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Calling all Kellogg Applicants (2015 Intake) Class of 2017 !

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Launching a social venture at Kellogg [#permalink]

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New post 14 May 2015, 08:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: Launching a social venture at Kellogg
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This past fall I joined three of my MMM classmates in a case competition. Two quarters later, what started as a distraction from studying is blossoming into a real business. We secured more than $16,000 (and counting!) of initial funding, we have a great set of advisors and potential partners and we are planning to launch our first pilot this summer.

So how did we actually get here?

It started with the Hult Prize competition at Kellogg, where we were tasked with answering this question: Can we provide quality early education to 10 million children under age six in urban slums by 2020?

It’s not an easy task by anyone’s standards, but it is crucially important.  Because of the way the brain develops in the child’s formative years, it is much more effective to intervene at this point rather than later in life. Children who receive early education are more prepared for school, are more likely to graduate high school and are more likely to accrue a higher income in later life. Unfortunately, due to high costs and lack of proper training, quality early education is not always a possibility.

Our solution, sharEd (pronounced like “shared”), is a simple answer to this complex problem. We focus specifically on addressing the quality gap in existing preschools by providing the right resources and ongoing teacher training:

  • High quality education resources

    Variety matters for proper development, and for only $5 a month a preschool will have access to $1,000 worth of books and educational toys and games. We’re able to provide this variety by pooling resources across a network of schools and rotating the materials monthly.
  • Ongoing teacher training

    Teachers will come together monthly to trade resources, share best practices with each other and learn the most effective way to provide early childhood education from sharEd educational experts. Our monthly training sessions will ensure that teachers are able to effectively use the materials and improve our model over time.
Please take a look at our website for more details about our solution.

After winning the Kellogg Hult Prize competition in December, our team advanced to the regional semifinals in London. While we didn’t win, we returned to Evanston confident that our idea was solid. Without explicitly discussing it as a team, sharEd became much more than a case competition idea – it became a company. We would find the resources another way. (Plus, can you imagine if JK Rowling had given up after the first 8 publishers turned her down?)

Our team immediately launched into funding mode. We started a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo – which is also part of an online competition for the Hult summer accelerator – and applied to more competitions. We have been able to raise more than $16,000 in the last month and are on our way to launching a pilot this summer!

And with that, I want to comment as to how Kellogg and MMM have been integral in our startup adventure so far:

Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative:

One of the things that makes business school a great place to bring an idea to life is that Kellogg actively supports students and their ventures. In addition to helping us market our crowd funding campaign on Twitter and Facebook and connecting us with additional contacts, Kellogg also provided the initial seed money for the business and financial support so that some of our team could focus exclusively on the business in lieu of a summer internship.

Professors:

Apart from what they teach us in class (we came up with our concept after talking about the benefits of pooling resources in an operations class), our professors also serve as mentors. Our professors have helped us tweak our hub-and-spoke model to reduce waste, better tell our story in order to win over investors, proactively recruit summer interns and connect us to other similar businesses. And did I mention some of the professors helped us without having any of our team members take their class?

Students:

My peers at Kellogg continue to impress and amaze me. Kellogg boasts such a modest student body, so it is easy to forget that the classmate you just saw dancing in Bollywood Bash actually founded a startup in Rwanda or advised the Clinton Foundation in Malawi. Not only have my classmates contributed to our fundraising campaign, they also willingly and proactively share their expertise and introduce us to their contacts.

And that’s sharEd! Stay tuned for more updates.

Kate Geremia ’16 is a first-year student in Kellogg’s full-time MMM Program. Prior to Kellogg, Kate worked as a consultant at Simon-Kucher & Partners, where she helped companies develop product marketing and pricing strategies. She received her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley.

Filed under: Academics, Student Life Tagged: competition, Education, entrepreneurship, Hult Prize, Innovation, MMM, social impact Image
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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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This post has been originally posted on the Admissions Blog and re-posted here for convenience.

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myEssayReview interviews a Kellogg Student [#permalink]

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New post 14 May 2015, 11:17
Poonam, CEO and founder of myEssayReview, is publishing interviews of her successful students. This is the latest in the series. Here is a chat with Sriram, first year student at the evening MBA program of the prestigious Kellogg.

Poonam: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What do you do now?

Sriram: I was born and raised in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. I did my Bachelors in Computer Science and Engineering at Bharathiar University, Coimbatore. I have a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Curently, I’m a Product Manager currently at Mediaocean, an advertising technology company.

Poonam: When did you start thinking about MBA? Why now? What are your career goals?

Sriram: I wanted to do an MBA to make the career transition from technology to product management, which is more aligned with the company’s core business. I managed to make this transition before my MBA, so the goal has now shifted to leverage the MBA to move up into a senior management role. Ultimately, I would like to become an entrepreneur

Poonam: You applied to both Kellogg and Booth and you were accepted by both. You finally chose Kellogg. How is Kellogg the best school for you?

Sriram: Choosing between Kellogg and Booth was one of the toughest decisions I have made in my life. Ultimately, it came down to fit. Booth is ranked higher and has a great curriculum. Kellogg had a more diverse and outgoing student community (building a network was key) and being one of the best marketing schools, it aligned better with the industry I work in (advertising/marketing) .

Poonam: How challenging it is to manage school, full time job and family at the same time? Do you have any time management tips for the prospective students?

Sriram: To manage all these is daunting at first. It comes down to more efficient time management. After the first quarter, school just becomes a part of life.
Poonam Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it? What would you advise other MBA applicants who are facing similar challenges?

Sriram: The most challenging part was to convince yourself that you are good enough to get admitted to a top school. Once you are past that and get the process started, you just need hard work to get everything else to fall in place.

Poonam: Do you have any admissions tips for applicants for Kellogg part time program (essays, résumé, recommendation letters, interview) etc.?

Sriram: It might sound preachy, but the one thing that the applicants should do is to be truthful about who they are. Each person is different and all of us have done great things. It’s important to bring out their individuality in the essays, resume and interview. It’s easy to stand out when you are just yourself, because you are unique. For essays, Poonam, your service suited me well because you truly stuck to the task of editing the essays and not rewriting it, which many of the other competing essay editing services do. Your suggestions and comments played a very important role in shaping my essays.

Poonam What is your favorite thing about Kellogg so far? And if you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?

Sriram: The students at Kellogg are the best and I have made so many friends. It’s impossible not to make friends at Kellogg. I would say Kellogg should increase the number of social events, we have 1 or 2 big events a year, one a quarter will be better. The social events are not just for fun but it is also where you will probably meet your next friend.

Poonam What are your favorite non-school books? What are you hobbies?

Sriram: It’s sad, but I don’t have a reading habit. When I do pick a book, its mostly a tech magazine, like Popular mechanics. I play racquetball and love running. In the summer, I like to go on long rides on my motorcycle.

Poonam: Thank you, Sriram for sharing your story with us. Good luck on your Kellogg experience and your future career.
You can connect with Sriram via www.linkedin.com/in/sriramramanujam

Note: This post first appeared on myEssayReview blog http://myessayreview.com/blogs/?p=2082

 

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Poets & Quants names Kellogg student to ‘Best of the Class of 2015′ li [#permalink]

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New post 18 May 2015, 10:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: Poets & Quants names Kellogg student to ‘Best of the Class of 2015′ list
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Photo via Poets & Quants

Current student Bruno Valle represented Kellogg this past weekend as Poets & Quants debuted its inaugural list of this year’s 50 best and brightest MBA graduates.

To compile the list, Poets & Quants surveyed 60 of the top-ranked full-time global MBA programs to find graduates who “exemplify the best of your school” as evidenced by academic prowess, leadership in extracurricular activities, personal excellence and striking personal narratives.

Valle certainly excels in all categories. He came from Brazil to Kellogg, where he served as the co-president of LAHIMA (Latin American, Hispanic and Iberian Management Association), and also held leadership roles with the Entrepreneurship Club and the Kellogg Student Association. He previously worked as a consultant at Bain & Company in São Paulo, Brazil, did his internship in private equity at Bain in Chicago, and will transition to Bain in Rio de Janeiro after graduation.

Poets & Quants posted Q&As with each of the “Best of the Class of 2015″ students. Learn more about Valle and his Kellogg experience from his answers below.

