Category: Academic Programs
Trip to Watson Research Center demonstrates blossoming partnership between SMG and IBM
By Tom Vellner (COM’13)
It’s 6 a.m. on a Friday morning and Associate Professor of Information Systems Paul Carlile is handing out brown bags to a group of MBA students on a coach bus. Inside each is a bottle of orange juice, a granola bar, and a tangerine. As the business-casual group digs into these homemade breakfast kits, the scene resembles an elementary school field trip gone professional. The students are headed to the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center to meet Watson, the Jeopardy!-winning supercomputer, and present their big ideas to IBM executives.
The 20 MBA students traveling to the Watson Research Center, located in Yorktown Heights, NY, weren’t selected at random. On March 6, they and their fellow first-year MBAs competed in the IBM Business Challenge at Boston University School of Management as part of the Module 3 portion of the newly launched MBA curriculum. The challenge called on student teams to present solutions to issues that IBM faces in a variety of areas, such as life science, big data, and social business, in front of a panel of IBM executives. After firing questions at the students, the panel analyzed all nine presentations and announced the top three.
Much like the golden ticket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the three winning teams received an IBM-blue ticket to meet Watson and dine with IBM CIO and SMG alumna Jeanette Horan (GSM’93). One month later, on April 4, the teams found themselves wide-eyed and inspired during a tour of the research facilities, where there are no chocolate streams or Oompa Loompas, but equally enthralling technology that’s on track to change the world.
Inside the secret lair-like research center, which sits on a grassy hill surrounded by acres of woods, is a room buzzing with the sound of a cluster of 90 IBM Power 750 servers. The cluster’s name is Watson, and it glows a mesmerizing indigo. IBM scientists began developing this cognitive technology in 2007, which processes information more like a human than a computer. Watson reads and understands natural language, producing hypotheses from disparate data.
Generating 15 trillion bytes of data (roughly the size of the material in the Library of Congress), as well as fascination from the MBA visitors, the supercomputer not only won Jeopardy! in 2011 against the beloved game show’s two greatest champions, but also, by analyzing large amounts of unstructured text and developing hypotheses grounded in that analysis, helps fight cancer with evidence-based diagnoses and treatment. And it’s only getting smarter. Through repeated use, Watson is constantly presented with new information and learns from prior interactions, both successes and failures. What makes Watson special, and critical for the future, is its ability to analyze the inordinate amount of growing and unstructured data today.
“After learning about IBM’s business and current projects, it was amazing to see the actual research in process,” says Liz Nerad (MBA’15). “The multitude of projects that IBM is doing is really a testament to the evolving landscape of information technology, where there are constantly new applications for IBM’s innovative thinking.”
The MBA students hear about Watson’s potential to revolutionize healthcare, and even online shopping, during their tour, which concludes with an opportunity to meet and eat with Horan. The CIO speaks about her path from SMG student to IBM leader, addressing students that may one day fill her shoes. After all, the collaboration between SMG and IBM, introduced into the curriculum for the first time this year, was designed to do just that: arm MBA students with skills that extend far beyond the classroom, skills that prepare them to tackle complex issues that companies are facing as technology rapidly transforms.
“IBM can gain value from this relationship in a number of ways,” says Carol Sormilic, IBM vice president and executive liaison to SMG during the spring semester. “There is the obvious goal of the program, which is giving students that real-world experience they can take with them and use in any new position, but there’s also the ability for us to look at what we do from the fresh perspective that the students bring. Seeing our challenges through their eyes has been one of my favorite parts of the process.”
Displaying their skills, the three winning teams present their solutions once again to a new panel of IBM judges that includes Horan. The first, focused on life science, offers a solution for mitigating the risk of a “patent cliff” for biopharmaceutical companies; the second lays out a strategy to combat homelessness in Boston by utilizing big data and the cloud; and the third illustrates a new model for IBM’s social business platform. Horan notes the depth and detail of each presentation, stating how impressed she is with the students’ work—but not before asking tough questions that the teams handle with poise. Whether their solutions will be implemented at IBM is unclear, but, judging by the panel’s intrigued expressions and questions, it’s obvious that a seed has been planted.
“Presenting to the IBM executives was a great experience to get feedback outside of the academic setting,” says Nerad. “The best part was that the IBM executives interjected with questions or comments along the way, which probably more accurately reflects how real-world proposals go. The instant feedback forced us to be quick on our feet to answer accordingly in that exact moment.”
The benefit of integrating the world’s top technology provider into the MBA curriculum is twofold. The students are given the chance to interact with leading executives and demonstrate their ability to produce thorough research, think critically, and solve real industry issues—what one might consider the ultimate job interview.
“The concepts from the classroom are reinforced this way,” says Carlile. “The students know they have to take a concept, grow it, and bring it to life in front of executives. It’s an immediate relevancy.”
On the flip side, by prompting them with actual situations that arise in the company, IBM has the chance to tap into the viewpoints of rising MBA students, and possibly meet their next employees.
“By bringing in a live business partner, we can shrink the gap between knowledge and application even faster,” says Carlile. “We’re creating a new engagement model of business education between companies, faculty, and students. It’s challenging to do, but this kind of engagement creates more value for everyone involved.”
After smiles, sighs of relief, and photos with Horan, the students board the bus and return to Boston with more than gift shop souvenirs. They now have a direct connection to IBM, as well as an understanding of what’s needed to thrive in a workforce that’s quickly evolving—important, considering their future coworker could be a computer that processes 500 gigabytes, the equivalent of a million books, per second.
Tom Vellner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It started in a McDonald’s. After registering for the annual CME Group Trading Challenge, a team of four students in the Mathematical Finance program—a team that would ultimately place first nationally and second globally in the challenge—sat down to lunch at the fast food restaurant in Kenmore Square. They noticed a scratch on their table that closely resembled a lighthouse and, at that moment, Team Lighthouse was born. It was the first of many real-life observations that would direct them through an intense competition and perhaps the easiest consensus of the four-week challenge.
“We liked the symbol of a lighthouse,” said Lingchen Guo (MSMF’15), an analyst on the team, “and thought that it sounded like the name of an actual futures company.”
With their team name chosen, Lingchen (Frank) Guo (MSMF’15), Sarah Hochstatter (MSMF’15), Duyong Lee (MSMF’15), and Anastasios (Tassos) Mallis (MSMF’15) began their path to victory in the CME Group Trading Challenge, a worldwide online competition where teams of undergraduate and graduate students trade a variety of CME Group products from multiple asset classes in a simulated trading environment.
Occurring on a real-time professional trading platform provided by CQG, CME Group’s Trading Challenge, hosts a growing number of teams and countries each year. In 2014, nearly 400 teams from 31 countries participated, including four other BU teams.
The diversity of the competition can be seen in Team Lighthouse itself, whose four members come from the US, China, Korea, and Greece. Their range of backgrounds worked to their advantage, giving them knowledge of foreign exchange, one of the six asset classes in the challenge.
The Trading Challenge lasts four weeks and includes a practice round, a preliminary round, and a championship round. Over the course of the competition, the team’s analysts, Guo and Hochstatter, carefully watched market news, anticipating fluctuations, spikes, and drops. The pair reported their findings to Lee and Mallis, who traded based on these market reactions—and their own gut reactions.
Nerves of steel
Mallis took the night shift, trading from midnight to 7 a.m., and though he lost a lot of sleep, he didn’t lose much money, making responsible but substantial trades in the early market hours. It was Lee who took chances during his 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift. As Mallis puts it, he made the small trades that laid the foundation for Lee, who built higher and higher upon it.
“You need to lay ground so you can begin to construct buildings,” Mallis said. “Duyong constructed tall buildings. He has nerves of steel.”
The traders made educated orders and trusted in the strategy that Guo and Hochstatter devised. With adjustments made from the preliminary round to the championship, their strategy earned them a spot in the winner’s circle. Team Lighthouse placed second in the world and first in the US.
“It was about having the stomach to believe in your strategy,” Mallis said.
Learning from everything
From meeting deadlines to delegating functions to communicating properly—whether that meant providing helpful market information or simply texting the group in a timely fashion—the team learned a number of lessons about succeeding in the marketplace.
“The competition combined fundamental and quantitative knowledge,” Mallis said, “and we learned a lot from our Program’s courses.”
Led by Executive Director Dr. Ahmad Namini, who emailed students encouraging them to join the CME Group Trading Challenge, the MS in Mathematical Finance (MSMF) program is a 17-month program including a summer internship that focuses on the three disciplines of finance, applied mathematics, and computer science. The results create candidates with core competencies in creating effective investment strategies, quantitative analysis, and risk management. Each January the graduates start their careers in investment banks, commercial banks, trading firms, and even financial technology and insurance companies. The Program is one of the pioneering programs, which brings hard-to-find talent to the financial industry.
Team Lighthouse’s journey will end a long way from the scratched McDonald’s table they started at. Placing in the top four they collect a cash prize and an invitation to visit Chicago for CME Group’s Day of Market Education. The invitational conference provides students with an exclusive look into CME Group and the financial industry. Business experts will deliver presentations relevant to the global marketplace, and attendees will view live open outcry trading, learn about CME Group’s electronic trading platform, CME Globex, and join industry leaders for a networking reception and dinner.
