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Consortium MBA Blog

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Combining Understanding of Technology and Management to Better Serve E  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Apr 2019, 20:01
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FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Combining Understanding of Technology and Management to Better Serve End Users
Afua Bruce’s career has been driven by a passion for engineering and technology, an appreciation for sound management skills and an understanding of the power that comes from having knowledge of both.

Afua began her education as a computer engineering major at Purdue University. After almost four years as a software engineer at IBM immediately after college, she decided to pursue her second interest, business. In 2011, she graduated as a member of the Consortium class from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and accepted a position working for the FBI — a job that took her to Washington, D.C., where she has remained ever since.

Now, she serves as director of engineering for the public interest technology program at the non-partisan think tank New America.

We recently spoke with Afua about the benefits and the unique perspective afforded by her MBA and how she believes an MBA can be used to improve citizens’ interactions with their government.

Was there something in your experience at IBM that sparked in you an interest in pursuing an MBA?

I graduated undergrad knowing that I wanted to go to business school one day. I thought I would work at a large technology-based business like IBM, start off technical, move up the ranks and eventually be an executive.

I minored in business at Purdue and started my job as a software engineer with the idea that in a few years I would go back, probably part time, to get an MBA. As luck would have it, I got immersed in coding and loved it. The software engineer life was great.

I worked on a project developing [an internal] project management software tool, so I worked with a lot of project managers and thought, “This is actually pretty interesting.” Then I had the opportunity to shadow some managers on a couple of experiences and found that interesting as well. I was at a point in my career at IBM where I was looking for a bit of a change — I was thinking, at the time — at IBM. I’d applied for an evening master of science in technology commercialization program at The University of Texas at Austin. But when I took the GMAT, I ended up doing really well, and a mentor suggested that instead of pursuing a science degree that I go back full time for an MBA. So that’s what I decided to do.

What made you want to pair technology and business?

I think they go hand in hand, but I’ve always been someone who has balanced many interests. My mind works best when making connections across different types of problems, issues and people. I love building things and creating entire systems. Engineering satisfies these interests; business gives [me] a new way to tackle these challenges.

After being a software engineer for a few years and having a variety of managers, I came to appreciate those who had strong management skills in addition to a strong understanding of technology. I came to believe that, especially in the tech world, strong managers allow engineers and other subject-matter experts to be subject-matter experts, as they — the managers — improve organizational systems, processes and finances.

The people who had enough knowledge to ask the tough questions of technical experts to shape a product and who had strong enough business skills to set strategy and support the launch of a product seemed to be most effective. I wanted to fill that role.

How did you come to work for the FBI?

I joined the FBI through the Special Advisor Program. The FBI hires a handful of newly minted MBAs from top-tier business schools every year into this program. They recruited at Michigan and reached out to me. [At first,] I said I wasn’t interested, but when they reached out again, I listened to all they had to say. I realized that I could use my technical skills and my business skills to do interesting, challenging work that I would not be able to do other places.

During your time with the FBI, you joined the White House as executive director of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). What did you do in this role?

One of the primary functions of the NSTC was to produce reports detailing assessments, reviews, strategies and policies for the federal science and technology enterprise — everything from cybersecurity to science, technology, engineering and math education to soil health. I convened science and technology experts, executives and budget experts from across government to collaborate and produce the reports. I often coordinated review and approval of these documents with presidential appointees from throughout the government.

The NSTC published nearly 50 documents and reports during my time at the White House. It is difficult to pick a favorite document, but some of the most interesting reports to me were the “Sustaining a Competitive Edge in Innovation Through a World-Class Federal Science and Technology Workforce,” “Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence” and the “Social and Behavioral Sciences Team Annual Report.”

Do you think having an MBA gave you a unique perspective working for the government?

An MBA gives a unique perspective only when it is combined with an understanding of the immense amount of talent and expertise that other people in your organization bring. MBAs who join the government thinking they already know everything will not be successful. And even worse, they could actually disrupt, with negative consequences, processes and order.

I find that having an MBA in organizations like the FBI and the White House — even working with the state and local governments and nonprofits that I work with now — is only valuable when you combine it with a respect for the expertise that other people have in the world that you are joining.

You’re joining organizations where people have built subject-matter expertise in particular issue areas, so your job is to figure out how you can simplify or improve the efficiency of their lives [using the knowledge you gained from your MBA].

How did you come into your current position at New America?

I really enjoyed my time at the FBI but felt that I wanted a different experience. Having been an FBI employee for about six and a half years, I was ready for something new.

My career trajectory included some engineering aspects, some government and nonprofit aspects and, because of my time at the White House, some policy aspects. I was looking for a job that would combine all of my interests into one position, and the public interest technology program at New America is designed to do that. Public interest technology considers how technology and policy can be better developed together for nonprofits and government. It’s a good mix of all my skills.

What type of work do you do there?

Our work falls into two main categories. One is tech-informed policy development, and the other is policy-informed tech development. On the policy development side, for example, traditionally, policy is made by policymakers who sit in rooms, write a report, make a policy, then move on. We are changing the way policy is made by applying some of the best techniques from the tech world — including the scientific method, design thinking, agile methodology and iteration — and using them in the policymaking process.

We also consider who is at the policymaking table. Having technologists at the table is important so that when you’re creating a policy, you have people who are already thinking about how it is going to be implemented: What types of considerations do we need to take into account for privacy? How can we design policy that takes into account the needs of our end users, the people who are actually touched by these policies? How do we build these humans into the system and design around that?

On the flip side, engineers are great -— I’m an engineer — but sometimes, we’re so focused on the technology that we forget about some of the ethical, policy or social implications of technology, especially in an era when regulation and legislation haven’t kept pace with technology development. When you are designing technology, you are essentially designing policies that affect people’s lives. So, how can we better inform that tech development process so that technology takes into account ethics, policy and equity frameworks?

You’ve mentioned that you believe it’s possible to use an MBA to improve how residents receive services from and interact with their government and nonprofits. How have you demonstrated this in your career?

This is the mission of the public-interest technology project I now manage. In Rhode Island, for example, we have worked with their foster care system. Using a combination of technical and non-technical tools, we helped the state clear its backlog of families who had said they would like to be foster families but were stuck at some point in the licensing process.

We supported Rhode Island as they planned and hosted a weekend event designed to get families through the licensing process; this weekend ended up creating a community of future families who might now be more likely to foster longer. So that is an example of people who would like to take in foster care [children] being able to better interact with that system as well as an example of kids who are in foster care being able to be placed in safe homes.

In Los Angeles County, we have a project going on right now with the city’s Youth Diversion Development (YDD) division. This relatively new division is intended to fund and coordinate a network of community-based alternatives to arrest. It will allow law enforcement officers to refer kids to YDD-funded providers rather than arresting them. Our team helped the division think through answers to questions such as “How do you think about data?” and “How do you collect data that is needed and do it in a way that is respectful and not overly intrusive or a violation of people’s rights?”

This involved coming up with some data principles to talk to the different constituencies — the law enforcement community-based organizations, community advocates — and find out what expectations are and what was actually needed.

Those are two examples of how we’re making sure people can get services better from their government. We feel really strongly that we can’t just sit in an office, in a think tank in D.C., and think about things and write some papers, and magically the world will change. We feel strongly that we can take action and really work alongside partners to transform how services are delivered.

How have your capabilities in both technology and business complemented each other throughout your professional life? 

For me, one of the biggest things is really understanding how systems work, how we can tie anything to a bottom line. Because I have a basic understanding of technology and have worked with software engineers, scientists and technologists, I can speak their language and understand their needs. I can also speak the language of management and executives, understand their needs and figure out how we can re-organize people, systems and processes to really let managers be managers, executives be executives and engineers and technologists be engineers and technologists.

That’s really where the value of understanding both sides comes from. The hard work is getting these two groups that don’t always speak the same language to understand and respect each other and to give each other enough room to be experts in their own space. That is what I’ve spent a lot of my career doing.

Do you have any advice for prospective or current students interested in making a difference in the technology field?

 My suggestion is always to follow your passion. There are so many things in this world that could be improved, things that are done in a way that is accepted today, but with the right innovation, could look completely different tomorrow. So whatever you’re passionate about, start there. Look for who’s doing work in that space, join in the work and figure out how you can make a difference given your skill set.

