Friday, October 29, 2010

Talking About Money

This week in “magic” (Wharton shorthand for MGEC: 621 Managerial Economics) we discussed the concept of expected utility - the idea that our valuation of opportunity is not simply a function of monetary worth but also a reflection of our current assets and preferences. For example, a person with $500,000 in existing wealth will value the same job offer differently than someone with $50,000.
The lecture reminded me of a Laurine*, a Congolese woman I worked with several years ago who once said to me, “In America you work so hard for cars and bigger houses. At home, people work hard for food and water. It’s strange to think about. Feeding your children is more satisfying.”
Coming to Wharton from a non-profit background, I knew the M.B.A. experience would be challenge. I would be introduced to new ideas, industries and worldviews which would require me to operate out of my comfort zone (in fact, this is one of the reasons I chose to get an M.B.A.). However, the most surprising change I’ve had to make hasn’t been adjusting to the culture or lingo (elephant hunting?!), it has been shifting the way I think and talk about wealth. As a senior manager for Women Thrive Worldwide, a non-profit that helps women in developing countries lift themselves and their families out of poverty, I worked with many women who struggled to survive on $1 a day or less (the rough definition of extreme poverty). In fact, my colleagues and I thought about the value of $1 countless times a day: “How many ears of corn can a mother in Nicaragua buy with $1?” “What percentage of $1 in foreign aid reaches women’s cooperatives in Ghana and how can we maximize it?” At Wharton, I’m in classes with people who have been thinking about wealth from the opposite end of the spectrum. Many of my peers have led multi-million dollar marketing campaigns or managed investments for prominent hedge funds. One of my goals here is to learn how the expertise from both these perspectives can be merged.
I’ve begun this quest by joining the Wharton Social Venture Fund, a student run organization which partners with venture capital funds focusing on a triple bottom line (people, planet, and profits) investing**. I’ve met a community of students who are equally interested in figuring out how traditional finance and investing can be combined with large scale poverty reduction, access to education, and environmental preservation. At our first training we mixed a heated debate on measuring social impact with a detailed presentation on the venture capital process. While I didn’t leave with the “answer,” I did come away with a feeling of purpose and potential. I will keep you posted on our progress!
Mckenzie Lock, Forte Fellow
Class of 2012, The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania

*Name changed.
**For those of you interested in learning more about social finance check out the Global Impact Investing Network’s website.

Monday, October 18, 2010

How to Deal with Multiple Acceptances

Tears of joy flooded my eyes when I received my first acceptance call from one of the four schools that I applied to. All the things I worked so hard on—the GMATs, essays, recommendation letters and interviews—had finally paid off. I was going to business school!
Shortly after the first acceptance call, I received another and then another and then another! Every single one of the schools that I had applied to accepted me. I was absolutely ecstatic! Then I realized that the most important part of my admissions journey was about to begin. I had to choose a school and it wasn’t going to be easy.
I decided to visit each school again. This time around, I knew I would look at the schools differently without the pressure of an interview looming overhead. I booked flights to each of the non-local schools and scheduled tours and class visits with admissions.
The single most important advice I can offer when faced with multiple acceptances is to visit each school. I cannot stress this enough! Students and admissions teams treat you differently when they know you might be a future student. The current students were much more candid than they were during my interview visit and it was easier to get a good feel for each school. Additionally, visitation allows you to see the town, see the housing situation and get a general feel of prices, atmosphere and community. You’re going to be in the town you choose for at least two years, so make sure it’s a place you like!
From the moment I stepped on campus at the University of Illinois, I knew it was the school for me—it just felt right. You can’t get those types of feelings from phone calls. If it weren’t for visiting the schools, I’m not sure I would’ve made the right choice. Luckily, I took my visits very seriously and made the best choice for me.
In case you were wondering, I did the visitations by myself so that I would be the only one influencing my decision. If anyone would like advice on how to travel by yourself or what to look at while touring a school and its town, feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.
Good luck!
Starza Kolman, Forte Fellow
Class of 2012, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Women's Workshop - Forte Sponsor Event

October 29-30, 2010
Begin Your Beyond. Beyond managing to leading. Beyond knowledge to insight.
Women’s Workshop is an annual opportunity for prospective MBA and EMBA students to assemble with UNC women in business for networking and informational workshops. Keynote speakers, faculty, and student/alumni panelists will provide prospective MBA and EMBA students with helpful application tips and career management opportunities. The workshop is an all-day event hosted at the Paul J. Rizzo center in Chapel Hill. Meals and refreshments will be provided. Hosted by MBA Admissions and the MBA for Executives Programs. Register today!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Welcome to Business School – Do you like theme parties?

