Tag: diversity (page 1 of 2)

Conquering a Finance Case Challenge

I recently participated in the 2015 Finance Challenge, where I joined a team with three of my classmates in analyzing a business valuation case study and presented our solutions to a panel of judges.

Here are my top five favorite moments of the Finance Challenge:

  1. Forming our dream team

The first step in any case challenge is assembling a team of four classmates who are interested in participating. The best teams are diverse – not just in cultural background, but also in skill set, work experience, and future goals. This is valuable because your team can generate unique ideas, you can learn from others’ experiences, and your presentation will be dynamic. McCombs has a wealth of diversity, so it wasn’t hard to create a solid team. I teamed up with a former investment banker, a former lawyer and banker, and a small business owner – and two of my teammates were even married!


  1. Preparing to tackle the case… with Home Slice Pizza

One of the key elements in preparing for a case competition is social time. After we received our case materials, we visited an Austin staple – Home Slice Pizza – where we talked about the case’s important issues and our ideas to solve them over two large pizzas and a bottle of Chianti. This dinner set the tone for our whole approach to solving the case challenge – relaxed, yet confident and efficient.


  1. Cracking the quants

The inner nerd in me (okay, I’m kind of an “outer” nerd, too) was extremely excited to build the financial valuation model for this case. So naturally, it was one my favorite moments. Our whole team was eager to flesh out every detail necessary to make the perfect model. We utilized topics and frameworks that we learned in our core corporate finance class as well as the “flex-core” valuation class. I suppose my background in financial consulting and my teammates’ banking experiences may have helped, too…

  1. Delivering the presentation

Case competitions are a great way for students to practice their presentation skills. As a former consultant, I did quite a bit of presenting, and I really enjoy public speaking. It was exciting to discuss our analysis with the judges and hear their feedback. For those who are looking to improve their communication skills, McCombs provides an invaluable resource: MBA+ Coaches. The MBA+ communication coaches are all current candidates or graduates of the UT Communication Studies PhD program, and they are available to all full-time MBA students to help with speech anxiety, interviewing, networking, writing, and more.

  1. Networking and celebrating

After the challenge was over, we chatted with the judges and other recruiters who attended the event. We reflected on what we learned from the challenge: how to remain cool under pressure, how to sift through loads of information and data to determine the key issues, and how to work closely with your peers to come up with the most innovative solutions. Then we went to happy hour at Uchi (another Austin favorite) to celebrate our success with our significant others. There’s nothing like a few sushi rolls and a glass of sake to cap off a week of late nights, early mornings, and a successful competition.


Hook ‘em!

-Tim Carreon, Class of 2017

International Life at McCombs

In the Texas MBA program, we pride ourselves on being truly global. The most treasured element of our global identity is our international student community. At about 24% of the class, they represent many countries across the continents and create a global classroom environment that McCombs is well known for.

Indian Festival Diwali Celebrations in UT, 2014

Indian Festival Diwali Celebrations in UT, 2014

The culture of McCombs resembles that of a closely-knit family. All our classmates are deeply invested in helping us succeed and transition to the career of our choice. Most international students learn a lot from their domestic counterparts, especially about the culture and traditions of Texas. This year, the domestic students invited many international students to spend Thanksgiving with their families in Austin and other cities. International Night is another fabulous event where students from all countries get to display their culture to their classmates. It is this form of cultural exchange that makes the Texas MBA experience at McCombs truly unique.


International Night, 2014

As an international student who has lived and worked in the U.S. for many years, I must say that the resources available for students are absolutely phenomenal. Right in the first week, UT holds a Football 101 session for all new international students to help them get acquainted with the game that is at the core of UT’s culture. Communication coaches are available through the MBA+ leadership program, and have a great impact in the first year of the program. My communication coach helped me work a lot on my non-verbal communication and business articulation skills. She has also helped many international students through accent modification training. Career services put a special emphasis on helping internationals succeed through specialized job search tools and a one-on-one peer advising model. With a 90,000+ strong alumni base, a lot of international alumni serve as mentors to the current students and help them through their career trajectory.

At McCombs, we often hear the phrase, “What starts here, changes the world.” Our international students are the pioneers of this motto. They bring the best of their global business acumen, and often take back to their home countries the valuable lessons learned in the Texas MBA community. And it all begins – not with the world-class faculty, the top-tier internships, or the leadership skills – It begins when you watch a fourth quarter touchdown at the football field, and before your know it, you clench your fists and say “Hook’Em!” That’s when you become a Longhorn!

Bleeding burnt orange at a Longhorns game

Bleeding burnt orange at a Longhorns game 2014

The Start of a New Journey

First day at McCombs

First day at McCombs

July 30th, 8AM: Here I was, standing in front of the big statue – the Family Group – at the Red McCombs School of Business, impatiently searching through the emails on my phone to find the venue of my first class of Bootcamp – Quant. As I entered the building, it did not feel at all new to me. After all, it was here that I had got my first job in the United States, seven years ago!

