Thursday, March 31, 2011

Courage, Peace and Truth

Yesterday was an incredible experience that I just had to share on the MBA Program Blog. When else will I have the chance to cheer with 60 passionate Indians for their team as they take on their top rival, before the sun even comes up?
On Wednesday morning, March 30, India played Pakistan in the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup. The Dean, wanting to continue to promote the incredible international reach and interest of the two year mba program of Kelley, reserved a massive lecture hall with four screens for the entire day, from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., just for Kelley students who wanted to watch the match. And let me tell you – there were plenty of Kelley students, faculty and staff who wanted to watch India soar to victory!
A good friend of mine picked me up at 5:45 a.m., wearing my light blue shirt (as I was told not to wear any green – but blue was the way to go). After we parked in the parking garage and were walking through the silent but lit school, I expected to find maybe ten sleepy students watching the screen. However, when we entered the room, we found almost 60 wide-awake students (mostly Indian) cheering on excitedly India’s batting, first up for the day. The room smelled delicious, as someone had bought Samosas to share for breakfast. We took our seats in the dark room, sunrise still two hours away, and Aakarsh carefully explained the rules and gods (As they call their best players) to me. This of course my first cricket experience of any kind, except for 1st grade when our gym teacher tried to teach us (which I learned yesterday was COMPLETELY wrong). Thanks Mr. Timmers.
Breakfast from Panera, also sponsored by the Dead’s office, showed up at 8 a.m. and was quickly gobbled up but the hungry fans.
I learned to hold my breath in a pop-fly, cheer wildly when we nailed four points and laugh hysterically at the opponents when they made an error. I was so disappointed when I had to leave for my only class for the day; but 90 minutes later I was back in the room to see the crowd had almost doubled to watch India bowl and field. The Dean made a couple appearances to check the score, the head of faculty poked his head in to see the excitement, and many staff and faculty kept coming in to see what was going on – as our cheering and jumping could most certainly be heard throughout all the MBA offices on the floor below. I made sure to get the India flag, representing Courage, Peace and Truth painted on my face and my fingers, so I could do my best to be a true Desi. At one point my American friend Dan came in; and to my amazement I was able to explain the entire game, rule for rule, to him with pretty good accuracy!
When India caught the final ball for the last wicket from Pakistan, the room erupted in jumping, hugging dancing and cheering. Songs and chants burst from all over the room and excitement filled the air. It was marvelous.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be amazed if any other top ranked MBA colleges did all of this for its Indian and Pakistani students. What a fun, incredible opportunity, to watch the biggest sport in the country, in the biggest tournament, with some of its biggest fans and my best friends here. Kelley promotes time and time again how international and global its mindset and masters of business administrations programs are – and in practice, I have yet to be disappointed. So India’s going to the final match now against Sri Lanka on Saturday; and of course, the Dean is sponsoring another viewing and breakfast. I’ll see you on the pitch.

The Land Down Under

It is time for part two of my Kelley International Perspectives (KIPs) trip updates! In my first MBA program blog post about the trip, I covered New Zealand and this one will re-cap the Sydney leg of my journey.

Upon arriving in Sydney, I was able to meet a friend from college and her husband for dinner. She is living and working abroad and I really loved getting to catch up! This is the perfect example of your network popping up in unexpected places, and she even surprised me with a bag of goodies from Australia, including TimTams and Vegemite. If you haven't had Vegemite before, it is definitely an experience. Inside the Parliment
Inside Parliament

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent primarily on company visits. There was a wide range of industries and functions covered including: Morning Star, Sydney Water, Austrade, Novartis, Kimberly Clark, Travelx, and Parliament, to name a few. We had the chance to speak with C-level executives in various roles and learn about Australia's role in a global economy. The biggest take-away I found was just how global of a perspective companies had, in addition to a clear understanding of their core competencies and limitations. Due to their location, size, and history, I found Australians to be well versed on business in the US, Europe, Asia and even looking to Africa, and it was a great change of pace from the very US-centric approach we hear while on company visits here or even the Chinese-focused conversations we had on KIPs China last year.

The end of the week was spent enjoying the greater Sydney area, including a trip to Hunter Valley for wine tasting, complete with a wild kangaroo siting, a day at Bondi Beach, a journey to the top of the Harbor Bridge in the rain and a final dinner as a group. I really enjoyed getting to know my classmates better, especially several first years I have not had class with before and spending time with my fabulous roommate and fellow admissions counselor, Miss Rana June.

If you have a chance while completing your two year MBA program to travel and learn about business abroad, I highly recommend it, as it will be both eye opening and valuable as you continue in your career, regardless of industry of interest.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kelley International Perspectives-New Zealand

When looking at top ranked MBA colleges, one of the things I really wanted was the opportunity to travel abroad and to gain additional global knowledge. Over spring break, I had the chance to be a part of Kelley International Perspectives (KIPs) in New Zealand and Australia. Here is the first update on our MBA adventures in New Zealand!

My time in New Zealand was one of my favorite memories of MBA student activities throughout my two years at Kelley. We kicked of the trip in Auckland with a tour of the city, stop at the aquarium, and finally a trip to the top of the Sky Tower. While in country, we met with Ernst & Young and Constellation Wines. These companies could not be more different, but it was really interesting to learn about both their professional roles and current projects, in addition to how being in New Zealand influences the type of work they do. For example, I loved learning about the challenges in the wine industry, managing a global business from a very small country. We were light on the business side on this trip, but they were great introductions to business in that area of the world.

As a group, we traveled inland to Rotorua for a day of easy hiking and getting to learn more about the Maori culture. We saw the hot springs, mud pools and toured the cultural center. We were in for a real treat with the evening's cultural performances, as several Kelley ladies got to try their hand at traditional dance and the men with the Haka.

