Category: Student Profiles

Sara Meinke, MBA’12, Health Sector

October 6th, 2011 in Graduate Student Profiles, HSMP Graduate Profiles, Student Profiles

Sara Meineke

The Business of Biology.

Managing two medical research projects, including a psychiatric clinical drug trial at the University of California, San Diego and a Department of Defense project on post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, inspired Sara Meinke to learn more about the business side of healthcare. “I see how [new drugs] make a difference, so I wanted to be more involved at a higher level and make a bigger impact,” she says.

Though moving from Southern California to Boston brought a bit of culture shock (Meinke admits to missing her car), she settled right into the School of Management’s Health Sector Management Program (HSM). Outside of class, she plays in a coed soccer league and serves as president of the BioBusiness Organization, which connects students to the life sciences community in Boston and beyond.

Meinke says her choice to attend BU was a no-brainer, because HSM had “the best course offerings. We’re in such a robust life sciences community, and I love BU’s friendly culture. It’s somewhere you want to be.”

In between her first and second year, Sara landed a summer internship in global clinical operations at Genzyme, a biotechnology company where she analyzed data and patient information collected during drug development.

In addition to connections and resume help from the Feld Career Center, Sara credits the Integrated Project she completed during first semester with preparing her for the internship.

After a semester on that project with a team of students creating a pitch book on the fake acquisition of a snack product, Sara learned not only business skills but also the ability to work with different personalities in a deadline-driven environment. “I came from a clinical background and I didn’t know anything about business,” she says. “I’d never touched PowerPoint. We did a complete analysis on how we could revitalize the product through financial projections, marketing strategies, analysis of the entire snack food industry. It prepared me for my internship in ways I couldn’t imagine.”

The diversity of her HSM classmates is also preparing her to understand the global nature of healthcare. As Meinke points out, a drug developed in the United States might be available in other parts of the world and regulations in those countries often differ from those in the U.S. “We have people from all corners of the globe, so you learn how industries are run in different countries,” she says. “It’s a much richer experience.”

Once Meinke completes her MBA in 2012, she hopes to gain more experience in clinical operations and use her knowledge to help startup companies develop new medical treatments. With the education and connections she’s gained at BU, Meinke says, “I can help those people make a viable product that can get to market in budget, on time, and efficiently.”

Ricky Guo, PhD Candidate’12

September 28th, 2011 in Graduate Student Profiles, Information Systems, PhD Graduate Profiles, Student Profiles

PhD Studies Citizen Actions on Issue Resolutions.

Growing up in a big factory town in central China, Ricky Guo, PhD candidate 2012, saw businesses cope with mass layoffs even as they tried to innovate with new technologies to survive.

Ricky Guo

Ricky Guo

From those early beginnings in Wuhan, Guo, now 32, became fascinated with how change happens.

“Wu Han was like Pittsburgh with heavy industry trying to be high tech but still struggling with that transition,” said Guo.

For much of his life, Guo has been at home in overlapping disciplines and their real life applications. And his search for answers has taken him far from his home. Guo headed off to New Zealand for his Master’s and still has a slight Kiwi accent from seven years in Auckland. Fortunately his parents encouraged his adventurous nature.

“My parents think you go out there and find your own life; it’s a coward who stays at home.”
After finishing his schooling, Guo remained in Auckland to work as a consultant in Auckland. He said he was struck by the way that people with varying interests and backgrounds overcame conflicts to complete projects. “That’s what was exciting about consulting, pulling people from very diverse backgrounds together,” he said.

It was an experience that resonated for him because during his Master’s studies a professor in New Zealand had suggested he contact BU School of Management (SMG) Associate Professor of Information Systems Paul Carlile because of Carlile’s focus on innovation from a social relations perspective.

“Carlile is curious about how people from diverse backgrounds can come together under one roof and create something totally new,” said Guo. Carlile responded to Guo and soon they struck up a brisk correspondence between New Zealand and Boston. It was a critical exchange, one that led Guo to his academic future.

“I realized that the challenge in the workplace issue was a research question,” and that research was where his future lay.

