Category: Student Activities
Torres-Palma is cofounder of OoOTie, Boston’s only online bow tie boutique
Excerpts from BU Today:
Dressed in a blue oxford shirt and neatly pressed khakis, Diego Torres-Palma looks like any other MBA student. But what sets the 26-year-old entrepreneurial engineer apart is his choice of neckwear. On this particular day, it happens to be a butterfly style, three-inch paisley silk bow tie.
As cofounder of OoOTie, Boston’s only online bow tie boutique, Torres-Palma (GSM’13) is an ambassador for what has become one of the hippest accessories in men’s fashion. In 2010, he and friends Matthew Pearlson and Adrian Rodriguez (both MIT grads) set out to hatch a business. They noticed that bow ties were showing up more often in fashion magazines and on celebrities, and knew they had their product. The company launched that year with only an iPhone app and a smattering of followers on Facebook and Twitter.
OoOTie sold some 600 bow ties last year, many of them custom orders for weddings and bow tie diehards. The three-year-old business is projected to sell 1,000 bow ties this year.
Read the full story and see more videos on BU Today.
“We want the students to get to know each other, hear new ideas, explore the city, and prepare for what lies ahead.” Those were the goals Assistant Dean Kathie Nolan of the Graduate Programs Office (GPO) set for the School’s full-time MBAs in Pre-Term, the two-week period before the full fall semester begins. From the looks of the student evaluations, the program was a sound success.
The full-time MBA class of 2014 and the International MBA class of 2013 arrived on campus Monday, August 13 and have been busy ever since. (In twelve weeks this summer, the IMBA students completed half of their core courses and will now be able to complete their MBA in just two more semesters.)
“It was probably our best-run program ever,” said Gail Justino-Miller, director of the GPO. “We put a lot of effort into it because it’s more than an orientation; it sets a tone for their whole two years. Emily Libby, assistant director of the GPO, led the effort and did a tremendous job.”
Team building was the first assignment of the program. Following lunch on their first full day, the faculty divided students into approximately 25 teams of six or seven students each for the GPS Urban Adventure. Each team was given an older generation GPS with several prefixed coordinates, a few pages of notes (with cryptic hints), and then assigned to go find locations in Boston and be back at 4 p.m. GPS Urban Adventure coordinator Paul Hutchinson, lecturer of organizational behavior, said, “The aim of the event is to help students begin recognizing the broad range of different strengths individuals can bring to a team. Along the way, when they get to each site, they also have to complete a small exercise. They start off as introductory assignments but build to become more reflective.”
Hutchinson emphasized that it wasn’t a scavenger hunt. It was about students observing each other in a non-competitive but goal-driven task. The team members were designed by faculty to maximize diversity. On Team B2 for example, were Ziad Abdelhafez of Egypt, Naid Alsedais of Saudi Arabia, Jonah Heilman of Israel, Jayanthi Selvaraj of India, and Americans Beth Haber, Cory Peterson, and Chris Tolles (all MBA’14). When the teams reported back in, the students and faculty discussed who took what roles and shared insights about what worked and what didn’t. “Who would hurry to volunteer to hold the GPS—to be in control?” said Hutchinson. “Who displayed better spatial abilities? Who was good at solving the language puzzles? This knowledge will come in handy later when they have team assignments in actual classes.”
The day ended with a cookout on BU Beach, where students shared origins, longer-term goals, Boston tips, and why they chose the BU MBA. Selvaraj was impressed with the MS•MBA dual-degree option. “The School has such a good reputation—I was accepted at several schools, but the MS•MBA plus Boston’s position as a high-tech business center made this the right choice for me.” Diego De La Mora (MBA’14) of Mexico chose BU partly because of Boston. He had visited the city before and loved it. “My wife and I wanted to attend an MBA program in the same city but different schools. I chose BU for its strong program; she chose Babson. We’re living in Chestnut Hill to split the travel difference.” He’s considering a concentration in operations management.
