Monday, November 30, 2009

Back from Thanksgiving Break

As I flew into the Indianapolis airport yesterday, I was glad to be back in Indiana, but I knew classes at the Kelley School of Business would be back in full swing in no time. This is the time of the semester at top MBA business schools when finals take place and papers and projects are all due. As top MBA students, I think most of my classmates are ready to give it their all in the next three weeks to ensure final grades meet expectations.

However, there are a lot of events coming up in the next couple of weeks that should be fun. Between China Night, the Kelley Women's holiday party and a handful of Hoosier basketball games, the upcoming weeks will be busy with of MBA student activities.

Probably the hardest part of the semester coming to an end is that I know my MBA experience is almost over. I can't believe how quickly the past three semesters have gone by, and it is really sad to think that I will be leaving Bloomington and all of my friends in a few months. But right now there is no time to get teary eyed in my MBA student blog- I still have to finish my homework for Monday's classes!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Leading a trek of MBA marketing students

To start off the Thanksgiving break, I led a group of 4 of the best consumer marketing MBA students on a trek to Boston to visit with Hasbro, TJX, and Staples. While TJX and Staples were fantastic and we learned a lot, I think that undoubtedly the highlight of the trek was visiting Hasbro. It's hard to beat a company headquarters that has a 20 foot tall Transformer on their "Main Street".

Our host for the day was Ana Dachroeden, a Kelley alum who is the Global ABM on Play-Doh. She started by giving us an overview of Hasbro and how they market themselves globally and leverage their brands in entertainment vehicles. Then we heard from some summer interns who got to stay on to work in the Fall.

The creator of the Game of Life was in the office because it's the 50th anniversary of the game's creation.

Afterwards we saw their video and photo studios where they shoot ads and the Fun Lab, where they do consumer (kid) testing of their toys. An amazing building with a huge amount of resources to show off to our group of MBA consumer marketing students.

Lastly, we were able to meet with Ana's boss for a brief interview, and met briefly with HR about the process to apply for an internship there. I am looking forward to the fantastic opportunities they have there!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Case Competition!!

Last week, instead of classes, we had a case competition within our cohorts of top MBA students. On Thursday, November 12 we got the case, which consisted of just 6 questions and a link to this presentation:

My team decided to take Thursday night off and get to work on Friday. That was a particularly hectic Friday for me because I had my Kelley Kickoff mock interview in the morning (with Walmart), some hours at my Graduate Assistantship, and the slate presentation that evening in addition to the case comp.

The slate presentation went well, but we found out on Monday that we didn't win the election. It was still a great experience to get out in front of one of the top ranked business graduate schools and share some of my viewpoints. I'm very glad I decided to take part in the process.

Getting back to the case comp...on Friday my team met and mapped out all the questions we had to answer in order to hit on the points that Eaton wanted us to touch. It was about a 4-hour session, and by the end of it we had filled up two white boards that looked like this:

That helped to shape our research. We spent all day on Saturday researching. The core teams are built so that different backgrounds can contribute. There are MBA finance students, MBA marketing students, and MBA management students, and they all can bring something different to the table.

On our team we split up the research and would meet back after 3 hours to give a mini-presentation on what we found. By the end of Saturday we had our basic storyline. On Sunday and Monday we did more research and spent time shoring up holes in the story. Tuesday we spent the whole day finalizing the deck and practicing as much as possible. We had three different second-year students come in and critique our presentation. That way we were ready to go on Wednesday. The first round judges are core professors, faculty, alums and some second-year students. We had five judges and gave a great presentation and then a fantastic Q&A. Our feedback was really positive and we made it to the second round!

One of our team goals at the beginning of the semester was to make it to the second round and we achieved that. We were very happy and decided to take the night off. Then the next day we practiced our presentations some more and went in front of our classmates and the second round judges, who were executives from Eaton, Cummins, and other companies.

We again did great in the presentation and Q&A and got great feedback. Unfortunately we didn't win our cohort, but we were a very close second place.

While we are known a lot for being a top MBA marketing program, this case competition really proved that we are one of the best MBA management programs in the country as well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Trivia Night

One of the best things about Kelley is the close involvement of the faculty with students. The faculty here is extremely approachable, friendly and stands ready to help you with anything you might have. The interaction is not just restricted to the classroom and more often than not you see them turning up at weekend social events. Top ranked business graduate schools are all about a sense of togetherness and this close interaction between the students and faculty at Kelley really stands out for me.

We had an international business trivia night this Friday which was hosted by Wayne Winston, one of the most recognizable and popular faculty faces at Kelley. The turnout was absolutely amazing with more than 80-90 students crammed into the venue. The great part about it was that the questions were about various countries and subjects thereby ensuring everyone had fun.

The questions ranged from who was the first woman prime minister of an Islamic nation to Warren Buffet's investments and tested the general awareness of students. The competition was intense but Kelley students being what they are, there was a sense of camaraderie and fun with teams complimenting each other for good answers.

Prizes included cash prizes as well as signed copies of Mathletics by Wayne Winston. It was one of the best social events organized and all credit to the International Business Society headed by Jonelle Lofton and Prof Winston for pulling it off.