That prompted him to apply to doctoral programs –focusing on a lifelong dream of earning a PhD in the U.S. and adding to his dream the chance to study with Carlile.

In 2008, Guo started working on his PhD at SMG. His relationship with Carlile has grown, he says, to more of a “discipleship,” and Guo’s interests have evolved from studying information systems to a focus on strategy.

Now he has a cutting edge dissertation proposal that he will defend in September on how the actions of various stakeholders have influenced the outcome during the 10-year permitting and approval process for Cape Wind, America’s first offshore wind farm planned off Cape Cod. Views of the project changed over time in the public and in various agencies and government offices, he said.

“I want to look at what happened and what actions people took to induce what outcome,” Guo said. As a project in a bold new industry, Cape Wind blazed a trail in an area that lacked much regulatory structure. “I looked at the impacts on views of how issues were raised, studied and evaluated over time from 2001 to now” for everyone from the Army Corps of Engineers to the opposition group the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

Guo’s research, which is still preliminary, has focused on why the actions of some stakeholders are more effective than others. For instance, he is comparing the impact of a group that invests in scientific studies to make their point with ones that stage protests or post signs advocating for or against the project.

The research, he said, is more about the process than the wind farm per se. It could be based on any significant public project. “The question is which strategy have people taken and how those strategies have produced different results.”

The dissertation would break new ground, he said, because prior research has not linked people’s actions with outcomes.

Guo said that a year from now he plans to be writing his dissertation and looking for a job in academia.

Already, he said, he has learned a lot by living on campus and keeping company not only with his own cohort but also with graduate students outside SMG. He said he loves to engage the mathematicians, biologists, and law students on his research.

“If I don’t make sense to a law student then I reflect on how it is that I can make my proposal meaningful to others,” he said. “If we stay in the business school we take too many things for granted.”

Evan Gross, BSBA ’12

March 9th, 2011 in Student Profiles, Undergraduate Student Profiles

A Mayor in the Making?

evan-grossListening to him talk a mile a minute and watching the excitement build on his face, it’s easy to see how junior Evan Gross (BSBA ’12) convinced the City Council of his hometown, Scarsdale, N.Y., to choose him over other candidates as the councilman for Youth Affairs.

“When I spoke with the village trustees about why they should choose me, I explained that I could offer the most unique perspective. I had just graduated from the high school and could give insight into youth affairs that most adults couldn’t possibly dream of. And I thought it would freshen up not only the board itself but the way it’s perceived by others as well.”

City Council isn’t the only thing Evan’s talked his way into. Being a huge baseball fan (and a proud Yankees supporter) and having umpired local baseball games since the eighth grade, Evan also co-manages the Little League of Scarsdale with his best friend Matt Ursillo, who attends Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.—all the way from Boston. “We put together a formal pitch for the board of directors that oversees the League,” he says. “Since we go to different universities about 300 miles from home, they asked us how we would do it. We came up with a comprehensive outline for spring break training and effectively scheduling games.”

That was two years ago, and they’re still running the program from afar, with great success, Evan adds. They manage more than 50 people involved in the league and have recently been asked to take over the management of a Fall Ball program. Sometimes they have to drop everything they’re doing in their respective cities to deal with umpires canceling an hour before a scheduled game, but in the two years since they’ve taken over the league, not a single game has gone uncovered.

“It’s a lot of fun and gives us a chance to work with parents, help kids in the community, and stay involved with baseball and my hometown. It’s one of the most fun things I do. It’s a junior version of what I hope to do someday in management. It’s definitely taught me how to deal with different types of personalities and adapt to different kinds of people.”

Evan was fueled to do volunteer work because he wanted to make a difference in his community. “It was the idea that things are great, but…” he said, “I could definitely see a couple things going in a better direction.” As an example, he tells the story of the senior internship required at his high school and how he was able to effect change. “The guidelines and rules they designed for the internship were so horrendous that I had to let the school administration know they had a problem. When I graduated, they asked me to come back and become an advisor. So I was happy that other students could benefit from my feedback.”

Evan is particularly happy to help the youth in his community. “Schools are the most important thing in a community. If you can shape them, you can shape the way your town evolves.”

He feels so strongly about this that he’s considering running for mayor of Scarsdale in the next election. “Local politics are more interesting because you know the people and the issues, and you can really relate and effect change.

“When you come across issues that impact your daily life, or the daily lives of those around you, you have to stand up,” he says. “And from my experience, I’ve found that when you find the right person to talk to you and offer your opinion in a respectful and intelligent way, you’d be surprised how easily you can change things.”

It’s clear that when Evan puts his mind to something, he doesn’t stop until he achieves it. Last year, when he and seven other male students got together for the College of General Studies’ Capstone project, a 50-page research paper, he was told that an 8-man team would never win. Evan, the team leader, wanted to prove the naysayers wrong. He gave his team a motto—”If you’re not first, you’re last”—and flung himself into the project. The group wrote a comprehensive new outline on global warming and devised a mathematical formula to determine who was emitting what and in what capacity. Out of 17 teams, Evan’s group won the Capstone Award, which they received during Parents Weekend this past fall.

If he doesn’t win mayoralty in Scarsdale, Evan would like to go into accounting after graduation, following in the footsteps of his father. “Accounting just makes sense to me,” he says. “Money helps determine everything.”

If all else fails, he’d be perfectly happy as the commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Severine Cukierman, BSBA’12

March 8th, 2011 in Student Profiles, Undergraduate Student Profiles

Right At Home – Where Passion and Academics Meet.

Severine Cukierman
Severine Cukierman (BSBA ’12) is a very busy woman. “As soon as I visited SMG, I knew it was where I wanted to be. I felt right at home.” While it seems like a common sentiment, for Severine Cukierman (BSBA ’12), home has always been a fluid concept. Raised in Miami, Florida, Cukierman has had roots in a diverse collection of locales. “My mother is Dominican and my father is French,” she explains, “so I was brought up speaking English, Spanish, and French in my household, as well as traveling to Paris and to the Dominican Republic throughout my childhood.”

Cukierman’s cultural background contributed heavily to her academic pursuits. The majority of her classes in middle school were conducted in French, and she now speaks five languages, including Italian, which she learned here at BU. Her scholastic strengths don’t end there. Prior to SMG, Cukierman attended the Maritime and Science Technology Academy, a magnet high school for math and science in Miami. She continues to excel in her coursework at SMG, and was recently awarded the Arnold L. Beatrice Linter Scholarship for her academic distinction.

She credits her parents with giving her the tools to accomplish her goals. “I watched them struggle to raise me and give me the essentials; they always put me first and supported me,” she shares, “I’m the first in my family to attend college and eventually plan to go to law school. I’m extremely driven to be successful.”

“Dancing is my getaway.”

Outside of class, Cukierman’s energy and focus are often dedicated to dancing. An avid dancer since the age of five, she has worked as an instructor at In Motion Dance Center in her hometown of Miami, and is currently a member of Vibes, an all-female hip hop group here at BU. “Dancing is my getaway,” she reveals, “it’s something I do for myself.” However, the future could hold an opportunity to combine her academic and athletic passions, as she plans to pursue a career in entertainment law, with an eventual focus on the management side of the music industry. She has also worked as an intern for Gamble Sports Management, an independent basketball agency, and is an active member of the SMG community, serving as a Dean’s Host and working with incoming freshmen as a student advisor during summer orientation.

Cukierman plans to graduate in the spring, a year earlier than the traditional four-year college experience, and from there, intends to add to the list of diverse places she has lived. “I’d like to take a year or two off to go abroad, learn another language, and work in a field that’s out of my comfort zone,” she states. Though her destination is not yet definite, with her powerful determination and impressive set of skill and talents, Cukierman should easily fit right in and make herself at home.

