Position: Summer Business Analyst
What steps did you take to secure your internship?
I think to really maximize your chances at getting an internship; it’s very good to be proactive. Most students begin to think about recruiting over the summer and tend to focus on case prep and networking. I actually think the best thing to do before hand is to evaluate your current commitments/involvements and look for ways to really excel and make an impact. Behavioral and case prep can be mastered in a set amount of time, but you can’t go back and change the results of your previous internship/experience. When the interview comes around, what will you have to say about your last job? Make it a good story and don’t worry about the interviews. That will come later.
What were the responsibilities for this role?
The role focused heavily on analysis. Each day, the team would have a discussion on small problems to solve. For example, if our overall goal was to improve our client’s marketing efforts, one week we may focus on the sales funnel (generating leads all the way to closing sales). As a summer business analyst, my responsibilities were two-fold:
1) Contribute to the overall discussion and direction of the project
2) Find data, perform analysis and extract insights based on #1. For example, I would look at what data do we have regarding the sales funnel? How many leads do we generate? What percentage of them do we close? Where are we losing the most people in the process? What does that say about our client’s problem? Most of this involved Excel, industry research and interviews to extract tangible insights regarding the problem.
Describe the culture within the organization.
McKinsey’s culture was extremely tangible and was a guiding tool for all members at the firm. McKinsey really focuses on creating exceptional value for clients and attracting/developing exceptional people. Even as an intern, I attended two conferences in Atlanta and Miami which offered not only great team bonding experiences, but the opportunity to learn from people much more senior than me at the firm. McKinsey is constantly investing in people development and I was amazed at how much my own mentor invested in me.
What was most surprising or unexpected during your experience?
Building off of my last answer, I was surprised by how much my own mentor cared about my development. In most jobs, feedback happens every 2-6 months. At McKinsey, I sat down with my manager every 2 weeks so he could gauge how I was feeling about the overall project and help provide guidance. Furthermore, feedback always went both ways, and most senior people at the firm were open to feedback. This feedback happened in various channels from anonymous bi-monthly surveys to casual team dinners.
What advice would you offer your peers in the Honors Program about getting the most out of an internship?
The tendency in an internship is to be on cruise control – let the work come your way and be more reactive than proactive. In my first internship, I didn’t set any goals for myself because I assumed that a competitive internship would naturally teach me a lot. If I could go back in time, I would set hard goals for myself because the reality is that everyone is busy (especially in a corporate environment). No one is more responsible for your development than you. Set some tangible goals – it could be excel skills or getting guidance from senior people. What ever it may be, be able to define what a successful summer for you is before school even ends.
What was your favorite part about this internship?
Definitely the people. This is very cliché, but the diversity and intellectual horsepower was very refreshing for me. I worked with three PhDs, former entrepreneurs, lawyers, and many more interesting backgrounds. I’ve never had that kind of exposure before and everyone had a good story to tell.
How did you find your classes in the Business Honors Program at the university to be applicable during your internship?
I think the case study approach is really valuable in consulting. So much of the value we (consultants) bring is just industry knowledge and best practices. When I think back to the cases in management, it was very cool to compare and contrast concepts such as org design between my client and the companies we studied in class. The process of learning industry practices was very similar to analyzing cases in class.
How did this organization ensure you got the most out of your internship experience?
Constant feedback, frequent conversations about how I was doing, and lots of time outside the office.
What are the most valuable lessons you gained from this internship?
There is always someone smarter than you and someone who worked harder than you to get here.
Most recently, Jay has accepted a full-time offer with McKinsey as a Business Analyst. Congratulations, Jay!
This year was the second year BHP offered the short-term study abroad program in Buenos Aires. This five-week summer program allows BHP students take two management courses while studying at one of the top business schools in Argentina, the Universidad de San Andres. The program is so popular, it took less than a week to fill all of the spots this year.
