Friday, October 29, 2010

Road Trip!!!!

I am so excited to be going to Michigan this week for the 2010 Net Impact Conference. The conference will be the temporary home for many students in top ranked business graduate schools and other business professionals. The theme of this year's conference is "2020: Vision for a Sustainable Decade".

The Kelley Net Impact chapter will be taking 2 van loads of people up for the weekend. Many of us came to b-school interested in pursuing a social entrepreneurship MBA, so needless to say, we are all very excited about spending the weekend with like-minded individuals from other top ranked MBAs. The weekend will consist of networking with socially responsible corporations and non-profit organizations, listening to panelists talking about topics ranging from corporate social responsibility to social investing to sustainable energy, and learning how others are trying to get these types of issues integrated in the MBA course curriculum. After going to last years conference, I know how amazing the experience is going to be, and I can't wait to share some stories and pictures with you upon my return!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Value of an MBA for Engineers

Well, after a good trip to Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Chicago last week and being in the office for a few days this week, I’m off again. I’ll be presenting at the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Annual Conference in Cincinnati tomorrow as a part of a panel hosted by the Consortium to discuss the benefits of an MBA for engineers.

Some people might think that you have to have some sort of business background or experience to be most successful in an MBA Program. The truth is that an MBA can add value to students from all backgrounds, depending on your particular career goals. Looking at the profile of students in the Kelley MBA Program, only about a third of students come from traditional business backgrounds, while another third come in from engineering/science backgrounds, and a third have humanities or social science backgrounds. This diversity contributes to the learning environment as well as the networking opportunities. So regardless of your particular background, it is more important to consider your specific career goals and whether an MBA will help you move in that direction. Alright, I’m off, see you next time!

Reminder from the Admissions Committee: Our first application deadline is November 1. Be sure to read the application instructions carefully before you start to complete the application. (This is the first step once you begin an application.) You will upload transcripts to your application and should have completed the GMAT (and TOEFL or IELTS for international applicants) before submitting your application.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

GLOBASE India - Social entrepreneurship at a nationally ranked MBA

In the past I have mentioned a little bit about what GLOBASE is, now I would like to talk more in depth about what GLOBASE India has to bring to the table. As a student leader for the India trip, I couldn't be more excited about the way the trip is shaping up. The GLOBASE experience is the perfect experiential supplement to the MBA course curriculum, and it is also an experience that sets Kelley apart from other top ranked MBAs.

The organization we have chosen to partner with in India is called CORD, Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development. The mission of CORD is "To facilitate integrated and sustainable development in rural India through self empowerment processes." The way in which CORD chooses to work is frequently through the use of self help groups (SHG) and microfinance. The Kelley team will be going to the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh to work with the women and villagers of Sidhbari on four very unique projects.

The four projects we will be working on include:
  1. Microfinance Process - The women of CORD currently participate in a form of group lending. Each woman puts a small sum of money, 20 Rupees, into the SHG each month and loans are made to group members on an as needed basis. A team of Kelley students are first going to be working alongside CORD and the SHGs to really understand the current microbanking process at CORD. Next, the team will work to learn about other methods of microfinance. Finally, the team will make recommendations on how CORD can improve their current processes to make them even more efficient and succesful in the future.
  2. Retail Shop Merchandising - The women of the CORD village currently operate a small retail shop in the village of Sidhbari. While the location is wonderfully situated right next to an ashram, the store itself is not organized in a way that is attractive to customers nor is the store being effectively branded. A team of Kelley students will be working alongside the villagers to determine how the store should be branded, what merchandise should be stocked, and how the merchandise should be displayed.
  3. Artistic Merchandising (Kangra Paintings) - The villagers of Sidhbari are currently producing Kangra paintings. These are very detailed paintings, and many of them are being produced by hearing impaired artists in the village. The problem they are having right now is undersupply. They have more demand than they can supply. A team of Kelley students are going to be looking at the current process and demand profile. They will work to understand the quality of the work and pricing structure in order to determine if they are currently selling their products at the optimal prices. The team will also explore the possibility of product expansion, fine papers for example, and possible export to the US and larger cities in India.
  4. Vermi-Composting - Vermi compost is currently being farmed, packaged, and sold by individual farmers around the countryside. The supply of compost is currently coming from a place that is extremely difficult to get to... at the top of a mountain. A team of Kelley students will be looking into the current location of production, analyzing the supply chain and packaging, and making recommendations for improvements to the process. They will also be looking into other potential areas to produce that will simplify the supply chain and make the product easier to get to market.
Whether you are pursuing an MBA in product marketing, an MBA in entrepreneurship, an MBA in corporate finance, or an MBA in supply chain, GLOBASE India has something to offer, and I can't wait to go to India on March 5!

It's all in the negotiation

This semester, I am taking W505, Power, Persuasion, Influence and Negotiation, and the class has provided some very interesting content and practice in the art of negotiation. In my MBA admission application, I remember speaking about the informal experience I had negotiating while traveling on the road as a consultant and it is fascinating to learn about the strategies and tactics behind being an effective negotiator. Each week, we receive a negotiation partner and a case scenario and we have to act out our part and practice the material we are learning in class.

