of BU's MBA Class of 2013, and is enrolled in the PNP program. Born and raised in Southeast Asia, Jessica is Co-President of SMG's LGBT association, Cohort Q.

November 8, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Post by:
Patrick Reilley
MBA 2013

More than 200 BU MBA students attended the annual Halloween party at GameOn in Fenway on Saturday night. The popular event was co-hosted by the Graduate Student Council and the Cohort Cup committee. Students dressed in costumes of all varieties, many vying to win the highly competitive Cohort Cup costume contest. 

Where's Cohort B?

Winning Best Group Costume was Cohort B with over 30 members all dressed as Waldo. Most Creative went to the "Real House Wives of Mitt Romney," also known as Caroline Hennigan and Naz Durakoglu. Taking home Best Individual Costume was Tim Chanoux with his rendition of "The Old Man” from the animated movie “Up.” Over $300 in Visa gift cards and a $100 voucher to GameOn were given to the winners. The even was a smashing success-- a good time was had by all!  Do you have costume ideas that are better than these?  Well, there’s always next year!

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Patrick Reilley previously served 6 yrs in the U.S. Navy and is currently a second year student in the full-time MBA program with a concentration in Finance.