As I sit down to write my first post about my business school experience, I realize that despite having only been at Tuck for a month, it has felt much longer. We have already taken (and survived) mid-terms for Fall A; been overwhelmed by a deluge of recruiters from every top investment bank, management consultancy and Fortune 500 company in existence; and been asked to join each social and professional club the school has to offer. Yet, what I keep coming back to as an appropriate and helpful topic for this post is exactly the case we are set to discuss in my Leading Individuals and Teams class tomorrow: Building a Network.

Tuck has an extremely sophisticated method in building its infamously tight network of Tuckies: theme parties. Since classes began, I have worn a costume at least once a weekend, be it for Bar Golf, the 80’s party, the Mexican Independence Day Celebration, or just yesterday at the Tuck Scavenger Hunt. How does dressing like an idiot on a regular basis build your network, you might ask? Well, it is certainly easier to approach that intimidating ex-McKinsey consultant who always contributes insightful comments in class when he is dressed like a pirate and uttering “Arghhh” after ever third sentence. Or, after a tense study group meeting, it’s hard to stay mad at your group members when they are dancing in sumo suits or imitating Double Dare contestants. Theme parties have the ability to break down all of the pretenses of business school and let us put any differences aside and truly bond as a class. Plus, I’m pretty sure that if I call up a classmate in ten years to discuss a business opportunity, he might not remember me by name, but will at least recognize me as “the girl in the Nascar jumpsuit”. I’ve been told that your network is the most valuable thing you take away from business school, and I can’t think of a better or more fun way of building it!

Julie Reimer, Forté Fellow
Class of 2012, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Monday, October 11, 2010

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business - Forte Sponsor Event

Georgetown MBA invites prospective MBA students to campus to attend Focus on Diversity – a special program designed engage top-performing Full-Time and Evening MBA candidates from diverse communities. Focus on Diversity welcomes women and members of the International, LGBT, Military, and Minority communities to campus to learn how a Georgetown MBA can support their professional and personal endeavors. The program will be offered on Saturday, November 20 from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the McDonough School of Business Rafik B. Hariri Building on the Georgetown University campus in Washington D.C. To learn more and register, visit us online.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Succeeding in Business School with a Non-Business Background

Just two months into my MBA program and at times it feels like it’s been two years already! Especially on days like today, as I prepare for final exams and realize how much material my classes have covered since they began in early August. At the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin, the first semester of the MBA program is split into two quarters. The quarter I am completing now included Accounting, Finance, Statistics, Microeconomics, and Career Planning. I realize many of you have had extensive experience in these areas, and I have to say, you may have an easier transition into the academics in business school. But if you are like me, coming from an “untraditional” background of non-profit management, jumping back into school after several years, especially into heavily quantitative courses, can be a challenge.

At the same time, I couldn’t be happier. There’s something so satisfying about tackling a great challenge like this. My mother once told me that some of the most meaningful things in life are the most difficult to achieve. Not only that, but the issues discussed in class are, for the most part, so relevant and practical. Sure I may never run a multiple regression statistical model to determine the best market price for a home, but I do think my business knowledge will help me make better strategic decisions in my professional and personal life going forward.

To hold my own in the classroom, I have collaborated with the study group I was assigned to in my cohort; I have formed another study group with three women who have become good friends; I have had tutoring sessions with a second-year student; and I have pushed myself hard to study efficiently and effectively. Outside of school, I am fortunate to have a supportive husband, family and friends. So while I may not get the top grade on my finals this week, I am proud that I have already expanded my horizons and grown personally in this short time. Do you have any questions or concerns about the academics in business school?

Adrienne Lowenstein
Forté Fellow
Class of 2012, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Wharton Women in Business 2010 Conference - Forte Sponsor Event

The Wharton Women in Business 2010 conference will take place on Friday, October 15, 2010 at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia. The Conference features an impressive array of speakers from a wide variety of professions and industries, including finance, marketing, human resources, general management, and consulting. This year’s Conference, entitled “Perspectives on Success: Visionary Leadership in a Changing World” gives insight into how women from all walks of life have found their path in an evolving business environment. They will share their professional and personal journeys with the conference attendees, providing a diversity of thoughts and opinions on what defines success and how women today can achieve success in their own way. Check out the conference website for more information.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When Getting Your MBA - Considerations for Your Partner

Your life is about to be changed by the MBA experience: you are preparing to expand your knowledge base and your network, to embark on a program that will launch a new and exciting phase of your career. This experience will also change the lives of the people around you, most notably that of your partner. Last year, I started making my list of target programs two weeks after getting engaged. It became very clear that I wasn’t taking my MBA journey alone and that I needed to involve my fiancé in the decision making process. Here are a few of the issues we discussed as I put together my list of target schools:

-Location, Location, Location: After making a list of the programs that would best enable me to achieve my career goals, we discussed location. If we had to move, was the school located in a city that my fiancé would want to live in? Did we know anyone living in that city that could function as a support system? Was a long-distance relationship an option for us? Would we be willing to move again after graduation to pursue career opportunities?
- Partner’s Career: If you are moving with your partner, talk about how your partner’s career will be affected. Will he or she be able to grow in their career if they move with you? Will he or she have to change their career path, and are they ok with that?
-Debt: As you are thinking about financing your MBA, consider the amount of debt you’ll have to take on and what implications that will have on your lifestyle after school. It was helpful to discuss the timeframe for paying off student loans and how that would affect our future.
-During the MBA: During the MBA, you will be extremely busy with your academics, career search, and club opportunities. Talk about how your partner will be involved in the community you are entering. Do your target programs offer opportunities for partners? Is that something that is important to you?

Though it can be overwhelming to consider all of these issues as you are taking the GMAT, writing essays, and lining up recommendations, it is helpful to decide which of these factors are going to influence your decision about which school to attend. Hopefully, by considering them early in the process, you’ll be able to successfully embark on an MBA at a program that is fulfilling for both you and your partner.

Julia Suarez, Forté Fellow Class of 2012
Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wake Forest University Schools of Business - Forte Sponsor Event

Visit and learn more about the Full-time MBA program offered at the Wake Forest University Schools of Business. Access our website for program eligibility, application deadlines, or to plan your campus visit.

Sponsored by the Office of Graduate Business Admissions and the Wake Graduate Women in Business organization, Women’s Weekend will be held on February 26, 2011. This two-day event includes interactions with alumnae, teambuilding activities, and opportunities to connect with faculty, staff and future classmates. Prospective students are welcome to attend.

Join us for Open House and participate in a host of activities that will give you a better understanding of what it means to be a Full-time MBA student at Wake Forest University. Friday includes our renowned Done in a Day program (separate registration required) and a mix and mingle reception. Saturday's schedule offers a mock class, an admissions workshop, a conversation with our Career Management Center, and lunch with our faculty and staff. Guests are encouraged and welcomed, as there is a luncheon for guests sponsored by the Partners Association on Saturday afternoon. Open House is offered on Jan. 21 and March 19.

To expedite your admissions decision, join Wake Forest for Done in a Day, an accelerated admissions process where candidates receive a decision by the end of the day. What's more, Done in a Day has been nationally recognized by BusinessWeek! In order to be eligible, your application and all application components (official transcript, two recommendations and GRE or GMAT score) must be received two weeks before the event. In addition, participants must meet specific GMAT/GRE score minimums. Space is limited. Done in a Day is offered on Nov.19, Jan. 21, Feb. 11, March 18 & 25, April 29 and June 3.

Monday, October 4, 2010

First-term MBA - Busy is an Understatement

Hello, my name is Jill Krivacek and I am a first year student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I graduated from Notre Dame in 2007 and after working for Countrywide and Bank of America I decided to pursue an MBA to grow my strategic business acumen. The decision to leave a good job at a great company in a tough economy was difficult, but I know that my decision will pay off as I strive to be a senior leader at a Fortune 500 company.
I am now beginning my fourth week of school, fifth including our orientation. I have met some great people at the University of Illinois. Even before stepping on campus, the Admissions Team was supportive and informative throughout the application process. The Dean and his staff, the professors, the alumni, our career services department, and my fellow classmates have all been extremely impressive. I can tell I am creating a great network here.
Although I have only been down in Champaign for a month, I feel as if I have accomplished so much already. I have completed a written case competition for NAWMBA which is to be presented the first weekend of October at their National Conference. This week also marks “mid-terms,” since our classes are broken down into eight week modules and our Career Fair. It seems most employers are optimistic about the hiring prospects for MBA students. I have also joined some great organizations on campus: IBC (Illinois Business Consulting), GFA (Graduate Finance Association), WIB (Women in Business), the Kola Foundation, and the Service Association.
My days and nights have been filled with class, study group sessions, group projects, networking events, an internship search, and meetings for the organizations I am a member of. I had a recruiter ask me after looking at my resume if he thinks I am spreading myself too thin. I simply responded that I came to Business School to challenge myself, further develop my knowledge, and extend my professional network. I believe my experience in B-School will be directly correlated with the inputs of time and effort, and so far it has been great.
Please leave any comments or questions you may have. Cheers!

Jill Krivacek, Forté Fellow
Class of 2012, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign