Sunday, November 28, 2010

Baby Steps

It is easy to let things get overwhelming quickly...writing millions of essays for graduate school applications, picking an industry and function for after graduate school determining the rest of your career, training for a marathon....there are so many steps to take (figuratively and literally!) and so many little decisions to make along the way.

So, you may ask, what can I do to make these processes easier?

First, apply to the Best MBA Program in the USA! Of course, that is the Kelley School of Business. There are no crazy amount of essays required and most importantly, they consider the application as a whole. No mad science behind one part of the application being more important than the other. Kelley only admits the best overall well rounded people - I know because I am one :)
Read this article to find out more on Kelley MBA admission.

So, today starts a new 7 weeks of classes for me. Kelley runs on quarters which is nice as I get up to 8 classes a year, but it sometimes seems as though right as I get into the swing of the class, it ends. So now I am faced with 4 new classes. Additionally, I am lucky enough to lead a new peer coach program where 2nd years, like myself, mentor 1st year MBA students and provide a resource for professional and personal advice and coaching. It is a big responsibility, and I take it seriously as I want to provide a good experience for those I coach as well as develop my leadership skills. So, instead of getting overwhelmed with the new work load, I have started with small goals. These include: 1. to get the most of each class. I am only here for 3 more quarters! Thus I must read the material BEFORE the class and participate in the classroom discussion to leave Kelley the best marketing leader I can. It is not always as easy as it sounds. 2. to journal my experiences of coaching others and chronicle what works and what does not and 3. to take my lunch to school today (I hope I can do it the day after and the day after that too!).

These 'baby steps' will help me achieve bigger broader goals that I will share with you in my next post :)

Now, go have a great day!!

P.S. The pictured boots are what I want to start my 'baby steps' in, aren't they great?

Applauding for Homework

Ok, you want culture? I'm going to give you culture. Culture at the best MBA Program in USA that you can't find anywhere else.

After every single class. I'm going to say that again. Every. Single. Class.

We applaud. Everyone.

I'm afraid I never had the honor of knowing the man; but in my interviews with staff and faculty, here's what I've learned. Walt Blaccioniere joined the Kelley faculty in the late 90's teaching Accounting. He was and optimistic, fun and dynamic professor, often jumping up on desks in excitement, and got to know his students personally, not just brain-machines. He was a health enthusiast in his mid-40s, often running 5ks and other jogs with faculty friends. Walt introduced the tradition of clapping - simply to congratulate the cooperative learning that had happened during the class session. Everyone truly loved Walt. In 2007, Walt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and was lost just eight months later. In his final optimistic months, Walt requested that the faculty carry on the tradition of the Kelley clap.

In the atrium is a bronze statue of applauding hands. It reads:

Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

"The Kelley Applause Tradition

Faculty and staudents applaud after each class session to appreciate the teaching and learning that has taken place. This gracious tradition was started by an extraordinary teacher, professor Walt Blaccioniere (1956-2007)

Sculpture by Todd Frahm"

In his honor, we applaud the learning that has just taken place. These professors, recruited from the top ranked business graduate schools, are the top in their field. They're the reason we have the top Entrepreneur MBA program, incredible corporate finance, work-renown MBA product marketing and more. When you come visit Kelley, take the time to reach out and meet these professors. Their efforts, their personality, their ability to integrate the lessons from one discipline to the next and make the learning practical and eye-opening. Their brilliance, insight and character deserve the applause every time. You'd think you'd become jaded after every class, clapping time and time again, knowing how much work you have to go do now to prepare for the next class.

You don't.

Take a look at the Kelley Clap from this last December for Professor Mike Metzger's final lecture. Tell me the students don't mean it - and the professor doesn't take it to heart.

If you knew Walt or have a personal story about the Kelley Clap, please feel free to share it below.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

MBA Application Essays

I hope that everyone is having an enjoyable weekend, especially those celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. It’s been a great couple of days for me at home visiting family and eating a lot of great food. As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has arrived, I know that many are also preparing their applications for our January 5 deadline. In the coming weeks I will be sharing a number of tips for each aspect of the application and today I’m going to start with essays.

The essay portion of the MBA application is probably the area that you have the most control over. It is also the aspect of the application where you can let your personality show. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer for any of the essay questions that you might encounter. Each is simply an opportunity to get to know you. What are schools and admissions committees looking for in MBA application essays? It is simple: to get to know you. Be yourself. Be genuine. Don’t try to make the essay say something you think the reader wants to hear. Simply answer the question as if a friend, family member, or coworker was asking the same thing.

In fact, one of the best suggestions I could share is to have a couple of people read your essays without telling them what the topic. Afterwards, ask them to tell you what they think the topic or question was and if the essay sounded genuinely like you. (Ask someone that knows you well and someone that may not know you as well to get varied perspectives.) Hopefully they will be close to the original topic or question and agree that it fits you; then you will know you have written a good essay. Here are a few other quick tips for your application essays:

* DO proofread your essay; DO NOT simply rely on spell check and grammar check. (This will not catch everything, especially the school name.)
* DO tailor your essay to each specific school; DO NOT try to make an essay for one school/topic try to fit another school/topic.
* DO follow the format guidelines; DO NOT use abnormal font, margins, or go well beyond the space allotted. (The default used by your word processing software is likely the most acceptable.)
* DO spend time to think about and even outline your essays; DO NOT try to write your essays in one sitting. (This will insure that you have thought about the topic and are able to address the question/topic best.)
* DO be yourself; DO NOT try to guess what the reader or admissions committee wants to hear.

Remember, this process should be introspective and allow the reader (admissions committee) to get to know you. Spend the time necessary to think about each topic and yourself, both personally and professionally. Hopefully you find these tips helpful as you work to complete this step of the application process! If you have additional questions, feel free to comment and I will provide additional insight. You may also want to review our list of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). Enjoy!

Reminder from the Admissions Committee: Be sure to attend one of our upcoming receptions in various locations around the US. If you are not able to attend, join us for an online chat with our admissions team on December 9!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Family, Food and Fandango

This week marks Thanksgiving break for one of the top ranked MBA colleges, the Kelley School of Business. Therefore, with all due respect, you’ll only get one blog entry from me. Don’t get me wrong, I encourage you to research more about this great, two year MBA program and get excited to come here; but when you have an opportunity to be with family, then be with family – don’t miss a moment of it.

For me, I’ll be driving down to Tennessee to spend the holiday with my small family and girlfriend in a cabin by a lake – enjoying the peace and solitude that mountain air has to offer. Most of our class seems to be headed home for the holiday – but those from other countries are taking the opportunity to see more of America. Students are taking their families to San Francisco, road-tripping New England’s coast, checking out all the museums of Chicago or evening keeping in the career-search mind-set and interviewing with a variety of companies. Without classes, the plate is wide open for how you choose to spend your time.

My goals for the week: complete a puzzle, go to a dentist appointment, cook my first batch of sweet potatoes, sleep for 12 hours. Potentially I’ll read some Economics – but only potentially. Oh, and maybe see Harry Potter 7 – I’ll have to order tickets ahead of time though.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with you and yours and I’ll see you on the other side when classes resume for two weeks and then finals. Enojy!

In Case You Hadn't Heard

This week marked our first case competition in the best two year MBA program, which also marked the first time I’ve missed both my MBA program blog entries on a timely basis. But when you’re holed up in one room for four days straight, averaging 13 hours of work a day, sometimes you’ve got to prioritize.

Each year, the first-year students participate in the case competition, a nearly six-day head-to-head battle of the consultants. The competition is always sponsored by an organization; this year was Whirlpool, which poses a question to the student teams. The teams then may use any resources they like, not including professors, second-years, or anyone connected to the sponsoring organization to conduct research and present the best-possible recommendation for the company’s problem. This comes in the form of a 30-minute presentation, 15-minutes of PowerPoint and presentation and 15 minutes of Q&A from the judges (which are made up of professors and second-years).

This year, Whirlpool divided our class into three sections and asked each of us how to penetrate the filtered water market in either Mexico, India or the United States. We were given only one page of data, four days to work, and sent on our way. The presentation was charged with Beach Boys music, sun glasses and surf boards, bottled water and a barrage of Whirlpool water droplet stress balls. Charged with taking on Mexico, my team of Green 11 hit the books running at one of the top ranked MBA colleges.

