Senior Vikas Pisipati’s very first volunteer experience as a junior in high school was prompted by an interest in the medical field. So he raised some money himself, left his Wexford, Penn., home for the summer, and made his way to Guatemala City, where he worked as a volunteer at an orphanage for mentally and physically challenged children.
“There were about 25 kids at the orphanage,” Vik says, “and only three nuns to take care of all of them, so they relied heavily on volunteers for help. I hadn’t had much prior experience working with children at the time, especially those with such challenges. Many of them weren’t able to speak or walk. It felt really great to know that I had helped to make their lives a little happier.”
Thus, an interest in medicine evolved into a passion for volunteering.
When he got back to the states, Vik threw himself into fundraising for nonprofits. He started a club at his high school and constantly brainstormed new entrepreneurial ways to fundraise, just waiting for his next chance to go abroad and help in person.
He finally got it his sophomore year at the School of Management, where he majors in operations and technology management.
“I had read an article that said that the state of India where my family is originally from has the highest number of HIV and AIDS cases,” says Vik. “That really intrigued me, and I wanted to find out why.”
So he did what any 19-year-old would do. He connected with a group called the Center for World Solidarity and traveled to India to help educate the community about HIV. He visited several villages with a high number of HIV cases, teaching them about the risks. He also developed pamphlets on AIDS specifically targeted toward the high-risk demographic of 12-20-year-olds, a group that previously had little to no access to prevention information.
This sparked another idea. Vik thought that if he could write literature to educate people about HIV prevention, why couldn’t he do the same thing for a topic like accounting?
So when he returned from India, Vik started writing pamphlets about accounting with three friends and personally translating them into Spanish. The group had hoped to distribute them to poor regions in Latin American countries that could benefit from access to this type of information, and had even made connections with organizations that could distribute them. But unfortunately, it stopped there.
“It really became a question of resources and time,” says Vik. “We didn’t want to make promises to organizations that we couldn’t keep, because that would be worse than never offering our help in the first place. But all the materials are written, and hopefully someday I’ll be able to put them to good use.”
For the short-term, Vik is focused on a career in international business, ideally in supply chains. He hopes to travel more (he’s already been to 22 countries) and learn about new places and people.
“The exposure I’ve gotten to other cultures through volunteer work has really helped to prepare me for my future work in business. It’s helped me to understand how to deal with all types of people and has set me up to create better business relationships around the world. I hope to gain some practical experience, then eventually start my own nonprofit and really make an impact.”
Tess Waresmith (SMG ’10) has stood at the edge more times than she can count.
The edge of a diving board, that is.
Growing up in Dover, Mass., she started diving at the age of 11. With considerable talent and a lot of practice, by the age of 15, Tess had a promising future as a diver.
Things don’t always go as planned, though, and an ankle injury cut her diving career short.
After transferring in 2007 to Boston University School of Management from the University of Miami, she had all but given up on her dream. But with the encouragement of BU’s diving Head Coach Agnes Miller, Tess found herself once again on the edge of a diving board. In fact, by 2008, she was the captain of her team as well as the first Boston University diver in 20 years to make it to the women’s NCAA championship—and with a past injury no less.
“Injuring my ankle was really awful, but everything happens for a reason. “I came back to the Northeast, which isn’t known for its diving, but was happier, and more successful,” says Tess. “I was enjoying school a lot more and training just the right amount.”
Divers have to achieve a certain score during the regular season just to qualify for the NCAA’s zone meet, where they then compete to qualify for the NCAAs. Coming from the Northeast zone, Tess had to place in the top three to make it into the championship. Not only did she place in the top three, but she went on to finish 23 out of 42 in the NCAAs themselves.
“After my ankle injury, I had to reevaluate my goals. The Olympics weren’t going to happen, but it felt really good to make it to the NCAA championships,” she says.
Now, having exhausted her NCAA eligibility, Waresmith is leading the Boston University women’s diving team as the assistant coach. Her collegiate diving career may be over, but she hopes that the sport remains in her life in one form or another. As she moves forward with her business career, she knows that the lessons she learned will come in handy: One, the importance of precision. Two, the willingness to change and be flexible. Three, risk management. And four, plain determination and guts.
“A lot of times you’ve been doing something one way for so long that when someone tells you to do it differently, it can be scary. But you have to be willing to make the change and realize that at first it might not be as good. A lot of times when you make changes in diving, you take three steps back. But then, eventually, you take five steps forward. I think this is an important lesson in business too.”
Jesse Talarico has been interested in business ever since he was a young boy, when, at a garage sale, his stepfather told him he would buy a collar for his dog if Jesse could negotiate 50 percent off.
“That’s when my business savvy really started,” says Jesse, a self-starter from Duluth, Minn. “Getting that collar for half price was easier that I thought. It all just seemed to fall into place after that. Later, I negotiated the price of a few vehicles before I was even driving age.”
Now he’s a senior at the Boston University School of Management majoring in finance and graduating in May. But that isn’t even the half of it.
In between, he bought and sold cars and antiques (“My motto was buy low, sell high”); ran an eBay consignment business; learned Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese to various levels of proficiency; studied abroad in Madrid, Spain; passed the Chartered Financial Analysis (CFA) Level 1 exam (quite an accomplishment for an undergraduate); and developed an interest in Islamic finance and microfinance, pioneered in Bangladesh by Muhammad Yunus, in addition to traditional finance.
“I have always liked business because I feel strongly that you can change a lot about people’s behavior, or fix problems you see in the world, by influencing the flow of money. In that way, as a business leader, you can really create some kind of real change.
“I hold more respect for Muhammad Yunus as a businessman than even Warren Buffet,” Jesse says. “I think Yunus’ idea of loaning small amounts of money to impoverished people without requiring collateral or charging interest is one of the answers to society’s problems.”