I was then a curious 21 year old, with a fresh bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Bangalore, India, and had come to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree in computer sciences at UT Austin. I had always been passionate about technology, and this degree would give me the perfect kick-start to a career in the field of my choice. And as is the case with most graduate students, I had been searching for an assistantship to support my expenses, and McCombs had offered me an RA just about a week before classes started. From then on, this building had become my second home, as I would end up spending more hours sitting in the atrium and coding data parsers in Java and meeting my professor to discuss my work, than in my own department!

Two years later, after graduating from UT, I joined Microsoft at its headquarters in Redmond as a software development engineer for the Windows team. Working with talented and passionate people there helped me learn something new every day. It was here that I realized that building software was much more than just coding – writing code was the easy part; it was more important to understand the business drivers behind the product being developed, gain insights into customer needs, and understand and improve end-user experience. And my interests slowly gravitated towards project management and marketing, and I eventually decided to switch careers. That was my #1 reason to want to pursue an MBA.

Alongside my day job at Microsoft, I started volunteering with a non-profit – AID Seattle – around late 2008. I started out by helping review socio-economic development projects from India, but soon became the Fundraising Coordinator and led teams to organize fundraising events in Seattle. I loved making budgets, coordinating various groups and activities, charting out logistics, gathering and presenting creative revenue-generation ideas, and of course bossing around! :^) This experience helped me discover another passion – coming from a family which is actively involved in community service, I had always wanted to do something for society. Down the line, I want to take my technical and management skills back to India and establish a startup that provides online education to kids who don’t have access to good teachers, by setting up virtual universities. A long shot, but that’s why I’m here at McCombs 🙂 There, reason #2!

Bidding adieu to Snoqualmie Falls

Bidding adieu to Snoqualmie Falls

I finally took the plunge, and UT was an obvious choice, given that it was a top B-school and my alma mater (my GMAT score would have expired if I hadn’t applied last year – reason #2.5? Just kidding 😉 ). The weather change was more than noticeable – the lush greenery and cool breezes of Seattle summers to the scorching heat of Austin. But it was my first home in the U.S., and my excitement to become part of the McCombs family would trump everything else any day!

Flash forward to July 30th, 8AM: I rushed to the classroom, only to find friendly faces of my soon-to-be good friends filled with aspirations and the passion to achieve something big. Thus started my B-school journey, and I can’t wait to plunge into the roller-coaster ride!

And as I end this post, I want to leave you with this management gem from Calvin and Hobbes:


Food, Food and Food

This post focuses on events with a common theme: food. They all also happen to be a good representation of typical events in my life and the MBA experience!

International Night

International Night

Sylvia representing Taiwan!

As Erin’s earlier post discussed, international night was filled with wonderful cuisine and culture. The international students really sparkled throughout the night showing off traditional dress, dance and entertainment. I made the rookie mistake of eating before attending (I was hungry and there was free food at a prior meeting!) but definitely tried to fit in second, third and fourth dinner. For me the highlights were samplings from the Korea, Africa and Taiwan booths. And of course there’s the local favorite Amy’s Ice Cream for dessert! The night was definitely a highlight of the fall semester as enthusiasm was in the air.

Lunch with Gold Medalist Sanya Richards-Ross

The Graduate Women in Business (GWiB) club arranged for a lunch with gold medalist Sanya Richards Ross after her appearance at the Sports Entertainment and Marketing Forum. Lunch with a gold medalist!! How could I say no?! She was incredibly inspiring, down-to-earth and able to talk about her experience as a woman in the sports industry. As I left the lunch I realized the awesome experiences I have available before me just for being a student.

Thanksgiving in Austin


Thanksgiving Dinner with New Friends!

I decided not to fight the holiday traffic at the airport and stayed in Austin for the long weekend. I had an action-packed weekend filled with a football game, shopping, a day-trip to Fredericksburg and catching up on sleep. The best part of the weekend however was our cohort Thanksgiving. Thanks to the generosity (and mad cooking skills) of Mellissa, we were able to hold a traditional Thanksgiving dinner – the first for several or our international students. Being able to share one of my favorite holidays with new friends was something that I will never forget!

2013 Texas MBA at Dallas-Fort Worth Women’s Forum

This post is courtesy of Allison Kroll, a member of the Texas MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth class of 2013.

Last Saturday we hosted the second annual Women’s Forum for the Texas MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth program. This is a day-long recruiting event geared toward top female business talent in the DFW area. The Forum consists of a program overview, Q&A with female alumnae, class visit, and other sessions intended to give the attendees a robust sense of what undertaking the professional MBA is all about. We had an amazing group of women attend and I was in awe of their talents and accomplishments. I had the honor of organizing this event for the second year in a row along with Sandhya Iyer ‘14 and continuous support from all the women of the class of 2013 and 2014.

Texas MBA Women

UT women tackle cooking class

The caliber of the students I work with every day, female and male, never ceases to amaze me. There are a lot of reasons people choose to pursue an MBA while working full time (I never use the term “part time” as anyone who has been through this knows it could not be further from the truth). When I was considering different programs, I Continue reading

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