Category: Graduate Students
Management students learn and lead grant-making process
A team of seven Boston University graduate students awarded a $10,000 grant from the Highland Street Foundation to Housing Families Inc. on December 6 to improve the shelter’s technology infrastructure. “As part of the Strategic Fundraising and Corporate Philanthropy class,” said David Stolow, Faculty Director of the Public and Nonprofit MBA program, “the student team operated as a small foundation. They set priorities, designed an application and review process, and conducted in-depth site visits.”
The student team received initial applications from 21 shelter providers, and selected ten to submit full proposals, before choosing Health Families to receive the grant. The student team was composed of full-time and part-time MBA students, and a student from the BU School of Social Work. “The Public and Nonprofit MBA program emphasizes authentic projects. We challenge students to apply their rigorous management skills to address urgent and complex social issues,” said Stolow. “The philanthropy project exemplifies our approach and we’re grateful to the Highland Street Foundation and its Youth Philanthropy Initiative for its generous support of this project.”
In photo: Boston University students and Highland Street Foundation members present a check to Housing Families Inc, a local shelter.
Entrepreneurial Success Starts With a Strong Pitch
Would you shop at a natural products convenience store? Can you think of a way to use a portable hologram projector? These were two of the 25 new business ideas proposed at the Pitch & Pizza event on October 26, the first stage in the three-part 2013 New Venture Competition. Open to the public, the New Venture Competition features BU students and alumni competing for the opportunity to win a spot in BU’s Startup Summer Camp and a package of startup legal consulting worth $10,000.
From October’s Pitch & Pizza, eight teams or individuals advanced to the semifinals in March (listed below, and pictured in the video above).
BU students and alumni with a business idea are invited to enter the next round of Pitch & Pizza on Friday, February 1, 2013. Applications will open in January.
The first stage of the New Venture Competition, Pitch & Pizza, is simply a 60-second verbal pitch for a new business. The judges allow visual aids, but no PowerPoint. In the semifinals (Friday, March 1, 2013), the deliverable is an executive summary and presentation to a panel of experts. At the finals (Wednesday, April 3), teams will deliver a five-minute presentation and executive summary to angel investors.
Executive-in-Residence, Lecturer, and event director Beth Goldstein said, “[The judges] were all impressed with the range of business concepts presented at Pitch & Pizza I, and we look forward to seeing more at Pitch & Pizza II in February and how all the winning entrepreneurs move forward with their projects. To support their efforts, we’ve developed a new program called our Terrier Track New Venture Workshops, which we’ll begin rolling out as soon as students return for their spring semester in January. These will be 90-minute intensive workshops every Friday afternoon, led by experts in launching businesses. Anybody can participate and we’re planning on offering this on the cloud so our alumni can also watch.”
The New Venture Competition is sponsored by the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC), housed in Boston University School of Management, and first stage judges include SMG entrepreneurship faculty, invited alumni, and sponsors from the venture capital, legal, and entrepreneurship worlds.
The eight October 26 Pitch & Pizza teams that will advance to the March semifinals are:
- Consumer Website Help, Peter Smith (BSBA’13)
- Customized Cupcake Bar, Jill Acquarulo, (BSBA’13), Soleil Schwabe (BSBA’13), and Emily Burdett (BSBA’13)
- DiagnosQuick (People’s Choice Winner), Timothy Chanoux (BSBA’13)
- euMetrica Project, Dmitri Boulanov (ENG’10)
- I.Deal.Lokal, Sinisa Baranac (BSBA’13)
- NineBrain, Inc., Arun Rai, (MED’14) and Ruby Kandah
- Read Ahead, Matt Uvena (MS·MBA’14)
- TownRally, Asad Butt (MBA/MS in Media Ventures ’12)
Twelve elite teams to compete in DePuy Synthes Spine-sponsored challenge
The 1st Annual Global Health Sector Interdisciplinary Case Competition is an invitation-only 24-hour case competition that challenges top MBA students to solve a health sector market challenge related to medical devices in the global health sector.
Eleven student teams from the world’s leading MBA programs will join host BU to compete before industry judges, including senior leadership from event sponsor DePuy Synthes. The competition is unique due to its interdisciplinary nature; in addition to MBA students, every team must also include a public health, medicine, engineering, or law student.
The competition recognizes the best up-and-coming MBA strategists who understand real-world business issues within the health sector and can create valuable recommendations for DePuy Synthes Spine. Additionally, student teams are able to showcase their talents to top executives in the health sector field.