Why did you choose this business school?
I chose Kellogg because its curriculum focuses strongly on the challenge behind driving growth in companies and organizations – my passions are new industries for which there is still no consensus on where they are going or how fast they are going to grow. Rapid growth can create unexpected challenges, and I knew that the school I chose would have to be focused on addressing those challenges: How do properly decide which customers to target using transaction data? How can you mitigate high working capital in positive cash conversion cycle companies? How do you design incentives for new managers [that] reward both their targets but also the growth of the whole company? These are the kinds of questions I find interesting, and Kellogg has allowed me to fully explore them.

Favorite Courses:
Global Entrepreneurial Finance, Public Economics, International Finance and Managerial Leadership

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of?
One of the best academic experiences at Kellogg was taking advantage of the experiential learning curriculum to explore industries and topics that I am interested in. Through the New Venture Development class, I worked on starting an online marketplace with a team of classmates. It didn’t work out, but the experience of being coached by experienced entrepreneurs and current venture capitalists showed me what differentiates a successful business from a failed one. People spend a lot of time talking about the value of ideas, but Kellogg showed me that the details are where businesses are made – things like industry timing, sales effectiveness and ability to change directions.

What did you enjoy most about business school?
It’s hard to say since there are so many interesting things going on at once, but I would have to say it’s a split between the amazing people I’ve met and the leadership experience I’ve had by leading the Latin American, Hispanic and Iberian Management Association. About a year-and-a-half ago, the current team and I created a slate to become the new leaders of the group, and quickly went about designing a strategic plan, mission, vision and where we wanted the group to be in five years. We scheduled road show meetings with the deans and administration, created KPIs and individual responsibilities and leadership roles for each “division” (the organization has several sub-groups, such as admissions, alumni, marketing, social events etc.). It’s amazing to see how a dedicated and energized group of people can think of an idea and immediately set out to make it happen. I got really lucky to find people who were similarly committed to growing the organization, and I think we all learned a lot about what it takes to put an ambitious plan into action when you have limited funding, time and attention available.

What are your long-term professional goals?
I really like thinking about the future, and fast-growing industries that change quickly and impact life on global level – energy, technology, space, transportation, telecommunications – industries the entire world depends on and that are not linked to one specific region. We need more people who actively try to create the future instead of waiting for it to arrive. If I can focus my career on being one of those people, I’ll be pretty happy.

Read the complete Q&A on Poets & Quants.

Filed under: Academics, Student Life Tagged: culture, LAHIMA, leadership, new venture, student clubs Image
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This post has been originally posted on the Admissions Blog and re-posted here for convenience.

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Re: Calling all Kellogg Applicants (2015 Intake) Class of 2017 ! [#permalink]

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New post 21 May 2015, 20:16
Hello Everyone - wanted to let you know that we have officially kicked off this year's Kellogg Application Thread - here's the link - http://gmatclub.com/forum/calling-all-kellogg-applicants-2016-intake-class-of-198201.html

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Business School Rankings by Industry - Top MBA Programs in Finance for [#permalink]

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New post 21 May 2015, 22:17
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By Paul Lanzillotti, Amerasia Consulting Group
Today's blog post is going to be the first in a series that covers business school rankings. More specifically, it's Amerasia's attempt at ranking top MBA programs by industry and based on publicly available data. Our motivation for doing this is quite simple - business school rankings differ quite drastically from publication to publication. US News seems to be the most consistent and widely followed. After Businessweek ranked Fuqua at number one, they decided to change their methodology.  Whether the two are correlated is up for debate. John Byrne over at "Poets and Quants" covered the change quite extensively here.

Regardless, we've never felt completely comfortable with the rankings because (to our knowledge) the raw data that drives the rankings has never been fully disclosed. Yes, we do know that the methodology (ranking model) has been discussed on relevant websites, but it's a cursory explanation of the process in our opinion. Also our opinion - that the process is still very much a black box.  So we decided to start over and see what we could come up with.  Most importantly we started with the very numbers that the school's career centers are reporting via their respective employment reporting.

Our opinion is that recruiting (i.e. who's hiring) drives most programs "investment" decisions - in students, faculty, courses, experiential initiatives, alumni outreach, etc.  So to know to what a specific MBA program is really all about, you need to see the end result. In other words, what industries are hiring MBA graduates and from what schools?

Now before we get into the numbers, a few words of caution. What we have done is our first attempt at a numerically based ranking and its not perfect. It's based on our interpretation of the numbers put forth by top business schools. Let us explain. Most MBA career centers report employment numbers according to the categories that we use in our rankings. Some schools break "industry" categories into further sub-categories. Other programs - i.e. Michigan Ross - roll up their industry categories under more general headers like "manufacturing". So you could be a "marketing" professional but be within the manufacturing industry. To be forthright, it's a little confusing. (This is why we have decided to exclude Michigan Ross from some categories until we gather a little more insight into their self-reported numbers.)

None-the-less, we have tried to make sense of it all and to do this we did combine some categories in order to get an apples-to-apples comparison across schools. Clear as mud?  That being said, we welcome any constructive feedback you may have. Either post your comments below or email us at MBA@amerasiaconsulting.com.

Top MBA Programs in Finance (2015)
AKA THE RANKING OF BUSINESS SCHOOL PROGRAMS BY PERCENTAGE OF GRADUATES ENTERING THE FINANCE INDUSTRY IN 2014.
Our first ranking is "Finance" and Chicago Booth comes out on top.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="408"]Image
Top MBA Programs in Finance by Percentage of Graduates Entering the Industry (2015)[/caption]

 

Source Data:

We compiled this ranking based on information taken directly from the following MBA employment reports.
Haas

http://haas.berkeley.edu/groups/careercenter/reports/14-15ReportSummary.pdf

UCLA Anderson

http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/Documents/areas/adm/cmc/2014%20PARKER%20CMC%20Employment%20Report%2002.10.15%20LR.pdf

Stanford GSB
https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/documents/Stanford%20GSB%20Employment%20Report%202013-14.pdf

MIT Sloan

http://mitsloan.mit.edu/pdf/Class_of_2014-intern_employment_report.pdf

HBS

http://www.hbs.edu/recruiting/mba/data-and-statistics/recruitingreport/

http://www.hbs.edu/recruiting/mba/data-and-statistics/employment-statistics.html

Wharton

http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/your-career/career-statistics.cfm

Kellogg

http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/career_employer/employment_statistics.aspx

Chicago Booth

http://www.chicagobooth.edu/employmentreport/

Columbia

https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/recruiters/employmentreport

NYU Stern
http://www.stern.nyu.edu/programs-admissions/full-time-mba/career/employment-statistics

Tuck

http://www.tuck.dartmouth.edu/careers/employment-statistics

Yale SOM

http://som.yale.edu/yale-som-connect/recruiting/employment-statistics

Michigan Ross

http://michiganross.umich.edu/our-community/recruiters

Duke Fuqua

http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/mba_recruiting/recruiting_duke/employment_statistics/

Cornell Johnson

http://www.johnson.cornell.edu/Career-Management/Employment-Report-for-Two-Year-MBAs

UVA Darden

http://www.darden.virginia.edu/recruiters-companies/hire-an-mba/employment-reports/

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Re: Calling all Kellogg Applicants (2015 Intake) Class of 2017 ! [#permalink]

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New post 23 May 2015, 06:22
congrats to all the R3 admits... just FYI - there's an intl student whatsapp group. if you are interested - pm me and i'll get the admin to add you (include your name)

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Top MBA Programs in Technology (Updated 2015) [#permalink]

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New post 25 May 2015, 05:08
Image
By Paul Lanzillotti, Amerasia Consulting Group
OUR RANKING OF BUSINESS SCHOOL PROGRAMS BY PERCENTAGE OF GRADUATES ENTERING THE TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY IN 2014.
Today's blog post is a follow up to our Top MBA Programs in Finance ranking. It's also our continued attempt at ranking top MBA programs by industry and based on publicly available data.

UC Berkeley Haas comes out on top when it comes to sending graduates (as a percentage of all graduates in 2014) back into the technology industry. UCLA Anderson is second, but it's not even close. Hands down, Haas is the place to be if you're into technology and want to work for a related firm in the industry.
Image

BUYER BEWARE
Now before you get too far into interpreting the numbers, a few words of caution. What we have done is an inaugural attempt at a numerically based ranking and its not perfect. It's based on our interpretation of the numbers put forth by top business schools.
  • Let us explain. Most MBA career centers report employment numbers according to the categories that we use in our rankings. Some schools break "industry" categories into further sub-categories. Other programs - i.e. Michigan Ross - roll up their industry categories under more general headers like "manufacturing". So you could be a "marketing" professional but be within the manufacturing industry. To be forthright, it's a little confusing. (This is why we have decided to exclude Michigan Ross from some categories until we gather a little more insight into their self-reported numbers.)