The next four days were fascinating – I’ve got to tell you, I never thought I’d ever learn so much about the Mexican water situation or the science behind water filters. Our group bounced all sorts of ideas off each other, from massive central filtration devices, to under the sink water filters, to bottled water. In fact, each day that we finished our work, we left a phony solution drawn on the whiteboard to misguide competing teams, out of fun: these included filtered hot tubs and sourcing filters from Alaska using Sarah Palin as a spokeswoman…..

In the end, we recommended penetrating the luxury hotel market in Mexico with a faucet-attached water filter in each room. This seems so simple, but keep in mind more than 48 hours contributed to creating the sound financials, marketing plan, economic analysis and supply chain calculations. We were proud of our idea, I still am, but the judges were more akin to bottle-less water coolers in office spaces.

It’s easy to say this now, but maybe not in the thick of things – I really loved the experience. We got to apply everything we’ve learned in the last 10 weeks from all of our classes to try and solve a real-world problem. In addition, you learn so much about four people when you’re trapped in a project for so long. I’ve got a team mix of marketers who include a Texan who modeled, a Cleveland HIV tester originally from Nigeria, a family man from Japan who used to be a conductor, and another gentleman with his eyes set on bettering the healthcare industry. And who am I?

I’m the guy installing water filters in Mexico City’s Hilton hotels.

Come be a part of the practical applications that multi-billion dollar companies take your recommendations and ideas and change the world.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Life at the Kelley School

Once again I’ve been back in the office for a few days and it’s time to head out again. After attending the SHPE Conference in Cincinnati, I was in Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, and Atlanta last week for Inside the MBA events. Being in the office for an entire week now has allowed me to catch up a bit, but now I’m off to Houston, Austin, and Dallas next week for some additional Inside the MBA events (along with good BBQ, steak, and Tex-Mex)! (I’m really excited about the food, in case you didn’t notice. It’s some of my favorite! Other suggestions welcome!)

Anyway, I wanted to provide you with some additional resources for learning more about the admissions process, diversity at Kelley, student activities, and life at the Kelley School. I would encourage you to check out our podcast series to learn more about these topics and others. You can even follow students around for a day in the myLife at Kelley series. These can be quite humorous and are some of my favorite! Enjoy!

Reminder and update from the Admissions Committee (for Consortium applicants ONLY): The early application deadline for students applying via the Consortium is November 15. Submit all of your materials directly to the Consortium and they will forward them onto the schools you have indicated on your application. Keep in mind that the school rankings within your application do not impact admissions or membership decisions; they are only utilized for awarding the Consortium Fellowship. You may only receive one Consortium Fellowship offer. The school you list first will have the first opportunity to offer you the Consortium Fellowship and so on down through your rankings. As a result, we encourage you to give careful thought and consideration to your school rankings. You should rank the schools in order of your true preferences so that you have the best chance of gaining the Consortium Fellowship at your most preferred school.

Wine and Dine on MBA Time

Good institutional culture starts at the top and is disseminated downward through communication and action that follows that communication. One of the greatest things I appreciate about culture here at one of the top masters of business administration programs is the variety in interests of our professors, and their accompanying personalities. We've got our sport nuts, out-doors types, rule-benders and rule sticklers. Their personal passions bring a special flavor though to each lesson.

Take Dean Smith. The Kelley Wine Club, one of 52 clubs within the two year MBA program, provides opportunities for students to taste and learn about wine. Wine is an international presence in many casual business settings, and refinement and knowledge in the subject can provide a great advantage when communicating around the world. The Dean, it just so happens, is a wine connoisseur, and offered to host a wine tasting one evening for MBA students (and their partners).

Now I want to make a distinction here - the Dean is a connoisseur, not a "wine snob." He's passionate about the art of cultivating vines and educating others to share in something he finds absolutely fascinating. None of this is done with a sense of entitlement - it's done with one of the distinguishing factors of the "Kelley Culture:" collaborative education.

The Dean spent the evening guiding roughly 100 students through cultivation, how the process of growing grapes works, geographic meanings in wines, how to order wine, how to taste wine and the culture around wine. It was an evening full of laughter and fun insights.

We had asked the Dean where the best wine list was in Bloomington, and he said "Lennie's." He also joked that there was a secret wine list just for Kelley students that Lennie's Sommelier (wine expert) only knows. A student and I wanted to test this theory, so last night we brought our significant others to Lennie's to try out the wine.