P.S: No we did not win, although with "Tiago's Tigers", I personally felt we had the best team name!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dinner and Conversation with Kelley MBA Exchange Students

Last night my roommate and I hosted a dinner party with a few of our friends and two exchange students who are studying at the Kelley School of Business this semester. While we provided the drinks and food, the exchange students did the cooking, and it was delicious! Stefano, who is originally from Milan, made an awesome pasta dish and Johann, from Austria, made a variety of schnitzels.

While the food was great, the conversation was really the highlight of the night. It was really interesting to learn how MBA student life differs in the U.S. from European countries. I also really appreciated getting the exchange students’ perspective on Kelley compared to their top ranked MBA schools abroad.

I personally will not be studying abroad this year, but I will be making a trip to Europe to visit my roommate who will be studying in Paris. Kelley offers a huge variety of international programs, and it is fun to think that my classmates will potentially be cooking traditional American cuisine for their new friends abroad. Hopefully my roommate will have learned to cook by then!

Monday, November 9, 2009

A big win at the Faculty Auction

I know this blog has been focused on work at a top MBA business school, so I wanted to show the lighter side of life for top MBA students.

On Friday night we had our Faculty Auction, an annual event where professors and faculty donate events and groups of MBA students bid on them. All of the proceeds go to the Walt Blacconiere College Fund, which honors the memory of a beloved Kelley School of Business accounting professor who died of pancreatic cancer in 2007.

Some examples of events:I had my eyes set on this last one and knew the bidding would be intense. I put together a group of ten MBA students, each willing to spend up to $75 ($750 total). The bidding started at $300 and it was clear we were against one other main team. We had it won at $750 when a third team got into the bidding! They raised to $800 and I came back with $850 and we won it there. All in all a great night.

Now we just have to figure out what to do with him...

Hitting the road for a case competition

This weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to the great state of Minnesota to represent the Kelley School of Business at the 9th annual Elite Eight Case Competition. The competition features the best marketing MBA schools in the country and it was an honor to represent Kelley. The team consisted of five top MBA consumer marketing students, and we had a great time working together. Case competitions can be hard because typically each team only has 36 hours to work on a real life business problem, and we worked many long hours to finish our analysis and prepare the presentation. This year's case revolved around launching a consumer product for 3M.

While I am sad to report that the Kelley team did not place at the competition, there are some insights I thought I would share about how to successfully compete at a case competition and a picture of the team:

1. Always start by understanding the consumer.

2. Ensure that your recommendation is feasible in a give time period.

3. Presentation style matters! Leave time to practice.

4. Make sure to socialize with the top MBA students from the other schools- it is a great way to expand your network and understand what MBA student life is like at other schools!

Kelley Cares

This may be an unique blog post, but I think it will help show how Kelley is a top MBA business school and how faculty/staff/administration really care about the students here.

With H1N1 breathing down our necks, the entire IU campus has been very health conscious. As luck would have it, I got very ill this past week - not with H1N1 but with asthma turned bronchitis turned pneumonia. Such a lucky string landed me a 5 day hospital vacation.

So what makes Kelley a top ranked business graduate school? Sure it's the excellent course curriculum; sure it's the camaraderie among students; but for me, at least this week, it's the individual support and concern woven into the Kelley culture.

I've been overwhelmed by the support I've received. A number of fellow students and staff came to visit me. Faculty and professors emailed and conveyed their concern. Perhaps the most touching call came from Dan Smith - the Dean of the business school, who expressed how worried he was for me. I think people would be hard-pressed to find a comparable caring Dean.

So if you're considering Kelley, yes Kelley offers one of the best Entrepreneurship MBAs in the country. But the intangibles, like the personal care and concern, really help Kelley rise to the top.

Women's Weekend

This past weekend was the first ever Kelley Women's Weekend, a recruiting event for women considering two year MBA programs. The weekend was an overwhelming success with women visiting from all over the country to learn more about why we consider Kelley to be the top MBA school in the country.

The event started on Friday morning where our visitors were greeted by the Dean of the school, the Chair of the MBA program and also had the opportunity to meet some of our incredible faculty. The events were rounded out by a tour of Bloomington and a case discussion with one of our strategy professors. Friday evening, our guests attend the faculty auction, a beloved Kelley tradition that I'm sure will be discussed in more detail on this blog.

On Saturday, the prospective students met with the Graduate Career Services office and learned about MBA student life through panels of current students and alumnae. MBA Admission interviews were also conducted Saturday afternoon for interested students. That evening, everyone gathered at a local restaurant downtown to enjoy a nice meal and hear one of our impressive alums speak. Maggy Siegel is currently COO of Dylan's Candy Bar in New York City and she shared her thoughts about pursuing your dream career, life in the MBA program and work/life balance. Current and prospective students alike were able to benefit from her words of wisdom.

All things considered, the weekend was a remarkable success but I would be remiss to recap the weekend without mentioning the origin of this idea. The whole concept of Women's Weekend was developed by two second year students and they took the initiative to launch this event themselves. This kind of visionary leadership speaks volumes to ways in which the Kelley school equips its students to be leaders and how everyone here has the opportunity to see their ideas come to fruition!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Running for the MBAA at a top MBA Business School

In my last post I mentioned that I was running on a slate for the MBAA. In this post I wanted to elaborate further on what it takes to run for student government in a top ranked MBA program.

