Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How the Business Marketing Academy project prepared me for my summer internship

By Rama Srithara Ramanujam,
MBA ‘15
The Business Marketing Academy has a tradition of announcing the academy project teams during the BMA annual holiday party, and I was excited to have been assigned to a project for an American multinational conglomerate. As I reflect on my academy project experience, I realize its importance in preparing me for my summer internship. It was a great opportunity to learn about effective storyboarding and client engagement.

Structured approach

Over winter break, our team kicked off the project with initial research on our client and their industry. As this was a 12-week project, we knew it was critical to map out the project timeline with checkpoints and intermediate reviews with the client to ensure we were aligned with the executive sponsors and the project goals and deliverables.

Right after the planning phase, we set out to understand the current business situation. The team interviewed several corporate managers across business units to understand the process bottlenecks and challenges the organization was facing. A good balance between internal and external research was essential to gain substantial insights that would help design our strategy.

Behavioral Psychology in Business

The academic curriculum and case-based learning in the Kelley MBA program taught me the key frameworks to use in assessing a business challenge and allowed me to develop my analytical thinking skills by discussing complex, real-life scenarios. My experience working on the academy project gave me the opportunity to see how theory can really differ from practice.

As future managers, while we would be involved in designing the strategy for any business unit or an organization as a whole, the academy project exposed me to the challenges organizations face in the implementation of a strategy. For our team specifically, the biggest challenge was managing perceptions of the strategic plan within (employees) and outside (customers and channels) the organization. And this is where organizational behavior, organizational culture and marketing communication come into play. The BMA project was a great experience that prepared me to take on my summer internship with more confidence and a clear roadmap to guide me.

Best of luck, BMA!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kelley Team Wins Latin Business Case Competition (Again!)

By Cesar Sanchez, MBA'16

Last month, the Owen School of Business at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, hosted the second Latin Business Challenge.

The case competition provided a scenario in which a nonprofit organization (Nutri-Plus) developed a nutritional peanut based product (Mani+) to help reduce malnutrition in Guatemala. Currently, Guatemala has the highest rate of malnutrition in Latin America, where 50 percent of the children between 0-5 years old have some level of malnourishment.

Nutri-Plus is having issues making its operation sustainable, as they are currently selling their product at a loss and they are facing strong competition from cheaper products that are targeting the same customers as Nutri-Plus (mainly NGO’s). Students were asked to provide possible solutions to increase sales and make its operation more sustainable.

With the support of the Institute of Global Organizational Effectiveness (IGOE), the Kelley School of Business was able to send an MBA team to compete against several other business schools. As the only 100% Latin team, Alejandra De Caso, Miguel Florez, Santiago Hope, Sulay Alvarenga, and I used all the hard and soft skills learned at the Kelley School of Business to make our presentation both strong in content and structure.

Judges included representatives from Deloitte, AT&T, and the CEO of Nutri-Plus.

By making bold recommendations supported with extensive data, including increasing the price, changing the target market to partner with major corporations, and changing the sourcing of raw materials from organic peanuts to conventional peanuts which offered the same nutritional value at a much lower cost, the Kelley team brought home the gold (and the $5,000 prize) for the second straight year.

This case competition was a great opportunity for us to get our hands on real work experience while doing our MBA, and it was even more rewarding to work on a project that had a social impact in Latin America.

This competition showed once again the quality of the Kelley students and brought attention to the social issues in Latin America that should be part of the discussion in every business school.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bloomington Audit: Sulay Alvarenga, MBA'15

Sulay Alvarenga, MBA'15, and her favorite things.

Kelley Experience Weekend is this Thursday through Saturday at Indiana University. More than 100 prospective MBA students will visit the Kelley campus and see what our program—and our thriving city—has to offer them. We asked Sulay Alvarenga, MBA'15, to recap some of her favorite things about Bloomington. Browse her list, and try a few while you're in town this weekend.

Fresh cookies from Baked! 