And sure enough, one of the top ranked MBA colleges, the Kelley School of Business, maintains a private, off-menu wine list.

We had a delightful night talking about our classes, professors and different industries. Our server turned out to be an undergraduate in the business program, and was looking to become a part of the best entrepreneurship MBA program upon graduation, Kelley, to stay in the dining industry afterwards. No matter where you go on this campus, you find brilliant young minds who are considering careers in business - they've come to the right place.

Most likely, you're going to get brilliant professors and leaders at most of the schools you're looking at. But where else are you going to find well-rounded, fascinating people who are not only going to give you the best business education, but enrich your life outside of the classroom as well?

Come for a visit, we'll order off-menu for you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Weekend of Activity

What a great weekend! I have been traveling so much this fall for weddings, career management and other things that it was so nice to finally be in Bloomington for the weekend. When you are a part of a two year MBA program, you have a limited amount of time to spend enjoying it, so I could not have picked a better weekend to stay in town full of MBA student activities. Friday evening was the Kelley Women Faculty Auction and a great showing of first and second years were ready to get their bid on to raise money for charity. Several faculty members put up items for auction, things like dinners in Bloomington, music events, and even a basketball game against the faculty in Assembly Hall. There was also a silent auction where several Kelley students and their families generously donated their time and talents, like Nicole Garland's cookies of the month or language lessons with Gerardo Ubaghs Carrion all to raise money for some great causes.

I am excited to be on the winning auction teams for an Italian dinner in Indy with Anne Bastonelli (a repeat victory for our group and we couldn't be more excited) and wine with Pam Roberts, Director of the MBA Program. From the silent auction, I won three beautiful hand made necklaces crafted by one of the wives of a first year student. I am giving them as Christmas gifts to a few of my friends back home and am excited to have an early start on my holiday shopping!

This year, the money raised was divided between four local charities voted on by the students, including: Boys and Girls Club, Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Monroe County Humane Society and Olcott Center for Cancer Education. While we do not know how much money was raised yet, in years passed, it has been around $20,000. Pretty impressive for students living on student loans.

Saturday continued the fun with the last home football tailgate of the season. The weather was sunny and clear and there were so many people there, despite the upcoming first year quant exam, case competitions, and second year job search simultaneously going on. There were also several recently graduated Kelley MBAs in town and I know all the second years enjoyed catching up with our second years while they were in Bloomington.

At the MBA Tailgate with Tito Ghosh

I rounded out the weekend with a trip to Indianapolis for some fall shopping, catching up on Tivo and having dinner on 4th Street with Kate Fricke, another second year student. There are so many incredible programs, events, restaurants, people, etc to take advantage of while pursuing your MBA professional degree, and I am so happy to be a part of this one of a kind community at the Kelley School.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Best Buddy

Today I had an absolute joyful and rare experience: I got to share class at one of the top ranked MBA colleges with one of my best friends from undergraduate.

As a prospective student, your application doesn't even have to be finished and we'll show you all the wonderful things we have to offer at one of the top ranked MBA colleges. You'll get a tour of the beautiful Godfrey Building, get to experience on one of our exciting class discussions, sit at lunch with current Kelley students and pick their brains, join an information session with Kelley staff and students and learn more about why we love this school and then get your first experience interviewing with your future home.

My senior year roommate from college, and a peer in my undergraduate program, has been following these blogs and been hearing about my journey to Kelley, starting nearly 18 months ago. After listening to me ramble and profess about Kelley's business graduate school ranking, how its one of the top mba programs for entrepreneurs, all the fun mba student activities and how I was looking at the strategic marketing mba program. In the end, all my excitement paid off and he visited campus in suit and tie for the day-long experience. I got to see him in between events, introduce him to the head of faculty, Phil Powell; the Core management professor, Matt Semadeni; the president of the MBAA; and a slew of my classmates. At the end of the day, he had zero reservation - applying was a no-brainer.

Thank you for reading this blog. High five for reading Businessweek reviews and Princeton Reviews. And thank you for browsing our website. But when it comes down to it, come here already. We want to meet you. We want to shake your hand. We want to share this beautiful school we all love. Let us show you around.

Thank You Sir May I Please Have Another?!

Today I attended something that blew my mind. No, no it wasn’t just Finance or Accounting class – but those usually blow my mind too.