Boston University School of Management’s full-time MBA program placed 45th on US News & World Report‘s list of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” The part-time program ranked 34th on the list of the “Best Part-Time MBA Programs.”
US News & World Report republished its Healthcare Management rankings, where the School’s Health Sector MBA remained 11th overall. Additionally, the School’s recruiter assessment score improved, showing increased employer satisfaction.
The full-time ranking is based on peer school and recruiter surveys, placement success, and incoming student profiles. The part-time ranking is based on peer school surveys, average GMAT score and average GRE quantitative and verbal scores of entering part-time MBA students, work experience, the percentage of the school’s MBA enrollment that is part-time, and their average undergraduate GPA.
As the School celebrates its centennial, it continues to foster innovation across the MBA program, launching an enhanced curriculum in fall 2013. The new curriculum both prepares students for a rapidly changing global economy and offers deeper disciplinary learning opportunities.
Boston University School of Management’s MBA program placed 46th globally and 28th nationally on CNN Expansión‘s list of the “Best MBA in Mexico and the World.” The ranking represents a one-spot jump for the School among US MBA programs.
Expansión releases an annual ranking of Global MBA programs, which takes into account a variety of measures, including student quality, faculty research, and school positioning in the Mexican market.
An internationally focused ranking, the School’s placement on Expansión‘s list demonstrates its fervent mission and strategic vision to “Create Value for the World.” Drawing on positive support and recognition from a broad business community, the School continues to enhance its MBA program in order to provide a world-class educational experience and prepare its students for a shifting global economy.
View the full list of rankings here.
The School rose an impressive 20 spots internationally to 75th
Boston University School of Management’s full-time MBA program ranked 39th among US schools on the Financial Times‘ list of the top global MBA programs. The ranking represents a five-spot jump nationally for the School.
Internationally, the school experienced a 20-spot jump to 75th, an impressive shift that tied for the largest gain of any ranked school.
According to alumni responses, which account for nearly 60 percent of the ranking’s weight, BU SMG ranked 39th globally for the number of alumni who recommended the School. Not only is the School producing alumni who find the MBA program fulfilling, it is also attracting faculty who are greatly enhancing their experience. SMG’s research rank rose four spots to 51st in the world, demonstrating the outstanding work of the School’s firm base of scholars and teachers, including 12 new full-time faculty who began this fall.
“Boston University School of Management’s MBA program provides our exemplary students with a challenging, integrated experience that engages them in key forces transforming our global economy,” said Kenneth W. Freeman, Allen Questrom Professor and Dean. “As our School celebrates its centennial, we are thrilled to see this tremendous external recognition of the strength of the MBA program and faculty.”
At the turn of the School’s first century, it reflects on its first 100 years and looks toward the future, fostering innovation across the MBA program by launching an enhanced curriculum in fall 2013. The new curriculum both prepares students for a shifting global economy and allows for deeper disciplinary learning opportunities.
See the Financial Times‘ full list of rankings here.
Boston University School of Management’s EMBA Named a Top 25 Program in US by Bloomberg Businessweek
Boston University School of Management’s Executive MBA program ranked 30th globally and 24th nationally on Bloomberg Businessweek’s Best Executive MBA Programs list. This is a strong gain from the prior ranking in 2011, when the program placed in the second tier.
This biennial ranking measures graduate satisfaction with their EMBA experience, including teaching quality, curriculum, and support, as well as incorporates opinions from program directors of leading EMBA programs. Recent program graduates rated their Boston University EMBA experience 26th in the world, giving an A+ for curriculum. In addition, Boston University EMBA students are tied for the most work experience of any ranked school at 17 years.
“The Boston University EMBA program provides accomplished executives with a challenging, integrated experience that engages them in key forces transforming our global economy,” said Janice Dolnick, director of the EMBA program. “As our School celebrates its centennial, we are pleased to see this tremendous external recognition of the strength of the EMBA program and its students.”
This ranking of Boston University’s EMBA program, an 18-month program designed for high-achieving professionals, continues a trend of external recognition as the School enters its centennial year. Last month, the EMBA program was ranked 1st in New England by the Financial Times. Additionally, in July, EMBA was named 19th among US-based programs by the The Economist. For the Businessweek ranking, a survey of program graduates from 2009, 2011, and 2013 contributed to 65 percent of the ranking, with the final 35 percent stemming from a survey of program directors.
See the full list of rankings here.
Student work analyzed, celebrated
Senior editor of Fortune Ryan Bradley sat in on a recent case competition held by Boston University School of Management, which hosted teams of MBA students from around the world. The teams pitched ideas for a company that they believed would revolutionize health care—and earn them $22,500, plus the support of the event’s two hosts, Merck and Microsoft, to launch their startup. “Interested in seeing what bright MBAs-to-be were dreaming up as viable business solutions to different health care crises,” Bradley attended the competition, ultimately finding a theme within it: gamifying the system.