Being the top ranked MBAs that we are, I thought that my classmates would take on the mentality of being ruthless and wanting to get the best deal, even at the expense of the other party, but what I found was my classmates were really open to exercising their skills and putting our true abilities to the test. This past weekend, it was an exercise involving three parties, three points of conflict and combined both distributive and integrative bargaining. Each week, the exercises become more and more complex, but the most valuable part of the process has been learning by doing. It is significantly more difficult to actually negotiate than talk about how to negotiate, and I have really appreciated the MBA course curriculum at Kelley because it is designed to help you learn by doing.

On the note of academics, the first years kicked off their midterm exam week with their Critical Thinking midterm, and the second years just started week six of our first set of seven week courses. Time is flying by and the second year class is almost officially 5/8 ths of the way done with our MBAs!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A trip out to Brown County

The past few posts I've concentrated on more work-related parts of my top ranked MBA program, so this time I want to switch things up and concentrate on some of the great parts of Kelley's MBA social life.

This past weekend, my girlfriend and I took a day trip out to Brown County to enjoy the fall scenery.

Along the drive to Nashville, IN, the trees are yellow, orange and red

In Brown County, we walked around The Village of Nashville, stopping in stores and enjoying the local scenery. To end our time in Nashville, I had some amazing Pumpkin Pie ice cream.

After Nashville, we headed up to the Apple Works, an orchard near Brown County. While we couldn't pick our own apples there, we did explore around the orchard and picked out our own pumpkin. They also had a little petting zoo and a very busy shop that sold any kind of apple product (fruit, not technology) that you could want. Maybe next year they will listen to some top ranked MBAs from Kelley and add in apple picking to the activities you can do there.

A top MBA student tests out a pumpkin to see if it is up to snuff

To top off a great fall day, we decided that we needed to get into the Halloween spirit. After a quick Google search, we found The Barn of Terror, a haunted house in Bloomington. It lived up to its billing, as it was incredible scary and a great way to finish off a fantastic fall day.

How to Do Business in India and Turkey - A Tuesday Night

I've professed time and time again that along with being the best MBA program in USA, Kelley's eyes are set far beyond US shores. As I've learned in almost every single case discussion and in the Supply Chain and Global Management Academy, almost every business can be tied to some type of international connection. I've talked about how this nationally ranked MBA program attracts students from around the world, global case competition solutions and how the MBA course curriculum always integrates global issues. But how many times have your past professors given their personal time to address the issue directly, to the student body, outside of the classroom?

Tonight I attended Phil Powell's, head of faculty and economics professor, lecture on "The Impact of Religion on Doing Business in India & Turkey." This was one of the many extra-curricular activities set-up by the MBAA, who continuously enrich not only the MBA Social Life, but the curriculum as well.

As Phil stated, "this is one of the reasons I feel so lucky to be here at a school like Kelley. Mom always told you never to talk about religion and government - it's not polite. But here, we've created an environment where it's safe, where it's logical, because government and religion touch every aspect of business, even if you can't see it."

What followed was an engaging lecture to about 30 students around the globe about the religious and political history of the Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and India, and how that's shaped the business culture there today. It was enlightening, some students had some incredible comments; and as Phil said, only Phil can put religious diversity and internal trade economics on a matrix.

Tonight is just another reason why I feel so fortunate to be at a school like this. While I chewed on my Indian Pakora and Turkish grape leaf-wrapped olives, I listened to the brilliance, logic, and history of these intertwined players in a complex game, and knew that I was in a safe, insightful, understanding environment where it was being digested by people who would go on to change the world.

I am absolutely a Kelley student.

Wine tasting with the Dean

Last night I took another break from my MBA course curriculum, and joined 75 other Kelley students for the chance to learn all about the art of wine with Dean Dan Smith. Held in the Georgian room in our rustic Memorial Union, we kicked off the evening with a brief history on wine followed by tasting 3 different red and 3 different white varieties. While I have been to wine tastings before, I really appreciated the practical application tips we received on how to order for tables at dinner settings, types of wine that go well with multiple types of food, and how to signal your price without stating it out loud. Additionally, although Dean Smith no longer teaches, it was a really neat experience to get to hear him teach about wine and experience his teaching style. In true nationally ranked MBA fashion, the presentation was complete with a helpful PowerPoint deck as a take away as well as some economic theory about purchasing wine along the way. I really enjoyed getting to spend time with both my first year and second year classmates and learning more about wines from around the world. A big thanks to the Kelley Wine Club for hosting an incredible event and for continuing to provide fun and unusual events to my MBA social life!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Collaborative Project for Sustainability

Kelley School of Business has consistently ranked as a top Entrepreneurship MBA Program. If you are interested in a Social Entrepreneurship MBA, you might be delighted to know that Kelley offers a Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship, a cooperative program with the School of Public and Environmental affairs.

Add collaborative art to the mix, and you can really see how creative top ranked MBAs can be! As I walked into the Atrium a couple of weeks ago, I was mesmerized by these car-hoods turned into giant "canvases" inviting students, faculty and staff to contribute their ideas on sustainability. This collaborative art project facilitated by Bloomington artist Joe LaMantia seeked to bring out the thoughts and ideas from people's minds onto the white "boards" with markers.

I had the opportunity to speak with the artist and I was thrilled with his vision to promote sustainability through community art. I contributed some art of my own and I was impressed with the comments and ideas shared by my peers.