The post Combining Understanding of Technology and Management to Better Serve End Users appeared first on The Consortium.
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Seizing Opportunity: MBA Students on How to Successfully Secure Intern  [#permalink]

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New post 02 May 2019, 10:00
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Seizing Opportunity: MBA Students on How to Successfully Secure Internships
When it comes to demonstrating to employers that you’re the right candidate for the internship or job, your resume does a lot of the talking. But while educational background, professional experience and competencies are all important, by themselves they are not always enough to land you an offer.

“Everyone in top MBA programs is going to be very successful and have impressive resumes and backgrounds, so I think [you should] always think about what separates you [from everyone else] and make sure that comes out when you’re networking and speaking with recruiters,” says Aaron Wilson, an MBA student and Consortium fellow at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Building Your Resume

Wilson recommends that people think hard about how they want to come off in their resume and what they want people to take away from it. For Wilson, who will be interning with McKinsey & Company this summer, this has meant focusing on his background and diverse set of experiences and successes combining marketing strategy and analytics.

To truly stand out, however, Wilson says it’s important to engage in pursuits you are passionate about. For him, this is giving back by mentoring underprivileged students in the local community.

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Aaron Wilson

“I really believe in the quote ‘Lift as we climb,’” he says. “So while you’re doing all these things to build your resume, you should also take some time to do something that you actually care about passionately because I think it [builds] character. Yes, it can be part of your resume, but it’s also good for my soul.”

Having something you stand for outside of your professional life is part of having a solid foundation, Wilson says, which, in turn, can help you grow as a professional. “At the end of the day, that is what makes you stand out,” he says.

Tyrone Sampson, an MBA student and Consortium fellow at Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business, also believes in the power of “personability” and says a resume is one way of demonstrating this.

“Do not underestimate the additional information section that usually comes at the end of a resume,” he says. “I’ve used that as a way to initiate conversations with people, and it’s been a great way to show how I’m different from other candidates. It can take the form of listing interests, associations you’re a part of, board affiliations, certifications, or anything to [show how] you are a little bit different.”

On a similar note, Sampson and Wilson both emphasize the importance of young professionals being aware of what makes them an asset.

“Make sure the story you’re telling makes sense and that you’re able to convey your value to that future employer,” says Sampson, “because the same way that you’re evaluating them, they are certainly evaluating you — and that doesn’t start on day one. That starts with everything you do to get up to day one, whether day one is the interview or your first day on the job.”

Expanding Your Knowledge

To increase your likelihood of even reaching day one on the job, Sampson says it’s important to ensure that you are not only focusing on the bigger picture but also on the small, simple things. This means doing things like increasing your knowledge of a company, initiating conversations with recruiters and sending thank-you notes.

“You want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward and that you’re ready for any opportunity that could come,” says Sampson, who will be interning with The Vanguard Group this summer.

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Tyrone Sampson

He worked to familiarize himself with the company prior to interviewing by reading not just the company’s website but also books by Vanguard’s founder John Bogle. “I was prepared to have conversations about Vanguard and the culture,” he says. “My story was worked out on why investment management, why an MBA, why Emory — all of those basics.”

Wilson says his focus on improving is guided by his curiosity. This is one thing that struck him about several CEOs who spoke at one on-campus event he attended: “I found that the similar quality in all of them [was] that they were extremely curious about all things, the industry that they worked in,” says Wilson.

By allowing himself to follow his curiosity, he has gained a diversity of experience in different areas, helping grow his knowledge and skill set. All of these encounters, however, were all directed toward one goal: using analytics to drive strategy.

He likens his quest to expand his abilities to a basketball player. “They’re going to want to work on their free throws, they’re going to want to work on their speed and strength, they’re going to want to work on their shooting — different things, but they’re all focused on one goal of being the best player,” Wilson says.

Sampson has taken a similar approach to becoming a well-rounded professional. Through an improvisation class, he has worked to prepare himself for the uncomfortable situations he’s likely to encounter as a future business leader. He says that while he’s made “a fool out of himself,” what he’s taken from the experience is the ability to quickly articulate his thoughts in a succinct way.

“It’s a bit nerve-racking at first because you know you’re going to be called on, you know you’re going to have to do things you’re not comfortable with, but that’s life,” says Sampson. “Life has a lot of uncomfortable moments, moments where you’re nervous and don’t want to get up in front of people and speak, or you’re caught off guard. It’s a great way to gain exposure to that and become a little more comfortable with these situations.”

Networking

Making genuine connections is another way to expand access to opportunities. For both Sampson and Wilson, The Consortium has offered this, facilitating connections with not just other Consortium classmates but also alumni and business leaders from some of the world’s most prominent companies.

“I understood that one of the most beneficial factors [of The Consortium] is that you have a network — not just within your school but multiple schools within The Consortium. That’s the thing that really appealed to me,” says Wilson. This network, he adds, has also helped him become more aware of professional and recruiting events happening around the country.

The Consortium’s annual conference, the OP, is where Sampson initially connected and interviewed with Vanguard. But he says the organization’s network has helped him in other ways as well. Emory has a Consortium support team as well as a list of alumni who students can reach out to for guidance.

“I was able to find people who are like-minded, who want to pursue the same thing or the same industry, and bounce ideas off of them, share resumes, share cover letters,” he says.

Beyond The Consortium, both Sampson and Wilson have learned the value of connecting on a personal level with recruiters and interviewers.

“They really want to get to know who you are — ‘Is this someone I could work late hours with? Is this someone who I think adds a unique asset to our firm and our team?’ You have to make that come out during the networking piece, whether it’s out getting dinner with recruiters or current consultants,” says Wilson. “I think that’s going to be very important because, at the end of the day in business, you’re always working with another human.”

One way Sampson has built his network is by becoming involved with clubs and organizations, like the Center for Alternative Investments at Goizueta, where he is a fellow. This experience allows him to not only connect with fellow students but also help plan and execute events as well as gain valuable leadership skills. Outside of Goizueta, he is a member of the Atlanta Society of Finance and Investment Professionals, which allows him to connect with and gain insight from leading professionals in the region.

Interviewing and Reflecting

Being able to articulate your qualifications and your story in an interview is also key to improving your chances of successfully landing an opportunity.

Sampson utilized staff in Emory’s Career Management Center to help polish his resume and pitch, develop questions for employers and learn about valuable resources like The Wall Street Journal for staying on top of industry trends.

Wilson emphasizes the importance of practicing when it comes to preparing for interviews, ensuring that you are organized and succinct, especially when it comes to case interviews when you may have to do quick math on the spot.

Overall, one of the best things you can do for yourself before even pursuing a company or position, Sampson says, is to take time for reflection to determine what you really want. For him, this meant considering factors such as location and job function — “basically creating a scorecard for myself to determine what’s really important for me in an internship and then tailoring [my search] around that,” he says.

“This all prepares you so that when you’re in that moment and you’re showing them your resume, the story you’re telling is compelling because you’ve thought it through,” says Sampson. “You’re prepared to seize the opportunity, and I think a lot of interviewers can feel when you’re prepared, when you’re ready and when you’re excited about the opportunity.”

The post Seizing Opportunity: MBA Students on How to Successfully Secure Internships appeared first on The Consortium.
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Ingenuity for Entrepreneurship: One Consortium Alum’s Journey to Perso  [#permalink]

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New post 09 May 2019, 07:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Ingenuity for Entrepreneurship: One Consortium Alum’s Journey to Personal Fulfillment
As Felipe Vasconcelos has made the jump from one industry to another, the one constant has been his entrepreneurial spirit.

In college, Vasconcelos’ decision to major in information systems was driven only by the desire to secure a job. With a knack for and vast experience with computers, he says it was a move that just made sense.

“Ever since I was young, I was always really good with computers and technology. I figured, ‘Hey, this is something I can do. I need a job,’” he says. “To be honest, I didn’t think much about what I loved and what I was passionate about.”

Although technology may not have been his passion, Vasconcelos used his knowledge and expertise to launch his first business — a web hosting company — as an undergraduate, largely out of necessity. After graduation, however, he decided to follow the traditional path, selling his company and accepting a position at a tech corporation.

Yet Vasconcelos found himself wanting more. “At some point, I decided that I liked people more than I liked machines, so I wanted to do something a little bit different,” he says.

Feeling unfulfilled, Vasconcelos began pursuing a certificate in image consulting at the Fashion Institute of Technology and started his own consulting business. This eventually led him to The Consortium and the University of Rochester Simon School of Business, where he hoped to gain the foundational knowledge to help grow his business. But, after graduating with an MBA in 2016, Vasconcelos found himself going in a different direction: He acquired a business called Elastic Band Company — launching him on yet another path of entrepreneurship.

He subsequently purchased Secret Beauty Club with the revenue he earned from Elastic Band Company and, with the profits from that business, acquired Atomic Makeup. This year, he sold Elastic Band Company, and this summer, he plans to spin off Atomic Makeup’s lab to become its own entity.

Vasconcelos recently spoke with us about his passion and ingenuity for entrepreneurship, his entry into the beauty industry and how his diversity of experiences has helped him along the way.

Why the focus on purchasing existing businesses as opposed to launching your own?

So 80 to 90 percent of new businesses fail in the first year or so. It’s a lot harder to go from zero to $1,000 than to double or triple that; the first thousand dollars is usually significantly harder [to make].

When you’re buying a business, you’re buying mistakes, so you don’t have to go through the same mistakes that the person who created the business had to go through. You’re also buying systems and processes — and something that already works.

From there, it’s [doing what] I did with Elastic Band Company: figuring out what works and doing more of that and figuring out what doesn’t work and getting rid of that.

Where does your passion for entrepreneurship stem from?

I’ve always had an interest in entrepreneurship. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an entrepreneur. I was born and grew up in Brazil, and I remember being 8 or 9 and making kites for the neighborhood kids so that I could sell them and make a profit.

I came to the U.S. when I was 12. My dad worked in antiques, and we would go to estate sales. I noticed that the books would be discarded, so we’d ask for them and bring them to New York, set up a little table in the summer and sell each book for a dollar. In the summer, I’d bring in about $100 a day. In the mid-90s, that’s a lot of money for a 12-year-old kid.

In high school, I had a little business as well. Also, in college, I became homeless, and how I got out of that was by [creating] a business. I started a web hosting business from the college computer lab. So entrepreneurship is something I’ve always done.

How did you end up getting into the beauty industry?

I didn’t know that I was going to get into beauty, but when I was doing my MBA internship, working for a major bank’s corporate headquarters, I saw these four guys leaving the building. They were all dressed exactly the same; they were all wearing gray slacks and blue shirts, and I thought to myself, “Do I want to wear a uniform to work every day?” I started thinking, “Is this what I want? What is my life going to be like if this is the path that I follow?”

Sure enough, the bank made me a very generous offer — a six-figure salary, four weeks vacation, all the benefits — and I said no without fully knowing what I was going to be doing. But, I knew that I wanted to bet on myself.

I felt like for some of my life I had been taking lateral steps, and I wanted to make sure that I was going to do something that was going to make me happy, so I bought a business called Elastic Band Company. It made custom elastic products — custom hair ties, headbands, wristbands, garment elastics. I didn’t have much experience in [elastics], but it was a business that looked really good. The profit margins were fantastic.

I saw a really great opportunity, and that’s when the light bulb kind of went off. I had spent the majority of my time in my MBA program working with small businesses and startups, doing projects with them and figuring out how to scale them. At the beginning, I had to do work for free, but … when I bought this business, it all just clicked, and within the span of two years, I managed to double the valuation of the business, and I collected revenue of about $900,000. We put in a lot of work to bring in big names like Adidas, Reebok, MTV and Stella McCartney.

Did you have any interest in the fashion or beauty industries prior to that?

When I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology for image consulting. I learned a lot about fashion and beauty. I was working with, they call it the ABC’s of image consulting — appearance, behavior and communication — and a lot of my clients were women, so I had to learn a lot about cosmetics products.

The reason I went to business school was because I wanted to learn how to scale the current business that I had as an image consultant.

What does an image consultant do?

It’s somebody who works with people’s appearance, behavior and communication. My clients really varied. They were people who were looking to change their image or appearance for a job because they just got a promotion or maybe they wanted to get a promotion, or they were switching careers completely. Everyone had a different story as to why they were hiring me. There were some people who … just wanted to reinvent themselves.

I was there to guide them as to what to wear, how to behave, what services to use … to be congruent with what they were trying to do. My focus was more holistic. Not only did I do fashion, but I was also dealing with body language and things like that.

What did you learn from starting a business at such a young age, while in college?

I think from being a necessity, I created something that was really profitable and that taught me a lot about entrepreneurship. With the profits from that, I bought Dominate Servers, a team hosting company.

Eventually, I sold that business because of the pressure of being an adult and getting a job and just following the path that everybody’s following. Everyone around me was dissuading me from continuing being an entrepreneur.

The same thing happened in business school. Everyone was hitting the books and studying like 12 hours a day, and some of my peers actually got upset with me because I wouldn’t be hitting the books as much as they would. I would go out and do projects with entrepreneurs, and they would think I was slacking.

What sparked your decision to get an MBA when you did? What was your experience like in business school?

I felt like I had kind of hit a wall. When you’re working in tech, it’s really hard to move up because a lot of people just see you as someone who only cares about computers and software. They figured, “This person probably doesn’t have the people and managerial skills to do much more.”

I really wanted to learn more about how businesses work. While I had owned businesses in the past, I didn’t have a foundation; I just kind of hit the ground running. There were so many things about running, scaling and making a business bigger that I just didn’t understand. I also didn’t have a great network for entrepreneurship.

What I quickly found out is that an MBA is really what you make of it. There is no singular MBA experience. An MBA experience is not what other people tell you it should be. For some people, it is getting a 4.0 and being part of all these clubs and organizations. But I think that it’s important for people considering getting an MBA or currently getting an MBA to understand that they should carve their own path.

I was lucky enough to be exposed to people who had just graduated, and they explained to me some of the ins and outs of an MBA as I was starting. I was lucky to have that guidance to really understand that I could choose my own adventure and not just follow what everyone else was doing.

How have all of your past experiences helped prepare you to be a successful entrepreneur, and how has your MBA specifically helped you?

For me, it’s pretty clear that every single step prepared me to solve different types of business problems. That’s really what I do now. I’ve finally come across something that I really love, and it’s solving business problems.

In each industry that I worked in, problems are solved differently — some are solved in a more creative way, some are solved in a more quantitative way — and I think that being able to have all these different strategies in my tool set has been super helpful in having really successful businesses.

With an MBA, I think the network has been huge. Being able to be part of The Consortium and exchange ideas with other students who had a similar upbringing really helped me put some things in focus in terms of opportunities. It was a great way for me to be exposed to like-minded people — especially at Simon, which has a great entrepreneurship program.

I grew up in an environment without successful people of color as role models and with not very many people of color like me working hard to achieve success. Being part of an MBA program, being surrounded with people who looked like me, who had big goals and were working hard to achieve those goals, gave me the confidence to know I was on the right path.

How do you make sure that you’re continuing to learn and evolve as a business owner?

As an entrepreneur, it’s exciting to be ahead of the curve and ahead of the trends, but being open to listening to your network and to those who have different skill sets or who are from different industries — that worked for my current and past businesses. That has really given me an edge because it helps me solve problems in a different way than some of my competitors.

The post Ingenuity for Entrepreneurship: One Consortium Alum’s Journey to Personal Fulfillment appeared first on The Consortium.
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A Consortium Family Legacy  [#permalink]

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New post 21 May 2019, 11:00
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: A Consortium Family Legacy
The Consortium’s legacy is one of family — and like most families, The Consortium’s continues to grow, cultivated largely by word of mouth.

BJ Howell has both experienced this legacy and helped carry it on.

Recognizing the advantages the organization afforded him throughout his successful corporate and entrepreneurial career, The Consortium alum from the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall Business School’s class of 1973 played a significant role in his daughter’s decision to also earn an MBA through The Consortium. “She just saw a very independent person, and I think that was the direction she wanted to go in,” Howell says of his daughter Tiscia Rasco, who also graduated from USC Marshall, in 2002.

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BJ Howell

The circumstances that influenced her decision to pursue an MBA, however, were very different than those of her fathers. “It was just … a given that I was going to go to graduate school,” says Tiscia. “It was a given that I was going to apply through The Consortium and go for my MBA.”

Howell, who came to the U.S. from Jamaica as a child, did not have the same parental insight or background as neither of his parents worked in business. His mother was a seamstress, and his father worked on a tobacco farm in Connecticut. “The tobacco farmers brought a lot of Jamaicans, Puerto Ricans and other Caribbean island folks to the U.S. to pick tobacco,” Howell says, “and my father was in that program.”