As someone with a serious sweet tooth, I was thrilled to discover a place in Bloomington that makes fresh baked cookies on-site with whatever crazy toppings you want. Only Baked! can give me chocolate chip, Oreo cookies with macadamia nuts!

Coffee ice cream from The Chocolate Moose 

I love ice cream in general, but there’s something special about The Chocolate Moose. It’s a place that’s iconic to Bloomington and the IU community. I have to say, it’s also the only place where I see people line up for ice cream regardless of how cold or warm it is outside.

Trying to get through HITT class at the SRSC 

The Student Recreational Sports Center has a ton of great group exercise classes, but my favorite one is High Intensity Interval Training. I first experienced the class with my good friend Aaron and it became a fun activity we would suffer through together.

Hazelnut coffee from Bloomington Bagel Company

There really is nothing like getting that fresh cup of hazelnut coffee from Bloomington Bagel Company right before class. It’s nothing fancy but always tastes so good!

The Sample Gates with the perfect fall backdrop 

While the Sample Gates are iconic to Indiana University, it’s seeing them with that picture perfect backdrop in the fall that makes you stop and really appreciate our beautiful campus.

Walking down Kirkwood early Sunday when no one’s really around 

Kirkwood is known for its high traffic, especially during Parents Weekend. I love walking around downtown when no one is around and seeing all the great local restaurants and shops we have.

Fancy Sunday brunch at Scholars Inn

As a grad student, I try to be mindful of my budget, but there are certain things you just have to indulge in. Sunday brunch at Scholars Inn is definitely something you can’t pass up. I love their blueberry pancakes and mimosas!

Crème Brûlée french toast at Uptown Café 

I was definitely late discovering the crème brûlée at Uptown Café, but I’m so glad I did! The dish is just amazing; combining a great dessert with an iconic breakfast option. What could be better?

Lion King Roll at Japonee 

I only started eating sushi a few years ago, easing into it with avocado and California rolls, and then upgrading to spicy shrimp and eel rolls. The Lion King roll was probably the first specialty roll I ever had and I loved it! I’ve ordered it at other sushi restaurants, but it’s never the same. The one at Japonee is just special.

Tailgating in the fall 

Tailgating at IU is all about grilling on the lawn, having a few drinks and enjoying the fall weather with friends. I love seeing everyone in their IU and Kelley gear!

Basketball games at Assembly Hall

Having gone to Georgetown for undergrad, I was excited to be at a Big Ten school where the basketball games would be on another level.  The excitement at Assembly Hall is crazy!

What are your favorite things about Bloomington? Join in on the discussion using the hashtag #BtownAudit.

Monday, April 6, 2015

How I found my leadership niche in Guatemala

By John William Scott IV, MBA'15
I recently traveled to Xela, Guatemala for Spring Break as part of the Global Business and Social Enterprise Program (GLOBASE).

My team and I delivered an inventory management tool to one of the best restaurants in the country—and definitely the best in the state of Quetzaltenango—called Tertulianos. We wanted to help the restaurant have a better visualization of how they use funds and how they can more effectively track inventory, while preventing loss and spoilage.

The most important thing I learned from this experience was how to scope, develop, and deliver a solution within a tight time frame without over- or under-promising the client. If the tool is implemented correctly by Tertulianos, it has the potential to help continue the restaurant’s double-digit annual growth, this time with more profitability.

What I did not expect to learn was the continued development of my Spanish language skills.  I come from a liberal arts background (I studied Spanish and Economics at DePauw University), so I served as the translator not only for my team but for many of the 20+ students who also traveled to Guatemala for GLOBASE. I was one of two translators on the trip.

The opportunity to utilize my language skills made this GLOBASE trip particularly appealing to me because I was able to leverage a skill I have spent years developing and perfecting. It helped me to create a more holistic business experience.