We spent the end of the week in Queenstown and had the most amazing time. The group split up and we all experienced our own outdoor adventures. One group went canyoning, another hiking, and another white water rafting. I joined 10 others, including fellow MBA program blog contributor, Melanie Griesser, for an all day excursion where we flew in a tiny 5 seat-er airplane touring the glaciers, were dropped off in this valley at the top of the mountain range. From there, it was a two hour hike to the bottom of the mountain where we then were picked up in a boat to jet boat back to where we started. It was totally awesome and a memory I will never forget.

While just the highlights, I hope this provides some insight into what a potential KIP trip may be like. I will have an update on Australia soon!

Washington Campus

Este Spring Break estuve en Washington DC cursando Washington Campus, programa en el que alrededor de 40 alumnos de MBA de diferentes escuelas (University of Texas, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Michigan, Indiana University, entre otras) aprenden sobre la relación entre gobierno y sector privado.

Durante la semana del Washington Campus tuvimos presentaciones sobre: el Presupuesto Federal, la recesión de Estados Unidos, la Reforma de Salud, la Estructura del Gobierno. También visitamos el capitolio y el think tank Brookings Institution.

Washington Campus es un must porque te permite entender el rol que juega el gobierno y es una gran oportunidad para conocer gente de otros programas.

Finalmente, les recomiendo que lean el siguiente artículo "Facebook Prepares to Add Friends in Washington" publicado el 28 de marzo en el New York Times.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mi viaje a Australia y Nueva Zelanda

Una de las mejores experiencias en Kelley fue mi viaje a Australia y Nueva Zelanda. Este semestre, tuve la oportunidad de participar de un grupo de cuatro estudiantes, formando el grupo de liderazgo que organizó un viaje educativo a dos países que siempre soñé con visitar. Guiados por un miembro de la facultad y de la oficina del MBA, desarrollamos un curso donde, durante 7 semanas, aprendimos de estos países a través de la discusión de casos, visitas y presentaciones. Luego de estas semanas, el curso termina con una visita a ambos países.

Este curso es parte del programa de “Kelley International Perspective” (KIPs) el cual es una oportunidad adicional para desarrollar destrezas de liderazgo mientras aprendes del modelo de negocios y cultura de otros países.

El proceso de organizar el viaje fue intenso pues son muchas las cosas que se deben considerar: (1) el curso: como desarrollar la clase, el temario y la evaluación de los estudiantes, (2) el viaje: pasajes, estadías, transportación y actividades para los estudiantes durante la visita, y (3) visitas a compañías: hacer contacto y establecer días de visitas con compañías en ambos países.

Claro, la mejor parte del curso fue el viaje. Llegamos a Nueva Zelanda donde estuvimos una semana entre Auckland, Rotorua y Queenstown. Puedo decir que Queenstown es el sitio más hermoso que he visto. Aquí, aprovechamos de un tour de cuatro horas que incluyo un viaje en un avión de cuatro pasajeros sobre montañas y glaciares, dos horas caminando entre montañas y un viaje en una lancha de 10 pasajeros que nos regresó al inicio del tour. Esta fue sin duda mi mejor experiencia del viaje.

La segunda semana viajamos a Sydney, Australia. Allí pasamos la mayor parte del tiempo visitando compañías. Aun así, nos sobraron dos días para un tour entre viñedos en Hunter Valley y un día entre Bondi Beach y el Tangora Zoo. Claro, tuvimos las noches libres para cenar en restaurantes y bailar en clubes. Quien diría que había una noche latina en uno de los clubes más populares, The Establishment.

Pare resumir la experiencia educativa, entre estas dos semanas visitamos sobre 10 compañías: Constellation, Travel Ex, Sydney Water, Kimberly-Clark, Novartis, E&Y, y otras. En lo personal, fue un buen balance entre aprendizaje y diversión con 25 compañeros de clase. Esto lo hace una de mis mejores experiencias en Kelley.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kelley Makeover

Last Wednesday, the Dean held the first Town Hall meeting of our time here at Kelley. I’d say ¼ of the students attended the 90 minutes in the giant lecture hall, during which the Dean, the head of Faculty Phil Powell, the head of the program Pam Roberts, and the MBAA president Nathan Cregeur laid out a number of changes and improvements that are coming to Kelley. How many other top ranked MBA Colleges give you this kind of face time with the people in charge? If you’re a new student (class of 2013) coming in the fall – get ready for an internal makeover! These are the kind of improvements that bump up our business graduate school ranking!
On the lower level of the Godfrey building you’ll find the student lounge. This expansive room has a number of tables and chairs in which students can do team work and have lunch. The room also contains student mailboxes, vending machines, a microwave and case competition banners of victory. During summer 2011, this room is going to undergo a massive overhaul including new furniture and architecture. The Dean explained that this already-excellent meeting space was going to be getting top-of-the-line furniture.
Also on the lower level you’ll find the student government’s office, the MBAA office, right next to the lounge. In all fairness, our office is far too large for eight people. Therefore, during the summer, our office is going to get moved and rebuilt farther down the hallway in a nook currently occupied by some old study rooms. In its place is going to be a brand new café, offering all sorts of drinks and dishes. Before spring break, the business students were granted to a food sampling event – and much of our feedback will be incorporated into the new restaurant. In addition, the powers-that-be are working to have us able to automatically charge our student account with purchases from the café – not cash or credit cards each time.
Dotted all over the school you’ll find a number of break-out rooms, perfectly sized for teams of five to sit and work on group projects. These rooms include motion-sensing lights (for green efforts), a window and a whiteboard. However, when team members are working on multiple laptops, it’s often hard to share information or to practice presentations from one small laptop. Therefore, the administration is working on putting flatscreen monitors in each breakout room, complete with hookup for laptops. These should be ready by next fall.
In addition, as you walk around the school today you’ll find TV monitor mounts being put in near doors and water fountains. Kelley is working on putting in display monitors over the summer that will show daily-updated content including weather, news, program announcements, bus schedules, school events and more.
As a non-visible make-over, a few changes are being made to the two year MBA program as well. Quantitative Methods, our Microsoft Excel and analitics course, is getting a makeover with a new professor, name and curriculum. The Capstone week, what second years go through the week before spring break instead of Academy Week, is being entirely redesigned into Renaissance Week, where our class will get to design the entire week based on our interests in needs – including workshops, guest speakers and classes. Lastly, GLOBASE next year will be adding Guatemala to its destination list; and after my incredible experience in Peru, I’m thinking I might just have to sign up. Don't worry - I'd log the adventures on the MBA Program Blog!
If you’re a first year, school’s going to look a lot different and even better when you get back next fall. If you’re an incoming first year and just made it through MBA admission, get ready – you’re about to get the confirmation that you made the right choice with Kelley.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Learning about the government with other top MBA students

For spring break this year, I did a program called the Washington Campus, where about 40 MBA students from programs around the country went to Washington DC to learn about how business and the government intersect.