Liri Kovalski, BSBA ’11

March 7th, 2011 in Student Profiles, Undergraduate Student Profiles

Liri KovalskiThe last question I asked Liri Kovalski (BSBA ’11) during our interview was about her plans for the future, which include applying to law school and expanding her real estate management business. But then she told me, “There’s a Hebrew saying that I’ll translate into English for you: ‘The man makes plans, and God laughs.’” I knew exactly what she meant, and laughed heartily at the simple truth of it. But the more I thought about it, the more I doubted whether she really buys it. After all, just half an hour earlier, she was explaining to me, like it was a simple empirical fact of nature, “When I decide something, it happens.”

From what she tells me about herself, that sounds a lot more likely. Liri began working at age 12 (though she didn’t have to), because she “never wanted to be dependent on people.”

At 17, she started as a hostess at local bars in Tel Aviv, only to quickly transition into a very profitable event producer/PR manager, much to the chagrin of the seasoned industry veterans around her.

“Both of my older brothers went into the family business, and it was assumed that I would too. But I wanted to make it for myself with no connections in Israel, to prove that I could.”

“Most of my competitors were 30-plus-year-old men. Not only was I the only lady in the industry, but I was also the youngest. Most of them had already pursued their degrees. At first they didn’t take me seriously, but after a few events I threw succeeded, they started contacting me with offers to cooperate. I started doing more serious event production, including premieres of the Israeli So You Think You Can Dance and the movie of a famous local actor.”

Like all Israelis, Liri was drafted into the Israeli Defense Force for two years when she was 18. But unlike others, that didn’t mean she was going to quit her job. She convinced her superiors to let her continue conducting PR business anyway.

A few years later, having fulfilled her duty to the army, while saving some money on the side, Liri left her home in Israel to begin a new life on her own. She knew she wanted to be in Boston, ultimately to study law, and to try her hand at real estate like her father had before her.

“Both of my older brothers went into the family business, and it was assumed that I would too,” she says. “But I wanted to make it for myself with no connections in Israel, to prove that I could.”

Coming from Israel, Liri didn’t enter college with any AP credits, but nonetheless she is scheduled to graduate from the School of Management this May, a year early. Meanwhile, she was the teaching assistant for freshman-year business classes SM121 and SM122, and this year is the head teaching assistant for all freshman business courses.

As if that weren’t enough, Liri is already following one of her dreams: Last year, she bought a residential property in the South End, which she manages, in partnership with her father. And this year she is looking to make her second real estate investment in the Boston area. Her partnership with her father, who has been a constant supporter and mentor, is 50/50. “I do most of the management work because my father lives in Israel, but I’m happy to be in partnership with him,” she says. “I cherish his opinion and experience—my father did it the same way with his parents.”

She credits her grandparents and father with her interest and success in real estate. Having moved to Israel after the Holocaust with almost nothing, her grandparents always put any extra money they had into real estate.

“I think that was an inspiration to me,” she says. “I learned from them and my father, who followed in their footsteps as I am in his, that real estate is a means of securing yourself financially long-term. It enables you to do things that you love while being sure that tomorrow you won’t starve, because only two generations ago, my grandparents were in a situation where they did starve.”

Andres Macias, MSMF’12

January 11th, 2011 in Graduate Student Profiles, MSMF Graduate Profiles, Student Profiles

Talks About His Background and Experience at the School of Management

Andres Macias, MSMF ‘12 (photo credit: Adriane Dean)

Andres Macias, MSMF ‘12 (photo credit: Adriane Dean)

On Life Before BU:

“I received my BA in actuarial science from Anahuac University in Mexico City.

“After graduation, I worked for several years in risk management for Santander Financial Group. Since I was part of a small department, I also had the chance to get involved in other areas, and I got more interested in finance that way.”

On Choosing School of Management:

“I wanted to continue developing my analytical skills, and the Master in Mathematical Finance (MSMF) Program offered by Boston University was the perfect opportunity.

“It gives a great importance to the theory but also to the practice. We learn mathematical tools to solve complex financial problems and we actually put them into practice, which many schools don’t do.”

On The Math Finance Experience:

“The experience in the program has been incredible so far. All the classes have been very valuable to our education, and even if this semester was predominantly theoretical, it is very interesting to see how all of the different aspects are connected. I can just imagine how exciting the next two semesters are going to be.