None-the-less, we have tried to make sense of it all and to do this we did combine some categories in order to get an apples-to-apples comparison across schools. Clear as mud?
WHY WE USE EMPLOYMENT DATA TO RANK SCHOOLS
Our opinion is that recruiting (i.e. who's hiring) drives most programs "investment" decisions - in students, faculty, courses, experiential initiatives, alumni outreach, etc.  So to know to what a specific MBA program is really all about, you need to see the end result. In other words, what industries are hiring MBA graduates and from what schools?

We compiled this ranking based on information taken directly from the following MBA employment reports.

Haas http://haas.berkeley.edu/groups/careercenter/reports/14-15ReportSummary.pdf

UCLA Anderson http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/Documents/areas/adm/cmc/2014%20PARKER%20CMC%20Employment%20Report%2002.10.15%20LR.pdf

Stanford GSB https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/documents/Stanford%20GSB%20Employment%20Report%202013-14.pdf

MIT Sloan http://mitsloan.mit.edu/pdf/Class_of_2014-intern_employment_report.pdf

HBS http://www.hbs.edu/recruiting/mba/data-and-statistics/employment-statistics.html

Wharton http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/your-career/career-statistics.cfm

Kellogg http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/career_employer/employment_statistics.aspx

Chicago Booth http://www.chicagobooth.edu/employmentreport/

Columbia https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/recruiters/employmentreport

NYU Stern http://www.stern.nyu.edu/programs-admissions/full-time-mba/career/employment-statistics

Tuck http://www.tuck.dartmouth.edu/careers/employment-statistics

Yale SOM http://som.yale.edu/yale-som-connect/recruiting/employment-statistics

Michigan Ross http://michiganross.umich.edu/our-community/recruiters

Duke Fuqua http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/mba_recruiting/recruiting_duke/employment_statistics/

Cornell Johnson http://www.johnson.cornell.edu/Career-Management/Employment-Report-for-Two-Year-MBAs

UVA Darden http://www.darden.virginia.edu/recruiters-companies/hire-an-mba/employment-reports/
FINALLY, DOES THE WORLD REALLY NEED ANOTHER BUSINESS SCHOOL RANKING?
We think "yes". We've never felt completely comfortable with the rankings because (to our knowledge) the raw data that drives the US News and Businessweek rankings has never been fully disclosed. So we decided to start over and with the very numbers that the school's career centers are reporting via their respective employment reporting.

That being said, we welcome any constructive feedback you may have. Email us at MBA@amerasiaconsulting.com with comments or if you're looking for an expert admissions consultant to lead you through the application process.

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From GMAT To Deposit: An Engineer’s Journey (via Poets & Quants) [#permalink]

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New post 26 May 2015, 11:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: From GMAT To Deposit: An Engineer’s Journey (via Poets & Quants)
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Photo via Poets & Quants

Dean Nordhielm was recently admitted to Kellogg and will begin taking classes in Evanston this fall. In this article, originally published on Poets & Quants, Dean looks back at his application journey and offers advice on what he thinks worked well for him and what he would not do again.

I just finished a 12-month process to get from GMAT to putting down the $2,000 deposit for Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. In some ways, it has been a spectacular process of self-discovery, and in others, it has been a grueling process of painful disappointment. I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit from the MBA applicant community, and I’d like to pay it forward by sharing a bit about my experience.

Read Dean’s advice and the complete article on Poets & Quants

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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This post has been originally posted on the Admissions Blog and re-posted here for convenience.

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Optimizing proxy measurements for you and your business [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jun 2015, 07:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: Optimizing proxy measurements for you and your business
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First-year student Rohan Rajiv is blogging once a week about important lessons he is learning at Kellogg. Read more of his posts here.

In our Operations Management class, we discussed how Wilson tests the durability of its tennis balls. It does so by subjecting them to pressure and checking for signs of contortion in the shape of the ball.

It isn’t possible for Wilson to put each ball through hours of tennis hitting and then confirm it is ready for sale. So, it works with a proxy measurement. It is unclear if customers can tell the difference between a tournament standard ball and a non-tournament standard ball. Perhaps professional tennis players can.

There isn’t necessarily an issue with this proxy. It seems to have largely worked out OK for them. But, it is a proxy measurement nevertheless. And, it is foreseeable that there might come a day (if it isn’t already here) when the distance between the proxy and the needs of the customer grows and Wilson fails to adapt simply because it is optimizing for the wrong thing.

Proxy measurements such as the Wilson durability test are critical in Operations. Proxy measures are critical in our life’s operations, too. They’re our attempt at simplifying a complex world and making our lives easy to navigate.

Venture capitalist Fred Wilson had an incredibly insightful post on his excellent blog around entrepreneurs using valuations as a scorecard. In Fred’s words:

“When you set out to build a great company, it’s hard to know how you are doing along the way. There does come a time when you know you’ve done it. Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Salesforce, Tesla, etc. got there. We know that. And the founders of those companies know that too. But two years in, three years in, four years in, it’s hard to know how you are doing. The market moves quickly. Customers are fickle. Competition emerges. Trusted team members leave. Your investors flake out on you. And so on and so forth. So entrepreneurs want something they can hang on to. They want a scorecard. A number. Validation that they are getting there.”

He notes that valuation is that scorecard. This idea is perpetuated even more so these days when financing and the valuations are reported every day as the most important news items in the tech blogs. And then, he describes the dark side from decades of experience as a leading venture capitalist:

“This obsession with valuation as the thing that tells you and the world how you are doing has a dark side. And that is because valuation is just a number. Unless you sell your business for cash at that price, valuation is just a theoretical value on your company. And it can change. Or you can get stuck there trying to justify it year after year all the while doing massive surgery to your cap table to sustain it.

And the markets can move on you and one day you are worth $2 [billion] and the next day your are worth $500 [million]. Did you just mess up by 75%? No. The market moved on you.

The message of this post is don’t let yourself get sucked into a world where a number is your measure of self worth. Because you don’t control that number. The market does. And some days the market is your friend and other days it is most decidedly not your friend.

Measure yourself on whether your employees are happy. Measure yourself on whether your customers are happy. Measure yourself on how much free cash flow your business is generating. Measure yourself on how your brand is known and appreciated around the world. Measure yourself on how your spouse and children feel about you when you come home from work each day. You control all of those things, at least to some degree.

But please don’t measure yourself on valuation. It might make you feel good today. But it won’t make you feel good every day.”

Fred’s post beautifully illustrates the issues with proxy measurements. It is easier to treat income and a job title as a measure of success or a valuation as a measure of our self worth. It is much harder to identify and measure the things that actually matter – happiness, love, and so on.

But beware what you measure. Because what you measure will be what you optimize for … and the worst outcome is a life spent optimizing all the wrong things.

Rohan Rajiv is a first-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. Prior to Kellogg he worked at a-connect serving clients on consulting projects across 14 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. He blogs a learning every day, including his MBA Learnings series, on www.ALearningaDay.com.

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How we won Ben Graham Centre’s International Stock Picking Competition [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jun 2015, 09:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: How we won Ben Graham Centre’s International Stock Picking Competition
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From left: Ken Broekaert of Burgundy Asset Management, Kellogg’s Will Manderscheid and Alex Acosta, and Ivey Professor George Athanassakos.

How did you get comfortable with the replacement value analysis? Why does this business have a more durable competitive advantage than its peers? Why is short interest so low?

These are some of the questions our Kellogg team of Alex Acosta, Anish Pasari and Will Manderscheid received after our final round presentation for Ivey Business School’s Ben Graham Centre International Stock Picking Competition. The competition features 25 teams of MBA students from top business schools around the world who vie for $17,500 in cash prizes.

In the first stage of the competition, held in January, each team prepared a written report on a company that was judged by a panel of value investors. From a list of 10 companies, our team selected Monarch Cement Co. (MCEM), a manufacturer of cement and ready-to-mix concrete. We recommended a “buy” due to significant undervaluation, positive industry trends, improving cash flow, and favorable industry consolidation.

The top three teams from Haas Business School, Ivey Business School and Kellogg advanced to the next stage, which involved presenting in-person at Ivey Business School in Toronto.

The final round required us to evaluate Buhler Industries (BUI), a manufacturer of heavy agricultural equipment. We recommended a “no buy” at the current price because of continued pain from declining commodity prices, substantial overvaluation relative to larger and better capitalized peers and high leverage, which would prohibit the company from investing in needed operational improvements and growth. The challenge was ultimately to convince a panel of highly accomplished value investors to not buy the stock.