During the week-long program, we heard from government officials, lobbyists, think tanks, and other experts who discussed the best ways to work with the federal government. Since I'm going into management consulting, I think the information I learned was some of the most valuable in my two year MBA program.

Though beyond just hearing from speakers, we also got the opportunity to see politics live in front of us. One morning, they took us to Capitol Hill to the Dirksen Senate Office building and we got to sit in on Senate hearings. I watched one hearing where someone from the Government Accountability Office spoke about the redundant programs in the federal government (of which there are quite a few!). Then I went and watched the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee discuss next year's budget for the Navy (only about $160 Billion, no chump change). It was great seeing the process happen live in front of me.

One of the more interesting topics we discussed was health care and the recent bill passed to reform the system. We heard from a health care expert in one session, and the chief lobbyist for the AARP. Because Kelley has a specialty as a Life Science MBA program, the Indiana students asked some of the most interesting and thoughtful questions. Even those of us not in the Life Science program had a more knowledgable perspective on the ins and outs of the legislation than most of the other MBA students in the program.

Overall, it was a great spring break in DC. I'd definitely recommend the Washington Campus program to anyone interested in the US political system.

Getting your Partner Involved in Extra-Curricular Activities

One of the many challenges I have faced in my life at Kelley is balancing spending time with my new network of peers and spending time with my spouse. While it is important to try and include your spouse in as many of the MBA student activities as you can to help them feel that they are part of the experience, I also feel it is a good idea to encourage and assist your spouse in finding their own way to connect with others within the community, whether that be with individuals in the two year MBA program or not.

For my husband, his interest in sports, provided him with the opportunity to connect with a group of people with similar interests and on his own terms. This semester my husband was able to connect with another Kelley student to form an indoor soccer league. For my husband this provides a means for exercise and has also allowed him to get to know some of my MBA peers on his own, which I think has been very valuable.

While your spouse may not be interested in sports, being at one of the top ranked MBA colleges, there are many MBA student activities for both students and partners to get involved in. Additionally being a part of the larger Indiana University and Bloomington community there are even more opportunities to get involved and meet people with common interests, whether those interests are sport, food, art, music, or anything else under the sun.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's Not All About You

It really isn't. Networking, that is. Many people think that the purpose of networking is to make connections that help them out in whatever they are looking for at the time - whether it be a new job, clients, contacts, etc. That just isn't it though. Networking is really about building relationships. I know that you have heard that time and time again, and think to yourself "yes, I know that". But do you really?

Networking is an art not a science. It is not something that many people are comfortable with (or even good at) but it can be learned through practice. It may involve putting yourself into uncomfortable situations...but it will all pay off in the long run. Networking is a relationship between two people that is not solely focused on one of them. To make the most of it, both need to benefit from it. Just calling or emailing someone and then meeting them for coffee/lunch/dinner/whatever doesn't REALLY constitute networking. It is taking that beginning relationship to the next level...where you continue to converse with that person over time, either in person or via email or phone. It is where you exchange thoughts and ideas and where you build trust. It doesn't happen overnight or over a 30 minute meeting - and this is what most people miss. There isn't a magic number of contacts you need to make to get to an interview or to get referred to a new client or contact. It is the quality of those contacts that will get you in the door and up to the next level.

A great blog I just read entitled "Just because we just met doesn't mean I want your resume", sums it up nicely. Someone who you meet once for a short time likely doesn't know you well enough to provide you (or trust you) with contacts and referrals. You need to take the time to build that relationship and then you may get the recommendations that you are looking for. Learn about what that person is interested in - what are their passions? Their job? Family? Pets? Travel? Reading? It can be anything and the key is to take the time to learn about them...and not just tell them all about you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Strategic Marketing MBA at work abroad

The GLOBASE program is definitely a reason that Kelley is a top ranked MBA college. Getting your MBA professional degree is about the experiential learning as much as the in-class learning. Ghana was no exception.

My GLOBASE Ghana team worked with Aid to Artisan's Ghana. For seven weeks prior to our arrival, we actively researched ATAG, the industry and business in Ghana. We gained further insight from our client's visit to IU. It became clear that a strategic marketing plan would be the most useful for them. It was really on the ground in Ghana that our work began.

We spent our days at their headquarters conducting research, and interviewing staff. It was great to finally put faces to names, and see in person the processes that we had been discussing. Our project focused on their business that creates custom, handmade high quality promotional items. In Ghana, we were able to walk through their facility and watch the products being made with our own eyes.

Over the 12 days we spent in Ghana, we put in long hours on our project. It was more than worth the effort. GLOBASE gave me exposure to consulting with an international client. But more than that, I truly believe we offered solutions that will help ATAG continue their mission of supporting local artisans. It was a great combination being international business and social entrepreneurship, and an experience that I will never forget!

Your 100-year old self - what would she say?

Spring break is over; the students are back – some feeling refreshed, and some feeling the stress already! While I’m still overwhelmed and finding it difficult to write blog posts consistently, I am pleased with how much I was able to accomplish over the break (with a great collaborative effort from my colleagues – so refreshing). Then, I started talking with some of the students as they made it back to campus…

While I accomplished a lot, it pales in comparison to the students who spent their time all over the world. We had teams of students in Ghana, Peru, and India working on projects ranging from micro-finance, artisan craft markets, and fish markets. Not to mention, our student groups who explored international cultures and economies through the KIPs program. And of course, there was also a strong contingent of students who took some time to relax, whether it meant hanging around Bloomington, traveling to Puerto Rico or even Dubai.

In my opinion, one of the great things about this experience is that students had a fantastic opportunity to take a step back from the day-to-day of the classroom and evaluate what they are good at (skills), what matters to them (values), and what keeps them motivated (interests). This is a valuable step for all of our students regardless of their plans at the end of the semester. For many, this spring break offered students a plethora of experiences they can use illustrate these points to future interviewers, colleagues, and friends, as each lends an element to their personal brand. However, it's not enough to have the experiences - you have to reflect on each and decide what's important to you (not to everyone else).

I invite each of you to be your own best career coach – the Future You. Marshall Goldsmith asks many of his clients to complete the following exercise:
"Imagine that you’re 100 years old and you’re getting ready to die. Before you take that last breath, you’re given a wonderful gift: the opportunity to go back in time and talk with the person who is reading this blog post today, to help this younger version of yourself have a better life – both personally and professionally. What advice would the wise 100-year-old you – who finally knows what really mattered in life – have for the one that is reading this blog post?"

Think about it. Leave us a comment and let us know what the 100-year-old you would tell yourself…

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Live from Ghana!

The next few blogs are going to be about my amazing experience as part of the GLOBASE Ghana program. GLOBASE stands for global business and social enterprise. This unique hands on international business consulting experience is one of the many things that stand out about the Social Entreprenturship MBA.

Here is a video of me introducing our client, Aid to Artisans Ghana.

To read more about the experience, click here to get to the GLOBASE Ghana official blog. It's complete with photos, videos and first hand accounts.

Interview Stress - 3 Tips for staying focused during a job interview

Here's a bit of knowledge from Captain Obvious - job interviews are a stressful experience! It's true, there's simply no way around it. The interview process is an evaluation of you, your experience, and your future potential. While in reality the interview is just a conversation between a few individuals, it's clearly a very important conversation which impacts your future. You need to convey so many qualities and strengths about yourself, in a short time, and simultaneously at that. The interviewer sits there and interprets all that you are conveying, both intended and unintended, and you know it. So, it's understandable that you could feel stress.

But, let's consider the possibility that stress as a good thing for a moment. The potential stress of the interview should cause you to over-prepare, even before you arrive. That means that you'll be able to tell your story with excellence. Bonus! The potential stress will ensure that you take the process seriously, which means you have the opportunity to demonstrate what a responsible employee you will be - that's another benefit built right into the interview process. Finally, you cannot lose sight of the fact that stressful situations are required for personal growth. If you have a strong desire to grow as a person, you must stretch yourself where you're uncomfortable. If you don't learn something about yourself through an interview process, it's a missed opportunity for self-development.

So, how does one manage the stress of an interview and remain focused? Here are a few tips to consider:

1) Embrace the stress: Since you know the experience will be stressful, use the stress to your advantage as talked above. I hear colleagues and interviewees complain that they wish the interview process would be more "real" and not so "fake." When I deconstruct what they mean it comes down to not being prepared, the stress of the process and the uncertainty of the outcome. Given this is a dynamic of the interview process that you're unlikely to change, go with what you can control and Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! You'll be amazed how that can help.

2) Think through not only WHAT you will say, but also HOW you will say it: Many people only focus on the WHAT portion for interview prep. They think through their answers to common questions, and might use an interview framework to ensure their answers are clear and concise - such as the Context, Action, Result (CAR) format. While this is great, it's insufficient prep. You must also consider the HOW in the delivery of your answers. Interviewers are evaluating your communication style in many ways. You can deliver the same exact words to answer a question in two manners and get very different results. Stories told with passion and excitement change how they view you for the better. Conversely, a story told in a boring manner will work against you - guaranteed. Non-verbal communication is critical to manage.

3) Be conscious during the interview: Interview stress often leads to stomach butterflies right before the interview begins. This is great, because it ensures you are on your toes. However, many candidates quickly lose that edge 2-5 minutes after the interview starts, and we have 45 minutes to go. Ensure that you are constantly aware of you and your surroundings while interviewing. Watch the interviewer for non-verbal clues, and be responsive to those as needed. Ensure that you are "re-centering" yourself after you answer each question. Take the time in the small breaks to ask yourself - am I representing my brand the way I intended? am I talking with passion? am I displaying great energy and enthusiasm? If you make a habit of this after you finish each question, you'll be in great shape to make a solid impression during the interview.

Interviews are tough, there's no doubt. That said, the more you can reframe the stress as s good thing, the better you'll feel about the process and the more likely you are to have a successful outcome. Stay centered and do well.

Monday, March 21, 2011


One of the most unique aspects of the Entrepreneur MBA program is the Velocity Conference. During the spring academy week, the Entrepreneurship Management Academy students head out Berkley for a four day conference. We had an amazing array of speakers, including successful entrepreneurs and experienced venture capitalists. We heard candid stories about individual’s successful and failures.
One of the most captivating speakers was T. Gary Rodgers, former CEO of Dryer’s Ice Cream. He had a wonderful way of weaving together timeless advice with interesting stories about his tenure at Dryer’s. He shared with us his 'lessons learned from 40 years of building a business.' My two favorites were "prepare to be lucky" and "be a persistent optimist." Hearing directly from entrepreneurs like Gary about their successes and quite often failures was fascinating. It brought to life the lessons we learned in the academy and in our classes.
Aside from impressive speakers, we also toured two high tech companies and a start-up incubator. It was there that dozens of Kelley alumnae from the Bay Area came out to network with us. All and all, it was an incredible and inspiring week. Velocity is just one of the many experiences that makes Kelley a top ranked MBA college.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I’m busy: A Missed Personal Branding Opportunity

How are you?