Once again, the group stayed in the beautiful neighborhood of Recoleta in central Buenos Aires. Students were able to experience class both at the downtown campus as well as the main campus of Universidad de San Andres. They earned six hours of credit towards their degree, taking Organizational Behavior (MAN336H) taught by McCombs professors Ethan Burris and Doug Dierking and Non-Market Strategies in Emerging Markets, taught by an English-speaking professor at the host university. “The two classes were definitely manageable for the five week program,” said BHP junior Zach Weissgarber. “Each night we would have some reading to prepare for the next class discussion, and we occasionally had write-ups and essays due for each course along with exams. It’s remarkable that we were able to accomplish so much coursework in such a short period of time.”
The program wasn’t all work and no play though. Students participated in planned cultural activities such as a visit to an Argentinean Estancia (a ranch), where they tasted typical Argentinean food and learned about the Gaucho culture. They also attended a Tango show, followed by private Tango lessons where they got to try it out themselves. They also organized their own trips to Igazú Falls, Mendoza, Uruguay and even Brazil. Weissgarber said the visit to the falls was his favorite part of the trip. “The last weekend in Argentina we visited Igazú Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We spent an entire day hiking the park trails to different viewpoints and overlooks to see all of the waterfalls, and we also had the chance to take a boat ride to the base of the waterfalls.”
Sophomore Bryson Hearne captured the trip to the Falls and the entire five weeks in a series of videos. “For the past few years, my older brother used a Go Pro to video our family vacations. I loved being able to actually look back on the places we visited. I did not want my experiences in Argentina to fade with time. The videos have also helped me share what happened in Argentina with friends and family back home. Rather than trying to explain what all had happened, I can point people to my videos,” he said.
This year was special with the FIFA World Cup going on next door in Brazil. Argentina being one of the best soccer teams in the world was in full “soccer fever” mode, so watching the games with the locals and supporting both the USA and Argentina teams became a big part of this year’s experience. In fact, the group even organized their own inter-program soccer matches where BHP played against the BHP/MPA group.
“I would definitely recommend the trip and the course to other students. My five weeks in Argentina were unmatched by any other trip I’ve taken before,” said Weissgarber. “If I had the opportunity to go back, you can bet that I would be on the next 11 hour plane ride to Buenos Aires to do it all over again.” Hearne agrees, “My trip to Argentina was one of the coolest things I have ever done. I wish every BHP student has the opportunity to do something similar.”
BHP students interested in the 2015 Buenos Aires program, should check with the BBA International Programs office for registration dates and procedures. Registration for the program will occur in the fall.
Check out these videos from the trip done by Bryson Hearne.
Daniel Payne graduated from BHP in 2002. After working in investment banking and financial services, he decided to change paths and pursue a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University. He is now a consultant for AEA Consulting, one of the world’s leading arts, culture and entertainment consulting firms based in New York. Prior to joining AEA, he worked on exhibitions and installations that appeared in the New Museum, Center for Architecture, New York Fashion Week, PS1, Storm King Art Center and the galleries at Columbia University.
Tell me more about what AEA does and your role as a consultant with them?
AEA is an arts and cultural consulting firm. We have two main services. We serve as consultants for anyone involved in the arts and cultural world planning a capital project, helping them determine what spaces their buildings will need to fulfill the organization’s mission and also figure out what they’ll need to do from an operational and organizational side to use the space to the best of their abilities. The other thing we do is help with strategic planning and program assessments for these same sorts of arts organizations, as well as foundations and governmental bodies who have an impact in the world of arts and culture. I am often called in on the capital project side where I can merge the business and architecture sides of my background, but I work on the strategic planning side as well.
You started in investment banking working for Citigroup then moved into design. How did that shift come about? Was design an area you were always interest in pursuing?
I was always interested in design. I took a few classes in the architecture school at UT. I also did a lot of home projects and woodworking growing up with my dad. I had come to a point working on Wall Street where I was ready to expand my horizons and work in a more multidisciplinary way than I could in banking. I started thinking about the options and talking to people, and I decided that if architecture was something I wanted to do, it was the right time to make the shift. I took a year off to complete some prerequisites I needed in order to apply to architecture school, then got into Columbia for their three-year Master of Architecture program.