Waving the Kelley flag among the Tikal ruins
My Spanish language skills helped me to be more effective in my leadership role within our team. One of our greatest challenges was assisting our client in articulating ideas for additional uses for the program we developed.

Some of their comments included fine-tuning the program to make it even more effective. I was able to walk them through visualizing their current inventory management processes and understanding how those processes could be even more effective. That way, when we delivered the final version of our solution, they had a strong understanding of the basics of operations management and process improvement.

My Spanish, combined with the coding and operations management skills of my teammates, not only helped us understand our piece of the project, but also reminded us which parts we were responsible for. In the end, this was an opportunity only the Kelley School could offer, and it's one of the main reasons I applied here. In fact, in my interview for admission, I mentioned GLOBASE Guatemala as one of the programs that most interested me.

The beautiful patio at Tertulianos

Monday, March 23, 2015

In the Consulting Academy, working with clients builds invaluable experience

By Ellen Gartner-Phillips, MBA ‘15

Last year I was assigned to a project engagement with a local veterinary hospital. We spent the Academy Week mapping out the engagement: Meeting and building a relationship with our client, scoping the work we would be doing, laying out a project plan and timeline, and finally presenting the week’s work to the client.  It was a long process, but really set us up for success moving forward after spring break.

As a second-year student, I have the privilege of working as a Subject Matter Expert for this year’s Academy. While the first-years I am working with didn’t require a lot of guidance through their Academy Week process, it was pretty awesome to reflect back and realize how much I have learned in the short year and a half that I have been here at Kelley and with my internship at Deloitte.

The Academy Project does an excellent job of preparing students for the summer internship. For me specifically, I gained invaluable experience in the nuances of client interaction and storytelling.

Client Interaction

While my previous work involved a lot of client service, I was not familiar with formal project management and scoping.  Our client initially came to us with a list of project ideas, and we learned quickly that many of those project requests were symptoms for a more central need that should be approached first.

Figuring out how to best communicate our process, rationale, and defined scope to our client and receiving buy-in for our approach was an important takeaway for me.  Having had the client interactions we did and working with a great team, I felt much more confident going into my work last summer.

Telling a Story with Data

While the recommendations we made were supported with data supplied by our client, it was a great learning experience having to figure out how to support some of our more qualitative recommendations.

Throughout the process we received feedback from our advisors. “That sounds promising, but how do we know that’s going to work?” Having to really dig for support led us to make more refined recommendations that were in the end much more impactful for our client. There are many ways to look at data, and it is in the story that you can make an impactful and implementable solution.

I was impressed with my first-year team’s organization, thoroughness, and professionalism. I am excited to see what they will be able to deliver to their client through the course of the project.

Best of luck to this year’s Consulting Academy!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tackling real business challenges in the Consumer Marketing Academy

By Lyndsay Hoban, MBA'15
Each spring semester, first-year Consumer Marketing Academy students are given the opportunity to replicate the summer internship experience through an 8-week project that tackles real business challenges from some of the country’s top brands.

As a second-year in the program, I was given the opportunity to serve in an advisory role to one of the project teams, just as junior managers will do over the summer at each student’s respective internship. After completing my own summer internship with Dr Pepper Snapple Group and experiencing both sides of the CMA project, I’ve been able to better reflect on just a few of the characteristics that make the opportunity so valuable:

The emphasis on consistent reflection

It’s easy to draw logical conclusions and recommendations from research, only to realize later that the data was not as impactful as it may have initially appeared. Throughout the internship process, it is crucial to continually review the findings and ask myself, So what? Where are the true impacts on firm performance or consumer behavior? What inputs are making the biggest difference? By routinely meeting with junior and senior managers played by second-years and faculty members, CMA teams learn the importance of regular gut checks.

The importance of a logical and persuasive narrative

The final project is not just a collection of PowerPoint slides, but a convincing story. My goal for the end of the summer was to have the CMO leave the presentation going, “Why aren’t we doing that already?”