There is an increased focus at Kelley as well as Indiana University to promote Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship. It is initiatives like these that differentiate us from several other top ranked Business Graduate Schools. This initiative epitomizes the collaborative culture at Kelley that enables us to work together to increase awareness and to solve problems. Read our blog entries to find out more about our focus on social entrepreneurship. You can also find out more about the artist, Joe LaMantia by visiting his website. And you are encouraged to leave your own ideas about sustainability in the comments section.

Preparing for an MBA-level Case Interview

More so than being a consumer marketing MBA student, I feel that I am a strategic marketing MBA student. My favorite part of my summer was working on my Snacking Strategy project for Taco Bell. Because of my huge interest in strategy, I've been interviewing with some consulting companies this fall. One of the biggest hurdles in consulting interviews is the case interview.

In order to prepare for case interviews, I've gotten help from a number of sources:
  • Alumni currently working in consulting gave some great advice on what their firms are looking for from candidates in a case interview
  • Current top ranked MBAs help each other out so much. I did mock case interviews with other students and attended the Consulting Club's weekly Case Crackers meeting to practice even more.
  • Even though I am in the Consumer Marketing Academy, the director of the Consulting Academy conducted a mock case interview with me and gave me great feedback.
  • Lastly, I bought the book Case In Point off of Amazon to give me some pointers and get me oriented to the process.
Having these great resources at my disposal is just one of the reasons that Kelley is the best MBA program in the USA.

Finance Academy Week Part 1

We just wrapped up our first Academy Intensive Week. The Academies are one of the biggest reasons why I chose to earn my MBA at the Kelley School of Business. As a career switcher earning my MBA, I knew that it would be essential to gain practical experience in corporate finance before my internship and subsequent full-time employment. This is the main purpose of the Academies.

Monday through Wednesday morning we had four different companies come in and present some of the current projects that they're working on as well as how they view corporate finance. We learned about a few different topics but most of the sessions focused on a company's wacc (weighted-average cost of capital) and how they determine it and use it in deciding which capital expenditure projects to approve. These topics are especially beneficial for anyone looking to earn an MBA in Corporate Finance.

I can't say enough good things about my experience last week with the Corporate Finance Academy. It's definitely one of the things that makes Kelley one of the best MBA programs in the USA.

Share Your Culture

The international population at Kelley, one of the top ranked MBAs, is incredible. We have students representing the United States, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, India, Nigeria, Colombia, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Costa Rica and Spain, to name a few. How many nationally ranked MBA programs can boast that kind of global practice (not just mind-set)? [crickets chirping] yep, that's what I thought....

I'm a bus rider (you're welcome, Earth) and I happen to ride the bus with a conglomerate of Japanese and South Korean students to and from school. For most of them, this is their first time in the United States - I guess it takes an offer from one of the top ranked business graduate schools to bring them here. In my conversations with them, they are all relatively unfamiliar with American traditions and holidays, but endlessly curious. So far, many students swap lots of cultural education (one friend had me over for a home-cooked Indian dinner a few weeks ago; I had a number of students over for an American breakfast - I make some mean pancakes; and now apparently I'll be appearing in a Korean spoof before the year is out).

Now I love Halloween and the month of October, as its my birthday month, and I love fall traditions. So after academy week one and before we return back to classes, I've decided to add to the wonderful MBA social life here at Kelley by offering to guide some international students to an apple orchard and pumpkin patch this Saturday. I put the idea out there, but never expected such resounding results - 29 total people will be coming, MBA students and their families, 93% of them international students, first-timers in America. They're all very excited, especially for bringing their new pumpkins back to my home where they'll learn to carve and roast pumpkin seeds!

You're coming to business school to gain incredible lessons and skills in business, that's for sure. But I encourage you to never forget that behind every business decision are people, just like you. Your growth in sharing life and culture with your peers and partners I would argue is equally important to your academic growth; and here at Kelley, each grows exponentially. Come join us - we'll help you pick an apple from the tree of knowledge.

In Focus

So the weekend of October 8-9th was a lot of fun at Kelley! Once a year, the MBA program and the admissions office sponsor In Focus Weekend. This is an exciting event for prospective diverse candidates interested in learning more about the Kelley MBA and determining whether they should apply to the program. I was fortunate enough to meet approximately 35 prospective MBA candidates, in addition to my friend Patrice whom I have known for almost nine years and is interested in getting her MBA. The festivities began at the Marshall Cultural Center where Phil Powell, Chair of the MBA program gave a wonderful welcoming speech to the prospective candidates. Kelley is such a collaborative environment and I truly felt that the prospective students felt the Kelley experience in a weekend. Not only were we able to position the Kelley brand as best and as accurate as possible, but we were also able to position the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management as an amazing opportunity for diverse candidates interested in pursuing a career in management. All of the core faculty members attended the closing dinner, which truly spoke to how Kelley truly values diversity in the Kelley community.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mid-Quarter and Picking Courses

This past weekend was the mid-point between the first 7-weeks and second 7-weeks of courses. Like other top ranked business graduate schools, my final deliverables included group projects, take-home papers, and in-class exams. Once I finished everything, I took the opportunity to enjoy a much-needed break from the fast pace of a nationally ranked MBA program and to enjoy MBA social life. Friday evening included dinner with a group of friends followed by a fun board game night. Saturday was lunch with other friends and stocking up on groceries. The local Marsh grocery store gives students 10% off on Saturdays - you can't beat that!