One of the many difficulties in treating chronic diseases is that one must adhere to a strict medical regimen and see it through to the end of its prescription. Chronic disease demands chronic medication. Taking medication is no fun, but the idea that it might be made a game is, at least, as old as Mary Poppins. The cost of not adhering to the full prescription of drugs is hundreds of billions of dollars in ongoing medical expenses, to say nothing of all the money lost by a drug manufacturer like Merck. At the BU case competition, the solution to patient recidivism wasn’t a spoonful of sugar but an app on your smartphone, an app that was, without fail, some kind of a game.
Bradley notes that the judges were not impressed by gamifying health care, as there is no guarantee that taking a pill can be fun, or that users can be trusted to enter accurate information, such as meals eaten or medication taken, into their smartphones. However, a clear winner finally emerged, touted by the Fortune editor as “startlingly different” and a “tangible solution to a real problem.”
A winner had to be announced by the end of day two, though I was growing weary and skeptical. How refreshing, then, when a team presented an idea startlingly different from all the others. It wasn’t a piece of software at all, but a backpack, filled with durable hardware (solar powered battery charger, lensless microscope, blood diagnostic tests, pulse oximeter) for collecting vital, and valuable, health data. The team was focused on collecting data from the developing world, where much of the population goes unrecorded, but the concept would work in the U.S., too, or anywhere else with people who have limited access to health services.
Read the full piece here.
The ranking represents a 17-spot jump for the School
Boston University School of Management’s MBA program rose 17 places to rank 44th among US schools on Forbes’ list of “The Best Business Schools.” This increase is the second largest gain of any ranked school.
This is Forbes’ eighth biennial ranking and is based on a formula that considers the return on investment for completing an MBA program. Using information from the class of 2008, Forbes compared alumni salaries upon entry to the MBA program, at graduation, and salary growth over the next five years. This information was then combined with the opportunity cost of pursing the MBA, including forgone salary and tuition, to determine a student’s return on their investment in an MBA education.
“Graduates of the class of 2008 were able to advance their careers upon completing the MBA program despite facing a harsh economic environment,” said Kenneth W. Freeman, Allen Questrom Professor and Dean. “Today’s leaders face disruption and transformation, and SMG develops graduates who are ready to tackle these issues, drive change, and lead.”
As the School celebrates its centennial, it continues to foster innovation across the MBA program, launching an enhanced curriculum in fall 2013. The new curriculum both exposes students to key forces transforming the global economy and provides for deeper disciplinary learning opportunities.
See Forbes‘ full story and list of rankings here.
SMG’s Mathematical Finance program climbs three positions in Quantnet rankings
Boston University School of Management placed 14th on Quantnet’s list of the top master’s programs in financial engineering in North America, which represents a three-spot jump for the School.
The School’s 17-month Master of Science in Mathematical Finance program received a total score of 78, with 100 being perfect, missing the 12th position by only a point. It placed 17th in the previous Quantnet ranking.
The program, which integrates practical domains of mathematics with an in-depth study of the theory and practice of modern finance, has become increasingly competitive, and recognizes that, within three months of graduation, 80 percent of students received job offers.
Quantnet, an online resource that provides information on education and careers in financial engineering, surveyed program administrators, hiring managers, and quantitative finance professionals in order to compile its rankings.
Boston University’s Executive MBA program has been ranked 1st in New England and 19th nationally for programs based solely in the United States by The Economist. BU placed 36th among all executive MBA programs in the world.
In addition, Boston University placed 10th globally for “Quality of Students” which is determined not only by student metrics, such as incoming work experience, but also includes a student assessment of their classmates. This is The Economist’s first ranking of executive MBA programs and is based on a diverse set of measures of student experience, half of which were influenced by alumni questionnaires of the most recent three classes.
“We appreciate that this ranking reflects the high levels of alumni satisfaction and achievement within their careers, as they are one of our most important stakeholders,” said Janice Dolnick, EMBA program director. “The BU Executive MBA continues to be a leading program in New England, and as our school celebrates our centennial we look forward to continuing to innovate to prepare our students for the critical challenges they face within their organizations and society.”
This ranking continues a trend of external recognition of the School of Management’s momentum as it enters its centennial year. The Executive MBA program at Boston University is built upon an innovative integrated curriculum that is increasingly valued by both students and employers. Residing within a leading research university, the BU EMBA program provides students exposure to leading faculty and pioneering research in areas vital for today’s leaders.
Read more about Boston University’s Executive MBA program here.
Full coverage of The Economist’s ranking of executive MBA programs can be found here.