I attended a meeting where current students, battling through the challenges and opportunities of the core, eagerly absorbed how to obtain 20 more years of hard labor.

Today, faculty from across the Kelley school of Business, in my opinion the best two year MBA program, held a lunch-time information session about obtaining a PhD from the Kelley School of Business. They described the general professional track, what research and teaching looked like during the program, and how you move through your years as an assistant professor to tenured professor to full professor. Much of this involves getting published in research and conducting endless amounts of research.

They professed about the wonderful benefits – getting to be on the forefront of new field discoveries, working with brilliant students from around the world, the joy of teaching knowledge; and most surprisingly (listen in past teachers), the pay is quite impressive (who knew!?)

Rockney Walters (marketing), Jamie Pratt (Accounting), Matt Semadeni (Management), Kyle Cattani (Operations), and Kurt Bretthauer (Chair of the Doctoral Program) led the class through personal anecdotes of the many joys and few pitfalls of becoming a professor. (The only notable pitfall was the fact that years could be dedicated to research and publishing an article, and yet it might be rejected by an A-level peer-reviewed journal).

What impressed me most about this session though is that there was barely an open seat in the room. I lost count, but plenty more than 40 1st & 2nd years turned out to hear about a possible future in teaching – many of my classmates whom I never knew shared my love for education.

At the end of the day, a doctoral program is not for me. I’m an aspiring family man, and I’m afraid the time needed to dedicate to research would detract from the lives of too many others in my world. But I was just so impressed that a huge number of my classmates, already daunted with the coursework of the MBA core curriculum, were already thinking about passing that knowledge on to future generations.

They are to be admired - and you are too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MBA applications have begun rolling in!

As a member of the Admissions Council, I'm excited about the portion of MBA Admissions 'season' of which we're about to embark upon. Across the nation, Masters of Business Administration Programs have begun receiving their first round of applications. The Kelley School of Business has just passed its first application due date on Monday (Round 2 is due Jan. 5th). I'm excited because I'll be joining other admissions counselors and Fulltime MBA staff members in reading applications and interviewing candidates as we look to develop the next MBA class here at Kelley.

I think this is a great opportunity for me to meet new people who have put a lot of time and energy into the application process. Whether they want to join one of the best entrepreneurship MBA programs, study for a Strategic Marketing MBA, or maybe they're looking for an MBA for non business majors, it'll be great to hear their story as they (and we) evaluate fit for the program.

Exciting times and good luck to all you Kelley MBA hopefuls!

Accidental Coordination of my Classes

Course work this semester has actually coordinated pretty nicely. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am taking New Venture Strategy, Consumer Insights, and New Product Management. While unintentional, these courses provide coursework that is inter-related and I have been able to build on the concepts as we continue learning new concepts throughout the semester. For example, in New Venture Strategy, we have spoken about the role of innovation within companies. Then in new product management, we are learning about multiple ways that innovation and new products can occur within a company, particularly through involvement from the consumer. Finally in Consumer Insights, we will talk about how do you identify consumer insights and how can they be helpful in developing new products, etc, bringing a complete circle back to how does understanding consumers and focusing on innovation affect or drive new businesses. Now, these courses are not designed to overlap, but one thing I have valued about being a part of a two year MBA program is how the coursework builds on the strong foundation and fundamental understanding of business established in the Integrated Core and I look forward to continuing to learn more.

Outside of coursework, I just finished my mid point meetings with my first year mentees. They are all progressing through their career search and I even had one join the Life Science Academy to enhance her MBA coupled with her strategic marketing MBA focus in order to pursue marketing in the pharma industry. Their growth is incredible and it is gives me a chance to reflect on just how far I have come since becoming a student at a top ranked MBA college. Tonight, the Consumer Marketing Academy peer coaches are meeting to talk about how things are going, share best practices, and continue to develop our program and make changes as we get feedback and learn what is and is not working so well. Feedback at its finest, we are ready to continue to improve the program!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adventures of a Quant GA

Whether you are a Finance MBA or a Strategic Marketing MBA, you’ll find that business today is driven increasingly by an analytical approach to decision-making. The skillful use of business analytics have given companies a leadership position in several industries. We learn about some of these concepts and techniques through the excel-based modeling and decision-making courses throughout the MBA Program. The quality of these courses distinguishes Kelley School of Business from some of the other Top Masters of Business Administration Programs.