Just as he referred his daughter, a friend and classmate introduced Howell to The Consortium in college. “He mentioned to a group of us that some people from The Consortium were coming to campus to talk about the program,” says Howell. “He was a year ahead of me, so he had already been accepted.”

For Howell, attending business school through The Consortium was a logical, economical way to gain direction generally and business acumen specifically. “I knew I didn’t want to enter the social sciences and work for government or become a teacher. I figured there was more out there to look at,” he says. “I was an econ major [in undergrad], and without much direction, I figured this would be a way to get acclimated to the business environment and understand more about the economy and how it operated.”

Once accepted and enrolled at USC Marshall, Howell gained direction — he says he was “fascinated” by entrepreneurship — and something he didn’t expect: a second family.

“There were a lot of students who had gotten in through The Consortium, so we all kind of formed a little group,” he says.

Tiscia’s experience was much the same, as she formed not just a figurative family with many of her classmates but also a literal one. She met her husband Victor Rasco, a 2001 Consortium alum of USC Marshall, at the Orientation Program in 2000, where, as a second-year student, he was in charge of handing out name tags to the incoming class.

Beyond the support they provided one another, Victor says they found “a home away from home” among their Consortium peers. “You just have the feeling,” he says, “you sort of innately know that you have a level of support and a group that’s there that probably wouldn’t ordinarily be there in the same numbers [without The Consortium].”

Tiscia says for her and her friends, Victor and his classmates largely served as their mentors and tutors. “They helped us … [by] taking us under their wing,” she says.

In addition to what Victor says is an expansive USC Marshall network, The Consortium added another layer that helped facilitate not just professional contacts but also genuine, lasting friendships.

“It kind of … extended that ability to have not just contacts but real relationships that you can lean on and that you can lend a hand to over time. You really see the impact of the network,” he says, adding that his decision to go through The Consortium and USC Marshall put him on a path that he wouldn’t have otherwise had access to.

Victor and Tiscia now live in Atlanta, Ga., with their two children, where he is a product manager for interactive games at Cartoon Network Digital, and she leads the Customer Engagement Center strategy team for Delta Air Lines’ Reservations division.

Howell’s professional path was also bolstered by his connection with The Consortium. Following his graduation from USC Marshall, he secured his first job — working for the third largest bank in California at that time — with help from the same friend who referred him to The Consortium. Through his position at the bank, Howell connected with individuals in the broadcasting industry and ended up acquiring two radio stations with several business partners. Although they sold both businesses in 1993, these ventures launched Howell on a life-long journey through entrepreneurship — and ultimately inspired Tiscia to blaze her own path.

Recognizing the advantage afforded him, Howell has given back to The Consortium over the years, individually and through his businesses, and also encouraged his first and only employer — the bank — to do the same.

“I always appreciated what [The Consortium] did for me, so it was important for me to give them something through the years,” he says. “It’s something that … I’ll never forget. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Retired now for 11 years, Howell continues to give of his money but also of his own experience by referring other prospects to the organization. Victor and Tiscia have also paid it forward, but in different ways, by mentoring as well as referring people to The Consortium.

This positive word of mouth is what has sustained the organization and helped solidify its legacy.

“When you look at the fact that I got accepted in The Consortium when I was 21 or 22 and I’m now 71 and the program is still going — and it’s added schools — it’s just amazing,” he says. “I feel very proud to be a part of it.”

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Bridging Gaps in Education with STEM and Entrepreneurship Skill-Buildi  [#permalink]

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New post 29 May 2019, 09:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Bridging Gaps in Education with STEM and Entrepreneurship Skill-Building Opportunities
The idea that education is extremely important was ingrained in Andria Balogh at a young age. “I grew up … with the mantra ‘school always comes first,’” she says.

All of her experiences have further instilled this point. As a young woman with many educational opportunities afforded her, Balogh couldn’t help but notice the disparities between the educational haves and have-nots and the deficiencies in our own education system.

“I’ve been very lucky … and truly feel like I have the freedom to do what I want to do in life, how I want to do it. Education is not just about learning but is truly about that freedom to be able to do what you want to do with your life,” she says. “I believe that knowledge is power, and I don’t believe our education system is perfect.”

With her knowledge, a background in biomedicine and a taste for entrepreneurship — she founded her first business, Tutoring with Andria, in 2014 — Balogh launched the nonprofit STEM-E Youth Career Development Program “to help fill in the gaps in our education system,” she says.

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Andria Balogh

“Our mission is to globally educate youth in critical skills and professional development through STEAM (STEM + art) and entrepreneurship education that is easily accessible and affordable for all,” Balogh says. “We aim to enhance students’ potential for future career success, generating the workforce of the future.”

As a Consortium fellow and member of the class of 2020 at Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University, Balogh is gaining the knowledge and skills to expand STEM-E’s reach. She recently spoke with us about her desire to improve access to educational and skill-building opportunities, her passion for entrepreneurship and an upcoming partnership with The Consortium.

Have you always had that entrepreneurial drive?

It was a progression. When I was growing up, I didn’t see myself as a leader — although I inevitably wound up in those positions. I took on leadership roles because I had vision, a lot of creativity and interesting ways of thinking about problems. Even when I was in high school, I started several programs because I saw a need for them, but I still never really considered myself a leader or an entrepreneur until I got older.

Knowing that most of your professional background is in biomedicine, what made you decide to get an MBA?

After I earned my master’s degree [in microbiology and immunology], it was a question of where did I want to go next. It was kind of the perfect storm. I started my first tutoring business, and it gave me a taste for all the aspects of running a business, including marketing, advertising, dealing with clients and organization. That was while I was working at the Houston Methodist Hospital.

During this time, I took a class that really gave me a sense of what an entrepreneur was, and I realized that I always was one. I thought I was too afraid of risks and failure but came to realize that I actually wasn’t afraid like I thought I was. I am very much about challenges and pushing boundaries, and I love adventure. I came to realize I really loved running businesses and wanted to be in the C-suite, so that’s why I decided to pursue an MBA.

Did you specifically want to combine your background in science with business?

I had already been combining these fields with the tutoring business, and I started down this same path with STEM-E. The other area I have a lot of experience in is teaching and mentoring. Being in STEM for many years, having access to business and seeing the cross skill set that’s required in science and business, I recognized that a lot of those skill sets were not being taught to youth. I felt that that was such a big gap that needed to be filled at a much younger age.

Why did you choose Rice University for your MBA?

It was a confluence of factors. At the time that I applied, Rice was No. 2 in entrepreneurship programs. That really excited me because I knew that entrepreneurship was a field that I wanted to pursue.

I also wanted to be in Houston to be near family. I knew that pursuing an MBA was going to be financially taxing, but I also loved the fact that, with STEM-E, I already had roots in Houston. I also recognized the burgeoning entrepreneurial community there.

Houston’s kind of this sleeping giant in terms of entrepreneurship and venture capital. To be in the midst of that and develop in that field while watching it grow is really exciting. Rice is such a big part of that because of its involvement in the innovation pathway within Houston. It’s a really exciting time right now, so it’s something I knew that I needed to be a part of.

Tell me more about what sparked your desire to create STEM-E Youth Career Development Program.

I conceptualized STEM-E in September 2017 when I was at a crossroads and [trying to decide] whether or not I should apply to an MBA program. I think any time you’re at that place where you’re asking yourself what direction your life should go in, that’s when destiny naturally formulates.

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Students in STEM-E

The other deciding factor was the recognition that [I was] lucky in my youth to have participated in a lot of programs that my tutoring students and other students don’t even know exist.

Also, I’ve been involved in diversity promotion in every field I’ve worked in, and it is a big worry of mine that we’re in 2019 and we still have such big gaps.

Is the organization specifically focused on increasing diversity in STEM and entrepreneurship?

It is [focused on] generating a more representative demographic for these fields because STEM, entrepreneurship and leadership roles are nowhere near where they need to be demographically to be representative of the population. We offer free activities and advertise to all school districts within the Houston area. We are also expanding into Austin and hope to expand into other major cities throughout the U.S. We’ve been very lucky to get a great amount of diversity in our workshops; it’s very organic.

How is the program structured, and what does it teach?

We teach critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation, professional business skills — such as leadership and teamwork — and self-teaching, [meaning] we teach students how to teach themselves. We use STEM and entrepreneurship as a vehicle because those fields tend to utilize all of those skills every day. We have various workshops and speaking engagements, and we have an annual opportunities fair; that’s a one-day event where we have speakers, company exhibitors and hands-on activities. We also have a lot of different specialized workshops [with our partners].

Can you talk a little about the entrepreneurship component of the program?

We have a three-day startup workshop where we teach kids, who are interested in starting their own business, how to assess a problem that they want to solve, ideate a solution and then build an entire business around that in two and a half days. The students build a solution around any field that they’re interested in; some pick STEM fields and some pick non-STEM fields like art or business.

By the end of it, they have a company name, logo, prototype and their two-minute elevator pitch to present their business idea in front of experts in different industries; we have accelerator experts and small business owners come in and help the students really hone their thinking about revenue streams, value proposition and other key business aspects. By the end of the workshop, if the students have an idea they want to further build out, they now have the tools to be able to do so.

What impact is the program having? What are your plans for the future?

It’s been really positive. We’re just over a year old, and we’ve reached 700 to 800 students. We’ve moved from a situation where it was difficult in the first year to get the number of students we wanted to now being fully booked at all of our events every month.

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I understand that you’re going to be taking some STEM-E high school students from the Houston Independent School District (ISD) to The Consortium’s Orientation Program (OP) and Career Forum in June. How did this collaboration come about?

I have felt very lucky to be part of The Consortium and be exposed to peers who challenge me to continue to grow and better myself, and I thought about how amazing it would be if high school students could see these individuals. I knew that it would inspire them to keep going and doing well, especially being around individuals who look and think like them. One of the greatest faults in our current society is there are not enough role models that these kids can interact with, so that was my goal with reaching out to The Consortium.

One of Houston ISD’s programs, Emerge HISD, is focused on increasing diversity by targeting high-performing, low-income students. These individuals are juniors and seniors in high school who have been selected as high-performing, low-income students — some who are also first-generation American students from immigrant families. We went through an application process and selected 13 of the top individuals. Those students had all mentioned that they were interested in business.

They will have the opportunity to attend OP to meet and network with students who look and think like them and to understand different fields by attending the workshops. I’m really excited to see what they take away from this experience.

The post Bridging Gaps in Education with STEM and Entrepreneurship Skill-Building Opportunities appeared first on The Consortium.
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Elevating The Consortium’s Mission: Two Alums Create Conference Focuse  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Jun 2019, 10:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Elevating The Consortium’s Mission: Two Alums Create Conference Focused on Value of Diversity in Business
As members of The Consortium at McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, Ashley Fox and DeAndrea Staes took their roles seriously. In addition to serving in various leadership capacities within The Consortium — Fox served as vice president of events while Staes was a co-liaison — they worked hard to advance the organization’s mission.

“A big part of what we did as Consortium leadership was find ways to take the mission of The Consortium and blend it everywhere else,” says Staes. “We carried our responsibility as Consortium members into leadership roles across the entire campus.”

Fox served as president of the Graduate Marketing Network and vice president of the Sports, Entertainment and Media Association (SEMA), and Staes contributed as president of the Black Graduate Business Association and as a member of SEMA and Graduate Women in Business. Through these roles and others, they worked intentionally to advance diversity, inclusion and belonging across campus and beyond.

Several years ago, when both women were looking to make a career change, The Consortium seemed a natural fit. With a passion for diversity and ensuring equal access to opportunity for people from underrepresented groups, Staes and Fox saw an opportunity with an organization whose mission aligned with their own values and aspirations. So when Staes and Fox met at McCombs, the two quickly joined forces.

“Within the first month or two in an MBA program, you kind of find your tribe,” Staes says. “Ashley just very quickly became a part of my tribe, and we really leaned on each other a lot in the first semester.”

More than a support system, though, they found common ground in their desire to effect change at McCombs, a school they were both passionate about and where they had an opportunity to address diversity in real, meaningful ways. “We wanted to take The Consortium mission and apply it outside of the [organization] to the greater student body,” says Fox.

With this mission — “to enhance diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership” — in mind, they worked to attract more Consortium members and other underrepresented students to McCombs. One approach that was important to both women for executing on this vision was getting involved with admissions-related activities — whether that was through formal Discover McCombs events or informal chats with prospective students.

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The 2019 inaugural Elevate: Diversity & Inclusion Conference

“We made personal phone calls. We would talk to them and answer any of their questions, and we would be very candid,” says Fox. “I think they appreciated how open and honest we were, how willing to help we were. I think that really drove our numbers for the current first-year class.”

Thanks to their and their peers’ efforts, McCombs was able to more than double the number of African American Consortium students in its class of 2020, beating the school’s record for total number of Consortium members. But for both Staes and Fox, this was just the first step in what they envisioned would be a major transformation for McCombs’ MBA program and how people perceived it as supporting diversity, inclusion and belonging.

They also wanted to show students that they could — and should — work to have even greater impact outside of The Consortium.

“Another thing we really [stressed] … is that we hold Consortium students to a higher standard,” says Staes. “We expect that the students who come to our campus are prepared to uphold The Consortium’s mission but also really leave a mark. I think it is our duty to make sure we’re upholding that mission and also taking it to the next level by asking the question ‘how are you applying this, not only by supporting incoming students who are underrepresented minorities, but also in your personal life?’ The only way you can do that is by digging deep and going into organizations to effect change.”

They also saw the need for creating more opportunities for all McCombs students and community members to have conversations about the impact of diversity and the value of inclusive practices in business. So with Director of Full-time MBA Student Services Kellie Sauls’ advice to “think big” in the back of their minds, Fox and Staes decided to create a conference designed to demonstrate to students and professionals alike the importance of diversity in the workforce as well as provide tools to enact change.

“On top of understanding the business impact of diversity and inclusion, we wanted attendees to actually walk away with how they can make diversity work in their organization — actionable strategies they would be able to apply to their careers as soon as they left the conference,” says Fox.

Additionally, a conference would provide an outlet for demonstrating McCombs’ “superior” commitment to diversity as well as attracting more prospective students from diverse backgrounds, says Staes.

With a committee — and a lot of patience and grit — Fox and Staes set out to create a framework for the event, looking at the social and political climate as a starting point, then identifying what other Consortium schools have done that has worked well. This was followed by research and brainstorming what would make the event an unforgettable and meaningful experience for all participants.

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Michele Thornton Ghee gives the keynote address at the 2019 inaugural Elevate: Diversity & Inclusion Conference.

“Ashley and I started with a framework. We started with topics that we wanted to propose and then began to think about the speakers who would fit into those topics,” says Staes. “Then we focused on breaking that down to cover various industries, like entrepreneurship, venture capital, consulting and tech — even entertainment. We really wanted to have a broad sweep when it came to industry so that people would have a full perspective.”

Building the conference from the ground up, much of their work involved pitching the concept to gain buy-in — not just from McCombs but from sponsors and guest speakers as well. This process, Fox says, gave them an opportunity to really home in on the event’s objectives.

“By running our idea consistently through different parties, we were able to get amazing feedback,” she says. “That feedback then helped us tailor [what] we wanted our attendees to gain from the conference as well as what some of the key topics and key learnings [would be] that they would walk away with.”

On Feb. 8, 2019, their hard work paid off with the successful launch of the inaugural Elevate: Diversity & Inclusion Conference, held on McCombs’ campus. The goal of the event, which will occur annually, is to “identify how companies and business leaders create effective strategies to transform their current culture into one where both diversity and inclusion become embedded in the organization’s DNA,” according to the conference website.

Speakers were business as well as diversity and inclusion experts in global companies spanning a range of industries; they included Michele Thornton Ghee, who at the time was senior vice president of BET and is now executive vice president of business development at Endeavor Global Marketing; Ada-Renee Johnson, senior director at Google; Brian Reaves, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Dell; Carolina Huaranca, principal at Kapor Capital; and Roger Montgomery, NBA sports agent at Roc Nation Sports; among others.

“Our keynote speaker Michele Thornton Ghee was amazing, and I think every person in that audience walked away feeling inspired,” Fox says. “My takeaway was the importance of simply having a seat at the table and what you can do when you’re given that opportunity and actually have a voice.”

“Michele talked so much about her experience and her challenges,” Staes adds, “making sure that you not only fight for that seat at the table but you also show up and prove that you deserve to be there.”