Pre-Term also includes an introductory event for spouses, partners, and significant others.
During the two weeks of Pre-Term, students learn about the curriculum, set up their IT requirements, meet advisors and financial aid personnel, and experience several team-building exercises. They also have a full briefing on the Academic Conduct Code, and meetings with Feld Career Center staff concerning interviews, elevator pitches, joining a career community, and more. During 16 hours of the second week, students take their first class, Ethics, Values, and Social Responsibility.
“Ethics does not equal morality,” says Rachel Spooner, lawyer and lecturer in the markets, public policy & law department, addressing the first-year MBA students in the first class. “An individual or organization can be ethical if it makes his or its decisions in alignment with his or its values.”
That may be a new definition for many, who feel no moral person can make an unethical decision, or that an immoral decision might simultaneously be an ethical one. Working through several case studies, the students wrestle with ethical dilemmas. “The point of the course,” says Spooner, “is to teach the skill of determining when decisions are ethical.”
Spooner began developing the course in December with Associate Professor Jack McCarthy of the organizational behavior department, who added, “What we wanted was to start everyone off with a certain mindset. It’s the first course for a reason: to help students lay a foundation for the rest of their lives.”
Nina Desai (MBA’14, HSM) of UCLA (neuroscience undergrad from Santa Monica, Calif.) says, “This material is really important—and necessary—to address. There are multiple aspects to address in many ethical situations. This gave us a way to ask if we are consciously acting in an unethical manner. Of course, as we discussed cases, we were not as definitive as you might think.”
One event was a discussion on cross-cultural relations, led by consultant and SMG lecturer Beth Rogers of Point Taken. Students from the International MBA cohort helped lead discussion sections, having already gone through a similar experience themselves. In 90 percent of the student evaluations, students wished there were more time spent on the topic, so it will likely be expanded next year.
Organizational Behavior Lecturer Jim French, who taught one of the Ethics sections, commented, “These students are very bright, and issues such as ethics and cultural sensitivity are top of mind for them, perhaps more so than in years past. I felt there was a sincere desire to be different in their career, to make better choices than the corrupt and criminal examples we discussed in some of the ethics cases.”
All the incoming full-time students participated in the community service project, spread over a dozen venues in the city. Students volunteered at Boston Food Bank, Cradles to Crayons, and Learning Ally, helped clean up the Charles River shoreline, and more.
The two-week program concluded with a day at the Warren Conference Center in Ashland, Massachusetts, where students engaged in a friendly competition and team-building experience in an outdoor setting. At the Warren Center, students were paired with others from different cohorts, to further expand acquaintances.
Marwan Kanafani (MBA/MPH’14) said, “The Grad Programs Office did a great job first getting us comfortable with each other, and then organizing events, which allowed us to build relationships before we dive into the intensive group projects coming this semester.” He added that the day at the Warren Conference Center perfectly capped off the experience. “After two weeks of cerebral work, they knew we must have been physically restless. So that day we were able to illustrate behaviors we learned in classrooms. And we let it all out.”
Other student-written evaluations of the day included comments such as, “It was a challenge, but it was appropriate.” And perhaps more tellingly, “I’m tired! Looking forward to regular classes.”
Justino-Miller described the events at the Warren Center as “fantastic.” She said, “It was possibly our best trip there in years in terms of student enthusiasm and satisfaction. The level of camaraderie and community building was just great.” Assistant Director of Academic Advising Betsy Dick added, “I loved that they took it upon themselves to synchronize just jumping off the dock together like little kids. At the end of an intense week, they were just so comfortable with each other. That’s what you hope for.”
As Professor Tim Hall, Morton H. and Charlotte Friedman Professor in Management, said, “It takes a lot of work to make something look effortless. Kathie Nolan and Emily Libby (and their committee) deserve a huge amount of credit for the success of the Pre-Term.” Diane Reamer of the Feld Career Center, Hall, Patti Cudney, assistant dean of Graduate Admissions, Spooner, and second-year MBA student Lili Emad (MBA’13) were all essential to the program’s success.