When I asked you that question, what was the first thing that came to mind? Did you find yourself thinking, “I’m busy?” If you did, it’s not surprising. As you know, people commonly ask this question of others whether it’s at work, school, or even the grocery store. My guess is that, at one time or another, your response has been, “I’m busy.” I know mine has.

I’m busy. What does that say about you, about your personal brand? Nothing! In fact, most people are busy, so simply saying that is not a differentiator, nor is it memorable. What would happen if instead of this two word response you spoke briefly about a project you’re working on, your involvement in the community, a cause or event you’re passionate about, or even what’s happening in the world? Of course your response will differ based on who you’re speaking with (a colleague or a friend) as well as how much time you have (an elevator ride or a 45 minute car trip); even so, saying something other than “I’m busy” offers an opportunity to build your personal brand and to make a connection with someone.

So, I present you with a challenge. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to respond with something more than “I’m busy” the next time someone asks how you’re doing. Whether you pass by one another in the hallway or in the supermarket, take a few minutes to share a story with them. A story is more interesting, more memorable, and provides an opportunity to make a connection with someone.

In her book “Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It,” Peggy Klaus says “Smart self-promoters show up prepared. They value face time with others and are always ready with stories about themselves that break through the verbal clutter.” Remember, your personal brand is made up of the stories people tell others about you. I’m busy doesn't provide them with a whole lot of options, but sharing a story facilitates their ability to share with others what you’re up to, what you stand for, and what you want to be known for – so take advantage of the opportunity to brand yourself!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The End of My Peruvian Adventure

It’s hard to believe, but my Peruvian GLOBASE adventure is coming to a close. It’s 11:55 p.m. and I’m sitting on the Lima tarmac looking at the distant city lights and wishing I was finishing up another round of empanada’s and piscos with classmates, talking about which late-night hot spot we’d go to next.
It’s been an absolutely incredible two weeks, and the things I’ve had the opportunity to do would’ve never been possible had it not been for one of the top masters of business administration programs. I have had the amazing, unique, and life-changing experience of spending two weeks immersed in a culture so unlike my own – and so fun, lively, passionate, hard-working, colorful and vibrant. From every Peruvian sunset over the Pacific ocean to every ear-to-ear smile and hand-shake greeting, Lima is a city that’s as hard to leave as family at Christmas.
At the end of two months of challenging, hard, insightful work, our team, Pescados Unidos (United Fish) delivered a fantastic presentation and recommendation for our client, Gervasi Peru, a Peruvian frozen fish exporter. With no experience in the field at all before, we delivered far more than our client ever expected: an in-depth analysis of the American fish market, a detailed map of locations to freeze and store fish, a huge database of fish distributors and the resources to begin exporting frozen Peruvian fish into the United States in bulk today. Our client was thrilled, we are proud, and one of the top ranked mba colleges delivered this great relationship which we’re sure to continue into the future.
Beyond the work, I’ve climbed Machu Picchu mountain and gazed down upon the mysterious city; I’ve paraglided through the Peruvian mountains at sunset; I’ve caught my first wave on a freshly waxed surfboard; I’ve raced across massive sand-dunes in dune-buggies and then sand-boarded down them; I’ve traveled the Amazon River with a local guide and danced with natives; I’ve stayed up all night dancing away with my colleagues and locals at Cuzquenian night clubs and gazed in awe at the splendor of Spanish monasteries. A new twist on MBA student activities, huh?
This trip is not one that I will ever forget. I’ve worked in an international task force that takes pride in its work and joy in the simple things in life, like mint water and walks through the park. I’ve learned more about an industry than I ever thought I would. And I’ve shared in incredible, breath-taking adventures in a beautiful, rapidly growing country. I’m proud to be a Kelley MBA – and I’m grateful. It's been a pleasure to share this experience on the MBA Program Blog - now back to the classroom!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Your Leadership Style and Values

Recruiters frequently ask MBA candidates to describe their leadership style. It's a great question, and often causes even the most prepared candidates to stumble a little. What an opportunity for you to shine as a brand. So, imagine yourself in an interview room....question is air time....floor is go. Will you;

a) Wax philosophical about leadership with a lot of buzz words like engagement and balance? You've read a lot of leadership books, sound like a Fast Company article* and have a great Twitter feed so why not...

b) Talk about how you're a "collaborative" leader, because that's the right answer you heard from a friend? Everyone loves a "collaborator"....

c) KNOW your personal values, relate those values to HOW you lead, and then communicate this style to the recruiter via a compelling STORY that brings your leadership style to life?

If you didn't guess it from the bold italicized words, the correct answer is C ladies and gentlemen, C.

So let's break down the work needed to arrive at C and blow the interviewer away;

1) KNOW your Personal Values: This is a mandatory exercise for your Personal Brand and Career Management Plan, and it gives you the foundation to talk leadership with anyone. Understanding your values will help you grow personally and professionally, but it requires a lot of self-awareness and introspection. There are many tools and exercises out there to do this work. Personally, I'm a big fan of The Lift Blog, which is part of the Positive Organization movement. They recently published a wonderful post with great exercises on how to determine your personal values. I highly recommend this approach.

2) Relate your Values to HOW you lead: Once you have a Values inventory, you need to think through HOW you would relate this insight to your Leadership Style. While this is a necessary step to answer the specific interview question above, it's an even better exercise to ensure you're living life consistent with the Values you claim are important to you. So, take your Values inventory and compare it to 5-6 leadership-based stories from your past. These can be either professional or personal stories for this exercise. Think through how you demonstrated these values when leading. Did they cause you to make choices that weren't popular? Maybe cause you to have conflict with others on the project? Steer you in a direction that others didn't see? Get you to think about hard rights vs. easy wrongs? Now, when you've done a thorough analysis, determine the best way to describe that Leadership Style, based in your Values, in 1-2 sentences max. Pithy here - think Hemingway, not Proust.

