Learning on the Job with MBA+ Projects

I know, you’re pouring over the McCombs website doing your due diligence researching all of the great programs the Texas MBA Program has to offer, and you’ve most likely come across the MBA+ Leadership Program.

Those smiling faces and their Starbucks aprons. “I want to try out my new b-school skills consulting for real live companies!”, you think. I know, because I wrote about it in my application essays, too. It is one of the unique experiential learning programs that drew me to McCombs. Now that I’m a real life McCombs student doing a real live MBA+ project, I’d like to share a report from the front lines.

First, it’s worth saying that I had no idea what to expect. I came to McCombs from the education sector, so I knew very little about business or consulting, except that I wanted to learn the tricks of the trade. Consulting (and all things business, for that matter) seemed like a black box. You put numbers and analysis and strategy meetings in on one end, and out come decisions.

For my MBA+ project, I’m working with Deloitte’s Human Capital practice to research the impact of the “Industrial Internet of Things” on people. How will workplaces change? How will people’s jobs change? How can companies proactively position themselves in the midst of this change? It sounds pretty high-level and vague, but the reality of the project has been more than I imagined: more company face time, more learning, and more fun.

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1. Company Face Time

We interface with a team of six Deloitte employees who are company leaders at various levels. Across the board they have bent over backwards to make themselves available and to make this a positive experience for the McCombs team. Senior consultants fresh out of McCombs help to guide and navigate us through the process, and senior partners generously take our calls and emails. Everyone provides thoughtful advice and feedback. Who knows how many potentially billable hours of their time we’ve racked up at this point…

As a “nontraditional” student interested in transitioning to strategy consulting, it’s been an excellent way to hit the ground running right from the beginning. It’s true that making an office visit is a great way to get a feel for what it would be like to work at that company. Doing a MBA+ project is even better, in my opinion. You get a feel for what makes the company tick,  you know people at the company, and they know you.

2. Learning

I knew literally nothing about consulting at the start of this project. In the words of one of my fellow MBA+ teammates, “I thought a vertical was how high you could jump.” We’re halfway through our project, and I can say that I now understand what consultants do (kind of) and how to do it (ok, that’s a gross overstatement, but I know more than I did).

I’ve learned from my peers, many of whom are former consultants, and can style the heck out of a PowerPoint deck. And I’ve learned from jumping in. Week one of the project we were meeting with senior consultants who were giving us the rundown on the project trajectory. Week two we were on a call with partners. Week six we were presenting to those same partners.

And from all that work, I now feel like I’m starting to gain two very consultant-y (and generally useful regardless of industry and function) skills: I’m comfortable with ambiguity and I can work with a team to structure an unstructured problem. They’re skills I already had, but the project has helped to refine them, strengthen them, and make me view them in a new light.

3. Fun

On our launch call, an hour into a slew of tips and frameworks and ideas from Deloitte, one of the higher ups closed with this advice:

“You’re getting to do consulting without any of the downsides—don’t forget to have fun! There’s no downside, only an upside.”

I’ve gotten to work with five stellar fellow first years and have gotten to know them and learn from them. We’ve gotten to play consultant and present in a fancy downtown conference room. We got to spend hours reading fascinating research, talking to industry leaders, and coaxing a neat, structured final deliverable out of the mass of available information. It’s basically a playground for a b-school nerd. What more could you want?

Is it hard to focus on the project because there is a ton of other things going on at this point in the semester, most of which involves grades? Yes. Does the project help to ground me in the reasons I came here in the first place, and give me a taste of what I can do on the other side of this place? Heck, yes. So when you get here, just know that your very own MBA+ project awaits!

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Posted in Austin, Career

Founding Health Innovation Fellows or How I Accidentally Got an MBA in Entrepreneurship

One of the many reasons I chose McCombs was because of the burgeoning health industry in Austin. From the construction of the forward-thinking UT Dell Medical School, to the emerging digital health start-up scene, I knew there was opportunity as a McCombs student to get involved and learn from this growth.