The event attracted more than 200 attendees, including both students and Austin-based leaders, and according to Fox, feedback was very positive. “[Attendees] gained invaluable lessons, and they were able to really walk away with knowledge that they didn’t have before,” she says. “[Many said they] felt empowered after the conference.”

Fox believes the event offers students in particular critical soft skills they can’t get from the classroom alone.

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The 2019 inaugural Elevate: Diversity & Inclusion Conference

“In business school, you may have one or two classes that kind of touch on what it’s like to be diverse in the workforce or leading diverse workforces, but what I think is really impactful is when you’re able to hear [it directly] from leaders who are actually working in the industries that you want to go into,” Fox says. “Being able to hear from those leaders is something that is impactful way beyond the classroom or way beyond any classroom learnings.”

Yet the conference’s impact is more than what attendees take with them when they leave: All proceeds from each year’s event will go toward a diversity scholarship, which will be awarded to a Consortium student the following year.

“Consortium students who are not given the full fellowship will be able to apply through McCombs and be awarded this scholarship next year and for years to come,” says Fox. “We wanted to help alleviate one of the reasons why people may be hesitant to come to business school.”

Although Fox and Staes graduated in May, it’s important to them that Elevate is carried on. They will continue to serve in an executive capacity on the conferences’ steering committee, but current Consortium MBAs will take over the reins each year.

“It’s very important for us to maintain the conference via Consortium leaders,” Staes says. “Ashley and I are focused on making sure that, together, we find the next leadership who we know will be as passionate about it and ensure its success.”

Staes will be moving to Atlanta to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers as a senior associate in the People and Organization Practice focused on the industrial products and services industry, while Fox will move to New York to join PepsiCo as assistant marketing manager. And although the two will no longer be working in close proximity to one another, the lessons they learned through both the conference and the experience of planning it together will inform their professional lives for years to come.

“I’m so proud of the fact that we were able to accomplish something of this magnitude, and happy that I was able to accomplish it with DeAndrea because I can’t imagine [doing] it with anyone else,” Fox says. “I think that we complemented each other so well. To be able to put together a conference and run it so smoothly, we became closer because of it.”

According to Staes, however, this is just the beginning.

“This is really just a start for both of us,” she says. “I’m saying to myself, ‘What’s next? What else can we do? What’s the next big thing we can accomplish where we can continue to drive forth The Consortium mission, really supporting underrepresented minorities to and through business school, but also just our personal passions?”

The post Elevating The Consortium’s Mission: Two Alums Create Conference Focused on Value of Diversity in Business appeared first on The Consortium.
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A Career Inspired by Culture: Providing a Role Model for Native Americ  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Jun 2019, 08:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: A Career Inspired by Culture: Providing a Role Model for Native American Youth
Empowered by her First Nations culture and community, Kalina Newmark says that her professional aspirations have been inspired largely by her personal life and experiences.

“My background and culture definitely influence me as a person and how I try and advocate for my people,” says Newmark, whose is an enrolled member of the Tulita Dene Band in the Northwest Territories of Canada. In Canada, First Nations is the term used to describe the first peoples.

Eager to know more about her heritage, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Native American studies and anthropology, modified with linguistics, from Dartmouth College, interning with the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs one summer. But when it came to a career, she found herself drawn to business — much like her father, who is CEO of a construction company.

After working in various roles at Cargill for several years following her college graduation, Newmark decided to take the next step on her professional journey and earn her MBA. In May, she graduated from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business as a Consortium fellow.

Newmark recently spoke with us about her Dene heritage, her interest in business and her desire to merge the two.

Having just graduated, what do you plan to do now?

I interned with Johnson & Johnson last summer, and I really loved my experience there and was actually [extended] an offer, but I declined it because I want to be closer to my family. I’m currently looking for marketing roles on the West Coast — in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. So right now, I plan to spend time with my family, friends and loved ones; continue recruiting; and enjoy my time before I start working.

Can you tell me a little about your background and upbringing as a Tulita Dene growing up in the Northwest Territories?

The Northwest Territories is my home. I have many special memories in Tuktoyaktuk and Tulita, such as cooking out on the fire in my grandmother’s teepee, fishing with my godparents on Rendez-vous Lake and staying up all night during the midnight sun.

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Growing up, my mother instilled Dene teachings in our household. I heard stories of sacrifice, resilience and survival that involved my grandmother, great grandmother and great aunts. I have immense pride knowing that I come from a strong line of Dene women.

Although I spent the majority of my time growing up in British Columbia, I always knew the Northwest Territories was my home. Every break, we would return to the Northwest Territories to be with family and loved ones. For this, I am especially grateful to my parents [as it helped] ensure that we would never forget where we came from.

What role has your Native American culture played in your life, and what values did it instill in you that still guide your life today?

In Dene culture, we have our own set of laws. Laws that guide us as [individuals] and as a community. The ones I think of often are “share what you have,” “help each other” and “pass on the teachings.” I utilize these laws to guide my life and to give back to my community, [which I do] by serving on the American Indian Cancer Foundation’s board, leading Dartmouth’s partnership with the Indian Health Service and volunteering at First Nations organizations.

I come from a family of leaders. My grandmother Laura Lennie was a leader within the Métis community, my great grandfather Albert Wright was the first chief of Tulita, my aunt Ethel Blondin-Andrew was the first First Nations woman elected to Canada’s Parliament, and my uncle Norman Yakeleya is the Dene National Chief. I use these achievements and stories of success from my family as inspiration and guidance for my own leadership. Although I am still learning what it means to be a Dene person, I try my best each and every day to represent my family, community and nation well.

Within my business career, I have met few First Nations professionals. For this reason, I think it’s especially important to highlight our successes. Like my ancestors before me, I try to be a good person, with the hope [that I] inspire the next generation of Dene leaders.

Why did you decide to study Native American studies and anthropology at Dartmouth?

I studied Native American history as a way to understand my life experiences and to honor those who came before me. Through these classes, I gained a greater understanding of the colonial tactics used by governments to oppress First Nations peoples by taking away our languages, our right to vote and the ability to raise our children within First Nations communities and cultures.

Growing up as a Dene person, I experienced life much differently than my non-First Nations peers. My mother, a survivor of the residential school system, instilled in me the power of education. Despite the fact that residential schools tried to assimilate First Nations people, I have used my education as a tool to create good in this world.

What led to your decision to pursue business as a career?

I’ve always been interested in business — partly due to my dad being a CEO. Even as a young kid, I would go to work with my dad pretending to be his assistant. It’s funny because I hear stories now and I just laugh. One day, for example, when my dad brought me into his office, I took over his desk with coloring pens and books. Even though he had an important meeting that day, he allowed me to stay.

In one way or another, I’ve always been around and had a natural interest in business.

What has it meant to you to be a Consortium fellow?

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Newmark with Peter Aranda

I remember the first time I met Peter Aranda, executive director and CEO of The Consortium, and how excited I was to be in his presence. As a fellow First Nations person, Peter gave me hope. He showed me that, as First Nations people, we can be successful in business, too.

The Consortium’s mantra of “be proud, be gracious, be humble and be ready” reminds me of our Dene Laws. Our success is not ours alone but the culmination of those who came before us. For this, I am grateful to Peter and The Consortium for giving me the opportunity to grow as a leader and to be of service to my community.

In addition to pursuing your professional goals, why is it important to you to remain connected to and involved with native communities?

Being of service and giving back to my community is my responsibility as a Dene person. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the sacrifices and the love and support that I’ve received from my family and my community.

Is your hope to secure a position that allows you to use your MBA to serve Native communities?

Yes, that’s ultimately my goal. Right now, though, I would love to be able to be at a company where I can continue to grow my skill set while at the same time be able to volunteer and serve my community.

Are there other ways you’ve tried to pay it forward?

A prominent Dartmouth donor once told me, “There are three ways to give back: You can give back your time, you can give back your skills or you can give back your money. At certain points in your life, you may be able to give one or more [of these].” Right now, I do my best to give back in whatever ways I can through all three of these.

The post A Career Inspired by Culture: Providing a Role Model for Native American Youth appeared first on The Consortium.
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Consortium Alums Use MBA Knowledge to Empower Others through Coaching  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jun 2019, 09:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Consortium Alums Use MBA Knowledge to Empower Others through Coaching
When it comes to professional success, landing the job is just the first step, says LaTonya Wilkins.

A Consortium alum from Indiana University Kelley School of Business, Wilkins is a professional speaker, facilitator and coach, helping diverse teams work better together. In her experience as a talent management leader, she noticed the urgent need for greater emphasis on professional development in the workplace.