Starting Monday, it is back to a new set of classes. I'll be taking courses in Marketing Strategy, Organizational Development and Change, and Financial Analysis. And, I signed up for next semester's classes to close out my MBA course curriculum. Registering for the last time was kind of a strange feeling. I had to come to terms with the fact that I can't just stay at Kelley forever and take every class they offer. However, I have chosen some really great classes which I am excited about and which will allow me to complete majors in Supply Chain & Operations and Management.

NSHMBA Conference in Chicago

Well, I had a great weekend! I drove up to Chicago for the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) Annual Conference and Career Expo. This is a great event where hundreds of companies come to recruit top MBA talent from around the nation.

I spoke with representatives from Brand/Marketing Management from close to 15 different CPG firms, such as Kraft, Post, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Clorox, Sara Lee (and even met the 'Sun' from their recent Jimmy Dean advertising campaign), and more. It was also great to meet students from other nationally ranked MBA Programs, as well as see a some of my Kelley friends in attendance.

Further, I got to have a fun weekend in Chicago, seeing some friends from Kelley as well as my 'past-life' from Chicago (and the 'burbs'). Went out for some cocktails in the windy city, drank some of my friend's homebrew, and did a little lounging around - all part of the MBA social life, I guess.

Options and Flexibility at Kelley

One of the great things about Kelley is the amount of flexibility given to students. For example, students have the option to take extra courses and to finish their degree requirements prior to the last 7 weeks of classes. This is beneficial to students that have the opportunity to start work early and those that want to take time to travel before starting their full-time opportunity. And, if you want to start full-time work after your first year, you can complete the remainder of your coursework through Kelley Direct - Kelley's online MBA program. For students focusing heavily on the job search, there is also the ability to shuffle around classes to lighten the courseload in a given quarter. This can sometimes make a huge difference. I really believe qualities like these give us our reputation: Best MBA program in USA.

Like other nationally ranked MBA programs, Kelley offers the ability to study abroad in places ranging from Brazil to Switzerland. And students can participate in a 10-day international business immersion as part of GLOBASE or KIPs. Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in the KIP trip to China which was an amazing experience. We traveled to Beijing and Shanghai and visited a number of companies and manufacturing facilities including Intel, Eaton, and Nomura Bank. We also did a lot of sightseeing which included climbing the Great Wall and visiting Tiananmen Square (pictured above). In the spring, I am going to be participating in the Washington Campus Program which is a week-long course designed to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of how regulatory, economic, tax, and trade policies are created. I am excited for the chance to meet MBAs from other top ranked business graduate schools and discuss all of the issues affecting corporate America.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm Going to Peru

Yesterday was my birthday, and I got the best gift I could imagine: I'm going to Peru!

One of the reasons I keep repeating that this is the best MBA Program in the USA is that it's so global - the planet is your office, not just Scranton, PA. That being said, one of the international electives they offer is GLOBASE.

In our second semester, students have the opportunity to take a seven-week course on one of three business climates: India, Ghana or Peru. During the course, they are paired up with a company in that region and do consulting work for them. Then for the two weeks of Spring Break, the classes travel to the countries they've been studying, administer the consulting work, and then spend a week traveling. The trips are affordable, and you end up making a REAL LIFE CONTRIBUTION to a business, and therefore a community, outside of your home country. The application is real, the trial is real - it's real life work with real people, and a chance to see a unique and beautiful part of the world.

We went through a strict application and interview process with the second-year leadership team and the head of faculty, Professor Phil Powell, and then each got a personal phone call a week later welcoming us in. I couldn't be more excited - when applying to grad school, I never expected I'd be traveling to Peru to do consulting work for a company in my first year. I've already downloaded my "learn Spanish" podcasts, and am getting ready to enroll in the GLOBASE course in the MBA course curriculum next week. Here are some videos and more information on GLOBASE Peru!

A fun and crazy week

So this week was quite busy for me. I had a mid-term exam, 2 interviews, turned in one assignment, and attended two speaker engagements (CEO and Chairman of PetSmart - and a Senior Manager at DunnHumby) as part of the curriculum in my Channels Marketing course. I guess that's all part of being a student at a top ranked MBA program. The school provides opportunities for you to get involved and to challenge you, but its up to you to take advantage of those opportunities.

I'm also very excited for what's still ahead for the week. I'll be a part of the In-Focus weekend event for Consortium prospective students seeking admission to (and information about) the Kelley MBA program as part of my role within the Student Admissions Council. I think this will be a great way to get to meet some new potential applicants and share with them some of my own experiences as a student here at Kelley.

Further, Saturday brings some fun college football (sadly an away game), and a little get together as I celebrate my birthday - All a part of the MBA Social Life I guess.

Definitely looking forward to more fun next week!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First Interview of the Season!

The interview season is off to a great start. As I mentioned in a past post, full-time recruiting at top ranked business graduate schools takes place during the fall. I had my first interview this morning for a consulting position.

What differentiates consulting from other job interviews is that there is a case-based portion in addition to the behavioral portion. While I am not a regular participant in the Kelley Consulting Club and their Case Cracker practice sessions, I felt that I had learned enough in the MBA course curriculum to touch on all the major issues and solve the case. This should hopefully be reassuring for those without extensive work experience or who have never done one of these interviews before. It also shows why Kelley is a Nationally Ranked MBA program. I am told that the later rounds in the process get more challenging which should be a lot of fun should I have the opportunity to interview again.