3) Prepare a STORY in advance; If there is ever a time for a powerful story in an interview, this is it! Spend one of your STRONGEST examples on this answer, it's that critical. You want to move the interviewer with emotion and have this story significantly increase your brand equity in their heart and mind. So, use a real example - maybe one of the 5-6 you analyzed above. Ensure that the story has good Context, Action and Results in traditional interview format. However, you must ensure that the interviewer can clearly make the link between the Leadership Style you want to convey, and HOW that style came to life in your story. Ensure the drama amplifies your leadership style and doesn't distract from it.

4) Now blow them away; Get visibly excited when this is asked in the interview, it will pique their attention to what you're about to say. Deliver your 1-2 pithy sentences that describe you Leadership Style you determined in step 2. Then transition by saying, "I'd like to bring this to life for you with the following example..." and go into your story. Deliver with passion, conviction and confidence. If it's really aligned with your personal values, this will feel like a wonderful experience in communicating your Personal Brand and Core Values. What's even better, what a great way to demonstrate that you're a fit with a culture.

The cool part about this exercise is that it prepares you for so many different steps in the Personal Branding and Career Management journey. You can now use pieces of this story in Networking, Career Discovery, Company Research and crafting your other major Personal Brand touchpoints like Resumes, LinkedIn, Blogs, etc. Do it as early in the process as you can, and don't be afraid to revisit from time to time.

So, what are your personal values? How do you ensure that you're purposeful and consistent as you go about life, both personally and professionally? Could those around you name your values without you telling them? How are you going to demonstrate this to others?

*Note - I actually love Fast Company articles, my point is to be genuine to yourself when telling your story, not sound like someone else :-)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dinner with friends, my favorite MBA student activity

In my past MBA program blog entries, I have mentioned attending The Scholar Inn's Chef's Dinners with several of my Kelley classmates. Confession, this is one of my all-time favorite monthly MBA student activities and we were able to take it to the next level by having a Kelley-only evening. After our group continued to grow from 10 to 12 to 15+, we realized that there was the potential to fill all 45 spots for the monthly dinners, and classmate of mine made it happen. I think this is a perfect example of how Kelley and the community become one in the same and really support one another and all of the small businesses in town are one of the best parts of being in Bloomington.

This month's menu featured wine pairings with an amazing menu designed to highlight the different areas of your pallet. Each dish had an attribute that was salt, sweet, bitter, and sour and it made for a very flavorful dining experience. It was fun to take a break at the beginning of finals week to catch up with friends and joke about the studying or lack-of we planned to do throughout the week. When I realized that there are only 2 more left before graduation, it hit me just how little time left we have in the program, but I am doing my best to make the most of it. Up this week are finals, next week is Capstone, and then it is off to New Zealand and Australia for my KIP trip!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sunrise Surfing in Lima, Peru

I caught my first wave at 6:30 a.m. this morning.
It’s day four of GLOBASE Peru, and I’m having an incredible time. This morning I’m writing from the deck at our hotel, Casa Andina, listening to the roar and vibrations of the morning commute on the street below, horns aggressively honking (eat your heart out, NY, NY). Through the morning haze I can see massive mountains towering to the north and the smell of seawater and gasoline (traffic) whipping from both sides of the building. The city is just waking up – but me and three classmates caught our first wave surfing at sunrise.
This year’s GLOBASE program was structured that a great deal of our consulting work was finished before we got on site. In the seven weeks of the class leading up to spring break, we worked tirelessly in our groups researching, making international calls, chatting with our clients, and building our powerpoint slide decks and strategy. The good part of that is we had 80% of our work done by the time we got here, which allows for a lot of socialization, site-seeing, two-hour lunches and strolls through many of Peru’s immaculate parks and marcados (markets).
I’m picking up on Spanish rather well – I can’t hold a full conversation yet, but I can joke around and not get completely ripped off by a taxi driver. Peru is amazing and surprising – very developed and much, much bigger than many cities I’ve spent time in – San Diego, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Portland, and Seattle – all smaller. At the southern side of the city is a massive cliff that drops to the water crashing below – where you find surfers, body boarders, and families enjoying ice cream and jogging. The city is rising to the sky – there is NO direction you can look that you don’t see massive buildings going up here and there – the city’s even working on its new football stadium.
I’ve taken a three-hour double-decker bus tour, tried cebiche (raw fish soaked in lime juice), cow hearts, fresh sushi, yams, potatoes and plenty of Pisco sours at sunset with my colleagues. I’ve explored catacombs beneath a church, walked the bustling market of China town (South America’s largest), watched Parkour and had plenty of wild cab rides. And yes, after this morning, I’ve final surfed, at sunrise, with friends, in the waves of Lima. It's a whole new level to "MBA student activities."
Work with the client has been great! He’s taken us to a frenzied fresh fish market where he sometimes sources his fish, and then through a fish processing plant, where we had to wear near-hazmat suits and saw giant squid (four feet) turned all the way into 1-inch frozen cubes. We’ve worked hard for him, and we’ve got a great recommendation lined up. We’re proud of our work – and the leadership team and faculty have been incredible guides along the way.
Next time you hear from me on the MBA Program Blog, I’ll have climbed Machu Picchu and told a Peruvian businessman the best way we see to crack the US frozen fish market. I dare you to find another two year mba program that can give you all this and more. This is the kind of stuff that keeps us in the top of the business graduate school ranking.

Hasta luego!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We Have Interns

When I took on the role of VP Marketing and Communications for my class, one of my first tasks was to "update the brochure." I had never made a brochure in my life.....and last year's looked GREAT. What now?

The last year's leadership team created "Kelley Creative Services." This wing of the MBAA reported to the VP of Marketing, had one creative director (a student), who then recruited other Kelley students with design backgrounds. This team would then create marketing materials for the various MBAA clubs when they had MBA student activities coming up. While this was a win-win (clubs got their word out and attendance up, while Kelley students got valuable project-management experience), the report from leadership during transition was bleak. The out-going candidacy said the work-load was too high and it was incredibly difficult to make the needs of all the clubs. In addition, when crunch time came on with the rigorous academics of one of the top ranked MBA colleges, the Kelley Creative Services' team was hard to find, hidden away in break-out rooms and libraries studying and working away. There was a challenge on my hands.