I have enjoyed playing the role of graduate assistant (GA) for Prof. Chris Albright’s Quantitative Methods class for the MBA Core this fall along with my peer Art Bortolini. It has been an exciting and challenging role for me. Art and I held office hours almost every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the MBA student lounge. The final Quant exam is on Monday and I just got back from the final review session. I prepared a presentation highlighting the basic concepts students might face on the test – including optimization, forecasting, regression and decision trees. (I decided to use Prezi to create and deliver the presentation. It is an exciting online tool that takes a very different approach to presentations. If you haven’t tried it already, try the free account. Students get some free additional features; so if you are in school, definitely take advantage of that.) Art went through the process of solving some of the questions students had and we all worked the problems together and reinforced the concepts along the way.

Kelley School of Business has several courses on excel-based modeling to solve real-world business problems. While Prof. Albright’s course during the Core forms the foundation, additional electives such as Prof. Wayne Winston’s K507, K508 and K509 really help you deepen your expertise in excel modeling. The experience of helping the students with the problems they faced further deepened my understanding of several concepts. I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to give back to the student community at Kelley through this position.

Consumer Marketing Academy: Academy Intensive Week 1

Outside of classes, there are MBA student activities in which all students participate. One of these is the Academy Intensive Week. One full week per semester, classes are halted, and Kelley School of Business students immerse themselves in career related activities with their Academies.

My involvement in the Consumer Marketing Academy (CMA) provided me the opportunity to travel around the Midwest by bus with my 42 fellow CMA members! Our destinations for the Monday - Friday trip were: Chicago, IL, Indianapolis, IN, Columbus, OH, and Cincinnati, OH.

Our week started bright and early at 7:30am on Monday morning, when our group of the best consumer marketing MBA students met at the Kelley School of Business and loaded the bus. We then spent the next few hours headed to ConAgra (in Naperville, IL), where we spent the rest of Monday afternoon. Here we heard about ConAgra's exciting Brand Leadership Development Program, got to taste test some of their delicious Marie Callender's lasagna, and heard a motivating speech from the company's CMO, Joan Chow. All in all a pretty exciting first day!

First thing Tuesday we met with Whirlpool. We got to hear from Whirlpool's Brand Portfolio Leadership Development Program participants and learned about Whirlpool's rotational marketing program. We also got in depth insight into some of Whirlpool's recent innovative marketing techniques. Tuesday was capped with a bus trip to Indianapolis.

First thing Wednesday morning, we visited Lilly's corporate headquarters. We spent the majority of the day at Lilly, hearing about the differences between pharma and CPG marketing, how the regulatory environment impacts marketing, and had an exciting and interactive Cialis case discussion. After a great day at Lilly, we headed back to the bus to journey to Columbus, OH, where Scotts hosted a fun welcome reception at the Franklin Park Conservatory.

Thursday proved to be the busiest day of the week, as we met with 3 companies in one day! While busy, it was a great day in which we heard about an array of different types of marketing. We began the day at Nationwide, where we learned about service marketing techniques. We also heard an inspiring speech from Nationwide's CMO, Jim Lyski, in which he stressed how vital the marketing function is to a service company.

We next headed to Scotts, also in Columbus, for the afternoon. There we got to view Scotts' beautiful (green) campus, learn about its new product launch process, and hear an exciting presentation from the Senior VP of Sustainability, Jan Valentic. After a great afternoon at Scotts, we loaded the bus for Cincinnati and our P&G mixer that evening.

Our last day of Academy Week was at the Procter & Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, OH. There we got to hear from both the Brand Management and Consumer Market Knowledge groups and have an interactive and entertaining Febreze case discussion. The visit to Cincinnati was a great way to end an informative and exciting week! I can see why Kelley is known to have one of the best consumer marketing MBA programs - Academy Weeks are just one of the unique learning experiences Kelley offers to its students!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's all about experience!

