It's the beginning of 2010 and thinking back, 2009 seems like a big blur! It happened so fast that at times, it feels like a tender sweet memory of days past. So, how was quarter 1 of my MBA? Pretty da** great, actually (as evidenced by the smile plastered across my face when grades were posted). All over the social networking sites, I feel a sense of optimism about this new decade. Apparently, the massive financial crisis that hit our economy in 2009 made everybody cringe at this past year and pine for a new, more hopeful future. I'm not sure what 2009 meant for you, but the year was actually a good one for me. All of my goals that I had set forth were accomplished. However, the only thing that I was disappointed in was my inability to run due to a 6-month sports injury. But if any of you have ever been injured due to physical activity, it is very WISE to rest (although you'll be whining the entire time if you're anything like me) and let your body heal by itself. Listening to your body makes a world of a difference and although it's psychologically painful to give up your favorite sport(s), your body will thank you in due time (just like mine has) when it fully recovers.
So for 2010, my health and fitness are one of my top priorities. I just signed up to run the San Francisco Half Marathon and will be spearheading a health initiative at the GSM. Why, you ask? Well, why the heck not? Doesn't health pretty much underscore EVERYTHING we do (and are unable to do)? Being healthy has a positive and transformative effect on nearly every other aspect of our lives and it's b/c of this important reason that I'm committed to being healthier this year. Running as you know, has always been my favorite sport ever since I realized three years ago, that I was not doomed to a lifetime of stagnation.
Another priority is to do more traveling overseas. I haven't booked my tickets yet, but I'm happy to report that the hubby and I are planning a trip the Far East. I won't disclose the destination(s) just yet (well, at least not until I finalize my plans), but let's just say I am out of this world ecstatic that I will be able to fully embrace my epicurean curiosity in places closer to my Mother Land---where spices and freshness dominate street stalls that serve up delicious-ness around every corner:) What a great way to celebrate the completion of the 1st year of my MBA---can't hardly wait!
And remember that awesome thing called Net Impact I mentioned (incessantly) in my posts? Well, yours truly is Co-President of the UC Davis Net Impact chapter for working professionals & alumni. Whoo hoo! And even moreso, I was elected to serve on the Dean's Council for my class. Very cool stuff and I'm flattered that my classmates have put their trust in me to represent them. Thank you, ladies and gents.
In the meantime, I also wanted to gush over my Micro Econ professor, Victor Stango. I was already excited to take the class in the fall when he spoke at our orientation, but then the man goes and writes up this report that made national headlines regarding the Tiger Woods sex scandal and how one man's extra-marital affairs cost shareholders a cumulative $12B!!! Wow! I am impressed, but not surprised. The good news is that their losses will rebound when Woods makes his comeback into the golf world. I mean, the man has star power and who can really do what he's done for golf? It's like he's the Phelps on land:) You can read all about the study on the links I've provided from these sites:
BTW: Some random tidbits I learned from my organizational behavior class from our final presentations:
1. Goldman Sachs employees make an average bonus of $600K/year...WTH?
2. The CA State furlough costs more to implement than it really aims to save---can somebody tell the Terminator this?
3. GM was doomed to fail b/c of a mismanaged org. culture that focused on fostering & rewarding fierce competition versus collaboration
Basically: Effective management is not only about meeting the bottom line. If it's anything you should have learned from the 2009 Wall Street debacle, it should be this: What we originally thought of as irrelevant 'soft skills' of managers actually have a profound and lasting fiscal impact on the success or demise of corporations. Learning to effectively lead people is just as important as meeting your sales figures (if not more).
Can you believe it? My first quarter is almost nearing its finish? Turkey Day is right around the corner and as luck would have it, I have a financial accounting exam to look forward to....tomorrow! Eeek!
Thus far, this quarter has flown by faster than I can slurp a bowl of soup--literally and I mean it! Every other week, it's either a case study, midterm or paper and the ever-much-needed late night happy hours with the social bunch of us. So, how do I feel, you wonder? Actually, pretty darn productive. At first, it was hectic because I have to travel a lot for my job, but then I also got really good at managing my time. Needless to say, however, I have not seen the interior of my gym any more times than I can count on my hands (although, today I did manage to sneak in for a spurt of endorphins with ab works and pilates). Honestly, I don't know exactly where I find the time to study, but let's just say I've become BFF with the Panera and Barnes & Noble down the street--not to mention the late night jolts of espresso.
Regardless, being in a part-time MBA program does have its perks. First and foremost, my classmates and I are extremely efficient. The first month of classes, we had group assignments practically every week and I was amazed at how productive we were in meeting up, setting priorities, assigning tasks and pretty much just getting whatever we needed to do accomplished. It was a bit of an adjustment getting acclimated with everyone's working style, but that's expected from any group work. Organizational behavior is hands down the star of the quarter for me--which makes me understand exactly why UC Davis is ranked #2 in the world for our expertise in this particular field. The main takeaway for me is understanding how (in)effective managers lead and how they are directly responsible for the outcomes of their organization. It made me realize why I left my previous employers and understand the reasons I became disillusioned with my work. But more importantly, OB is giving me a new perspective on own leadership style and how organizational culture can significantly impact my personal & professional happiness within a company.
As for financial accounting, it has been amazingly challenging, but remarkably worthwhile. Of course, as expected from any ranked MBA program, our focus is on financial analysis of accounting methods. Pretty much, it's understanding what critical questions to ask when examining a company's financial statements so that as an executive, you can manage your books and as a shareholder, you can be wiser about which investment decisions you ultimately undertake. And that's about all of accounting I can sum up right now as it has seriously been the only thing I've been looking at for the past few days after I spent 3 hours of my life writing like a mad fool for an OB exam I just took on a Friday night!
And oh yes, how can I forget. I just got done registering for winter classes: Markets and the Firm (MicroEcon) & Data Analysis for Managers (Stat). I'm psyched for econ because of the professor, Victor Stango. His lectures, I've heard, are great and more recently, he left Darmouth's Tuck School of Business to teach at the GSM (previously he was also at Booth and Haas). I'm quite impressed:) As you can see, the faculty at UC Davis are nothing short of amazing when it comes to their credentials--just one of the reasons why I decided to enroll. (Note to those considering part-time MBA programs: check to make sure you're getting the same quality education from the faculty as their full-time cohort. You're paying a hefty pricetag, so don't sacrifice the quality)
So, did I ONLY study during quarter 1? Of course! I did not! Among other things going on in my life, I was happily elected (along with 3 other amazing folks) to represent my class on the Dean's Student Advisory Council as the Director of Communications. Yup, yours truly. I'm excited for the opportunity and I hope that I can create a greater sense of community among my peers as we continue together these next few years. I also (true to my word) applied for a leadership role with my Net Impact chapter, so we'll see how things traspire for me. Until then, I'm off for a late night date with accounting!
I won't begin with a ritual apology as to why I've been lagging on my posts, but I will let you know that MBA plus a full-time gig is not an easy feat at all. Having said that, it is not impossible to do it all.
I got back a week ago from the 2009 Net Impact Conference at Cornell. Was it worth it? Yes, and shall I quantify it for you? Not right now. The GSM had a pretty large contingency in Ithaca---there were 27 of us total. I, along with another guy, were the only 2 working professional students present and the rest were from our full-time cohort. By the way, both of the UC Davis (Daytime & WP) chapters for Net Impact received the Gold and Silver distinction, respectively, in recognition of our commitment to CSR.
I had never been to Cornell up until the conference and I must attest to the beauty of the campus--it was simply gorgeous. The detailed architecture befitting of an ivy league campus sure beats the cookie-cutter boxes that spring up on many of the west-coast campuses I've visited. But that's besides the point. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Cornell, although there were some sessions I could have easily skipped and missed nothing because the speakers just weren't as prepared as they should have been. Oh, and a special shout-out to fellow blogger, Andrew, from USC as I finally got a chance to meet him:) Don't forget to wander to his blog (I have it in my sidebar--to your right). Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, back to Net Impact. Here's a partial list of notable sessions I attended:
1. "Transforming Education: How to Use Your Business Skills to Make a Difference"
2. "Applied Learning: Enhancing Students’ Knowledge through Corporate and Nonprofit Partnership"
3. "More than Money with Mark Albion" (I have his book--which I forgot in my hotel room and he didn't get to sign it after all--bummer)
and my favorite:
4. "How to Generate Business Value through CSR"
As you can see, my focus is on creating value for the public sector. Although, I must mention that there were a huge variety of sessions that covered topics from consulting in the development sector, global social entrepreneurship, micro-finance, socially responsible investing, green energy/clean technology, among others that I could have easily chosen as well. Some notable speakers included the CEO of GE, the founder of Honest Tea, Seth Goldman and one of the men who wrote the original business plan for Ben & Jerry's ice cream (and thankfully, we also got to taste much of it at a reception on our last night). Nonetheless, my track in session 4 was my favorite for a couple of great reasons:
1) The speaker was my personal career coach who I had selected as part of the FREE session that Net Impact offered to all conference attendees. Spaces were limited, but lucky for me, I made my reservation online and got to speak with Jason Saul, the CEO of Mission Measurement, a leading Chicago-based social impact/managment consulting firm! I really thought I was going to be more nervous, but he was so down-to-earth and friendly, we ended up having a casual conversation over my career aspirations in the middle of the courtyard rather than in a confined room (where all the other coaching sessions were taking place). I'm taking an organizational behavior class this quarter and in my book, I think this speaks profoundly on the type of leadership style he embraces and welcomes.