With several more interviews in the pipeline, I am hoping that I can convert these into additional interviews and offers. I am excited by all the possibilities!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Education Pivots on a Dime in Real Time

This week marks Academy Week #1 at the best MBA program in the USA, the Kelley School of Business. While Academy weeks can be hard to describe, and I highly recommend you visiting the website to learn about this completely unique, one-of-a-kind program at one of the top ranked MBAs, here it is in a nutshell:

All classes stop for one week and you and a group of your peers take an intense, focused look at your chosen industry of study: marketing, entrepreneurship, investment banging, etc...

In my academy, Supply Chain and Global Management, our head and inspiring speaker, Roberto Garcia, was leading us in a discussion for identifying international business opportunities across the world. One of our very socially-minded students spoke up with the question:

"Is it ethical to set up a factory in a country in which the money you pump into the economy directly funds genocide and human rights violations?"

Our class began to discuss back and forth, as this was no easy question to answer. What completely surprised me, and what I will remember the rest of my life, is Dr. Garcia interrupted all of us, scrapped the agenda for the entire morning, and gave us nearly an hour to pick our sides on the debate, develop an argument and then present to the class.

What followed were 24 logical, passionate, well-thought-out arguments to attempt to address this incredibly difficult issue. I felt so fortunate to be sharing the same classroom as these brilliant minds, just listening was a privilege. There was no harsh debate or personal attacks - simple logic and probing questions to get at the heart of the issue.

What impressed me so much though was how quickly and easily Dr. Garcia was willing to scrap his carefully crafted schedule when he saw an opportunity for brilliant discussion. I feel that is simply a recurring trend at Kelley - the faculty and staff's ability to turn on a dime to seize opportunities and make the most of enriching educational opportunities. Being one of the top ranked business graduate schools, Kelley's program is nimble and smart; and when an opportunity comes along to change our minds forever, the faculty and staff are more than prepared to capitalize on it and take us to new heights.

Consumer Marketing Academy: Lunch with the Weinermobile!

As I mentioned in one of my prior blogs, the Kelley School of Business students' involvement in an Academy is part of the MBA course curriculum. Coming from a background in management consulting, my involvement in the Consumer Marketing Academy is proving to me how the Kelley School of Business really lives up to its reputation as a great place for career switch MBAs. In three Fridays of meeting with the Consumer Marketing Academy, I am already leaps and bounds ahead of where I started in terms or marketing lingo, trends and practices.

Last Friday, we had Tom Lopez, a Director of Marketing at Kraft's Oscar Mayer, and two colleagues (and Kelley School of Business alumni!) come and speak to us about "redefining your marketing gut". During the interactive and informative session, we were given insight into how to keep our marketing ideas fresh and avoid doing things "as we've always done it" as we start our careers. We were also shown several advertisements from various companies and then engaged in lively debates over whether or not each advertisement was effective. After a morning filled with interactive learning, we were taken outside to enjoy some lunch (complete with Oscar Mayer food!). When we went outside to eat lunch, the one and only Oscar Mayer Weinermobile was outside waiting for us! While enjoying our lunch, several of us were able to get a ride in the Weinermobile. The pre-boarding requirement was to sing an Oscar Mayer jingle.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable and educational Consumer Marketing Academy Friday! The Oscar Mayer team seemed to have an equally enjoyable experience. The Oscar Mayer team frequently visits and recruits at the Kelley School of Business due to its past successes with Kelley's strong MBA consumer marketing students!

Peer Coaching: Two-Way Benefit

At the Kelley School of Business, innovation and thought leadership are always a priority. This year is no different. We've recently revamped the Peer Coaching program in such a way, that the benefits are two way - not just top-down. In a typical coaching/mentoring situation, you think of the main beneficiary as the person receiving the mentoring and advice. In this new program, we've created a loop, so the coaches (of which I am one) are receiving feedback on our coaching.

This means the 1st year students (mentees) are getting advice from the 2nd years about recruiting, course selection, interview prep, etc. and the 2nd years are receiving feedback from 1st years and staff about how well we're doing as a coach, areas of improvement, and more to improve our leadership and managerial potential.

All in all, both parties are benefiting from this revamped peer coaching program and, frankly, it's quite a bit of fun as well.

Dinner with the CMO of Equinox

Here at the Kelley School of Business, we are blessed with some great visitors, speakers, and supporters of the program. One such recent visitor was Cie Nicholson, the EVP and CMO of Equinox and past CMO of PepsiCo. She was in Bloomington speaking to groups of alumni and students; I was one of a lucky few to have dinner with her.

It was great to hear about how she's taken learning from her experience at Kelley, a nationally ranked MBA program, to build a successful marketing and general management career over time. She's done it all from the Associate Brand Manager level, up to the highest ranks of marketing at PepsiCo and Equinox; with a side job of entrepreneur ( and serves on a few boards of directors.

I think the best piece of advice she left us with is to not attempt to plan too far out - things will definitely change by the time you get there, so being adaptable to those changes will help you, personally and professionally, get to where you want to go.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Letting Loose During Mid-term Studies

The MBA Association is a student-run organization of 2nd-year students that has a hand in every aspect of the MBA program, from alumni, to current students, to prospective students, and everything that touches their lives in Bloomington and abroad. Each Friday, the student Affairs Section of the MBAA hosts Kelley Fridays, a two-hour event at the Kelley building (Godfrey) that welcomes students and their families/partners for entertainment and sometimes competition.