Judges for this year’s competition included Ken Broekaert (Burgundy Asset Management), Wayne Peters (Peters MacGregor Capital Management), Robert Robotti (Robotti & Company Advisors) and Kim Shannon (Sionna Investment Managers).

Our team took the top prize of $10,000, with Haas finishing second and Ivey rounding out the top three.

Ultimately, we were successful because we:

Developed creative fundamental analyses

Any good financial analyst can examine gross margins, EV/EBITDA multiples and customer concentration. However, we called farmers and dealers to get real-time feedback on the trends in the business. We also developed a unique way of estimating declining industry prices and volumes by scouring dealer websites to compare new and used versions of tractor and combine models.

Exhibited organized thinking with imperfect information

Stocks as small as BUI ($125 million market cap) are rarely covered by Wall Street analysts and frequently do not disclose much information at all. As a result, we were forced to both find and analyze the data ourselves, as well as present a compelling story to the judges with a systematic analysis of why each segment of the industry value chain was going to struggle.

Communicated clearly

Answering questions from a panel of highly respected and successful value investors can be intimidating. However, preparation and four quarters of experience in Kellogg’s Asset Management Practicum enabled us to present confidently and tell a clear story of why we believed BUI was destined to underperform the market.

Will Manderscheid is a second-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. Prior to moving to Evanston, he worked in private equity at Sentinel Capital Partners in New York. After graduation, he will be joining Carlson Capital, a multi-strategy hedge fund based in New York.

Learn more about Kellogg’s Full-Time MBA Program.

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Preparing women for future board opportunities [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jun 2015, 09:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: Preparing women for future board opportunities
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By Amanda Schmid

Only 18% of S&P 500 boardrooms contain women. It will likely take 30 years for that number to grow to 30%. 

In order to continue supporting women in leadership, the Women’s Business Association (WBA) recently hosted a panel to hear how two prominent female executives navigated their careers to lead them to positions on several boards.

The panel was led by Professor Victoria Medvec (above, left), executive director of the Center for Executive Women. She was joined by Gerri Elliott (above, middle), who serves on the boards of Whirlpool Corporation, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Charlotte Russe, and by Lisa Shalett (above, right), a former partner at Goldman Sachs who serves on the boards of Brookfield Property Partners and PerformLine.

Through many inspirational stories and life lessons, the panel conveyed five key messages:

Boards need more women

Research shows how women on boards improves overall company performance. As more and more women graduate with MBAs and other higher education degrees and attain senior leadership roles, it is time for the percentage of women in board seats to better reflect the percentage of women in the workplace.

Take smart risks

Great careers do not stay in a comfort zone. Being willing to step forward and embrace a new challenge will propel your career to new heights. Both panelists encouraged attendees to get comfortable being uncomfortable in their careers in order to gain experience and confidence. Ask yourself, “What would I do if I were not afraid?” and then pursue that answer.

Develop a strong network

At every level of a career, your effectiveness in your job can be enhanced by knowing more people. Seek out opportunities to work across divisions, sectors and countries to build a web of contacts and relationships. Be disciplined about committing the time required to build your network. Pay it forward to your relationships and they will repay in kind.

Invest in your reputation

Work hard at the start of a career to gain trust and respect of your colleagues. It will pay off in new opportunities that come your way and in greater potential to have control over how you manage your time.

Carefully evaluate a board

Once you identify a potential board that would value your experience, do your due diligence carefully. Take time to ensure that the board is a good fit for you and for the company, given that the role is a significant commitment of 20-40 days per year.

Corporate boards have a tremendous opportunity to seek out women leaders. It is important for female students to aspire to board seats by investing in their skills and networks and challenging themselves to take the smart risks that create experience and expertise. It’s not too early for Kellogg students to begin their careers with that ultimate goal in mind.

For additional information on serving on boards and finding opportunities, check out Broadrooms.com, a newly-launched resource for women, founded by our guest Gerri Elliott.

Amanda Schmid is a first-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. Prior to moving to Evanston, she worked in hospitals in DC and Baltimore as a clinician and a department head. She is specializing in finance and marketing at Kellogg and hopes to eventually find a strategic or general management role at a med device company.

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Bringing a data-driven approach to Microsoft [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jun 2015, 08:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: Bringing a data-driven approach to Microsoft
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Visha Chadha ’15 spent last summer in Seattle working at Microsoft, where she interned as a product marketing manager intern. After graduation she will return full time to Microsoft and do product management/marketing in the company’s cloud computing group and work on Microsoft Azure.

One of the most valuable realizations Chadha had as a Microsoft intern was how she constantly applied lessons learned in Kellogg’s data analytics courses.

Chadha, who previously designed semiconductor chips for microprocessors and smartphones at AMD (Advanced Micro Devices), took time to talk about why it was important to build a strong foundation in data analytics while at Kellogg.

Why was it important for you to focus on data analytics?

Today, we’re living in a world where things are changing at a much faster pace than they ever did in the past. Technology is disrupting any and every industry, and it is becoming much harder to stay competitive and gain market leadership consistently. On top of that, the convergence of social, mobile, cloud and big data technologies poses new requirements of getting the right information to the consumer as quickly as possible.

No matter which path I chose to pursue after school, it was clear to me that data-driven insights and strategies are key to becoming an important point of competitive differentiation for organizations.

What were some of the most impactful courses you took?

Kellogg offers a range of exciting courses in data analytics. My interests are primarily in technology, marketing and entrepreneurship, so I chose to take analytics courses across these disciplines. A few interesting analytics courses I took were:

  • Social Dynamics and Network Analytics

    In this course, we learned the science behind virality and contagion, and we analyzed why some things go viral over others. We also learned the power of social networks, social media, wisdom of crowds, prediction markets and social capital and how they can be applied to organizational growth and competitiveness.
  • Startup Programming

    We used Ruby on Rails framework to build a simple database-backed web application and deploy it to a production server.
  • Programming for Analytics

    In this course, we used Python, one of the most popular languages used in app development and data analytics, and learned how to design software systems for analytics.
  • Entrepreneurial Tools for Digital Marketing

    This course focused on the customer relationship funnel on web/mobile channels. We learned basic concepts of UI/UX, A/B testing, SEO, SEM, conversion funnels, Google Analytics, and Google Webmaster Tools and how they can be applied to effective digital marketing strategies.
  • Retail Analytics, Pricing and Promotions

    In this course, we used data from field experiments to gain a deeper understanding of consumer and firm behavior and how we can use data to make informed pricing and retailing decisions.
What will you be doing at Microsoft?

I’m part of a one-year rotation program and will do three rotations of four months each in different functions within Azure. My role will be primarily inbound focused, which involves business planning, building pricing/licensing/subscription models, analyzing existing and new market opportunities for specific products and services, and assessing B2B partnerships.

How do you think your data analytics coursework will set you up for success at Microsoft and beyond?

I interned at Microsoft last summer in the same group and my project revolved around building models to identify and analyze strategic partnerships for their new Internet of things service. We were able to use real-time data to generate meaningful insights into which type of partnerships would be most effective.

I used a lot of concepts from the analytics courses I took in my first year for my internship project. That has further strengthened my belief in the power of using data analytics as an effective means towards gaining a competitive edge for organizations.

I also think that focusing on analytics, especially early on, will help build a strong foundation in developing a comprehensive skill set, as well as a sharp business acumen, in the long term.

In your mind, what stands out about Kellogg’s approach to data analytics?

Kellogg has a very strong and practical approach to data analytics for a few reasons.

First, the faculty at Kellogg is at the forefront of data analytics and data science, and that ensures that you’re learning from the very best.

Second, all courses take a data-driven approach to solving business problems to come up with the most effective solutions.

Finally, I feel like Kellogg takes a very practical approach to using data to solve real world problems. As one of our professors rightly said, “Any model will always give you a result as long as you input some data into that model. So, you could still be analyzing data but not getting the desired results. It is definitely important to learn how to model and crunch all the numbers but it is much more important to ask the right questions to make sure you’re solving the right problem to get to the desired outcome.” That has stuck with me ever since.

Is there anything else you would tell prospective students about data analytics at Kellogg?

Kellogg recognizes that big data and analytics matter in today’s business world like never before. In the past few years, a number of new courses have been introduced focused on data analytics and how managers can be more effective at establishing analytics competence across all areas of an organization. These courses are taught by some of the best professors in the school.