Following Pre-Term, during the week of August 27-30, the students completed a summer intensive in organizational behavior. Hall teaches one of the sections of the OB Intensive, and said the previous week’s introduction to ethics was evident in his class. “In areas where I used to point out to students (such as organizational values) that there was an ethical area, now students are bringing it up first. This is a new phenomenon. This will make it easier for faculty to keep these themes prominent in classes going forward.”
The full schedule began September 4.
One of Just Nine Lauded Chapters Across the Nation
The national headquarters of Net Impact (whose mission is “to mobilize a new generation of students to use their careers to drive transformational change in their workplaces and the world”) announced that the undergraduate chapter at Boston University has achieved Gold Chapter standing, a designation awarded to only nine of 67 undergraduate chapters.
According to Liz Maw, CEO of Net Impact, “This is a tremendous achievement. Gold chapters are the most outstanding in the Net Impact network, which includes over 300 chapters around the world. They play an integral role in helping us to provide support, connections, and practical advice to help people in all sectors and job functions create a more just and sustainable future.”
To earn gold, a chapter has to have a higher than normal level of events, they have to send a representative to the national conference, and they need to provide at least one “impact program.” The achievement also reflects strong support from the University and the faculty advisors, she added. Assistant Professor Kira Fabrizio and Executive in Residence and Lecturer Paul McManus (both of strategy & innovation) advise the club.
The Boston University undergraduate chapter, led by president Joe Nangle (BSBA’12), held 22 events to benefit the student body and surrounding community throughout the year. Teaming with Sustainabilty@BU, SMG Student Government, business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, and the Starbucks location at SMG, the club got students to pledge to reduce their usage of paper cups, and distributed almost 500 reusable mugs to replace them. They also ran panel discussions on “The Art of Social Entrepreneurship,” and another on “Finance for Good.” The club also ran Sustainability Sundays, informal gatherings where anyone on campus was invited to gather and discuss important events in the sustainability realm.
Undergrads Work in D.C. Over Spring Break
Boston University always has an enormous number of students participate in Alternative Spring Break, and School of Management students have been well represented among them. This spring, a group of undergrad School of Management Honors Program students decided to travel to the nation’s capital for an alternative alternative spring break, or as the honors program billed it, the Spring Service Trip.
“Between the people that we met, the work we were able to do, and the cultural experience of being in D.C., it was amazing,” said Liz Katz, assistant director in the Undergraduate Program Office, and one of the two advisers on the trip.
The students aided in the District’s fight against hunger and homelessness, volunteering at several organizations over the course of the first week of March.
“The organizations where we worked were ready for us and loved that we came all this way to lend a hand. They usually rely on local volunteers,” Katz said.
“By being able to volunteer over spring break and to brighten the days of those people whom we served, I am proud to say that I am a part of an honors program that is full of humble and kind people,” said Rebecca Lang (BSBA’14).
The group helped out at two supportive housing sites for formerly homeless families and in the soup kitchens at So Others Might Eat (SOME), helped prepare meals from local ingredients for public school students at DC Central Kitchen’s program Fresh Start, and spent a day at the Capital Area Food Bank inspecting and sorting through donations.
“I feel one of the most valuable experiences for the students was their exposure to the SOME dining room,” Katz said. ”It wasn’t just the ‘obviously’ homeless. There were people there in work uniforms, some families as neat and clean as could be. You got the sense they could have been your neighbors and friends. It put a really different face on hunger and homelessness.”
The trip itself was the honors program student leaders’ response to the increased requirement in volunteer hours for freshmen honors students, and the brain child of Selena Su (BSBA’14).
Su pitched the idea for an honors alternative to the Undergraduate Program office. This, she reasoned, would also help current honors freshmen fulfill the community service hours.
Su said the idea got her the position as coordinator.
“I planned a trip to Washington, D.C.,” Su said, “but it’s the first time that it’s been done so I didn’t have a lot to go on.”