Architecture provides me the opportunity to have my hands in lots of things. I am not doing pure architecture per se right now – we don’t draw the building’s plans or manage the construction –but I am working with architects, fundraisers, artistic folks and a wide range of people who have an impact on culture.
You are consulting on projects all over the world from China to Afghanistan. What are the most challenging aspects of this?
The most challenging part is getting to know the local environment in each place and understanding how art has a role in that society. We are working on a project in Malaysia right now and there is a long tradition of art there, but not a long tradition of supporting art philanthropically like we have in the West. Developing people’s mindsets for what these institutions can do for them in preserving their history and how that can impact their lives today through museums, opera houses, theaters, is a challenge. We are finding ways to get people to understand that dual role and teaching the organizations how to maximize their resources – financially, organizationally and creatively. We are also working on a project in Athens [the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center] and they have completely different challenges. They are dealing with many economic challenges in Greece, and we are helping them put together a strategy that will allow them to maximize their huge financial commitment for the benefit of both the nation’s culture and the economy as a whole.
What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?
The sheer variety of things we are involved in and the way our work has an impact on the lives of the people in the cities where these projects are housed. Art and culture can play a big role in promoting creativity. To be able to see that happen in so many places and so many ways is great. Knowing that what I am doing has a lasting impact on a city and its people is really exciting and gratifying.
You did independent design and installation work in New York. What were some of your favorite projects?
I was a part of an exhibition at the New Museum called “The Last Newspaper” exploring how things were changing in news and media. This was in 2010, so there were many changes happening, especially following the financial crisis, that had still not been explored at much depth. During the exhibition, I was on the staff of a short-run newspaper called the New City Reader, which aimed to explore these issues further and examine the impact of these changes on cities and citizenship. The project was particularly interesting because we worked out of the galleries in the museum, so I got to interact with people coming in and out of the museum on a daily basis – they didn’t know there was a newspaper being produced inside, so their reactions in watching us work were fascinating. We would translate conversations we were having with people into stories for the paper, and then we would paste the papers weekly all around New York City. It was really interesting to take what was happening in this one place, the museum, and take it into the city to see how people react to it. It was a great social concept.
I also worked on the design and implementation of a project called “Low Rise High Density” which was an exhibition on history of the housing type at the Center for Architecture. I was involved at an early stage and helped develop it with my friend who was curating. It was an interesting lesson in how to make research tangible and understandable in a gallery.
They complement each other incredibly well. There is a myth that some architects would like to perpetuate that there is a grand singular genius behind designs, but in reality, it is very collaborative. Business, and in particular the way BHP teaches business, with its team-building focus and how to connect people to one another, are so important. Ultimately that is how architecture happens. It is about how to make the vision a reality and all of the planning and steps that go into that. You have to create the organizational structures needed to make the project successful.
I was able to leverage my business background when I was in architecture school to add a unique voice to the conversation, because most people had a liberal arts or architecture background. The business side drives so much of the project in the “real world”, so there is a lot of that which needs to be thought about even at the conceptual level during school. At Columbia, they are doing a great job of thinking of all the ways architects can be involved, not just through purely design. In business, you are thinking of all the aspects involved in decisions and that is the same in architecture.
What advice do you have for current BHP students?
Spend time building your network of people you know inside and outside of the program. That will lead to a lot of opportunities later. When you are in school, you are thinking about that first job, but there is 50 years of work life after that, and you are going to be looking for interesting opportunities down the line, which may come from people you know. Don’t limit yourself by what you think the options are when you come out of the program. There are so many options out there and there is probably a position that fits exactly what you want to do.
What was the best piece of advice you received while in college?
Early in the program, someone said half of what you will get from college will come from outside of the classroom. I did lots of things on and off campus and the city of Austin is an incredible resource. Don’t be afraid to get experience in an area that you love, even if you don’t know how it might apply to your eventual career. There are so many amazing opportunities in Austin, even if it is through volunteer work with an organization you find interesting.