While other MBA programs marketed more traditional healthcare concentrations, McCombs offered innovation and the chance to chart new territory in an industry in need of creative, tech-savvy ideas.

Once on campus, I got involved in the MBA Healthcare Association, eventually serving as president of the student-run organization. While this group does an excellent job of providing networking and high-level educational events, there was still a need for more in-depth healthcare programming where students could dissect and debate the many complexities of the U.S. healthcare system.

To help fill the gap, a fellow healthcare classmate, Nicholas Buck, and I launched Health Innovation Fellows (HIF) in the spring of 2015. The purpose of HIF is to promote McCombs as a place that produces business leaders with the capability to impact the healthcare industry through innovation and leadership. In other words, HIF provides an avenue for students to engage with groundbreaking healthcare leaders as well as gain hands-on experience bringing innovative ideas to the market.

HIF (1)Interested students apply and interview for HIF in the fall of their first year. In the spring, Fellows attend monthly roundtables with executive guest speakers. The events are part lecture, part group discussion and debate. Our January speaker is Stacey Chang, former Managing Director of the Healthcare practice at IDEO, the global design and innovation firm, and current Executive Director of the Design Institute for Health, a collaboration between the Dell Medical School and the College of Fine Arts at UT. In the fall or spring of their second year, fellows join healthcare companies for a part-time internship for credit where they can apply the innovation techniques learned in their first year and during their summer internship.

Because the health industry is in a state of rapid change, both in terms of policy and technology, hands-on exposure to current challenges is vital to building the knowledge MBAs need to succeed.

As a second semester student and almost Texas Ex, I am excited to watch this program evolve under the first class of official fellows. Looking back on our experience, I did not appreciate the entrepreneurial skills I’d ultimately learn while building a new student organization. The McCombs program leadership and the UT Healthcare Initiative team helped support us along the way, providing valuable introductions and other resources. If you’re looking for a program that allows you to not only learn from the best but also build your own legacy, there is no MBA offering better than McCombs.

Meet the 2016 Fellows

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Ben Berg, MBA ’17 – Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on personalized medicine

Ben is the Co-President of Health Innovation Fellows and VP of Recruitment of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs. Prior to returning for his MBA, Ben spent four years in consulting at NSF Health Sciences Medical Devices, advising medical device manufacturers on FDA regulations.  This coming summer, Ben will join Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals as an intern in their Experienced Commercial Leadership Development Program. Ben received a B.A. in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Daniel Ledeen, MBA ’17 – Entrepreneurship & Healthcare – Nerds out on healthcare consumerism

Daniel is the Co-President of Health Innovation Fellows and a Vice President of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs.  During his first semester at McCombs, Dan worked with the Health Catalyst program at the new UT Dell Medical School and with Capital Factory, an Austin based incubator and start-up accelerator. Prior to returning to school, Daniel worked in business development for Telcare, a Sequoia Capital portfolio company focused on developing mobile health tools to improve patient engagement and risk management through leveraging real-time data and analytics. Before joining Telcare, Daniel served overseas in the United States Marine Corps as a Logistics Officer. Daniel received a B.A. in History from Rice University in 2009.

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Abhinayaa Chokkalingam, MBA ’17 – Operations & Healthcare – Nerds out on innovative healthcare devices

Abhinayaa is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows and President of Operations Fellows. Through the 2016 academic year, Abhinayaa will work with Dell as part of the Supply Chain labs program and will intern in Dell over the summer in the same department. After graduating as an Electronics and Communications Engineer, Abhinayaa worked in a rotational management role at Siva Group based in India across various industries including healthcare, education and trading equities. As part of the program, she managed the marketing team of Aiwo, a subsidiary of Siva Group, launching and branding a futuristic healthcare product across India, Singapore, and Seychelles. Abhinayaa received a B.E. in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Anna University in India.