The Who-What-How framework established by the CMA project allows students to develop a persuasive argument by fully understanding the mindset and demographic of the target consumer, the functional or emotional benefit the product or service is offering that consumer, the tactics to employ to communicate to those consumers, and the ultimate size of the prize from winning that consumer. By breaking each piece down into smaller assignments and memos, students learn to give each component the attention it needs.

The ability to hit the ground running

The semester flies by, as will an actual summer internship. One of the things stressed during the CMA project is the importance of incremental goals and benchmarks, as well as the importance of gaining stakeholder feedback through the process.

One of the most valuable takeaways from my experience as a first-year was the plan I created for myself to use my first week on the job. At which point will your scope of recommendations start to narrow? During what week will you begin to build the final deck? When should senior managers see my research? If given only 10-12 weeks to make a positive impression, you need to use that time wisely.

Although second-year advisors are instructed to provide only limited coaching and allow the teams to reach their own conclusions, there is one point I have to stress–take this thing seriously. These projects are like elaborate dry runs and are something other MBA programs do not have; something that gives Kelley students an incredible advantage over the summer.

Good luck teams, make us proud!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Latin conference added valuable diversity to our Kelley experience

By Luis D. Contreras, MBA'15 and IGOE Global Fellow

Kelley’s Institute for Global Organizational Effectiveness (IGOE) and the Latin MBA Association recently organized the fourth annual Latin Week, or Semana Latina. “Building Bridges” was the event’s theme, with a great selection of speakers that gave us different perspectives on how to do business in Latin America and how to understand the challenges of launching entrepreneurial ventures in the region.

Doing business in Latin America entails complexity, from understanding different macroeconomic and international finance situations within the region, as Associate Professor Juan Carlos Hatchondo illustrated, to comprehending the challenges of dealing with counterfeit products and how that affects a company’s strategies, as Augusto Bedoya, MBA ’00, Director of Emerging Markets at Oakley, explained to us.

Augusto also shared with us that, even as a Peruvian, doing business in Brazil represents many more complex challenges than just learning a new language (Portuguese). The cultural differences are very significant, particularly in the way Brazilians do business. In a very engaging talk, he shared from his experience how important it is to understand these differences to really be able to do business and achieve project goals successfully.

While doing business in Latin America brings complexity, it also means opportunity, particularly when venturing as an entrepreneur.

We learned that TaxiTico, an app developed by Jose Pablo Vega, MBA’12 and former IGOE Global Fellow, targeted the Costa Rican market, filling the need for a geolocation taxi service (think Uber in the United States). In a place where landmarks are used in lieu of addresses and “150 meters northwest of McDonald’s” can be the only directions you’ll have, a geolocation taxi service was not only convenient, but necessary. Jose Pablo—aka “JP” for the Kelley family—talked about his journey as a young entrepreneur and how he made an idea come true by addressing a latent opportunity in the Latin American market.

Jesus Ponce de Leon, MBA/PhD’87, CEO and owner of JPdeL Associates and China 4b2b, gave an amazing talk around entrepreneurship, technology, and how he keeps finding untapped opportunities in Latin America, the US, and China. He showed us a prototype of a solar-powered air cooler that makes air conditioning possible for low-income families in countries like Mexico, where residential electricity costs are similar to the US, but with a minimum wage that is almost 12 times lower.

Phillippe Bougard, MBA‘91, who works as Eli Lilly’s Regional Commercialization Director for Diabetes in Emerging Markets, also highlighted the Latin American markets’ challenges and the inherent need to adapt US-based strategies to regional strategies, dealing with different regulatory environments and even marketing communication rules in all these countries.

It was interesting to see how all the speakers agreed not only that to do business in Latin America it is important to understand local idiosyncrasies and economic challenges, but also that by doing this, huge opportunities can be found and developed.

Thanks again to the Latin MBAA and Institute for Global Organizational Effectiveness for supporting these types of events that allow us to enrich our Kelley experience in so many different ways.