2) Jason's presentation was by far the most captivating of the entire conference. Basically, the focus was on how to quantify social value by generating tangible metrics for evaluating performance and effort. In other words, companies shouldn't just be donating $$ to charities and consider that their only contribution to society. Companies can still maintain their bottom line by being socially responsible and telling their story in a way that connects people to their products/mission.
Our schedule for the conference was jam-packed with sessions, networking, cocktails, a career expo and more networking. I was pretty much pooped by 3pm each day and had to wind down with some hops and barley:) and oh yeah, sake bombs in downtown Ithaca. What did you expect from a bunch of MBAs all nestled in a college town for a weekend? I'm definitely looking forward to the 2010 Conferece at U of Michigan's Ross School of Business--yep, you heard it here first!
Two more days until the official start of class (why do quarter systems begin sooo late in the game?) and I wanted to offer my two cents on making the most of my first year. In creating this blog, I noticed that the vast majority of bloggers are full-time MBA students--so, where are the peeps who are doing this part-time? Working, I suspect, and leading super busy lives. Well, I'm no exception, but hopefully, I can encourage others to realize that yes, getting your MBA is important, but don't let it get in the way of your education.
1. Repeat After Me: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!
As a working professional MBA candidate, I understand that time is a precious gift---with school, work and family obligations, I can already anticipate the craziness of this juggling act. However, I'm one of the crazies out there who wants to relish in the opportunities that an MBA presents with it. How does one accomplish this? Well, my friend...it's all about networking (or as some like to refer to as "schmoozing").
Case in point: From the moment you begin to think about b-school, reach out to the current students via the school's student clubs. Most schools don't post the current student contact info on their site, but once you browse the student clubs/activities pages, you'll notice a list of emails of their leadership team. I started this process a year ago and I've already befriended a few of the 2nd years. They are a great wealth of knowledge and advice. In fact, they are the ones who introduced me to the Women in Leadership & Net Impact clubs at Davis.
I'd also recommend attending the school's networking receptions. As a prospective and incoming student, I was really able to get a feel for the vibe of my future classmates by attending a good number of these events. Davis really stood out to me as having one of the most chill and down-to-earth group of MBAs who you could really start a good conversation with without having to fake the funk. I'm sure you've been to one of those events where the atmosphere is so uptight that you feel so suffocated and out of your element---the whole time wondering why the heck you signed up to be there when you honestly couldn't picture yourself befriending any of the folks you meet that night. Well, Davis was not like that for me, so I naturally gravitated to this group. In fact, I was just at the Dean's Welcome Reception earlier this week in San Francisco and meet a lot of new faces as well as bumping into a college buddy of mine who is also in same program---what a small world!
2. ATTEND A CONFERENCE
The choice to come to b-school was more than just getting the nice 3 letters after my name, but it had much to do with me hoping to enhance my personal and intellectual growth. Being out of school for 5 years sometimes made me question whether my brain cells were dead or alive. It's so easy to become complacent in our everyday lives and quite honestly, (and I might sound like a major dork for saying this but) I missed the critical thinking component that intrinsically comes with being immersed in academia.
Many moons ago, I blogged about my desire to attend a certain conference this year. Two hours ago, I just finished registering for the Net Impact 2009 Conference. Comprised of the top 30 MBA schools (yes, UC Davis is in the top 30 for CSR!), the conference is possibly the largest gathering for MBA students interested in issues pertaining to corporate social responsibility, sustainability, microfinance, social entrepreneurship and all that other good stuff. This year's theme is centered on advancing sustainable global enterprise. I have no idea what to expect, but from what I've gathered from the 2nd year students, it's a great networking and learning opportunity---so I'm down for anything. And just in case you're wondering, it's also being hosted by the Johnson School of Business at Cornell.