“Case competitions are great practice for working in a high functioning team to deliver a quality solution under a very tight timetable,” said Sam Schweizer, MBA’13 in Health Sector Management, who is helping to project manage the case competition and related events. “This competition is also a fantastic opportunity to network with students from other graduate schools and judges from the business world.”
Participating schools include:
- Boston University School of Management
- CEIBS (China Europe International Business School)
- Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
- Fuqua School of Business, Duke University
- Harvard Business School, Harvard University
- Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
- Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad
- IPADE Business School, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico
- Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
- Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
- Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College and The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science
The top three teams will receive cash prizes of $20,000, $7,500, and $5,000, respectively.
Boston University School of Management hosted an internal competition October 6-7, 2012 to select BU’s case competition team. “The field was very strong,” said Mark Allan, faculty director of the School’s Health Sector Management Program.
The winning team chosen to represent Boston University consisted of three MBA students, Anshu Mironi, Matt Scott, and David Spotts, and one dual MD/MBA student, Sunil Nair. “The internal selection round gave the winning team a chance to work together in the competitive setting,” said Schweizer.
The 1st Annual Global Health Sector Interdisciplinary Case Competition is scheduled for November 1-3, 2012, with final presentations, an award ceremony, and a reception scheduled for Saturday, November 3. For more information and to RSVP for final presentations, please visit the case competition website. Events are open to the entire BU community.
Education Pioneers: Career Options Beyond the Classroom
Sometimes internships can reveal unforeseen opportunities.
With summer 2012 internships as Education Pioneer fellows, six Boston University full-time MBAs, all class of 2013 students with a concentration in the Public & Nonprofit Program, worked on diverse projects, and all for the cause of better public school management. Each came away with a new understanding of how education works—and how management principles can make things work better.
Education Pioneers (EP) is a national program that focuses on attracting leadership and management talent for positions in school systems outside the classroom. The program exposes business students to the research, management, and organizational challenges that are similar to those in many businesses and nonprofits.
Dana Connolly worked in San Francisco with the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), a network of 125 charter schools serving more than 39,000 students across the country. “My specific role,” says Connolly, “was to support the Talent Team, which is responsible for the acquisition, development, and retention of ‘superstars’ who will maintain the extraordinary momentum of The KIPP Foundation, which supports the KIPP network.” She created the group’s first ever “State of the Talent” report to analyze trends in turnover rates, professional development opportunities, alignment with core values, and other aspects that define the nature of the talent at the Foundation.
Pammi Bhullar chose to become an EP fellow “to gain a deeper understanding of the education sector, and to learn how knowledge of organizational development can help to improve student achievement.” She worked at Boston Public Schools (BPS) in the Finance and Budget Office, where she collaborated with central office and school leaders to build a culture of documenting and effectively communicating policies and procedures.
“By the end of the internship,” Bhullar says, “I documented fifteen processes,
created a standard template for future documentation, and created a centralized location in the form of a wiki for school leaders and department heads, among other tasks. Hopefully our work will enable BPS to decrease the time spent on transactional issues and more time on empowering school leaders to make financial decisions.”
At Educate Texas, Matt Roper worked on the programmatic strategies tied to organizational goals: more effective teachers and more students with the access and skills required for postsecondary education. “My main role,” Roper explained, “involved identifying specific metrics to measure the performance of their strategies and the progress toward their organizational goals.”
Sonal Dhingra spent her EP summer traveling across the US making movies. “My project was to create the digital and social media presence for Curriculum Associates’ relatively new education-technology product, i-Ready. This footage will be used to build up the organization’s YouTube channel and expand CA’s social media footprint.”
With her noneducational background (State Street and then AmeriCorps), Dhingra says, “I basically thought you could only be a teacher or a principal in education. But after this summer, I’ve learned that there are so many more things going on in this sector, and I’m excited to see firsthand that digital and social media marketing are a part of it.”
“Prior to the fellowship, I’ve worked as a management consultant focusing on process redesign among other roles,” says Renato Orozco. He became an EP Fellow to learn how to use data analysis, monitoring, and evaluation to drive impact in the social field. Orozco’s assignment was with Teach For America in New York City, and his work helped the organization to make changes in teachers’ preparation, support, and development.
“Apart from the high level workshops that deepened my understanding of education, the relationship-building with other like-minded fellows was fantastic,” Orozco says. He paired up with other EP fellows who had innovative ideas for start-up social ventures.