The way the slate system works is that instead of running individually for specific positions, you run as a group for all of the positions. This year, there are three groups running, all with eight members on their slate. The group I'm part of is called The Kelley Advocates, and I am running for VP of Student Affairs. That will mean overseeing all the social events, athletic events, tailgates and some clubs. It's a big job and will involve helping to organize and execute about 80 events over the next year.

The rules of the campaign really limit how much you can campaign. So since we have constraints, we have to take advantage of the best MBA for marketing. The way you can campaign is via word of mouth, one flyer, and one poster. While we are still finishing our poster, we did drop our flyer:

This week the campaign involves:
  • Answering questions from top MBA students during the coffee break on Monday
  • A 15-minute presentation on Friday
  • Q&A of potential presidents on Friday after the presentations
I'll let you know next week how we did!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Questions about a MBA

I had a ton of questions when I was applying to various MBA programs. Certainly the choice to pursue the MBA degree is an important one, and it's important to have answers to the dozens of questions you, or your family, or your boss may be asking. Here are a few questions I had, and some of the answers I came to.
  • Why should I consider Kelley? Kelley really is a top MBA business school. I've touched on this before. The faculty here are awesome, the classes amazing, the collaborative culture refreshing, and the career placement is excellent.
  • But I'd have to live in Southern Indiana? True, we're not downtown NYC. But Bloomington is a robust cosmopolitan college town, bustling with excitement, culture, and flavor. There's always exciting things to do here; for example, I have tickets tonight to the Wizard of Oz.
  • What's Bloomington like for families? The school and community are family-friendly to the max, ranging from Kelley Kids to activities at the local library to the weekly farmers market to the fix-it-yourself bike shop downtown. There are always activities for families with young children.
  • What is Kelley's most known strength? Kelley is one of the best marketing MBA schools - whether a strategic marketing MBA or MBA in marketing management. That's not to say that finance guys, like me, feel left out. The finance classes here are robust in their own right.
  • How do you know which top ranked business graduate schools you should consider? Look into the ones which fit your career objectives, fit your personal style, and ones where you feel comfortable learning, exploring, and growing. I think you'll find Kelley easily includes a variety of prospective students.
  • All of these questions and more can be answered by visiting us here at the Kelley of Business. Feel free to drop me a line, reach out to me or other students, and let us know how we can help you answer some of your specific questions.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kelley Kick Off

A proud tradition at Kelley has been Kelley Kick off (KKO) which in my opinion really sets apart Kelley as one of the top ranked business graduate schools.KKO is a unique exercise in which our first year MBA students are provided with an opportunity to interview with alumni/corporate recruiters in a "safe" environment which essentially means that these are mock interviews. As a follow-up to the event, the first years are then provided with detailed feedback after the interview which they can work on as they approach the internship season in spring.

KKO is traditionally scheduled for the second week of November and is organized by the professional development council - a student led body belonging to the MBA students association. Having experienced KKO last year, I found it to be an extremely useful checkpoint as I geared up for my internships. We had recruiters/alumni come in from Cummins, Deloitte, P&G, Kraft, Nestle, GE, Whirlpool and Philip Morris amongst other companies. The scope of companies coming in for KKO varies from year to year but it is ensured that students pursuing all majors i.e. finance, consumer marketing, business marketing, strategy have adequate choice in the list of companies on campus to choose from.

This early preparation afforded is one of the key factors that Kelley graduates are amongst the most sought in the country. On the flip side, it is a great way for recruiters to gauge the quality of students at one of the top business grad schools. Every year one or two firms use KKO as an avenue to get engaged with the school and talk to students.

I will be writing more about KKO once the event takes place. With the kind of firms we have lined up this year, it should be an amazing event. Look out for more on this on my MBA student blog after November 13th!

Business Etiquette Dinner

MBA student life can get a bit stressful at times with endless projects, submissions and assignments and it is vital that there are enough alternate student activities programmed which not only act as a stress buster but also teach business school students some real-life soft skills. As one of the nation's top ranked business graduate schools, Kelley offers a constant stream of avenues available to students to constantly better themselves professionally. This is quite essential as top MBA students are not only supposed to be on top of their game in the classroom, but also outside, where potential recruiters continuously evaluate and judge their conduct.

This past Tuesday we had organized a business etiquette dinner which was intended to give Kelley MBA students an insight into the nuances of formal dining. Organized by the consulting club, Asian MBA and the Latin MBA, this was a unique event where in students were guided step by step through a delicious 6 course dinner (for just $10!!). The host was Joseph Boes, a business etiquette consultant at Indiana University (IU) who pulled off the 2 hour session with great humor and wit. This also was a particularly useful session for international students as for many of them it was their first introduction to formal dining Vis a Vis the American cuisine.

All in all it was a wonderful occasion with more than 70 students showing up to enjoy a great dinner and of course a wonderful dinner host as well.