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Dion Giannoukos, MBA ’17 – Marketing & Management – Nerds out on EMR and the growing use of data analytics in modern healthcare

Dion is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows. After spending the past four years in pharmaceutical R&D, Dion spent his first MBA semester developing his business acumen and was involved in several business challenges and projects alongside his coursework. This included an MBA+ project with NanoHybrids where he served as team leader, helping the client develop a marketing strategy for a new line of products directed at healthcare clinicians and research institutions. With previous experience in pharmaceuticals from translational research through clinical trials, Dion hopes to bring that knowledge and close connections with major institutions such as M.D. Anderson to McCombs. He looks forward to offering fellow students a better understanding of the challenges facing our healthcare system and how they can make an impact with the knowledge they acquire through their time at McCombs. Dion received a B.A. in Biology from Franklin & Marshall College.

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Michael Love, MBA ’17 – Finance & Healthcare – Nerds out on making our healthcare system financially sustainable

Michael is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows and Vice President of Education for the MBA Healthcare Association. Prior to returning to school for his MBA, Michael worked for Premier, Inc., a leading national healthcare solutions organization, in their consulting division. Michael worked with healthcare providers across the country, enabling them to increase hospital efficiencies, improve patient outcomes, and reduce the costs of care. His team-based projects allowed him to see all different sides of the healthcare industry, and through his work with the physicians, service line directors, and hospital executives, he implemented business opportunities that put the hospitals in advantageous positions in their markets. Michael returned to school to strengthen his financial, strategy and leadership skill sets so that he can continue to improve the financial stability of our healthcare system from a higher level. He received a B.B.A. in Finance from The University of Georgia.

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Karthik Narasimhan, MBA ’17– Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on advances in drug discovery

Karthik is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows and President of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs. He is also a 2016 Marketing Fellow. Prior to business school, Karthik spent five years at Promega Corporation, a biotech tools provider for drug discovery, forensics and life sciences research. He was the Business Development Executive for the Asia Pacific region and was based in Singapore. This fall, Karthik worked on a MBA+ project for NanoHybrids, an Austin-based nanotechnology startup. He received a PhD in Biological Sciences from the National University of Singapore.

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Nicholas Buck, MBA ’16 – High-Tech Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on bringing the digital age to healthcare

Nicholas is the co-founder of Health Innovation Fellows and co-chair of the McCombs Admissions Committee. Prior to business school, Nicholas spent 4 years at a healthcare and pharmaceutical market research firm in NYC providing intelligence and consulting services to big pharma, health IT, and biotech firms. Last summer, he was a Sr. Graduate Advisor intern in Dell’s Commercial Marketing, Healthcare & Life Sciences group. There, he spent time formulating strategy for entry into a new customer segment and evaluating channel partner management programs. Post-graduation from McCombs, Nicholas will be pursuing start-up and boutique consulting firms that meld together his passion for technology and healthcare. He received a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University, and a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) from A.T. Still University.

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Jennifer Thomas, MBA ’16 – Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on mobile health innovations

Jennifer is the co-founder of Health Innovation Fellows and outgoing President of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs. This past summer, Jennifer interned with Bayer Pharmaceuticals in their Management Associate Program and will return to join their commercial rotational program in the fall of 2016. Over the course of this past semester, Jennifer had the opportunity to intern in a business development role for a local health tech startup, NarrativeDx, as well as work on a digital health accelerator design project with the new UT Dell Medical School. Prior to returning for her MBA, Jennifer spent five years in client management roles with Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG), the leading provider of independent ad-hoc consulting services to business professionals around the world. Jennifer received a B.S. in Human & Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University.

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Posted in Full-Time, Student Orgs

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!

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  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.

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  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.

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Hook ‘em!

-Tim Carreon, Class of 2017

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Posted in Academics

A Texas MBA Degree = A Head Start to Your Dream Career

That six figure salary; The desire to travel the world; The ambition to make a difference. These are some of the reasons  that bring us to business school and we all hope to fulfill these aspirations through that dream job at the end! At McCombs, the faculty strives to help us to do exactly that through the many resources the business school has to offer.