Last Friday was Japanese Game Show Night, a wonderful evening celebrating the diversity of international entertainment. There was a huge turn-out for the games - and not just MBA students, but their wives, husbands, and children too. That's an integral part of MBA social life and culture - families are always welcome. The room was filled with laughter and cheering and commotion galore - as well as free and fresh sushi and soda!

It was a hilarious night of wasabi eating, sumo races, marshmallow eating and ninja tea-drinking. The students and families had a great time releasing from the pressures of mid-term studying, and we always look forward to these events. That's what you get at a top-ranked business school like Kelley - world class education without forgetting who you are as a person with loved ones.

Here's the online YouTube clip of Japanese Game Show Night - I would be the short one in the sumo suit. Enjoy!

Fine dining and fun this fall!

The past two weeks have been great food and entertainment weeks. While in the midst of finals, you would think I would be tucked away studying and focusing on my MBA course curriculum, but instead have been able to squeeze in some of Bloomington's finest food and fun in my MBA social life.

Last Wednesday, I met up with a group of friends at Lennies, a faculty favorite in Bloomington. Located near the Kelley School, Lennies is known for serving local beer from the Bloomington Brewery Co., yummy specials, and the almost certain faculty-spotting. While we did not run into any faculty this time, we did see several classmates also taking a break. We split the Blue Apple pizza, topped with apples, bacon, walnuts, white onion, gorgonzola and a pesto sauce and took a break to catch up outside of class. I then headed to IU's student production of RENT with 10 other classmates where we took in the incredible vocal stylings of the Jacobs School of Music's extremely talented students.

Thursday, I joined a group of six other students to have dinner at Finch's, another Bloomington and Kelley faculty favorite, to hear from Cie Nicholson, former CMO of Pepsi and current Executive Vice President and CMO of Equinox. It is incredible to have access to marketing professionals of Cie's caliber as a student and to be able to ask questions about navigating career decisions. Cie was in town to be the Key Note for our Women's Weekend, and I am thrilled I got to spend some time with her during her stay in Bloomington. Finch's sources large amounts of its food from local farms, and as a result, the menu changes regularly to reflect what is seasonally available. They just changed the menu, so I had a difficult time deciding what to order, but ended up having incredible chicken cannelloni and it was delicious.

Enjoying Finch's as much as we do, I met my Wednesday night dinner club at Finch's again last night before heading to the IU Auditorium to see the National Broadway Tour of Legally Blonde. I changed it up and ordered the vegetarian lasagna, the special of the day, and even enjoyed some lemon butter gelato for dessert. We strolled leisurely to the show following dinner and enjoyed two and a half hours of show-tunes and fabulous pink costumes. It was my first time seeing the show and it was a nice light-hearted distraction from all of my studying.

I am continually amazed at the incredible food and entertainment options available in Bloomington and think that the city of Bloomington has helped make my Kelley Experience special. Whether you are an MBA in entrepreneurship, an MBA in corporate finance, or an MBA in management, Bloomington offers a little something for everyone.

Friday, October 15, 2010

MBA Application Tips

I’m off to Atlanta for the weekend for a Consortium MBA Application Preparation Seminar (MAPS) and then onto Minneapolis and Chicago for Inside the MBA fairs next week. I’ll close out my trip next weekend by participating at Consortium MAPS in conjunction with the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) Conference in Chicago. They should be great events and I look forward to meeting those of you in those cities at the events!

I’ll be sharing some additional tips on each specific component of the application so be sure to check back often. In the meantime, you can read Business Week’s recent interview with our Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, Jim Holmen, for some initial tips and suggestions. You may also want to participate in our online admissions chats to learn more about the program and ask questions about the application process.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Inspiration and the Future

Last night, in the midst of a whirlwind of mid-term studying for the MBA course curriculum, I had the incredible opportunity to hear Dean Smith, Economics Professor Phil Powell (Head of Faculty) and Erik Medina, Director of Graduate Career Services, speak. These three brilliant, inspired, determined minds are wonderful to hear from each and every time, and are a testament yet again to this being the Best MBA Program in the USA.

Roughly 30 of us were able to hold audience in a classroom for one hour, and each speaker took about 15 minutes to describe why they loved IU, how the program functions, and where they want to see this program go. The room sat in silent wonder at these huge, wonderful ideas. And let me tell you something -

This school is headed for bigger and better things every day.

The Dean speaks with calm inspiration.
Phil Powell speaks with explosive energy and conviction.
Erik speaks with passionate facts behind earnest drive.

What struck me was how nimble and quick this nationally ranked MBA can adjust to the needs of its prospective students, the market and its current students. Communication is tight, flexibility is easy and brilliance is high - what you'd expect from a nationally ranked MBA program. They talked about how when the job market was poor last year, they quickly adjusted their focus to ensuring job-placement for their students after graduation - and within three months after graduation, 100% of the students had offers, and 87% had accepted. Now this year, we pivot to recruit stronger and sign our victories to our prospective market.

Here's the greatest take-away I found though. The Dean said: as long as we can get students on-campus, to see this beautiful building, to meet our brilliant professors and talk with our current students who LOVE this school, 100% of them apply. They just need to be here to believe it - it really is as great as it sounds. (and let me tell you, that spoke to my heart - the exact same thing happened to me. I wasn't sure if I'd apply or not - and then I came for one day, just one day, and I had submitted my application before the weekend was through).