Not allowing precedent to restrain her, Su contacted a handful of organizations in the D.C. area, and helped the trip come to fruition.
“By being able to volunteer over spring break and to brighten the days of those people whom we served, I am proud to say that I am a part of an honors program that is full of humble and kind people,” said Rebecca Lang (BSBA’14).
“We worked hard, played hard, and relaxed in-between,” said Sahiba Chopra (BSBA’14). “And we left DC with the satisfaction of knowing that we actually made a difference, however small.”
By Lauren Dezenski
Story via BU ITEC:
Congratulations to Daniel Gnecco (BSBA’12) whose company, KontrolTV, won first place in this year’s 12th annual $50K New Venture Competition. KontrolTV’s mission is to design an application that would make it possible to use a mobile phone like a television remote control, allowing the user to find and launch TV listings. The application would also allow you to see what your friends are watching on TV in real time. Gnecco started his company with his father, Juan Pablo Gnecco, and Alan Queen, an engineer from Gnecco’s hometown of Atlanta.
In addition to winning BU’s Competition, Gnecco has landed $500,000 in seed money from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. KontrolTV was also selected as the winner of the TeleEMG People’s Choice Award, representing the company the audience believed is most likely to succeed.
Landing the second place position was BU alum Michael Adelizzi (ENG’02). His company, Stabiliz Orthopaedics, based in Philadelphia, focuses on developing innovative orthopaedic medical devices for the treatment of traumatic bone fractures. The company’s lead product is a hybrid metallic-resorbable plate and screw system that allows surgeons to customize the healing process, eliminate the need for future surgeries, and reduce overall health care costs. Michael started the company in 2008 with colleagues Douglas Cerynik, MD and Bradley Grossman.
Third place was won by City Fuel Company, headed by Diego Torres-Palma (MBA’13) and MIT graduate Matthew Pearlson. City Fuel is a small-scale renewable fuel technology company that plans to put Massachusetts at the leading edge of renewable energy and transportation technology. Its technology can convert new and used vegetable oils into fuels and chemicals.
Judges for the competition include: Louis Volpe (MBA’78), Kodiak Venture Partners; Charles Lax (BSBA’82), Grandbanks Capital; Eugene Hill (MBA’80), SV Life Sciences; and David Verrill, Hub Angels Investment Group.
The $50K New Venture Competition is generously supported by ITEC’s valued business partners: Cummings Properties, GrandBanks Capital, Kodiak Venture Partners, Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, Paul Horn & Associates, SV Life Sciences, TeleEMG, and WilmerHale.
Eyes on the Prize
Story via BU Today:
Like any entrepreneur with an idea for a start-up, Daniel Gnecco dreams of scoring a 15-minute meeting with a venture capitalist. Tonight, his dream becomes reality.
Gnecco (SMG’12) is one of four finalists in BU’s annual $50K New Venture Competition. Beginning at 6 p.m., each will have 20 minutes to pitch his company to a panel of Boston venture capitalists. But win or lose, Gnecco says, the real prize is getting facetime with prominent members of the Boston business community.
“To have some of Boston’s most well-known people in industry validate your ideas will raise everybody’s eyebrows and generate interest,” says Gnecco. “That interest can turn into investments.”
The contest, now in its 12th year, is sponsored by BU’s Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC). Created to encourage students to write business plans for their start-up companies, it is open to current full- and part-time graduate and undergraduate BU students, as well as all alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years.
“The beauty of having teams write a business plan for the contest is that they learn how to write one; they go through all the thinking that goes into it,” says Beth Goldstein, ITEC senior associate for distance learning, who is in charge of the competition. “Winner or not, they can take the lessons learned from writing a business plan and go and run another company.”
This year’s finalists, selected from 34 entrants, have started companies in life sciences, clean energy, mobile applications, and medical devices, “all cutting-edge industries,” says Goldstein.
Registration is required to attend tonight’s final round of the $50K New Venture Competition, which will be held at 6 p.m. in SMG’s fourth floor dining room, 595 Commonwealth Ave. Refreshments will be served at 5:30 p.m. Read the full story.