Some employers, she says, have a knack for providing critical, short-sighted feedback, which often has a negative effect on employee performance and morale. “People go into the workforce, and hear ‘you have to be more polished, you have to speak differently, you have to smile more, you have to manage that relationship better, you need to say these things,’ and the next person says something different. It’s overwhelming,” Wilkins says. “In many cases, the feedback is more about the person giving it than [the one] receiving it.”

She believes coaching offers a better, more productive alternative. “Coaching is more empowering. It’s about understanding what intrinsically drives or motivates someone,” says Wilkins. “How can the employee use their talents in the best ways within their organization in order to be successful? What roadblocks are employees facing, and how can they remove them? Research has shown that relationship-based development is extremely valuable to all parties.”

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LaTonya Wilkins

Because people from underrepresented groups often face more difficulties in the workplace than their non-minority peers, she believes they need more access to this type of professional development. Yet, Wilkins notes, while “coaching is one of the most effective ways to develop employees, it’s often reserved for the highest ranks in an organization.”

An unpleasant coaching experience and a passion for learning and helping others grow are what turned Wilkins on to coaching as she saw a need for better services for people like herself.

“My coach couldn’t relate to me, so I saw a big void. I saw that we needed more coaching for people who were in the minority,” says Wilkins. “One of my mentors always said I would make a great coach, so I finally gave in and took my first professional coaching class. Over time, I started talking to tech companies, hearing their stories about spending millions and not getting any diversity results, and I saw that a lot of their problems could be resolved through coaching.”

With hopes of helping people feel more empowered in the workplace, she started her first business LaTonya Wilkins Coaching and Speaking after becoming a certified coach. She offers both one-on-one and group coaching within organizations, a large part of which is focused on leadership, teams and entrepreneurs. Wilkins also engages in change coaching through her second business, The Change Coaches, LLC, which she launched in February 2019. In this role, she provides coaching, speaking and workshops around organizational change with an emphasis on culture, leadership, human resources, diversity, equity and inclusion. This is in addition to working as director of talent management for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Gies College of Business and serving as board president of True Star Media & Foundation.

Al Dea, a Consortium alum from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, shares this spark for coaching — especially for people from underrepresented groups. He says his own history has shaped his belief that “everyone, regardless of their background, deserves the right to have the job or career that suits their interests, needs or level of engagement.”

“As the son of two immigrant parents who came from humble backgrounds but who worked hard, invested in education and developed successful careers, I became acutely aware that not everyone has access to role models to even fathom an opportunity for a graduate education or a chance to become a leader or manager of a business,” says Dea. “As a result, I have always been deeply motivated to not only take advantage of the resources and opportunities that I have been given but to also inspire others by sharing my resources and privilege and opening access to others as much as I can.”

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Al Dea

So in addition to serving as senior manager of product marketing at Salesforce, Dea is a career and leadership coach and has advised hundreds of professionals through his coaching and writings.

He began his career as a consultant at Deloitte, where he says he realized that “simply working hard is not enough.”

“In addition to delivering sustained high performance, you need to actively manage your career in order to define and achieve your own version of career success,” says Dea. “While I initially struggled to do this, I was fortunate to get good counsel from mentors and colleagues on how to do career development and how to achieve career goals. [This] enabled me to do well while I was there, and much of what I learned has continued to serve me well as I grow in my career.”

However, while at Deloitte, he soon realized he had greater aspirations. Not yet sure exactly what path he wanted to take, Dea knew that no matter what, he wanted to be a leader and use what he had gained from those who helped him to help others.

“One of the things I’ve always believed is that one of my goals as a human being is to understand my talents and strengths and to use them not just for myself but for the benefit of others,” he says. “I realized that I had the expertise on how to develop a career; the skills to listen, guide and be a thought partner; and the drive to make a difference in the lives of others — all of which led me to formally start [doing] career and leadership coaching.”

MBA Insight

Both Dea and Wilkins, desiring flexibility in their careers, decided to pursue an MBA — but ended up gaining much more.

Wilkins says she gained the know-how to speak the corporate language, while Dea developed his leadership skills — which aided them in their coaching. As members of The Consortium, they also benefited from the mentorship that comes from being part of the organization’s vast alumni network. And, for Wilkins, the experience helped her land a job at GE following graduation.

Dea says the MBA experience also gave him the ability to manage his career, an area in which he now strives to help others — those who may not have the same access to opportunities as he has had. “When you go to business school and go through the recruiting process, you aren’t just learning how to find a job, you’re learning how to manage your own career development for the rest of your life,” he says.

“In addition to having a meaningful and rewarding career with roles and opportunities that stretch me and help me actualize my potential, [that experience has] also helped me realize that not everyone is as fortunate as me or my classmates at UNC — or any other student who graduates with an advanced degree from a top-tier institution,” Dea adds. “The decisions I made were good ones, and certainly my performance and the ability to execute was important, but so was the counsel and advice I got which helped me make decisions. But going through that, I realized that not everyone had access to it.”

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In addition to informing his coaching, Dea’s business school experience motivated him to leverage the power of technology to share the knowledge he had acquired through his MBA. Through his first website MBASchooled, he tells the stories of the MBA experience and provides information on what it’s like to go to business school for current and prospective MBAs.

Furthermore, Dea soon recognized the need for a similar resource focused on general career advice. This led him to start CareerSchooled, a blog that provides career guidance “so that all people [can] get access to insights to help build and accelerate their careers,” he says.

Beyond using his educational and professional experiences to help others through his personal pursuits, Dea helps his direct reports at Salesforce manage their careers. He ensures that everyone on his team has a career development plan as well as the learning and training resources to achieve their goals — which he hopes will have long-lasting effects.

“I’ve realized over the years that when I am at my best, I have an ability to not only bring out the best in others but to also encourage, motivate and inspire them to do the same thing; it’s a domino effect,” Dea says. “Through coaching and leadership development, I hope to not only bring out the best in individuals but to also help them unlock their strengths and the goodness inside of them, and then have them do that for others.”

Wilkins, on the other hand, uses her MBA acumen to drive organizational change. Having been on both sides of the table — previously working in many human resource and talent management roles and, now, working with organizations — she says this is a “natural place” for her.

“I understand it from both sides, from an organizational perspective as a talent executive and from the leadership perspective, because I’ve lived it and see it,” says Wilkins.

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Where she believes she has the most impact is in working directly with the C-suite. “When you’re coaching someone who is a vice president and has oversight over hundreds of people or … a big piece of the company, their changes are going to be felt for miles throughout the organization,” she says.

Even when she is working with individual employees, Wilkins says it’s important to also work with their managers as there can often be a disconnect between the two. But she emphasizes the importance of doing this in a non-threatening way.

From the outside, Wilkins says many of her clients seem to be excelling but, in actuality, are struggling. Her approach is to work with both the employee and leadership to get them back on the right track.

“The manager is key to reinforcing productive behaviors and being an active champion,” she says. “They typically enjoy the process, and they grow as well.”

But while individuals from underrepresented groups may have the most to gain from coaching, Wilkins says they are often the ones with the greatest misconceptions about what coaching actually is.

“They think coaching is advising — someone telling them what to do next — but it’s not,” she says. “It’s more of an empowering process so they can grow on their own. It’s helping them gain better habits, helping them be more confident. It’s helping them fit in better. It’s helping them focus on what’s important. I’m not telling them how to do that, they’re learning how to do it through the coaching process.”

Wilkins’ hope and ultimate goal is for coaching to become a field for everyone — not just those who have traditionally had access.

“I want to see organizations be able to reach underrepresented groups,” she says. “I want to see companies be able to attract and retain underrepresented groups, I want to see people feel included and respected in the workplace, I want teams to work better together, and I want to see equity — especially when [it comes] to corporate executives and boards.”

 

The post Consortium Alums Use MBA Knowledge to Empower Others through Coaching appeared first on The Consortium.
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To the Volunteers Who Made OP a Success, Thank You  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jun 2019, 12:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: To the Volunteers Who Made OP a Success, Thank You
The Consortium’s 53rd Annual Orientation Program & Career Forum (OP) in Houston, Texas, was a great success, thanks in large part to the efforts of the 28 volunteers who contributed 158 hours of service. Through their invaluable assistance, they helped ensure a positive, impactful and memorable experience for The Consortium class of 2021.