It feels like I am always talking about how fast time is flying, but it really hit me this week when I started to do my mid-point check in meetings with my first year mentees through the peer coaching program. First, I am absolutely loving being a part of the peer coach program not only because it is giving me a chance to get to know some of my first year classmates better, but also because I feel like I get to pay forward all of the help I received from second years in my development last year. The Kelley culture is incredibly collaborative and it was important to me to be in an environment where I knew others wanted to see me succeed, and the peer coach program is a continuation of this culture. The peer coaching program is also giving me a chance to continue developing my abilities to give and receive feedback, as well as to learn how to coach. I am excited to connect with some of the other Consumer Marketing Academy peer coaches next week to talk through how things are going and share best practices we're learning as we go.

In other news our first MBA admission deadline was on Monday, so I am sure our Admissions Counselor duties are going to pick-up significantly. We're seeing more and more prospectives visiting campus to experience our program first hand, beyond just our business graduate school ranking. I always found the most helpful thing in my decision process when I was applying to top ranked MBA colleges was to spend time in the program building getting to know the students and feeling the energy and culture of the school. If you are planning on visiting Bloomington, welcome and we are excited to get to know you a little better!

I have really enjoyed having the chance to reflect and document my experiences through Kelley's MBA program blog and read up on some of the other fun things my classmates are also up to these days. We hope you enjoy it too!

Case Competition

I'm excited to be representing the Kelley School of Business at a case competition against students from other top ranked MBA colleges. Case competitions are, the joke goes, the sport of business schools. though there are different forms, typically, teams of 4-5 students from various schools are invited to a single location where a new 'case' or business problem is presented to everyone at once. The teams then relegate themselves to a room for the next 24 (ish) hours to analyze the situation, come up with strategic options, settle on a recommended strategy, formulate a presentation, and then present their findings and recommendations to a panel of judges. Sometimes the judges are faculty, staff, and/or business professionals, but also sometimes they are representatives of the actual company for which you're helping solve a live problem.

This particular case competition is called the 'Elite Eight Brand Management Case Competition' and is hosted by the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management; other participating schools include us (Consumer Marketing Academy students at the Kelley School of Business), Ross, Kellogg, Haas, Wharton, Anderson, and Fuqua.

The great thing about these competitions is that you get to test your newly learned skills by putting them into practice in real-time. Further, the cash prizes and 'bragging rights' aren't too bad either...Wish us luck!

Life after Kelley

I spent the past weekend in Minneapolis on a revisit weekend and it was so great to catch up with some of the most recent Kelley alumni and hear about how they are settling into their new roles post graduation and hear about adjusting to life after Kelley. While in different industries and functions, each of them noted that the two year MBA program was life changing and encouraged me to enjoy my time in Bloomington, as it is a one-of-a-kind place.

I was able to grab lunch with Sean Vinsel, a former contributor to the MBA program blog, and learn more about his career in corporate finance in the movies category at Best Buy. While at General Mills, I was able to reconnect with another MBA program blog writer, Katie Zonino, as well as Courtney Dougan and Christie Shahan. Each of these ladies are in an Associate Marketing Manager Role working on either the Progresso or Yoplait teams. Michael Campi happened to also be in town, and this former Kelley Marketing Club President was spending the weekend visiting his former Kelley classmates. Michael is currently in a brand management role on the Lunchables brand at Kraft. Courtney's neighbor is Adeela Hussain, former President of Kelley Association of Women MBAs, and she is in a buyer role at Target.

While no longer in the program, it was really nice to reconnect with my Kelley network. Through out your time in the program, you establish incredible relationships with people from many different backgrounds with many different goals and aspirations, and I always enjoy learning from my peers. Because the majority of the program comes to Bloomington from out of state or even other countries, when you graduate, your network disperses all over the globe. Now, anytime I travel, it is almost guaranteed that I run into a fellow Kelley connection, as I experienced twice in the past two weeks when other current students have also been traveling on my same flights. When people ask why I chose Kelley, it was not the business graduate school ranking, the strategic marketing MBA, or even the MBA student activities. While important, my choice came down to the people, and I absolutely know I made the right choice!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Six Years Ago - Did You Ever Think You Could Be So Much?

A day-in-the-life, huh? That's what you want? You want to know what it's like to spend an entire day in a top two-year MBA program? Brother/sister, we've only got one blog entry. So let me just give you the last two hours to highlight MBA student activities.

Two hours ago class ends. I stroll down to my personal mailbox, pull out a great flier, and then head outside into the hustle and bustle of the cool, fall afternoon to head to the library. I have about 100 pages of reading before I start classes tomorrow, so I need to get in the zone and focus (this blog counts as work getting done, by the way).