If you see the class BA181 in the MBA curriculum and wonder what it’s about, I’m sure you are not alone. When I came to business school, I was surprised to find not only core classes in Finance, Accounting, Economics, Marketing and Operations but also one dedicated to Career Management. This unique class is perfectly designed to prevent the ever-busy MBA from losing sight of that end goal: To not just get a job, but the right job. It is led by an extremely talented Career Management team who provide you with a road map to reach your goal. Outside of class, they are always accessible to provide advice on topics ranging from career switching, networking, resume writing, interviewing, or sometimes just providing a shoulder to lean on for advice.

Besides a dedicated Career Management team we also have access to communication coaches who help up build our brand and communication skills through personal coaching sessions. Being an international student still learning the ropes of a new culture, these resources have been extremely useful to me. I am able to walk up to the team with questions that sometimes seem silly to me, but have always gotten the support I need. This has helped me greatly during networking events and career fairs. Learn More.

Our schedules are packed with information sessions and networking events with over 350 companies visiting campus! This can sometimes get stressful with homework, exams,  and networking all happening at once, but it has opened up a world of opportunities.

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           Networking Reception at McCombs Career Fair          

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 Tech Trek visit to Facebook

Career resources come in many forms and one of the most valuable is the UT network. Being part of this big network gives you access so alumni and seniors who are always willing to help the next generation of graduating MBAs. My personal experience reaching out to alumni has always been extremely pleasant. They are always willing to take time out for students from their Alma Mater no matter how busy their schedule. The collaboration that the Texas MBA program fosters stays with you long after you leave school. Alumni and staff are always there to help you succeed.

Finally, the biggest resource offered is the University of Texas and McCombs brand. Every day I learn of the many doors this brand opens up to students. With alumni spread across many industries and companies all around the world, the brand brings with it immense opportunities that I am learning more about every day.

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Posted in Academics, Career, Full-Time, Student Life, Uncategorized

How to Survive as a Liberal Arts Major Turned MBA

When you hear “debit,” do you think about your bank card? What about statistics? Does it make your stomach churnI Regret Nothing - Friends GIF just a bit? Is Excel only a program that’s used to conveniently sort rows and rows of data? In undergrad, did you purposefully avoid expensive calculators and figuring out what X was (again!)? If so, you’re probably one of my fellow liberal arts majors: Journalism, human resources, psychology, history, the list goes on and on.

While we know that most of our majors are divergent in practice, there is at least one glaring common thread that binds our educational and professional experiences together: Relatively minimal math.

Now, this is definitely not a slight to any of you that may actually regularly use quantitative skills on a daily or even weekly basis in your current position. However, notice that I said “relatively minimal.” Compared to many of your classmates who will be sitting next to you on the first day of class, you’re behind the math curve, and in the MBA classroom, learning these skills isn’t just part of the curriculum – it’s an expectation, and if you’re less familiar than those who have more advanced skills in these areas, the effort to maintain pace can become much more exacerbated.

So, let’s assume that you’ve taken the GMAT, you’re pleased with your score, and you’ve submitted your applications. Now what? Well, as you prepare for interviews, and even after you’ve plunked down your deposit on your choice program, it’s time to strengthen those quantitative muscles so that you’re able to flex them on day one.

Pro Tips! Here’s a list of things I recommend for those idle days pre-MBA:

    • Take an Intro to _____ class: Fill in the blank on this one. At McCombs, our core classes are very quant-heavy. In the first quarter of the semester, you’ll take Accounting, Finance, and Statistics, and in the second quarter, you only build on the skills you learned in the first, so it’s very easy to become overwhelmed if you’re not familiar with the material. Further, many in your class will have been a strong business or engineering background, so many of the concepts will be more review for them and may be completely new and foreign to you. Taking an MBA-level stats class as your first statistics class has a very steep learning curve, so audit a community college Intro to Statistics or Intro to Finance class during the spring or summer. If you’re able to know what a Z table is before the first day of class, you’re already one step ahead of where I was. An added advantage of taking a class at a local junior college is that it begins to prepare you to actually be back in the classroom, which will help with the initial transition from work back to school.
    • Read up on Excel: I used to think I was really good at Excel, but it turns out, it was only because everyone around me was not as good. Lesson learned: It’s all relative. I have a classmate on my study team who is a former IT analyst, and when we worked on Excel models together for homework, I would never, ever see him touch his mouse. He was a true Excel ninja, and the rest of my study team were in absolute amazement. Don’t take this to mean that you have to learn all of the Excel functions, shortcuts, and formulas before you begin your program, but you should have more than a basic understanding of what Excel is able to do prior to your first class. I recommend reading Marketing Analytics by Wayne Winston, which is our textbook for Analytics of Markets. It’s not a book that you read at leisure (it’s over 700 pages), but it does show you step-by-step how to use Excel functions in ways that you will be expected to know. The best part is that on the book’s website there are a ton of Excel spreadsheets that serve as companions for the exercises in the book, so you’re actually getting hands-on experience. Also, you may ask someone who knows Excel pretty well to sit down with you and teach you the basics, but it’s a bit more difficult to do this when you don’t know what you don’t know.
    • Don’t be scared of numbers: It took me a while to decide to come back to get my MBA because I was honestly scared of numbers. Studying for the GMAT helped me to mitigate that avoidance a bit, but I wish I had done more to really prepare for MBA-level math because the concepts come quick and it only builds from there. Go to a used book store and get an MBA-level textbook, read the chapters, and do the practice problems. The best thing you can do as a student who has more qualitative skills than quantitative skills is to recognize that and commit time and energy into strengthening those areas. On the first day of class, you want to feel like you have a reasonably good idea of the segments of the curriculum, which will strengthen your ability to positively contribute to the class.
    • Utilize free online courses: There are so many free remote learning resources available, and I would recommend browsing sites such as Coursera.org or Smart.ly to find a course that is most tailored to the skill gaps that you may have. My favorite site pre-B-school was Coursera. It includes dozens of free MBA classes that are taught by top MBA professors. For instance, I enrolled in a free accounting class, which allowed me to really understand the basic and more advanced concepts before I began my actual coursework. An alternative to these sites is MBAMath.com. It’s a bit dry in its delivery, but the content is absolutely necessary. Although it does have a flat annual subscription fee, it’s minimal, and you are able to access the site throughout the year for supplemental learning as you continue through your actual MBA coursework.

Good Luck and Hook ’em!

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Posted in Academics, Austin, Full-Time, Student Life

Full-Time Travelers: Texas MBA Treks

Source: VH1.TUMBLR.COM

Source: VH1.TUMBLR.COM

Great Scott! Back to the Future Day was October 21st this year, and that week McCombs first-year MBAs glimpsed their potential destinies. With a two-day break from their courses, students trekked across the city, state and country to become better acquainted with companies from local startup RealMassive to investment banks in the Big Apple.

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McCombs alumni welcomed visitors all along the way with warm greetings, fond memories and useful career development tips, as well as branded swag and delicious treats. And speaking of Hollywood classics, there were some big screens too, like this one at Austin big tech trek participant Emerson…

Thanks to MBA career advisor Daniel Liu for this photo from the big tech trek

… and futuristic motor vehicles that make modern-day stagecoaches seem so last century (yes, even when they have no class, McCombs MBA students stay classy).

Thanks to Tina Mabley, Director of the Full-Time MBA Program for capturing the tech trekkers in their best hook 'em poses

Thanks to Full-Time MBA program director Tina Mabley for capturing the tech trekkers in their best Hook ‘Em poses

For 20 MBAs on the Dallas marketing trek, the Monday morning agenda comprised coffee, juice and breakfast pastries served by American Airlines, Pizza Hut for lunch, and Frito-Lay’s Rold Gold pretzel dippers as a late-afternoon snack—all at those respective firms’ corporate headquarters. Presentations from members of the Longhorn family and current employees on navigating a major merger in the travel industry, managing relationships with franchisees and reaching target customer segments through emerging platforms like Periscope, among other topics, provided the food for thought. 