3. GET INVOLVED (somehow)
I know this can be much more difficult to do if you're in a part-time MBA program like myself, but your MBA is what you make of it. If you asked me to look back at my college years and tell you what distinctly stood out in my mind, I would not recount the chemical formula for a periodic element or tell you how to derive the standard deviation for a data set. I would, however, point out the handful of student organizations that elevated my social and political consciousness to help me understand and analyze my own personal and global views. I would point out the thousands of under-resourced public school students I worked with to ensure greater access to higher education and who (I might add) are now becoming the first ones in their families to finish college and also apply to graduate schools. These are the experiences that remain vivid in my mind and I can confidently assure you that the people and experiences I'll embrace in my MBA program will also be the lasting memories I'll have years from now. So, however you choose to get involved, I would encourage folks to really think about how they can make the most of their own MBAs because after all, for many of us, this may be our final foray into academia (at least for a while, right?)
BTW: For those of you who are applying to b-schools, good luck!!!
It's gone to summer, that's where. I guess the nature of my blog is quality versus quantity, so since the first year of my MBA is nearly here, I'll definitely TRY to be more frequent with my posts---after all, it's also my intention to chronicle this important and exciting new chapter of my life with the hopes that it'll help both prospective and current MBA students on their journeys.
First off, I got some great advice from the 2nd year students in my program to 1) take it easy and go on vacation OR 2) get some preparation to make my fall quarter easier. Although I would have chosen the former option, after checking with the bank of Ms. Piggy, I realized she'd have to be saved up for my student fees. Oh, the sacrifices for this 3 year investment continues. I ended up taking a financial accounting course at the local community college and braced myself for a world loaded with statements of cash flows, income and balance sheets galore. Honestly, I felt like dropping the class my first week b/c I was SOO not motivated to take a class just for sh$%! and giggles (and I could probably dream up better things to do with my summer), but then I realized how helpful it would be for me once I started my courses in the fall and chugged on like the fool that I am. In hindsight, I'm actually really glad that I did since I learned a boatload of new concepts and even more surprising was that I LIKED it! I know, I'm wondering how that happened as well, but it was actually refreshing to be exposed to something I never thought I'd have the faintest interest in whatsoever. I also befriended some characters in class and even a fellow Cal alum. Go Bears! Overall, the course did equip with a new-found confidence in accounting especially since I was a social science major in college.
And as much as I would like to say that I finished the books on my summer reading list, I know very well that I'd be spitting out a big, fat lie, so I'll just be honest and tell you guys that it is seriously on my list of books to read SOON! But they are in my possession since I was very fortunate to receive the majority of them for my birthday---thanks to my hubby and sis for checking out my blog:) I guess blogging does have its perks, eh?
Fast forward to a couple days ago, and I just finished my MBA orientation. It was funny that I met a few of my classmates who recognized me from my blog (although I have no pictures of me on here). I read a while back that some first year MBAs felt a bit uneasy about so-called strangers coming up to them and chatting up about their blogs, but did we forget that our sites are public and anybody can view what we write? I personally didn't feel the least bit awkward, but it's nice to know that your blog is being read by folks who actually think what you have to say is valid. I sure as H#$% wouldn't be checking out blogs that are full of crap. I do, however, just have to be conscious of what I do post since it can always come back and nip me in the butt. For the time being, this blog has and will be a continuation of my journey. I know that when I was going through the MBA process, it was such a breath of fresh air to know that others where either going through or had been through the trenches before me and that ultimately gave me the motivation to keep on chuggin along. If this blog can do that for others, then consider me a happy blogger.
In the meantime, classes start Sept 29 for me and I'm taking financial accounting & organizational behavior this quarter. I expect that I'll love OB and continue to fine tune my skills in FA. So far, I am psyched for my professors (they are both women at the top of their game!). I'm also headed to meet up with my a GSM alum tomorrow and then a welcome reception with the Dean...will keep you posted on what transpires, so check back!
A budding food blogger/photographer who loves all the simple and itty bitty little things that bring smiles to my life and makes my heart flip in circles. You may contact me at: spicygreenmango10[at]gmail [dot]com