“In October, we’ll be launching a pilot project in two Brazilian towns. It’s a youth-led, community-executed approach to social and economic development in small towns. It uses common methods and tools that businesses employ to reduce cost or raise productivity, but we use them to reduce infant mortality or to raise school performance.”
“While I was already certain that I would return to the field of education after business school,” says Rachel Alexander, “the fellowship helped me refine my understanding of the type of organization where I’d like to work: one that is nimble, collaborative, and moving the field forward in a significant way.” Alexander worked with Boston After School and Beyond, a public-private partnership dedicated to supporting, strengthening, and expanding Boston’s after-school sector.
“I researched funding sources and best practices to build a comprehensive development strategy for 2013,” says Alexander. “The program catalyzes partnerships between school staff, community-based out-of-school-time providers, and other key stakeholders, allowing them to align their work and match more students with quality summer and after-school programs.”
Public & Nonprofit Program Faculty Director David Stolow commented that the school’s partnership with Education Pioneers enables BU’s MBA students to apply management skills across multiple sectors. “Our Education Pioneers worked in diverse settings. The common bond in their experience was the opportunity to apply core ideas from their management education to create value for students, schools, and communities.”
In photo: Six MBA’13 students completed internships with Education Pioneers. Front, from left, Renato Orozco and Matt Roper. Back, from left, Dana Connolly, Sonal Dhingra, Rachel Alexander, and Pammi Bhullar.
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.
BU Urban Business Accelerator Wins for Students and Businesses
Some business students just don’t relax. Even over the summer.
As a junior, Nathan Bernard (BSBA’12) pitched an idea to Ken Freeman, the Allen Questrom Professor and Dean, about providing microfinancing to Boston-area small businesses. The dean was interested, but wanted more details.
During his senior year, Bernard’s goal was to apply his skills in an arena that would help others, particularly in underserved areas of the city, and in the process hopefully create his own job. He worked with numerous members of the School’s Institute for Technology and Entrepreneurship Commercialization (ITEC) community, including Kristen McCormack, Peter Russo, Beth Goldstein, and Ian Mashiter, and was eventually steered to SMG Strategy & Innovation Lecturer Erik Molander, who became the program’s mentor.
Part of Bernard’s preparation involved door-to-door research—he interviewed more than 180 small companies to ascertain their needs. Through his previous international experience he discussed the concept with the organization ACCION, a global nonprofit that has been microlending for years. People in the local office of ACCION told Bernard that businesses first need better organized financials and bookkeeping in order to apply for loans.
“Then it all clicked,” Bernard says. “Microlending is probably covered. We shifted to thinking this would be a superb opportunity for students to get hands-on experience and for businesses to get much-needed help in an area where they probably lacked expertise. Plus it was a much better way for students to see small businesses up close, and help those entrepreneurs advance, financially and educationally.” He went back to the dean with his revised plan and the dean was impressed—so much so that he suggested the names of a few alumni who might be willing to help Bernard finance the project. Joel Carlton-Gysan (MBA’12) and Jeffery Khan, both of the development and alumni office, provided guidance in successfully working with the alumni.
With the alumni funds secured, Bernard recruited students and businesses and launched the pilot of the BU Urban Business Accelerator this past summer with the help and daily guidance of Molander.
The 2012 BUBA summer clients were D’Benny’s, a pizza shop and A. Dalliance, a fashion boutique, both in the Field’s Corner section of Dorchester. “In each case,” Bernard says, “students did research for industry norms, looked at the client’s specific business for gaps and similarities, and then used QuickBooks to help the business owners organize their financial records and comb the data for ways to cut costs. They then taught the owners how to do it themselves.”
The two summer pilot teams totaled six undergrads and two MBAs, and were drawn from both the School of Management as well as economics and international relations majors from the College of Arts and Science.
Bernard says, “Most of the students were surprised how much work goes into a small owner-operated business. It’s extremely hard to stay organized while running the day-to-day operations, maintain customer service, keep the inventory well-stocked, and so on.
“Owning your own business, especially in a less affluent neighborhood, is not an easy way to make a living. There are few vacations and little help. It’s all on you and there’s real value for idealistic students to witness a small business owner’s life,” Bernard added.
“The dean and ITEC have been extremely supportive,” says Bernard, “Dean Freeman has the School sponsoring us for this fall semester, along with financial support from the BU Center for Finance Law and Policy. From what we learned this summer, we set up six new BUBA client businesses and student teams for this fall.”