Six first-year MBAs at the Dallas headquarters of Pepsico's Frito-Lay division

Six first-year MBAs at the Dallas headquarters of Pepsico’s Frito-Lay division

Houston Energy Finance (visits including Chevron, ExxonMobil and Phillips66), Houston Clean Tech (visits including NRG and First Solar), and Dallas Private Wealth/Asset Management (visits including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse) were among the other treks. The adventures in networking continued throughout the next few weeks in Houston and Dallas, as consulting firms and Houston investment banking institutions hosted more forward looking McCombs MBAs.

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Posted in Career, Full-Time

Marketing Case Challenge

For those of you just getting to know the MBA experience along with classes, recruiting, networking, and “networking with classmates” (i.e.: having some fun…), case challenges are a (sometimes overlooked) piece of the puzzle.

Case challenges are sponsored by companies and are generally real-world questions that the companies are actually working on.

There are basically case challenges for everything: finance, marketing, global, and operations are just a small portion of them. Usually, they’re overnight competitions where interested parties self-select teams of 4 people to compete against either their classmates or against other schools (depending on the competition). They usually have cash prizes for the top three places, and they generally give out swag for other stuff (best speaker, best deck, etc.). Judges are representatives from different companies, so they’re great networking opportunities as well.

This year, rather than an overnight challenge, the marketing case challenge was a week long. Teams received the case on October 21, submitted their completed presentations by October 28, and presented on October 30. The competition was sponsored by Walmart and focused around how Walmart could use Pinterest to target millennials. For someone with a consulting background who worked in healthcare, public sector, and cable, this was a pretty big change.

Here’s the team vigorously (sort of) finishing the deck to get it submitted before the deadline:

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Little did we know… they had an extra surprise in store for us during the competition… A TORNADO WARNING! Here’s a small group of us after we made it to safety:

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Hook ‘Em, pre-presentation style:

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A picture of the ultimate victors:

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And finally, the second place team celebrating:

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Personally, it was great to get to go through this. I learned a lot about marketing through the conference, and I honestly came in not knowing what I would gain from the challenge. After going through, it was awesome getting to work with people outside of my typical study team, get some marketing experience, and work on building my speaking-skills. Plus, the case was really interesting and relevant for anyone who has an interest in marketing.

There’s also a marketing conference that goes along with the case challenge each year which, this year, focused on “whole-brained marketing” (i.e.: How good marketers today own a combination of creativity and analytics skill-sets). The two keynote speeches were from Peter Horst, CMO, Hershey, and Kip Knight, President, H&R Block US Retail Operations, but the entire panel of speakers was awesome

Full details on the conference here or,
Check out the Storify feed. Hook ’em!

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Posted in Academics, Full-Time, Student Life

ExxonMobil & Net Impact Host 1st Energy Bowl at McCombs

It’s well-known that Texas produces more crude oil and natural gas than any other state in the US. However, did you know that the Lone Star State leads the country in wind powered generation capacity? The energy industry serves a crucial role in the macro economy and its complexity, technological advancements, and never-ending thirst for capital attracts many students to McCombs every year.

Here at UT, we benefit from vast resources to aid in our professional development towards becoming leaders in the energy industry. As Texas MBAs, of course we like to team up and make a friendly competition out of it whenever possible. Last week, Net Impact and ExxonMobil gave us the perfect opportunity to do so by hosting its inaugural Energy Bowl at McCombs.

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Texas MBAs at the Energy Bowl!

Leading industry experts MC’d the competition, which was not your average trivia night (not going to lie, I 100% expected a question on the gusher at Spindletop, TX…I was wrong).  Exxon and Net Impact tested students on categories including energy in pop culture, history, new and emerging sources, and projected trends in energy use. We’ve selected a few challenging questions to share below (Answers at the bottom of this post):

  • How many smartphone batteries would you need to equal the energy contained in one gallon of gasoline?
  • Which musician once worked as a roughneck on an offshore oil rig?
  • In what city was the first dam specifically developed for generating hydroelectric power?
  • How many 5 MW wind turbines would it take to provide the equivalent of NYC’s electricity consumption?

We had a great time trying to solve these problems and asking the panelists questions about the future of the industry between rounds. Perhaps more important than racking up points at trivia is your team name, shout-out to “1.21 Gigawatts” for the clever Back to the Future reference.