Last year, a group of students formed a Big Data and Analytics club, which is another great step. The club organizes exciting big data events and brings in guest speakers from the business world that talk about how they use data in their organizations to gain a competitive edge. This helps the students get a holistic understanding of how all the concepts we learn in the classroom are applied in the real world.

Learn more about the data analytics program at Kellogg.

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Private equity, venture capital and unprecedented change [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jun 2015, 08:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: Private equity, venture capital and unprecedented change
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By Kevin Pukala

The worlds of private equity and venture capital are facing unprecedented changes. An influx of non-traditional investors, fewer potential targets and anemic economic growth are all contributing to intense competition for returns. The formerly well-defined lines of fund categorization have begun to blur, and major industry shifts are requiring a rethinking of traditional capital structures and holding periods. Given these momentous shifts in the PEVC landscape, the 2015 Kellogg Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference sought to explore the challenges of building value at both the fund and portfolio company level.

We were honored to have two fantastic keynote speakers — Scott Dorsey ’99 of ExactTarget and Paul Finnegan of Madison Dearborn Partners — as well as industry professionals on six different panels walk us through how their respective firms are addressing these new challenges and trends. The conference drew a high level of interest from students and professionals as more than 300 tickets were sold for the event, held at the University Club of Chicago.

As a Kellogg alumnus, Dorsey’s story was particularly compelling. He co-founded marketing technology leader ExactTarget and led the company from start-up to IPO, and subsequently to its $2.7 billion acquisition by Salesforce.com in 2013.

Following the acquisition, Dorsey led the newly created Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud – a global team of nearly 3,000 employees. It was interesting to hear how he juggled the ongoing challenge of keeping the company’s orange culture intact as it grew from a three-person startup into a large public company.

Dorsey co-founded the company after the dot-com bubble burst, so there was not much capital for software startups. It meant he had no choice but to bootstrap the company and focus on building great applications. At the same time, he had to convince investors and clients of the company’s vision — that all organizations would use email for marketing.

Scott Maxwell, a venture capitalist and board member of the company, told the story of ExactTarget from an investor’s perspective and offered a unique tale-of-two-companies for the audience. In 2004, he led a deal team that ultimately invested $10.5M in the company — the firm’s first private placement from a Venture Capital firm — nearly four years after its founding.

SalesForce attempted to buy the company 18 months after this investment for $90M, but Maxwell was able to convince the founders to forego the liquidity in light of all the potential growth ahead of them. After eight more years of hard work growing the company and evolving its leadership team and board, SalesForce came back to the table with a $2.7B offer price. Maxwell mentioned that even the most optimistic people on the investment team didn’t expect this colossal result. A few of the early investors received a 50x return on invested capital.

Maxwell closed by asserting that Dorsey was the single most important person in the company’s exceptional success and that he built a company full of talented people that became exceptional together. He went on to further say that Kellogg helped Dorsey and asked the students in the crowd which one of us would be next?

The 2016 conference student team looks forward to continuing this year’s success, and I hope to see you all in attendance!

Kevin Pukala is a First-Year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year program. Prior to Kellogg, he worked in management consulting in Accenture’s Strategy practice. This summer, he will intern at McNally Capital, a Chicago-based private equity firm that partners with family offices and high net worth investors to make and manage direct investments.

Learn more about Kellogg’s Full-Time MBA Program.

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Kellogg announces Professor of the Year [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jun 2015, 08:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: Kellogg announces Professor of the Year
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Gad Allon, professor of managerial economics and decision sciences, was named the 2015 L.G. Lavengood Outstanding Professor of the Year Award on Friday.

The award, named in honor of former Kellogg Professor Lawrence G. Lavengood, is voted on by graduating students of Kellogg’s Full-Time and Part-Time programs.

“As an aspiring operations expert and life-long learner, Professor Allon continues to inspire me and those around me with his passion for operations, his drive to continuously improve and his desire to help others learn,” wrote one student in their nomination for Allon.

“Professor Allon’s classroom environment is as close to a real world boardroom or management meeting as you will find at Kellogg,” wrote another student. “His courses are intellectually challenging and he demands excellence in both preparation and presentation, not only from his students, but also himself.

This is the second Professor of the Year award for Allon, who was recognized in 2009. He also was named the Alumni Professor of the Year in 2014 and 2015.

Allon was recognized by Poets & Quants as one of “The World’s 40 Best Business School Profs Under the Age of 40” in 2011.

As Professor of the Year, Allon will deliver the faculty remarks at Kellogg’s graduation on June 19.

In the video below, Allon speaks about the dangers of past success during Kellogg’s Brave Leader panel at Reunion 2014.



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Managing motherhood and my MBA [#permalink]

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New post 10 Jun 2015, 08:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: Managing motherhood and my MBA
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By Mari Gottlieb

Before starting at Kellogg, I was apprehensive about whether I would enjoy my business school experience.

I have an almost 2-year-old son, and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to truly enjoy my time at school. As I prepare to finish my first year, I can say my concerns have been put aside.

The qualities that initially drew me to Kellogg were the inclusive culture, close-knit community and the extensive resources to support families. Over the past year, I have also developed a deeper appreciation for how student-driven the school is. What this means is that you have the resources and support from both your classmates and the administration to initiate change and bring awareness to the issues you care about.

I recently got to experience the benefits of a student-led culture when one of my classmates and I approached the administration and Women’s Business Association (WBA) about developing a forum for discussing career and family planning topics and formalizing a support system for current and future mothers. The WBA has been incredibly supportive by devoting ample time and resources, as well as prioritizing this topic as an important initiative for next school year.

I recognize that there are not many students at Kellogg who are also mothers. In some environments, this could make it more difficult to relate to others. However, this has not been a challenge for me, which I largely attribute to Kellogg’s culture. I love that my classmates embrace diversity, and I also think Kellogg does an exceptional job facilitating friendships between students of different backgrounds through KWEST (Kellogg Worldwide Experiences & Service Trips), our sections and many group projects.

I want other mothers to know that their business school experience can be rich, rewarding and fun. My advice for mothers attending business school is to figure out what is important to you and be disciplined enough to stick with it. Accept that you won’t be able to do everything you want to do or be able to do it as well as you would like. But recognize that you can still do a lot.

Since I do better with examples than abstract advice, here is how I currently prioritize my time during the week (when my husband is traveling for work):

Priorities: *

  • Family: Being home with my son between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. most nights during the week.
  • Social: Prioritizing the social events I care most about each quarter and attending those, and spending time with friends outside of school at least once during the week (I often have a babysitter come after 8 p.m. once my son is in bed).
  • School: Taking classes in subjects I am interested in and learning a lot; from an output standpoint, putting forth enough effort on my schoolwork so that my grades won’t jeopardize any recruiting opportunities.
  • Self: Devoting a couple of hours a week to my own activities or hobbies. This has been harder to maintain across time, but is still important. (For examples, I got scuba certified last quarter.)*When I was recruiting, my two priorities were basically family and internship search.
Where I cut back or try to save time:

  • Student clubs: My only role in a student club is chairing the Current & Future Mothers initiative.
  • School: I’ve had to rein in the overachiever in me.
  • Cleaning and household errands: I limit cleaning and errands to between 30 minutes and 1 hour each day, which is not nearly enough for a house with a toddler, a dog and two cats. I also budget to have a housekeeper come regularly.
  • Online shopping: I buy a lot of stuff online to save on trips to the store.
  • Cooking: Can it be done in less than 20 minutes? If not, then I pass!
I’ve found that my classmates are incredibly supportive, not just of me, but of everyone, and have made my school experience so much fun. I’ve also been able to participate in the activities that are most important to me, while still being there for my family. So I am not just enjoying my Kellogg experience, I am loving my Kellogg experience,

Mari Gottlieb is a first-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. She is originally from California and worked in investment management before Kellogg. This summer, Mari will be interning with the asset management group at UBS.

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Learning about ‘China’s next chapter’ [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jun 2015, 08:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: Learning about ‘China’s next chapter’
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By Summer Guo

The China growth story has been a big headline recently in business, academia and in governments around the world. And the story continues to evolve. The market has developed into a complex and sophisticated behemoth.

With that in mind, more than 600 attendees gathered at Kellogg last month for the 2015 Greater China Business Conference. “China’s Next Chapter — Future Growth Engine” focused on how China would address current challenges and fuel its future growth, laying the foundation for the country’s next chapter.