Jesse has already effected positive change of his own around the School of Management. Recognizing a gap in the curriculum, he recently conceptualized and developed advanced workshops for Excel and Mathematica, then began teaching some of the undergrads and MBAs at the School.
“I didn’t have much IT savvy when I first came to college. But when I started looking at job descriptions for financial positions at places like hedge funds and trading firms, I was surprised to see the criteria for them. They aren’t looking for people with just business or financial backgrounds, but rather those with IT backgrounds—programmers and math majors. I realized I needed to learn Excel on a whole different level.”
So he picked up book after book and taught himself what he needed to know.
“Jesse conceptualized the idea of peer-to-peer workshops, then developed the curriculum as well,” says Greg DeFronzo, Information Technology Services (ITS) director at the School. “His content and delivery style were so polished that he was invited to develop an Excel overview workshop for incoming Executive MBA (EMBA) students. This workshop has now become a part of EMBA’s standard orientation program. In less than a year, Jesse has had a major and lasting impact on our ITS services.”
With so many accomplishments already under his belt, what does Jesse plan to do next?
“I want to be in a position to support startups and people who have great ideas, either financially or as a mentor. Capital is often the biggest obstacle to good ideas.”
This summer Jesse will start working for a small venture capital firm in New York. “I feel blessed to have such an opportunity, especially this early in my career.”
In this video series, Gary Bergmann, an assistant director at SMG’s Feld Career Center, gives advice about how to shape your personal brand, including tips on how to draft compelling and effective résumés and cover letters.
Part 8: Gary Bergmann on Q Cover Letters.
What is the purpose of the simple ‘Q’ or ‘T’ cover letter? Gary Bergmann explains how this unique, yet incredibly effective cover letter, will make you stand out.
- The Conventional Wisdom is Wrong
- You’re on Your Own
- Set Realistic Goals
- The Safest Investment is T.I.P.S.
- BU Will Be the First to Offer It
- I Love the Stock Market
- Don’t Trust Anyone
- Stay in the Labor Force
- I Hate Losing
- Three Crucial Tips
- Zvi Bodie discusses the “Hurricane on Wall Street: Managing Large-Scale Financial Crises“
Hamani Franklin, MS∙MBA ’11, discusses his background in the Navy, his goals for the future, and how the exceptional reputation of the Feld Career Center helped seal his decision to come to Boston University School of Management.
In the spring of 2008, Andrea Cioffi began working as an intern at the Australian advertising agency SMART. But by the time she finished her study-abroad program, she was a full-time employee at the company —
and still a college junior.
“As a junior account executive at SMART, I worked on a competitive brand review for several beverage products,” says Cioffi (BSBA ’09). “I laid out each brand’s positioning and how they were using media to target customers, all of which are concepts I learned in Core.”
Core is School of Management shorthand for the required undergraduate course program Cross-Functional Core.
Hear Cioffi discuss Core here, in this video from BU Today.
Why did you choose BU School of Management?
I chose BU because of its excellent and longstanding Public and Nonprofit Program (PNP). My classmates are a wonderfully diverse, interesting, incredibly smart, and down-to-earth collection of people that I feel very fortunate to have in my classes and clubs everyday.
Tell us about your PNP experience.
I appreciate the PNP program for creating an environment that is supportive of a variety of business aspirations diverging from the typical management career path. The program has opened my eyes to many new areas of interest: corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, sustainability, green energy, etc. I feel fortunate to have Professor Kristen McCormack’s expertise and guidance as a backbone of the program, as well specific coursework, such as the Marketing Social Change class.
Why choose this program?
The program provides a deep understanding of the world’s financial issues from an international perspective: first, by having a multicultural environment with fellow students and professors from all around the globe, and second, by applying theoretical models into up-to-date real world situations.
What’s your background?
Before I began the program, I was back home, in Bogota, Colombia, where I completed a B.S in Industrial Engineering with an emphasis in Finance and Quantitative Models in 2004. A year later, in 2005, I finished a Masters in Economics there. While studying, I also served as a macroeconomics assistant professor for two years. After my studies, I worked for two years as an investment professional on the International Reserves Trading Desk at the Central Bank of Colombia, and then for another year at the Latin American Reserves Fund as a Portfolio Manager. I also acquired my CFA certification, having passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level II Exam.
Is there a five-year plan?
In five years time, I would like to establish myself in the financial industry as an asset manager by providing the market with innovative investment ideas, with the highest level of integrity, in order to secure profitable opportunities from uncertain market fluctuations. This will then provide me with the necessary leadership and strategic skills needed to become a Chief Finance Officer.
What motivates you?
The satisfaction and challenge of being able to understand the world as it goes through its increasingly financially unstable faces. This unsteadiness has created the need for new instruments that allow for better, more accurate measurements in order to improve investment decision-making. Therefore, new analysts like myself need to acquire the skills to effectively counteract financial fluctuations with up-to-the-minute theoretical and practical financial understandings, combined with solid analytical methods for developing valuable investment strategies.
Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, Brett Church is pursuing an MBA/JD dual degree in Law and Management.
“I knew coming in that I wanted to practice corporate law, and the complementary MBA and JD degrees offered by this School of Management program has helped me reach my goal.
“The JD program has taught me how to analyze problems and present my findings clearly and succinctly, while the MBA program exposed me to the issues my future clients will face, enabling me to provide them with more than my legal knowledge. The MBA program also increased my financial literacy such that I feel confident discussing complex business concepts with clients and associates. The fact that the school is in Boston—steps away from Fenway Park—made the experience even sweeter.”
Brett will be joining the Business Law department at Goodwin Procter LLP in Boston after graduation.