A Turn for the Better
On his very first visit to Boston, recent Boston University School of Management (SMG) graduate Charles Ma (BSBA‘11) had his original school search unintentionally deterred in a very interesting way.
Driving around the city with Boston College as their target, the Ma family found themselves stuck in Fenway Park baseball traffic. After making a few evasive turns to beat the stampeding fans, they parked their car and began to walk around.
“Halfway through [the tour] I realized I was at Boston University,” Ma said. “But after it was over, I really liked it. I looked more closely at the School of Management, and decided that BU would be a pretty good fit.”
Born in Shanghai, China, Ma moved to the United States as a young child, first settling in Houston before ending up in Seattle for his middle school and high school education. He was accepted into BU’s Management Honors Program with a scholarship, took the offer, and one semester early of four years, he graduated from SMG with a focus on finance and operations.
Ma found his first job in Boston’s financial district working in banking as an entry level analyst. His long term goal is to spend a few years working in a real world setting before returning to school to earn his MBA, and then going back to banking.
“As an analyst you get to see a lot of different parts of the bank, different operations, and how things are connected,” he said. “Eventually I want to move up to a more managerial position.”
Going above and beyond during his time at Boston University was certainly a factor in his finding work so quickly upon graduation.
“Many employers are interested in more than just academic performance. They also want to know applicants on a personal level: how well you work with others, your attitude, and your motivations,” Ma said. “The activities I was engaged in allowed me to provide concrete examples of leadership, character, and integrity.”
While a student, Ma extended himself in several different situations in his attempt to help both students at the school, and those within the local community.
During his senior year he revived Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), a previously dormant club that connects students with people in the community, and became its president. Ma and a few of his friends focused on assisting local bands by promoting their music in the neighborhoods where they performed.
“SIFE is still growing,” Ma said. “My friends who are still active have been recruiting new participants.”
He also served as a TA (teacher’s assistant), working in a statistics class for three semesters. It was a role he enjoyed because of the immediate results he could witness in helping other students learn.
However, what may have been most fulfilling during Ma’s undergraduate career was working as a resident assistant at Warren Towers his junior year.
Every student under Ma’s care was a freshman, and the experience of helping incoming students assimilate into a new environment—experiences he himself had “survived”—was memorable.
Along with assisting with the unpredictable rigors of college life, Ma helped students on his floor who applied to the Honors Program by answering questions, and going out of his way to write recommendations on their behalf.
During RA appreciation week, the students on his floor decorated Ma’s door and presented him with a giant “Thank You” card: a small gesture with a great deal of meaning.
“I made many lasting relationships while at BU,” Ma said. “But the most meaningful came when I made positive impacts on the lives of others.”
Signs of spring in SMG’s lobby? No, the initialed Starbucks cups are part of a student sustainability project distributing 500 reusable mugs to the SMG community. Posters will show the number of cups saved by using the mugs and the impact on water and energy and advocate for more sustainability. Teaming up on the effort are the Net Impact Club, Sustainabilty@BU, SMG Student Government, and business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi.
Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University Photography via BU Today
Undergraduate members of Net Impact helped distribute stainless steel cups in the School’s Starbucks this week. From left, Erich Staib (BSBA ’12), project coordinator Joe Nangle (BSBA ’12), Becca Farmer (BSBA ’12), and Lara Hages, exchange student from Technische Universitat Dresden, Germany.
First Year Student Outreach Project (FYSOP) coordinators Will Cox (SMG ’12) and Katy Ruderman (SED ’12), and volunteers Rebecca Brown (CFA ’14) and Andrew Wasserstein (COM ’14), talk about FYSOP’s latest volunteer addition: urban renewal.
In particular, Cox discusses fixing a gap in the FYSOP model to better support urban renewal and the City of Boston.
(Photos by Kalman Zabarsky)
Emily Pallotta, SMG Student Athlete.