I stroll into the main study lounge in our beautiful, huge Herman B. Wells Library, an incredibly impressive building with endless resources. As I head towards my usual quiet corner, I notice three of my Korean classmates at a table in the middle of the room, with an open seat. I bow slightly, since they are older than me, and give a polite Korean hello, which sounds like "ah-naan-ah-say-OH." They greet me with surprise, and then we suddenly whisper like kids caught talking in the back of a class, as we remember we're in a library. I ask if I may join them, and they happily offer the open seat.

One of us is tirelessly pulling his hair out trying to crack the latest Microsoft Excel homework; one chuckles to himself as he gains new insight into his Accounting studies; one is already studying for his Microsoft Excel final; and I sit here learning about how talent-scouting agents played a role in the melt-down of Enron for my Strategic Management class. The three of them occasionally get excited and chatter amicably in Korean - and then notice me listening in engagement, and then translate what the issue was. I'm never left out - and it makes me feel like a colleague. Heesun, a Korean classmate who sits right in front of me in class, walks up to our table smiling as she shows off some Oreo-vanilla ice-cream she snuck into the library. We all "ooh" and "ahh" and she teasingly offers a taste, and then finds a corner in the room to study by herself.

On my LinkedIn profile, I daily post interesting vacation spots around the world, and I ask Daegon where he's vacationed in the Pacific. He gets very excited, and begins to whisper about his honeymoon, islands where other classmates hail from, and even brings up Google Earth to show me the places he's talking about. I post his recommendation of the Island of Jeju.

In between work, our table shares stories of our wives/girlfriends, politics, Halloween festivities we were at, and our opinions on our various classes. We ask academic questions of each other and help the best we can.

When I look at my life six years ago, I was a Sophomore in college and a theater major, having not even thought of business school, especially not one of the top masters in business administration programs in the country. I would have never been able to tell you that I would make it through MBA admission to the Kelley school of business, and have now been requested to analyze the failure of one of the country's largest companies from an HR perspective. What really amazes me is that I would have never been able to foresee myself working on my MBA management degree, sitting at a table with three gentlemen from the other side of the planet, collaborating on such incredible academics as advanced Excel analysis and inventory accounting.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Semester, New Classes

Time really flies fast when you are at the best MBA program in the USA and I cannot believe that I am officially 5/8ths of the way done with earning my degree! Now that finals are finished, I am excited to start a new set of classes this seven weeks. I start my week off with W511: Venture Strategy building on the corporate strategy component of the difficult task of new venture creation. Next, I am taking M522: New Products Management where we will be covering the process of developing and marketing new products. Finally, I am taking M550: Consumer Insights, where we will be exploring how to better understand the consumer. In true Kelley fashion, I am a part of some great teams and I am looking forward to working with some of my old favorite teammates as well as a few new ones that are sure to keep discussions and projects lively. This is just a quick preview, and I will have more tales from the classroom as the semester gets underway.

In my panda hat on the great wall from KIP China, spring 2010.

My MBA course curriculum is lighter than normal because over the weekend I decided to participate in our Kelley International Perspectives (KIPS) trip going to Australia and New Zealand next spring. Last year, I spent two weeks in China through a KIPs program and I am looking forward to my first adventure in the Southern Hemisphere, joining other top ranked MBAs for some fun down under. Our trip will be a mix of visiting companies, as well as sight seeing in the area, and I cannot wait to pull out my passport and to continue learning more about the global business environment.

Finance Academy Week Part 2

Wednesday afternoon the Academy split up with one group heading to New York and another group heading to Minneapolis. I was part of this group and we visited four different companies: Ecolab, General Mills, Target, and Best Buy. We also had a Graduate Career Services member accompany us on the trip to leverage contacts he had to make the trip even more effective.

It was very impressive to be on the campuses of each of these corporations. We were well-received at each stop by alumni who were excited to meet us and see how an MBA in Corporate Finance could be applied in their organization. Through presentations and Q&A sessions with VP's and other members of the company's leadership team, we were able to see the path that previous Kelley MBA's have taken.

As one of the top ranked business graduate schools, the Kelley School of Business does a great job of focusing on the career search aspect of MBA school. After all, this is the main focus of why we're all here, right?