My first step was to get a director for Kelley Creative Services who was passionate about the position and very creative. I was incredibly fortunate to get an offer from one of the potential-presidents of a running slate - which demonstrated sincere passion for the school and its goals. She also expressed sincere interest in flexing her creative abilities - so the position was hers.

We put our brains together on how to make Kelley Creative Services fly, as every great business needs a great graphic department to spread the word of its excellent offerings - and the same goes for masters of business administration programs. Suzan, my creative director, had the brilliant idea to tap the talent of the graphic design school at Indiana University. She made contact with faculty in the school, and help open office hours at a local bakery for interested students.

At the end of the day, Suzan recruited six students to do graphic design work for us for the year of 2011. The graphic design faculty were so excited that as long as we keep this students working, they get internship credit. That's right, we have graphic design interns.

The Kelley MBAA clubs get their word out, designed by students who want to do a great job, because they're building their artistic portfolios and getting internship credit. Now this is a win-win; not just in the Kelley MBA program, but as university community members.

Suzan, excellent work - and the new brochure is looking beautiful!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pushing Limits: Your school is in the Midwest? Sucks for you!

Being from the East, I'll be honest, at times we get a little E. Coast-centric, and why wouldn't we? Not to brag or anything, but we have a lot of the best of what the nation has to offer... ie diversity in cultures, music, food, travel destinations, and sports teams to name a few -- I could be more specific, but I don't want to offend those of you reading from other parts of the country, so I ask that you use your imagination to fill in the rest :)

When I originally began sharing with people that I was going back to school at a top MBA business school, many of my friends assumed that I would be staying on the E. Coast, more specifically within the northeast, when they found out I was going to Indiana University - Kelley School of Business, many were like, you're going to school in the Midwest? That kind of sucks for you! This thinking couldn't be further from the truth! Kelley is at the top for MBA Program for Entrepreneurs, does very well for MBA Finance Majors, and stands worlds apart in Marketing as well!

You're probably saying to yourself, "OK, so decent school but what could there be to do in Indiana," that would make this guy feel so adamant about it being such a great place? Some examples of what I have been able to do outside of Kelley included:
I can honestly tell you that I have had a great experience barring the fact that the West Indian population here in Indiana is kind of low, I have been able to do a lot within and outside of the Kelley world, making Indiana, to me perhaps one of the best MBA university states!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Strategic Marketing MBA pays off

Results are in and I am pleased to announce that my M513 Marketing Strategy Simulation course team won our simulation! Over the course of the semester, we have been making business decisions in a fake universe to put all of our skills to the practical test. On my team were fellow MBA program blog contributors, Joe Gudema and Steven Hilker, in addition to another Consumer Marketing Academy classmate, Dustin Taylor. I have to say, at first I was a little skeptical of what this experience would be like, but it was great to really see how much we have learned in our two year MBA program, in addition to building new skills that will help me as I continue my career as a brand manager.

To be honest, it wasn't all roses and puppies. By luck of the draw, we started with the worst products that were not positioned to meet any of the market segments. With some strong investments in R&D and maximizing our returns on sales force and promotions, we were able to make progress and by round five capture the lead and stay that way through the final period in year 9. I attribute company culture, meaning how well our team worked together, to our success. It really makes a difference in your dedication to the team if you enjoy the people you are working with, and I would say the same holds true when pursuing your MBA. If any of you have a chance to take this course, or one like it, I highly recommend it! It is even more fun when you win.

¿Por qué Kelley?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Goodbye Bloomington!

My flight for Peru leaves in just 12 hours, and I couldn’t be more excited. Our team from one of the top ranked MBA colleges has spent eight weeks studying the country and culture, learning Spanish through Rosetta Stone and podcasts on the bus ride to school, and learning everything we can about the U.S. frozen fish market. I’m ready for Pisco Sours, Guinea Pig, surfing and Machu Picchu.
This week beforehand though, I’ve been in the City of Soul with the Supply Chain and Global Management Academy doing consulting work for FedEx in Memphis, TN. We’ve been divided into four teams, working tirelessly from, on average, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on four, unique, challenging problems for the global distribution giant. It’s not been all work though – there have been some great treats and breaks along the way, besides the great people of FedEx.
Night one we were treated to incredible Memphis BBQ at the Commissary, and then later in the wear we were treated to more delicious food and mingling with the FedEx Purple Passion at Marlowe’s. Great food aside, the non-work highlight would be the FedEx Hub Tour late in the night.
Memphis serves as the main global hub for all FedEx shipping, and the team here was kind enough to treat us to an exclusive tour during peak hours – midnight. After arriving at the hub at 11:30, our academy boarded the bus and was led by one of the site managers- not a tour guide, but someone who actually gets their hands dirty in the work.
The next 2.5 hours led us bustling all over FedEx’s acres and acres amidst the flurry of 8,0000 busy with all sorts of tasks. Golf cart-sized trucks hurried around in a Times-Square melee of traffic pulling cards of packages in all directions. Massive, bright white FedEx planes flew in and taxied around in every direction; at the peak time, one plane every 90 seconds. They even took us inside a number of the sorting facilities – and the combination of massive, sophisticated equipment combined with man-power is a mind-boggling mix of engineering brilliance – getting your packages where they need to go as fast and safe as possible. It was an amazing orchestration; and I’ve never considered myself a factory-interested kind of person – but this was amazing, and I’ll never forget it. It's that type of opportunity you can only find with Kelley's two year MBA Program.
Have a great two weeks, and I’ll try to write on the MBA Program Blog from Lima!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Networking Tips for Spring Break

Break is finally here and you are SO looking forward to taking some time off and relaxing. You've worked hard and need some downtime to recharge your batteries. However, you should also look at it as a time to make connections, even if you already have your dream job lined up for the summer or for the next few years of your life. You have two weeks to do as you see fit. Here are 3 recommendations on ways you can build your network during that time and continue to reap the benefits beyond.