Bottom Line: I hope you're reading this while checking your laptop at Kelley during your visit to one of the most incredible masters of business administration programs - if not, click out of this blog and schedule your visit. NOW. I'll be here to shake your hand.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guest Speakers bring Channels Management to Life

Currently, I am taking Jonlee Andrews' M537 Channels Management Course and it has been a favorite throughout my MBA course curriculum. This class takes everything we have been learning about working on the manufacturing side of marketing and flips it on its head to give us a new perspective from the retailer's point of view. Additionally, the course includes guest lectures from retail and manufacturers to take the concepts we are learning and bring them to life through real-time, real-world examples.

Over the course of the past two weeks, we have heard from James Beck, General Manager of the Walmart Smart Network; David Ciancio, Senior Vice President of Dunnhumby; and Chris Wilkins, Vice President of Private Label at ConAgra Foods. These individuals have had incredible experiences and are considered the experts in their different fields and were able to take the information we have learned from cases and lecture and give us real-time examples. James highlighted changing the strategy for the next generation of retail, including reviewing some of Walmart's changes in the past few years, what worked well vs. what did not, and how they plan to change in the future. Mr. Ciancio spoke on retailer and manufacturer partnerships and Chris shared information on private labels vs. national brands and how to manage both within the same company. These speakers volunteer their time to enhance our learning experience because they want to develop the future marketing leaders at what I consider to be, the best MBA program in the USA among top ranked business graduate schools.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fall in Bloomington and Application Season

Actually being on campus this week reminds me of how much I enjoy the fall weather and leaves changing. Bloomington is a vibrant college town, nestled quietly in southern Indiana, about an hour south of Indianapolis. Many people think of Indiana as flat, boring, and full of cornfields. Growing up in northern Indiana, I can assure you that can be the case. However, now living in southern Indiana, I find myself surrounded by the beauty of the outdoors, particularly this time of year. Rolling hills, forests, lakes, and outdoor opportunities are aplenty in and around Bloomington. If you’re looking for a nice quiet place to get away, they’re easily found in the area! I’ve learned that a short drive to work or a refreshing walk around campus can be a great way to refresh and relax. I would encourage you to explore for yourself and visit campus. This is one of the most important things you can do in finding the right “fit” and determining which program to attend. (And yes, these pictures are from Bloomington!)

Tip from the Admissions Committee: As we begin to move into “application season” it is important to think about the timing of your application. We offer four admissions deadlines: November 1, January 5, March 1, and April 15. It is important to note that students are admitted in all four rounds. We utilize a waitlist, particularly in the earlier rounds, to allow this to happen. The most important factor to consider when applying to business school is to submit your application at its strongest. One of the biggest misconceptions is that students must apply early before there are no seats left in the class. As I just mentioned, that is not true. You should apply when you are ready. You should want to put your best foot forward. If you feel there are components of the application you can strengthen, it is always best to do this first rather than rush to meet a certain deadline.

Study Hard, Benefit Big

Welcome to the week before Midterms.

This week I send you my very best, but I cannot send you much. There are four homework assignments due this week and four mid-terms next week, so I'm afraid my time is quite short. But as I've said before about this top ranked MBA: I am not alone. I'm meeting with various conglomerates of peers studying for various exams and preparing homework assignments - using our combined knowledge to best teach each other and prepare for these tests. As for the MBA Course Curriculum itself, the professors are offering study sessions nearly every night to make sure we are prepared to succeed, as are the "second years." This program presents you with daunting tasks, but gives you ever tool to succeed.

My best to you, come to Kelley, I'll see you in two weeks!

Monday, October 4, 2010

So what exactly is a Peer Coach??

There are many things one expects when enrolling in a nationally ranked MBA program. In addition to an unbeatable MBA course curriculum, MBA admission offices will usually promise mentorship and guidance throughout the career exploration process (and the admissions office at Kelley is no different!!). I can't speak to any of the other schools' available career prep, but I can speak to Kelley's and I have plenty of great things to say.

Being a second year student who is pursuing an MBA in corporate finance, I feel I have something to offer those first year students looking to break into the field of corporate finance. Facing a change in careers can be intimidating for anyone, let alone those getting an MBA for non business majors! Enter the peer coach.

As a peer coach, I will be working with 4 first years in order to help them prepare for the internship interview season. Come January, students at all of the top ranked MBA programs will be competing for the best internships. It is the peer coach's responsibility to work with their mentees and ensure they are on the path to success. For students in the Corporate Finance Academy (CFA), this path will be completed in 4 phases.

Phase 1: Each of the 7 corporate finance peer coaches will take his/her mentees out for lunch or dinner to begin building a personal relationship.

Phase 2: Once everyone has gotten to know each other it is time to get to work. Throughout the fall semester we will have one-on-one development sessions with our first years to ensure they are staying on track with networking and interview preparation.

Phase 3: CFA peer coaches will complete an extensive resume review with their mentees to ensure the resume is in the sacred CAR (Context, Action, Result) format. Never again will I hear the word CAR and think of only a hunk of metal with 4 wheels! :)

Phase 4: All corporate finance mentees will be given the opportunity to complete mock interviews with 2 separate peer coaches. After going through an interview with their own peer coach, we want to place them in the interview situation with someone they are not as familiar with to get them outside of their comfort zone.