The program is already a success by another measure as well. On September 20th, Nathan Bernard gave his entrepreneurial pitch on MSNBC’s Your Business.
As one might imagine, Bernard’s confidence is boundless. “There are tons of businesses across the country that could benefit from help provided by university students. And I just happen to know a few…so my hope—my plan—is to make this a national program powered by BU.”
See an article from The Huffington Post on BUBA.
“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.
BU helps EMBA student in India via Skype
Excerpts from BU Today:
It could have meant the end of his BU education.
Just a few months short of graduation, Abhijit Mhetre had traveled home to India with classmates for a nine-day trip to Mumbai and New Delhi when he got some bad news. Immigration officials told him he would not be allowed to return to the United States because of complications with his visa. At the time, Mhetre feared having to resign from the Graduate School of Management’s Executive MBA program (EMBA).
“Staying in India wasn’t my choice,” says Mhetre (GSM’12). “It was forced upon me, and it could have been disastrous if I had not been able to complete the program.”
He knew that to successfully finish the program’s requirements, he’d have to be able to actively participate in classes and group projects, so he started brainstorming. He came up with an unorthodox idea: what if he could participate in classes from India via the free videoconferencing program Skype? Using Skype would mean that Mhetre could view classes and even ask questions.
“I interviewed Abhijit when he first applied to our program, and it was clear how excited he was about the program,” says EMBA director Janice Dolnick, who was one of the first people Mhetre went to with his idea. “It was a very big deal to him, so we were committed to helping him graduate. He’s a great ambassador for the program.”
But the idea would work only with the help and coordination of Mhetre’s classmates and GSM professors and staff.
“The Executive MBA program is small and we work as a team, so we know all of the students on a personal level,” says Peter Russo, an SMG executive-in-residence and director of entrepreneurship programs for the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization (ITEC). “We all understand what needed to happen, and how to get through it to allow Abhijit to graduate. But this was the first time anything like this has happened.”
Read the full story on BU Today.
Story by Amy Laskowski. Photo courtesy of Abhijit Mhetre via BU Today.
Multidisciplinary Team Shines in Complex Healthcare Case
The examples and rewards of Boston University President Robert Brown’s concept of “One BU” continue to roll in.
This time, it was an interdisciplinary team of students carrying off second place in a 23-university case competition.
A Boston University team of six with three MBA/MPH students, an MD/MBA student, a medical student, and a doctoral student in biomedical engineering came in second out of 23 teams in the Global Health Case Competition at Emory University on March 31. The home team, Emory, won. This is the first time BU competed in this event.
Boston University also won the “Audience Choice Award” voted by their peers in the contest.
The team members were Ivan Busulwa (MBA/MPH’12), Darash Desai (ENG’14), Meg Meyer (MBA/MPH’12), Sunil Nair (MD/MBA’13), Catherine Shih (MBA/MPH’13), and Daniel Silva (MED’15).
The multidisciplinary competition, developed and coordinated by the Emory Global Health Institute’s Student Advisory Committee, includes graduate and undergraduate students from numerous fields including agricultural and life sciences, business, engineering, law, medicine, nursing, public health, theology, the social sciences and the humanities.
The Global Health Contest is designed to raise awareness of and develop innovative solutions for 21st century global health issues. Teams receive a global health-related case that requires an interdisciplinary approach to formulate recommendations that may involve issues such as health care policy, public health implementation and planning, business partnership/investment, medical research, logistics management, faith/cultural understanding, and international law.
The 2012 case had political overtones as well as health and development issues. The question was: “Develop a strategy for Canadian aid to Sri Lanka that deals with the health and resettlement issues of the Tamil population, keeping in mind the resistance of the Sinhalese government to accusations of war crimes and persecution, and recognizing the presence of a great many Tamil refugees in Canada.”
The US teams were Boston University, Claremont Graduate University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Northwestern University, Princeton University, Tulane University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of California at San Francisco, University of Chicago, University of Miami, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University, Yale University, and Yeshiva University.
The international teams were Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, McGill University (Canada), Universidad de los Andes (Colombia), and the University of Oxford (UK). Additionally, the University of British Columbia and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel) competed in a pilot contest via video stream, which took place at the same time as the full case competition.
One of the great advantages of a case competition is displaying your talents to a corporate sponsor. Sometimes this happens in the competition itself, and often it happens behind the scenes.
