Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quarter 1, Almost Done

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!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Images from Cornell

Some images from the 2009 Net Impact Conference at Cornell from my friend and 2nd year daytime MBA student, Jackie.  Thank you for your amazing pictures---love it!

Net Impact Conference 2009 Update

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!