1. Meet old friends and acquaintances for lunch, dinner or drinks. Your friends have friends, many that you don't already know. The more you tell people about what you want to do, the more they can help you. It doesn't cut it to just say "I want a career in finance". You need to be much more specific, really explaining what you are looking for in a job. Even if you already have your job lined up, this is a great opportunity to broadcast what you will be doing and to make connections for future business partnerships. This could be starting relationships with future clients or suppliers, or even future job opportunities.

2. Meet new friends. Use this time to ask for informational interviews with people you've been meaning to connect with (yes, I know you have been really trying to do this but have been way too busy....). You have two weeks in which you should be able to fit several 20-30 minute meetings that may help you out along the way. Hopefully they go well and remember to ask for suggestions on how to continue to expand your network (you want to get at least 1-2 more names from each of your meetings). Even if you already have a job, use this time to network with others in your intended field to find out more about what you will be doing for at least the next few years of your life.

3. Look into professional organizations in the area you are going into or the area you would like to go into for your full time career. If you happen to be in the city you are going to live in (or want to live in), spend some time on the web looking up organizations that tie to what you want to do. For example, if you want to go into business marketing, look up the many different organizations that exist for marketing professionals. They might even be having an event while you are home. Most organizations will let you come to check out what they do, so give them a call and ask. You never know who you might end up talking to or sitting next to at a table.

Happy networking!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Personal Branding Recipe

Although I enjoy baking, I would say that I need to build my knowledge base in the cooking arena. So, in order to do this, I’ve been on a mission recently to find quick and easy recipes. As I was thinking about this, I started to realize that you can draw a parallel between recipes and personal branding. Each recipe has ingredients and so does your personal brand.

Let’s talk for a minute about recipes. Being from Indiana, I am admittedly partial to chicken. It’s good, it’s easy, and you can make so many different dishes with it! In fact, just in the past several weeks, I’ve tried three different chicken recipes that I’ve truly enjoyed:
Sante Fe Chicken: This flavorful chicken dish features corn, tomatoes, black beans, and cilantro – this recipe is to be served over rice
Chicken and Rice: This tasty chicken dish is simple to make because it only requires mixing three cans of soup, celery, and rice with the chicken
Chicken Parisienne: This delicious chicken dish with mushrooms is creamy and served over rice

Ok, now many of you may be thinking….thanks for the recipes, but where are you going with this? Well, you can see that all three recipes have chicken, and all three have rice. Let’s refer to the chicken and rice as points of parity, meaning that each recipe has these two same ingredients. On the other hand, the ingredients such as corn, celery, and mushrooms are unique to each dish. They are indeed points of difference, or what makes each dish unique. If you are interested in serving a chicken dish with rice, any of these three dishes could work, but it’s the other ingredients that will likely drive your decision about which one you want to try (or which you want to try first) because those ingredients make the dishes stand out among the others; in fact, they make the dishes what they are.

This concept can be reapplied to your personal brand, so I encourage you to consider the following:
• What are your points of parity, or those skills, qualities, and factors that simply qualify you to compete in your field?
• What are your points of difference, or those skills, qualities, and factors that make you stand out over others?

Let’s say you believe a point of parity is your working knowledge of Microsoft PowerPoint and your point of difference is leadership. Ask yourself if other professionals in your field would have a similar working knowledge of Microsoft PowerPoint. The answer is probably yes. Now, ask yourself if others in your field could also say they are leaders. The answer is probably yes again…but where it becomes a point of difference is when you identify what ingredients of your leadership (i.e. your specific leadership stories) make that quality a point of difference for you. Of course, there will also be points of difference that are even more unique to you, like for example, you are a master gardener or earned a President’s Award at your company for your work on a particular project.

What is the recipe of your personal brand? I encourage you to think about and evaluate it because you want to be the cook that creates and marinates your brand. If not, your brand will be served to others without your involvement.

Are you missing an opportunity that's right in front of you?

Here I sit in my hotel room trying to catch-up on work, while 23 of my first year Supply Chain and Global Management Academy students are busy finalizing work on weeklong intensive projects to be delivered to various groups across Fedex. One of the things I’ve been trying desperately to do during this week away from the office is come up with a meaningful blog post aimed at the career discovery process. Then it hit me when one of the key senior managers for FedEx kicked off our week in this way – he said something like: I’m going to keep my remarks short this morning, so you can get to the projects… I want you to take advantage of this opportunity, not just for the technical project learning, but also the learning you'll get from observing others. You have an opportunity to see people in action and make a decision: I want to be like them or I don’t; no matter which decision you make, you’ve learned something about yourself.

I’m going to follow suit and keep my remarks short.

Partnering with my student team and watching other teams work, it occurred to me that a big part of what gets in the way of successful career management is our inherent ability to focus deeply on a task. I saw individuals and teams focus intently on identifying the specifics of the project – the ROI, KPIs, NPV, and more – yet many missed a great opportunity to get to know the company, FedEx, who was just named Fortune’s 8th most admired company. The students were so focused on getting the work done, that there was little to no opportunity to take in the FedEx culture. I use this example not to criticize the students, rather to illustrate a point – we can each get so wrapped up in the task or event of our focus, whether it is a company project, a class, or an unrelenting interest in a particular company, that we miss what is right in front of us. Like that time you opened your laptop when it wasn't your "turn" in the big meeting or when you focused on your studies at the peril of your networking opportunities. When we focus only on our current objective, we often miss the opportunity to open our minds to the possibilities that often present when we are least expecting them.

I put forth a challenge – take advantage of each opportunity not just for what you signed-up for – a class, a trip, a project – but take each as a way to explore you likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses. Then, use this information to help shape your decisions in the future. Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to not only work with my students, but also get to know a great company. While I'm sure I didn't take advantage of every opportunity, I definitely learned from those around me...