The day began with an opening keynote from Yan Xuan, president of Nielsen Greater China. Xuan shared a broad-stroke introduction to the major macro trends unfolding in China today and what they mean for businesses, both now and in the coming years. While China’s economy has slowed to 7 percent annual growth, consumer confidence has remained high, rooted in an increasingly robust middle class.  The middle class Xuan described is composed of consumers that continue to move into the more expensive urban centers, travel overseas, connect on social media and do their shopping on their mobile devices.

Illustrating how these customer dynamics have played out, Xuan told the story of Costco’s market entry into China. Forgoing its well-known big box strategy, Costco opted to launch in China through a one-stop e-commerce store on Alibaba’s Tmall platform. Costco’s strategy has been to focus on selling high-quality everyday goods to an increasingly discerning and online Chinese consumer.

The discussion continued with the opening panel on retail and consumer markets. James Reiman, former EBT Mobile China CEO and chairman, moderated a conversation with Feng Xue, head of China practice and managing partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman; Winnie Yang, associate marketing director at Procter & Gamble; and Michael Zakkour, vice president for Tompkins International’s China/Asia Pacific practice.

The panelists discussed China’s growing population of 800 million consumers with disposable incomes, whose rise has squarely followed the confluence of industrialization, urbanization and e-commerce. The last of these — e-commerce — will also lay the groundwork for China’s future, both locally and internationally, according to the panel.

It is estimated that today, 75 percent of all e-commerce in China connects back to Alibaba. As Alibaba aims to invest in a global supply chain and build borderless e-commerce, the panelists said they expected to see some of the lines blur as Chinese players go abroad and international players continue to grow in China.

Take a look at the student-produced trailer for the event.

Other conference discussion featured experts from Emerson Climate Technologies, Cummins and The Paulson Institute, each bringing a unique take to their respective topics.

Bill Bosway, group vice president of Emerson Climate Technologies, explained how Emerson made environmental sustainability an essential core to its business by sharing the company’s efforts to cooperate with the Chinese government to enforce environmental regulations.

Sharad Shekhar, general manager of Cummins, showed China’s progress on sustainable development by touching on the role of intellectual property for clean technologies. Leigh Wedell, chief sustainability officer of The Paulson Institute, emphasized the challenges China’s central government faces in galvanizing cooperation from the local level.

Alex Cheng, vice president of Baidu and general manager of the company’s U.S. operation, concluded the conference, delving into the explosion of China’s mobile Internet and data creation. This trend has led to a virtuous cycle of more data, better products and smarter services. Cheng also shared insights into how a range of industries — through smart Internet usage — have found inspiration and business innovation.

More than any other trend, Chinese innovation will be the source of growth, both in the country and abroad.

Summer Guo is a first-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. Prior to moving to Evanston, she worked in consulting at Boston Consulting Group in Shanghai. This summer, she will intern with Danaher at Beckman Coulter in Brea, Calif.

Learn more about Kellogg’s Full-Time MBA Program.

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Controlling queues on the job and in your life [#permalink]

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New post 12 Jun 2015, 08:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: Controlling queues on the job and in your life
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First-year student Rohan Rajiv is blogging once a week about important lessons he is learning at Kellogg. Read more of his posts here.

I’ve been sharing a run of operations learnings of late as a part of this series. This has been surprising as I never considered myself a fan of the subject. However, thanks to a combination of a professor (Gad Allon, who last week was named Kellogg Professor of the Year) who’s more than managed to pique my interest and a realization that learning to manage business operations isn’t very different from managing life operations, I’ve enjoyed my time studying operations. And today’s topic is managing queues.

Managing queues is particularly interesting as we all experience, and generally dislike, queues.

The average wait time in a queue is given by the following formula:

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To break down each of the parts of this formula in simple terms (with an analogy of a queue at an ice cream stand):

  • Mean service time is the amount of time taken by the person serving the queue
  • Utilization is the amount of time he/she spends serving out of his/her total time on the job
  • Variability (more on this later) is a measure of how steady the demand is. If people enter the queue steadily through the day, it is much easier to deal with demand versus random fluctuations
Things get interesting when we study the effect of utilization on increasing waiting time. This graph, from HBR, illustrates it beautifully:

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What this graph is saying is that waiting times more than double when your solitary ice cream server is working 80% of the time. It doubles again when he finds himself working 90% of the time. Why? Because delays are caused by sudden fluctuations in the queue, e.g., a mass of tourists that come in to buy ice cream in the midst of their city tour. And since our solitary server has no spare capacity, it is inevitable that waiting times go up.

So, if you are staffing your restaurant, for example, and if you find yourself running at 100% capacity all the time, that may not be the best thing for your customers since it is inevitable that waiting time goes up (If you are an exclusive restaurant, it may not be a bad thing, but that’s a different matter.).

The insight in managing our personal lives is pretty profound. If we organize ourselves such that we always find ourselves running at 100% capacity, it is inevitable that queues will build up on our plate. That’s because work doesn’t arrive at a constant rate. An emergency project is bound to show up and, if we’re running with no safety capacity, that could be a problem. Additionally, we’ll never have the bandwidth to deal with other sorts of fluctuations that may occur outside work, like a family member that gets sick or a friend who needs help. So it is a good idea to maintain safety capacity.

And how do you do that?

Learn how to scope projects well. I had a manager who was a master at making sure we needed no late nights to get to the finish line on our projects. He believed our best work was done when we were relaxed. He reiterated that he’d rather we build models slowly, but accurately, rather than fast and requiring multiple revisions. He also believed we should always be able to deal with issues that come up with minimal stress. And of course, he consciously developed this single skill that, in my opinion, distinguishes great managers from bad ones.

In short, he understood the importance of safety capacity. We should, too.

Rohan Rajiv is a first-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. Prior to Kellogg he worked at a-connect serving clients on consulting projects across 14 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. He blogs a learning every day, including his MBA Learnings series, on www.ALearningaDay.com.

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Financial advice for graduates [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jun 2015, 13:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: Financial advice for graduates
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By Professor Tim Calkins

This week, almost one thousand people will graduate from Kellogg with their MBA degrees. They will then embark on careers that will span decades. Last year I posted some financial advice for the graduates, and some people found that useful, so this year I’m sticking with the theme. Those who read last year’s post will notice some similar ideas.

I should note that I teach marketing, not finance. This advice comes from several decades of working, saving and investing, and many discussions with friends and colleagues about matters financial–not from the latest textbook.

Here are five pieces of advice for people launching their careers:

Save
The key to financial success is fairly simple: save money. If you spend less than you earn, you have money to work with. You can invest it or reduce debts, and these are both good ideas.

Building up some savings gives you the freedom to pursue your interests. It also reduces your risk. Things can unravel quickly in life. Having some money in the bank is a bit of insurance for the rough times. There will be some rough times.

It all starts with spending discipline. You have to spend less than you make. So drive a cheap car and keep it forever. Buy a relatively inexpensive house. Go easy on fancy restaurants and fine wines. Visit Michigan instead of Tahiti. It isn’t really all that complicated.

Saving early in your career is particularly valuable because a little money today can become a lot of money tomorrow through the power of compounding.

Pay down debt
Corporate finance executives will often observe that debt is a positive. If you borrow money to invest in productive assets, you will usually increase your firm’s profits and stock price. Indeed, a company with no debt is rarely optimizing returns for stock owners.

But people are not companies. For individuals, debt is a burden. When you carry debt, you are paying interest month after month. This is bad for morale as well as your savings.

Paying down debt is a completely risk-free move that often provides a relatively good return. Remember, the people who loaned you money thought that it was a good financial investment, despite the risk that you would default. You can get the same return with zero risk. That is a good proposition.

It is fine to take a mortgage when buying a house, even if you have investments; you don’t want to sell stocks and incur capital gains taxes if you can avoid it. Debt can be a useful bridge. Just remember, once you have the mortgage, pay it off.

Buy stocks and hold them
The U.S. financial system is remarkable because it lets you buy stocks in hundreds of companies for almost nothing. Once you own a stock, there are no fees and no capital gains taxes.

I bought one of my first stocks back in 1995. I purchased 100 shares in State Street Bank for $3,357. I still own them and the position is now worth over $31,000. In the past twenty years, I haven’t paid a single fee or any capital gains taxes on this money. I plan to hold the stock for the rest of my life, so I’ll never have to.

If you invest in a mutual fund, you’ll pay a fee every year, and then you’ll pay capital gains taxes. Over time, a 1% annual fee becomes a very significant drag on a portfolio. Holding a stock is free.