“My favorite course this semester was Stochastic Calculus for Finance II, taught by Professor Kardaras. It was the most challenging one, but also the one I learned the most from.”

On Looking Toward the Future:

“I am looking forward to going back to work in the financial industry and putting into practice the tools I’m learning now. Risk management is a field that I loved working in, but I would like to try something different—hopefully involving the pricing or analysis of complex derivative securities.”

On Life Outside of School:

“I like sports, swimming, and jogging. I also love music. I’m terrible at playing musical instruments, but I enjoy going to concerts.”

Learn more about the Mathematical Finance Program at Boston University School of Management.

Ben Lawrence, PhD’11

September 28th, 2010 in Graduate Student Profiles, Marketing, PhD Graduate Profiles, Student Profiles

Ben LawrenceRaised in Indonesia by British parents till he was 18, Ben Lawrence (PhD ’11) came to the states in 1993 to study hospitality at the Hotel School at Cornell University.

From there he studied marketing at Texas A&M, where he earned his MBA. Initially interested in the idea of brand communities and social influence, Ben began the PhD program at BU with a focus on the consumer. After taking a class as a PhD student with the School’s Marketing Department Chair Patrick Kaufmann on distribution channels, he realized there was a place where social relations and distribution merged: in the study of franchisee/franchisor relationships. It was a topic that, until that point, had barely been touched. He quickly chose the area for his dissertation.

Historically, franchise relationships have been viewed from an economic lens, through which the franchisor is labeled as the principal and the franchisee as a self-interested agent. But Ben’s research looks at franchisees as embedded actors in a social context. These contexts can include union-like structures called independent franchisee associations that often mediate the relationship between franchisee and franchisor, and may influence the way individual franchisees identify with their franchisors.

“As franchisees gain more power in these union-like structures, their ability to resist mandated change and system-wide adaption increases,” says Ben. “But the more they can relate to the franchisor, the more they will become collaborators, as opposed to obstacles.”

“Current assumptions in the franchising literature aren’t necessarily reflected in the day-to-day reality of franchise systems that are in operation.”

The idea of looking at these relationships in a social context, rather than as purely dyadic, is new, as is the approach that Ben took to his research. Where others had studied these relationships from a distant, quantitative point of view, Ben took a qualitative, in-the-field perspective that included in-depth interviews as well as ethnographic fieldwork such as attending franchisee conferences and social gatherings. It was at these events that he observed firsthand how franchisees relate to each other—and often don’t relate to the franchisor.

“Once you go into the field, you understand that current assumptions in the franchising literature aren’t necessarily reflected in the day-to-day reality of franchise systems in operation,” Ben says.

He observed other behavioral nuances, too, that uprooted the usual thoughts on franchise systems. For one, he found that the franchisee is more often viewed as the stable partner in the relationship, rather than the franchisor. This is because there is high turnover in the senior leadership and ownership of many companies, but meanwhile, there are organizations with relatively low turnover in franchisees, who often pass their franchise down through generations. The franchisees often perceive this discrepancy in stability to mean that they are the more dedicated stewards of the company brand, rather than the company itself. According to Ben, this identity instability on the part of the franchisors is critical to the understanding of the franchisee-franchisor relationship and the development of franchisee-based communal organizations.

“Franchisors in general haven’t really taken to the idea yet that the brand matters to the franchisee,” says Ben.

“If the franchisor doesn’t stake claim to the brand, then the franchisee can—and often does. And when the franchisee association is seen as the legitimate keepers of the brand, rather than the company, then franchisees can appropriate the meanings of the brand and use them to strengthen their opposition to the franchisor and its strategic objectives.

“My advice to franchisors based on my research would be twofold: One, you need to think of your identity not only in relation to how your customers perceive you, but also how your franchisees view the organization. Second, you need to understand that the management of franchisee-based organizations is critical to your ability to adapt and compete in the marketplace.”

Ben is currently conducting survey work to investigate the potential benefit of intrinsic mechanisms such as identification in aligning franchisee and franchisor.