Following the 2011 International Tech Strategy Business Case Competition, sponsored by Ericsson, seven Boston University MBA students accepted jobs with the Swedish-based telecommunications giant. Each of the students mentioned below traveled a slightly different path, but all attribute their success to the connections they made during the competition or the intensive days of preparation beforehand.
A Broadband Connection
During the weeks leading up to the 2010 case competition, Arvind Patravali’s (MS•MBA’11) responsibilities working on the event included helping dozens of visitors feel comfortable on their trip to Boston by setting them up in hotels and taking care of logistical issues. Among the guests were top executives from Ericsson, the competition’s main sponsor. The event allowed Patravali to turn his background in engineering into a wonderful job opportunity.
Over drinks one night, an Ericsson senior manager asked Patravali what he had planned for the summer. With no job on the horizon, the manager instructed Patravali to forward his resume to her after the competition. A couple of months later he began a three-month internship that, upon his graduation from BU a year later, became a full-time job. Patravali is currently working in the mobile broadband area of Ericsson out of their Plano, Texas office.
“When I spoke to people [at Ericsson] about connecting people and what they’re doing in the next five years it seemed very interesting,” he said. “It’s always good to be on the cutting edge, which they are.”
Network into the Network
In his two years working on the Ericsson Case Competition, Nathan Robbins (MS•MBA’11) learned a ton of useful information about the importance of networking.
During the event’s opening night each year, he was able to have dinner with the CEO of Ericsson and hear his vision for the company around the globe. “That was when Ericsson was put on the radar for me as a company I would want to work for,” he said. “Not only because of my interest in technology, but their activity in telecommunications, a basic human need, really appealed to me.”
Last year he was committee chairman, overseeing the event and making sure everything went smoothly. Several times throughout the competition, he worked in the same room with approximately 30 of the most senior people at Ericsson.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to get to know major industry players, and with me, a lot of the networking itself was done at the event. With everyone in one place, things happen a lot faster.”
Today, Robbins works as a business analyst, spending his time developing Ericsson’s global strategy and business operations within North America from the company’s office in Plano, Texas.
When she was a high school student in Delhi, India, Kirti Malik (MBA’11) knew she wanted to be a marketing analyst. Working on the Ericsson Case Competition helped her achieve this goal, but in a more subtle way than most of her colleagues.
She worked on the competition’s committee in both 2010 and 2011, helping with organizational tasks and establishing a tournament timeline, but unlike the other students who went on to find immediate work by taking advantage of the event’s various networking opportunities, Malik took a different tack. Instead of approaching Ericsson’s executives during the event’s weekend, she submitted her resume at a BU job fair, and then spoke about her role in the competition’s organization with her interviewer.
“I know a few of my friends made contacts at the competition, and it worked out for them,” Malik said. “But I chose not to talk job opportunities during the competition. Instead, I chose to build some common ground with my interviewer.”
Obviously the approach worked. Today Malik is working in Leawood, Kansas as a marketing analyst for Ericsson.
Familiarity Breeds Respect
Before serving as marketing coordinator for the 2010 International Tech Strategy Business Case Competition, Rahul Nagpal (MBA’11) was targeting Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Google as possible employers for a career in product marketing.
But after the event, during which he spent time creating brochures, updating social media, and blogging for the competition, Nagpal began to shift his interest toward working in telecommunications at Ericsson.
“First and foremost, I got to meet the top executives, which is really helpful,” he said. “The case competition opened doors for me with entering the telecommunications industry.” After meeting Ericsson’s CEO during that weekend, Nagpal decided to approach the company about pursuing a job. Right now he’s a sales account manager working at Ericsson’s Plano, Texas office, handling the company’s T-Mobile account.
“Getting to speak with [Ericsson’s executives] one-on-one was great,” he said. “It was a key opportunity, and a wonderful experience.”
Job Fair to Amazing Job
Last January, Anup Patel (MBA’11) attended a local European job fair with hopes of finding work at a technology-based organization.
Patel, who worked on the International Tech Strategy Business Case Competition in both 2010 and 2011, saw a familiar company name: Ericsson. After submitting his resume, and chatting with the recruiter at the fair, he was contacted four months later and offered a job.
“The relationship I established with [Ericsson] at the case competition helped me,” he said. “How much? I’m not sure, but having talked to the company’s CEO did come up in my interview, and it may have been helpful.”
Today, Patel is working as a business analyst in Plano, Texas, and he couldn’t be happier. “Everyone who works here is willing to learn new things,” he said. “Sometimes people get complacent after being at a company for so long, but the people here want to change with how the industry is changing. It’s amazing.”