Some people argue that buying individual stocks is too risky for small investors. I disagree.

If you buy thirty stocks completely at random, your return should be somewhat similar to the stock market as a whole. You might miss Apple, but you might also miss Enron. Some stocks will go up; some will go down. You can sell the losers and take the capital gains loss against your income. In other words, the government covers a portion of the downside.

The key is that you should almost never sell a stock. This is difficult. It is incredibly tempting to sell when a stock is up or down, but a trade is often a losing proposition. You have to both sell at the right time and buy at the right time.

So buy a few shares in different companies and then get back to working and playing with your kids. If you can’t bring yourself to just buy individual stocks, put some money in an index fund.

Keep things simple
Investing can be very complex. The financial world thrives on creating complicated products designed to exploit small mispricing opportunities.

My advice: avoid complexity. Instead, you should keep your investments as simple as possible. Work with just a few investment companies and limit your credit cards. Most importantly, avoid investments that you don’t understand, especially if they seem too good to be true.

When I was about eight years old I took a trip to Mexico with my parents. They were (and still are) fairly frugal, so we went to a free breakfast sponsored by a time-share company. Within thirty minutes, my parents were ready to buy several weeks of time in the development. It all felt fishy to me, a bit too good to be true. I recommended against it. That was a wise piece of advice, and my parents still tell that story.

If you keep things simple, you will understand your investments and sleep better.

Be generous
One way to save more money is to cut back on charitable donations. This is technically true, but it’s a bad idea. You should be generous.

There are two reasons to give to charity.

First, it is your obligation. The U.S. is a unique country. While we have fewer taxes than some countries, our citizens are generous. This isn’t the case everywhere. My children attend a French school in Chicago, and new families from France are simply baffled by the U.S. system of asking for donations. This is understandable, because in France taxes are exceptionally high but people don’t then contribute much to charities. The higher taxes compensate for the lack of giving.

The U.S. is different; people give back. Graduating from Kellogg puts you in a rather select group of society. You have training, connections, and skills. As you progress through life, you should help others who didn’t have the same advantages.

Secondly, you should give because it is rewarding. Studies show that when you give away money you feel better about your life. This is a win–win proposition.

So find a cause you care about, and then support it consistently. In addition, if a friend or colleague asks you to support their cause, do so. If someone is walking for diabetes, support them. If they invite you to a charity dinner, attend if you can, and then be generous. These donations support good causes and they build relationships. Think of it as an investment in people and your community that will pay you back many times over.

And there you have it — financial advice for your bright futures. Now go forth, succeed, and do good things in the world.

Tim Calkins is a clinical professor of marketing at Kellogg, where he teaches marketing strategy, biomedical marketing and strategic marketing decisions. He also leads Kellogg’s Super Bowl Ad Review. His professional blog can be found at timcalkins.com.

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Soliciting Letters of Recommendation: Remember the Rule of 10% [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jun 2015, 17:07
By Adam Hoff, Amerasia Consulting Group

When it comes to recommendations, the first thing that any applicant needs to understand is how they work and, therefore, how they should handle them as part of the process.  We sum up this analysis with something we call “The Rule of 10%”: they count for about 10% of a decision, they should be about 10% of your focus during application season, and you should contribute about 10% of the work that goes into their outcome.  Obviously, these are all gross estimates and generalizations, but it shakes out to about right and its easier to use 10% than “a percentage that is a LOT less than you think it is.”  The bottom line is that most applicants assume a much higher level of importance, they spend far more time thinking and worrying about them, and they get far too involved in their production (the biggest issue of all).  Let’s work through all three:

 

1. Letters of Rec Make up About 10% of the Decision.

There are basically two ways to analyze how recommendations work within an admissions decision – one is to think of it from a process standpoint and the other is to consider the “weight” they carry, more or less, and using the former can help us understand why the answer to the latter is “more or less about 10%.”

Within the process, the typical way in which a letter of recommendation is utilized by an admissions officer is as a verification tool.  A reader will sit down to review a file (in much less time than you think, by the way) and typically work through the “one sheet” (name, biographical data, test scores, undergrad, major, GPA, age, etc.) so they can get the basics.  This frames the expectation going in and is why some of these data points become obsessed over.  A low GMAT tells the reader “long shot” (and that’s the best case scenario).  An extreme age makes them extra sensitive to the appropriateness of the degree.  There are a lot of ways the perception can be framed at this very initial stage, and while nobody’s mind is made up yet, there is definitely an influence on the way the file is read.

Next, it’s the application itself (transcripts are usually skipped or skimmed unless there is something to investigate, like a really low GPA next to a monster GMAT score), which is very quick.  The resume brings to life work experience in a snapshot, which is why you must always construct your resume as a sales tool.  Now, the reader has a much better sense of how qualified this applicant is, how well this person has done professionally, and so forth – the reader can probably prognosticate admissions chances with about 60% accuracy at this point.  The essays are where the variance kicks in.  Some who look good on paper will blow it, by either failing to articulate proper reasons for the degree, or writing bland content that they think is what someone wants to read, or for failing to really connect to the school in question.  Others will rise far above the initial impression with “great” essays (that do accomplish the things above).

Once the essays are completed, the reader is about 90% of the way there and more or less has decided.  The only thing left is to check the recommendation letters to make sure that other people – people who know the applicant better – concur with the assessment.  Again, we want to stress that this is about validating an already-formed opinion.  If you were an experienced professional who prided yourself on bringing in a great class of students every year and you know what works and what doesn’t, are you going to cede the power of making the decision to someone writing a letter?  Of course not, so unless it is an extreme case (like Stanford, where far more stated importance is put on letters of recommendation), you can assume that your letters will account for about 10% of the ultimate decision.  Good letters will help affirm a reader’s decision to “admit” (note: this just means you will get an interview invite at this point, but within admissions offices they flag people as admits until they are demoted down to wait list or deny), is basically what it comes down to.

 

2.  You Should Spend About 10% of Your Time on Letters of Rec.

The second Rule of 10% is how much time you should be spending on the letter of recommendation – and 10% might be generous.  This is a letter written by someone else, after all.  How much time should it really take you?  Not much!  Note though that we did not say 0% of your time.  You do need to take some steps to set your recommender up for success rather than failure.
  • First, you should indeed sit down with the person writing your letter and talk to that individual.  Thank them for taking the time, solicit their advice on schools and even whether now is the right time (even if you are just doing it to make them feel valued), buy them a cup of coffee – whatever you do, make it personal and don’t just email them a one-liner asking them to write you a letter of recommendation.
  • You should also state clearly what you are asking them to do, which is recommend you.  This is not a performance evaluation.  Ask the person in question whether he or she is comfortable recommending you wholeheartedly to business school.  Avoid anyone who caveats the answer or who seems intent on performing a rigorous exercise just to prove how smart they are.  You want someone who is excited to help your chances by extolling your virtues.
  • Finally, you should provide your recommender with some ammunition.  This is admittedly a tricky area, because you neither want to influence the letter too much, nor do you want to overwhelm the recommender with reams of documents that they have to sort through.  Our advice is to give them three items: your resume, a “query letter” that formally asks them for this favor and details some of your key accomplishments and interests (2-3 pages, max), and a sample (if they would like to see one) of a good letter.  From there, your work is done.  Get out of the way and don’t mess with the process.

 

3. You Should Do About 10% of the Work on Your Letters.

This leads us to our third 10% Rule, which is how big your role should be in the production of the letter.  That 10% is already accounted for above – in the prep work to set that person up to succeed.  Any other involvement is not only unethical (some schools will ding you for leaving your fingerprints on the letter), but also counterproductive.  Remember what these are used for: to verify the findings of an experienced admissions professional.  They don’t want to read more essays!  They don’t want to see you embedding more statements about how awesome you are in another part of the application (commonly referred to as “synching the letters”).  All they want is an authentic, positive letter that says, “yes, I vouch that this person is great – if you liked the application, you will like the actual applicant.”

Now, just to make it clear that we’re not in some utopian society where all recommendation letter writers are created equal, let’s discuss quality.  Is there a disparity between a good letter and a great one?  Yes, absolutely.  A great letter is well written, provides specific examples of discussed traits, offers context for its remarks, and – best of all – establishes a baseline from which to assess this one person (“in all my years on Wall Street, during which I have encountered hundreds of MBA candidates, Timmy is the best…”).  However (and this is a key point!), the same disparity does not exist between the value of a great letter versus a good one.  Great letters don’t pull victory from the jaws of defeat and magically make your ding an admit, so the marginal utility of a “great” letter is somewhere between zero and “not much.”  Sure, there are cases of amazing letters playing a big role, but that is unpredictable and rare, meaning you don’t build your application strategy around it.  More to the point, the downside of a manipulated letter is that you can get denied – either on ethical grounds or because the reader simply has no way to validate previous findings (which is their entire objective in reviewing them).