Whether you are interested in pursuing a career in conventional or renewable energy, there’s no better place to make the next step than McCombs!

(Answers: 4,000, Trace Adkins, Austin, 4,000 + back-up power)

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Posted in Full-Time

How We “Slack” in The Texas Executive MBA Program

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Slack is a new online collaboration tool (and is super addictive!) [.gif source]

If you read the title of this post and thought it would be about Executive MBAs slacking off, you’re about to be slightly disappointed. Slack is a new, hyper-addictive online messaging tool that the Texas Executive MBA Class of 2016 started using last August, before our first seminar, to communicate with one another. One of our classmates, Josh Treviño, uses Slack at his office and suggested we set up a team account. Slowly but surely, students began trickling in, tentatively posting questions about pre-readings or class schedules.

The early days of our Slack environment were like being in a library: a place to request or look for information, quietly and without bothering anyone.

Fast-forward to nearly a year later, and our Slack team is more like a bustling conference at a convention center, with hallways and rooms to duck in and out of, people laughing in one corner and others sharing useful tips and tricks in another. Not only has Slack helped us find the program information we need, but many credit the tool with our class’s ability to form strong bonds with one another. Inspired by Bill Morein’s How We Slack at FiftyThree, which discusses business uses for Slack, we wanted to share how Slack has helped busy students like us, as Slack’s tagline promises, “be less busy.”

slack for education and universities

General Channel

We have one channel, #general, that anyone can join – and pretty much everyone has. This is where the chit-chat takes place, and can run the gamut from people asking questions about which elective to take, to updates received by individual students about the program, to people testing out their Slackbot-programming skills.

Class Channels

Channels named after our classes each semester help keep things organized. Think #financial-management, #managerial-economics or #strategic-management. If you’ve got a class-related question, need to track down a file, or are just looking for some motivation to work on a paper or study for a big test, this is the place to do business. These channels are archived by the moderators a few weeks after classes wrap up so they don’t use up valuable storage space.

Funny Quotes Channel

Being in one of the Top 20 MBA programs in the country means you’re always surrounded by smart, quick-witted people, whether they are your classmates or professors. A few weeks into our first semester, there were so many funny verbal exchanges happening in and out of class that often times were also some of the best learning moments. #funnyquotes is where the greatest ones get memorialized. A gem from the #funnyquotes feed recently: “Shake hands, kiss babies, and never confuse the two.” That’s Dr. John Daly, professor of our Advocacy elective.

Jobs Channel

Whether you’re looking for a new job or know someone who is, our #jobs channel has helped several people swing to the next vine. It also serves as a place to ping classmates for connections within companies (usually someone has an “in!”), solicit resume advice, compare notes on the executive coaches in the UT Career Services program offers, and offer referrals of candidates who may not be in our program.

Hobby Channels

We’re a diverse group and that extends to our hobbies. Among our hobby channels, we’ve got #field-and-stream for the outdoors-men/women in the program who like to hunt and fish, #wine-club for the group that shares a mutual love of wine after class on the weekends, #chinese for those who want to learn more about the Chinese culture prior to our class trip to China next May, and #hangout which serves as a catch-all for people who want to coordinate grabbing lunch or a drink with a classmate in the area.

Private Groups

There is the option in Slack to send private messages, as well as create private group messages. In my study group’s case, we have a private group titled “Goose” (named after our team name, “Two O’s in Goose”) set up to share notes about group work, gatherings, and inside jokes (most of which, unsurprisingly, involve references to Top Gun).

Questions about Slack or its uses for student communication? Feel free to leave them in the comments below, or tweet at me at @racheltruair.

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Posted in Academics, Austin, Executive, Student Life

Texas MBA Epilogue: From an Executive MBA

Twenty-one months. Thousands of miles traveled and hours spent studying. Dozens of trips to Austin. More caffeine consumed than I care to admit. It all leads to the ceremonies scheduled for this afternoon. Read more ›

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Posted in Executive, Student Life
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