It is also important to remember that the peer coach is only one aspect of career training at Kelley. The academies and Graduate Career Services coach will also play key roles. Career training at Kelley is attacked from 3 different perspectives, and this is just one more reason I believe Kelley is the best MBA program in the USA. Whether you are looking to get an MBA in entrepreneurship, a life science MBA, or want to study marketing, there are not only trained professionals (faculty and career coaches) but dedicated second year students as well to help make you successful.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Full-Time Recruiting at Kelley

For the majority of MBA Programs, recruiting for full-time positions takes place in the fall with recruiting for internships taking place in the spring. Kelley schedules a series of networking events where students have an opportunity to learn more about companies from recruiters and company reps. Networking events are typically separated by functional area, so there might be an event for the MBA in Corporate Finance, for the MBA in Entrepreneurship, Life Science MBA, etc. As part of the MBA course curriculum, you learn how to deliver a great elevator speech about yourself, and I find it is helpful to prepare a few questions beforehand that you can ask.

I begin interviewing for positions next week and companies will interview through the beginning of December. Full-time positions will continue to be posted for students; however, the majority of formal full-time recruiting will have ended. So, should on-campus interviews be unsuccessful, my plan is to then begin a more thorough off-campus search looking for "just-in-time" hiring opportunities where companies are hiring for right now versus several months from now. Being at a nationally ranked MBA program, we attract a lot of great companies and have some phenomenal students here. Luckily the environment around interviewing does not become overly-competitive. We want everyone to succeed!

I am going to be prepping for interviews using strategies taught by graduate career services. I am going to use a mix of info gathered from informational interviews along with company research to ensure I understand the business model, the role I am interviewing for, changes at the company, and that I can talk intelligently about myself. Wish me luck!

Did anyone say house party or MBA social life? Friday night, one of our wonderful exchange students hosted a small party which was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to relax after a challenging week. We are about half-way through our first 7-weeks so students experience mid-terms or projects due around this time-frame.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Try For a Little Help from My Friends

If you're not an accountant, accounting's hard. Really hard. But, if you're a Kelley student in one of the top ranked business graduate schools, there's help around every corner.

Professor Jamie Pratt, head of Accounting, walks in last night at 6 p.m. into the classroom with his classic Pizza Hut cup half-way filled with water, sets down his books, faces the class, and asks, "how can I help?"

For some of my classmates, Accounting comes easy, a second language if you will. They're great to ask questions of, always willing to help and provide insights, contribute riveting discussion to the class (honestly!) as part of the MBA course curriculum. But for those of us who need a helping hand, a boost to keep up, the professors won't leave us behind.

See, at this school, it's not about weeding out the lesser students, finding the ones who are falling behind and cutting them. This school is run like an incredibly successful businesses, where collaboration and determination create an environment where everyone can succeed. That's what you get from a Nationally Ranked MBA like Kelley.

Professor Pratt spends the next two hours, of his very important free time, focusing on just five students (from a class of 211) re-explaining the day's lessons (with humor and chuckles) and reviews depreciation on assets (if you're not an accounting major, that's the cost of stuff you buy starting to fall apart). He's patient, attentive and intensely helpful. After two hours, I have a much stronger grasp on the concepts reviewed, and feel just a little bit better about being able to contribute to the class discussion next week.

We're not here at Kelley to make you feel dumb or weed you out from other students, we're here to guarantee you learn and guarantee your successful future. Come be a part of it.

My less-social week

So, this was a busy week! I had a lot of group meetings, a mid-term exam, and a case write-up due. The learning in the Kelley MBA program often emphasizes teamwork, not unlike many other Nationally Ranked MBA programs, which means a lot of work is done in groups. Coordinating schedules can be challenging, however, time management is a great lesson that we're never really taught, but we definitely learn.

Outside of class I'm also involved in the peer coaching program aimed at ensuring 2nd year students have strong management/leadership/mentoring experience while we're still in school, but also providing great coachable moments for the 1st year students. We're in the ramp up period, of defining the goals and kicking off the revamped program, which has added more time commitments, but it's also a great program for all involved. I'm very much looking forward to staying engaged in the process of my own job search, but also those of my peer mentees.

With all of that the MBA social life has dipped this week. However, I'm very much looking forward to the weekend tailgate and some great college football. IU is playing host to University of Michigan Wolverines; it should be a great game if last year is any indication. Also, tonight, at the Bluebird (a local music venue/bar) is showcasing the band "Who's Bad" a great Michael Jackson cover band - really looking forward to the show!

Admissions Visit Program Kick Off

I am a member of the Student Admissions Council at the Kelley School of Business MBA Program; in fact, I'm one of four Co-Chairs. In this capacity we are charged with organizing opportunities for visiting prospective students the opportunity to meet with current students, sit in on one of our top-ranked classroom experiences, and attend an information session with other students and a staff member of the admissions office, among other things.

I remember my own visit to Bloomington for my MBA Admissions interview with Kelley as a great experience. I met a number of great folks who turned out to be 'my 2nd years' and witnessed part of the MBA Course Curriculum through a great marketing class led by Professor Jonlee Andrews.

As a member and co-chair, I now get to help pay that experience forward and we work to ensure a positive visit for all our prospective students. If you're a prospective student, I highly recommend that you visit as many MBA programs as you can to get to know the students, the culture, and more. It's a great way to gauge 'fit' with a program. And I definitely recommend that you visit Bloomington...Good Luck!