Remember: if the role you play in your own letters of recommendation is greater than 10%, you will not only fail to gain an advantage, you create a great possibility that you will shoot yourself in the foot.  Engaging in this process beyond 10% of the work is basically minimal upside, big downside.

If you can take this tip to heart, you will create less stress for everyone involved and allow the letters of recommendation to serve the very basic function they are intended for.

 

For an overview of Amerasia MBA Admissions Consulting services, please visit http://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/mba_admissions_consulting_services/

If you are interested in the MBA Admissions Consulting services offered by Amerasia, please email mba@amerasiaconsulting.com to inquire about setting up a free consultation.

 

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The 11 takeaways from my Kellogg experience [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jun 2015, 09:00
FROM Kellogg MBA Blog: The 11 takeaways from my Kellogg experience
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By Aftab Khanna

Tomorrow I will officially transition from being an MBA Candidate to an MBA Graduate of Kellogg’s Class of 2015. Over the last few weeks, as the journey started approaching its goal, a few of us had conversations about what our key takeaways were.

What are the things we learned that would stay with us for years to come?

An MBA gives you technical skills and core subject matter knowledge, but some lessons stand out. As I thought about my own learnings, a few things came to mind and I thought it was worth it to share them with current and prospective students.

I would add some caveats here, though:

  • The list is purely subjective and reflects my opinions. Others may completely disagree and that would be fair.
  • The list is also colored by the kind of classes I took. Someone with a different class mix would have other things to talk about (which is the beauty of an academically diverse MBA program).
  • Lastly, it is not so much about how many points you can take away but how deeply the information impacted you, and that is something that comes down to the quality of faculty and what they taught you. At Kellogg, I have been lucky to be taught by some wonderful professors, and this list would surely not have been possible without them.
1. The free markets work … mostly

And when they don’t, there is one word that describes that failure: externalities. Externalities are actions we take that cause an impact felt by others; we do not take this impact into account while taking the action. Smoking is a classic example of an externality. You don’t need a business school to tell you that free markets are the most optimal economic mechanism to generate and distribute wealth, but you do need to understand why and when markets fail and what to do about them. If you ever feel that a market-based solution is not working, hunt for the externalities.

2. Marketing is much more than advertising

Call me a little silly, but advertising was the face of marketing for me and I could not think beyond it before coming to Kellogg. What I learned was that for a business marketer, the ad creative is the last thing that should matter. Marketing runs parallel to all your business decisions (as does Operations). The key is to think of a customer problem to solve, identify a unique customer segment, tailor the product to address their problem and then position it to them. One lesson that I will never forget came from my Advertising Strategy class: Your job is to own the strategy, the creative is owned by the agency. Never try to modify the creative. Simply reject it if it betrays the product positioning and strategy.

3. Do not mistake correlation for causality

A lot of sensational articles you see on the web suffer from this syndrome. The human mind is trained to search for cause/effect relationships everywhere, and the first plausible one that we come across tends to get sanctified. Does carrying a cell phone in the front trouser pocket reduce sperm fertility in men? Does consuming chocolate lead to weight loss in women? Did New York City’s crime rate drop in the 1990s because Mayor Rudy Giuliani cracked down on graffiti? Whenever you see a sensational headline or a piece of business research in your field, pause and ask whether it is merely a correlation or an actual causation. (P.S. – The answer to all the three questions above is No.)

4. Conditional probability guides a lot of our value based debates

As one of my favorite professors at Kellogg remarked, decision sciences or probability studies can explain almost everything in life. Conditional probability is often behind a lot of our policy debates – our station in life conditions our views. If you are wealthy, a redistributive economic policy would not appeal to you, while if you belong to an economically weaker strata of society, you would push for such a policy. Our values are dependent on our existing conditions. But ask yourself this – if you could not choose how or where you were born, and on one end of the probability tree is richness and wealth and on the other end lies deep poverty and deprivation, would you still prefer a world without any safety nets? To me this was a fascinating perspective, one that I never considered and it opened my thinking to the scope of application of probability concepts.

5. Doing currency arbitrage is like picking pennies in front of a speeding truck

One of my favorite Kellogg classes was International Finance. At some level we all think we can game the markets. As an international student, I was always alive to the sensitivity of exchange rates of my home country and the US – always searching for that arbitrage. What this class taught me was that you simply cannot forecast currency rates, and unless you are playing with millions of dollars of (ideally) someone else’s money, currency arbitrage is likely to burn you. You cannot forecast currency depreciations and interest rate changes and eventually it becomes a zero sum game. The other big learnings from this class – the best way to hedge against currency risk is to produce locally and that currency hedging is a long-term marriage, not a one night stand.

6. Create value, but don’t forget to find someone who can pay for it

The Performance Indicator case in my Core Strategy class was one of my favorites, not only because it related to golf — of which I am an avid fan — but also because it teased apart the relevant distinction between value creation and value capture. A breakthrough technology that would help golfers identify whether a used golf ball was beyond degradation was struggling to find adoption simply because its inventors were going after a segment of the market (premium golf ball makers) where the technology would have eroded value by pushing customers toward lower priced golf balls. Another learning that came from the case – innovation may sometimes erode value across some parts of the value chain.

7. Fall in love with the problem, not the product

An often repeated mistake in technology markets is to become obsessed with a product and not the problem. The case of Iridium stands as a landmark tombstone here. A brick-heavy phone developed in the 1990s to help solve the problem of being able to communicate when you had no access to landline telephones. The issue was that Iridium was very expensive and could only work when the user was in a clean line of sight with the satellite. The mockingly sighted use case – a CEO sitting at the top of Grand Canyon. Yet Iridium continued to bleed money simply because no one stood up to say that they were too focused on the product and not the customer problem. The cel lphone revolution eventually did the talking for them.

8. There is wisdom in the crowd

I must confess I was a bit skeptical of the whole crowdsourcing buzz until a class experiment made me see its application. Under the right conditions (a straightforward problem not requiring expertise and the crowd possessing basic knowledge about the problem), a crowd can outperform a team of experts. From whether it is predicting who will become President to who gets picked as the No. 1 player in a draft, the crowd can outperform the average prediction of individual experts in all cases. There is a catch, though, and that is called diversity; the crowd must be sufficiently diverse (read random) for its errors to cancel out.

9. The best strategies get tripped by non-market events

We now operate in a world where businesses routinely must think, care about and accommodate their external stakeholders. The ability of non-market events to scuttle a business plan is enormous and I am glad that at Kellogg this was a core focus area from both a national and international perspective. How do businesses form coalitions to guard their interests against changing regulations? How do we manage gatekeepers and regulators? How do we align interests and how do we safeguard investments in emerging markets with uncertain governments and weak judicial systems? Corporations like Wal-Mart have been singed by non-market events all over the world. What was thought as lying at the frontier of business decision making is now a more frequent reality, and something that can pour water on the best laid plans.

10. The best way to build culture is through guidelines and not rules

You will many Kellogg professors speak about values-based leadership and how to use values to guide decision-making. A lot of organizations pride themselves on their culture and many try to change their culture. A key learning for me was that culture is not a dictum – it is an evolutionary process and hence best left to broad guidelines to govern it rather than strict rules. Rules promote backlash and workarounds, whereas guidelines allow sufficient flexibility for implementation. Another critical learning was the use of social norms – people follow the lead of those around them. Put them in relatable situations, tell them what their peers did and affirm positive values to achieve behavior change.

11.  Never enter a negotiation without planning

Always have a BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Solution), prepare and identify your priorities and your counterpart’s priorities, then find room for give and take by looking at all the issues together. You will be surprised by how much everyone can compromise.

Lastly, enjoy and own your MBA journey. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it is entirely up to you to derive as much value from it as you can!

Aftab Khanna is from New Delhi, India. Aftab is a bit of a social media addict, loves to watch any kind of sport and shares his thoughts on Twitter at @aftabkhanna.

Filed under: Academics, Business Insight, Student Life Tagged: Advice, courses, Kellogg culture, leadership, marketing, strategy, Student Experience Image
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The 11 takeaways from my Kellogg experience   [#permalink] 18 Jun 2015, 09:00

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