Volunteers included alums from the class of 1985 through 2019, who helped by greeting and checking in guests, directing students and scanning them into sessions, distributing materials and more. Alumni truly showed their Texas hospitality as every volunteer slot was filled weeks prior to the event and alums continued to reach out asking how they could help.

In addition to giving their time and energy, OP volunteers also gained a lot from the experience. With access to development and networking opportunities as well as social activities, they were able to experience OP through an alumni lens.

Volunteers learned how to leverage their strengths in the workplace to become more engaged, craft a value statement to assist them with their next career change and improve their negotiation skills to obtain the compensation and title they deserve. They were able to catch up with old classmates and friends — and make new ones — during several social events, including a chocolate and wine pairing, a salsa dancing workshop and a cocktail hour.

Volunteers committing to at least four hours of service gained complimentary access to the Career Forum, while those putting in eight or more hours received full, complimentary registration access to the conference.

The Consortium extends its heartfelt appreciation to all those who dedicated their time to help make the 2019 OP a success. We look forward to seeing you again next year at the 54th Annual Orientation Program & Career Forum in Seattle!

The post To the Volunteers Who Made OP a Success, Thank You appeared first on The Consortium.
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With a Positive Message, this Consortium Alum and Facebook Marketer Is  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jul 2019, 11:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: With a Positive Message, this Consortium Alum and Facebook Marketer Is Making a Name for Himself in Hip-Hop
In all that he does, Ace Patterson strives to deliver a consistent, supportive message: “I want to be somebody whose hand is out, who [people] can come up to,” he says. This altruistic approach to life guides Patterson in not just his role in marketing operations at Facebook but also in his passion and side hustle as a rapper.

A Jamaican-American, Patterson was one of the first of his siblings to be born in the United States. Growing up in Bridgeport, Conn., some of his favorite hip-hop artists were Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes, followed by Lil Wayne, Eminem, Ludacris and Young Jeezy. But while these musicians and rappers may have helped spark his interest in hip-hop, Patterson’s style is all his own.

He strives to embody a different brand of hip-hop, under the alias Call Me Ace. “There are a lot of messages out there that aren’t necessarily uplifting,” says Patterson, “but I’m actively seeking to uplift, inspire, motivate and encourage people through my music as well as through the various other opportunities that I [have been given].”

Since earning a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Columbia University in 2011, he has worked in education, the music business and in marketing as a consultant at Deloitte. In 2016, the Consortium alum graduated with his MBA from Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). Patterson now works as a consumer marketing manager and operations lead for Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp apps, while making music on the side — an area in which he is also seeing success. His recently released album Airplane Mode debuted at No. 3 on iTunes’ U.S. Hip-Hop Albums Top 40 Chart and No. 50 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Album Sales Chart.

Patterson recently found time to speak with us about his marketing and music careers and how he hopes to use both to help others.

Has music been a passion and hobby of yours throughout most of your life?

When I was younger, my older sister and my aunt really helped me understand the music behind the culture that I grew up in. I come from a creative family so to speak, so I’ve always been an artist, poet or actor, and rhyming over music is something that I actively did even when I was 12 or 13.

When I went to college, I was making music a bit more seriously, creating albums and selling them. The last thing I did before graduating from Columbia was open up for Snoop Dogg in front of more than 26,000 people. Around that time, though, I decided I didn’t want to rap anymore. But about three years ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine back in Bridgeport who asked if I ever thought about rapping any more. I said, “I’m about to graduate business school, and I’m about to have a full-time job as a consultant. I’m about to get married. I’m about to have a healthcare plan. These are not rapper things.” But all of my excuses he completely refuted. He said that, if anything, being a rapper in my situation would be all the more reason to do it because there’s a need for a differentiation; there’s a need for different stories.

I had no excuse, and from that point on, he challenged me to write a song a week, which turned into one album, which turned into another. Three years later, here I am. My most recent project hit the Billboard chart, and I have momentum here in the Bay Area.

Does having a full-time job provide you the resources and security to be able to have your music career on the side?

On the one hand, having a day job provides me with the resources to invest in myself with more than just time. I’m also surrounded by people who challenge me intellectually and strengthen my business and interpersonal skills — all benefits. The trade-off, however, is that I have less time to apply all of these to my music.

With my current setup, though, I think it’s pretty cool that I get to be myself a little more openly. When I was a consultant, I had to be a little more buttoned up, as opposed to at Facebook, where I’ve even performed at the company a few times. It’s almost surreal [how] different the environments are. I think mentally it’s less of a split for me, but nonetheless, it’s still not easy. At the end of the day, I still need to excel and do a good job at my day job, which affects the amount of time and effort I am able to put into my music.

Does Facebook support you in your music career?

I definitely think there are resources here that enable me to do the things that I like to do. For example, there’s a group here called MusiciansMPK that I help run, and through that group, I’ve been able to create opportunities where other internal musicians, including myself, can perform in front of live and digital crowds of 100 to more than 15,000 people. It’s been a blessing because we’re creating platforms to give other artists internal visibility among their co-workers that they might not have otherwise received.

At Columbia, I co-founded the Columbia University Society of Hip-Hop, and that group was an awesome opportunity for other rappers, producers and even instrumentalists to come in, make music and perform. I like [having] those types of opportunities as well, and Facebook offers those where you are able to create a community around your interests.

How have your professional experiences and the business and marketing insight you gained from your MBA helped you grow your music career?

What [comes to mind] when I think about marketing and creating projects is taking something from an idea to execution. That’s at the basis of business and at the basis of creating music as well.

Being in the strategy and marketing space over the last three years of my career has definitely influenced me and the way that I conduct my own music business. That said, I do a lot more experimenting with different ideas in my business because, when you work for another company, at the end of the day, you have to do what makes sense for that company and its objectives. But for myself, I have the liberty to try out ideas and make decisions that I might not be able to at my job, see how they work and build my own marketing experiences from there.

Having the book smarts from school or the corporate experience is helpful, but I also like getting into the dirt myself to learn the hard way.

Why did you major in anthropology in undergrad instead of, say, music or business?

If you want to know the truth, I got a D in economics my first semester so I decided to go into the social sciences. I thought I was going to be a businessman, just maybe not through education; it’s funny how God brings things full circle.

What I really liked about anthropology was not only the cultural aspect — I’ve always been fascinated with cultures and diasporas and how people form groups — but also the fact that most of what I was doing was writing. For example, I got to write about what it means to be Jamaican [having been] born outside of Jamaica, using my story as the foundation, and I was getting A’s for it. I loved it.

I had no idea that kind of ethnographic thinking would have been good for marketing. At the time, I just needed a degree to graduate. But it all worked out; [I ended up] going to business school and realizing that marketing had a lot of anthropology in it — really understanding what people want and how they think. It ended up being a blessing.

What pulled you in the direction of business?

One of the key things about who I am is that I love to give back. I’m a first-generation Jamaican-American from an inner-city. Me and my older sister were the first ones to go to college in our immediate family, and for 10 years, I worked in education. I was a teacher’s assistant, an educational associate, a mentor, a bus monitor; I was always working with kids who came from similar, if not the same, neighborhoods that I grew up in, where the same resources that I was blessed to receive weren’t accessible by everyone. So I try to be a catalyst for passing down these resources.

That spirit is what led me to my first job after college, which was working at Success Academies within operations. I knew nothing about operations, but the COO and the director of operations — both my direct bosses during my time there — taught me everything. They both went to business school and were the ones who, two years later, wrote my recommendation letters for my business school application. One went to the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, and she was the one who told me about The Consortium.

They were the ones who really demonstrated for me that one of the awesome ways I could give back was by being a businessman and using those skills to enable organizations to provide opportunities for underserved youth.

Also, I went on a mission trip to Medellin, Columbia, with my church, where I witnessed how individuals who were recovering from homelessness, drug addiction and abuse felt a renewed sense of restoration, dignity and purpose by being taught vocational skills. That gave me an even deeper sense of calling with regards to going into business so that I might be able to [provide people with] the tools to help empower others, especially those who are traditionally underrepresented.

The combination of those two experiences are what led me to consider business school, particularly through The Consortium. The Consortium mission truly resonates with me.

What has The Consortium meant to you?

The Consortium has been such a big component of my life, my narrative. Being at Facebook, knowing that we are partners with The Consortium and that we’re doing the recruiting events, I want to be there; I want to be able to give back in that way. I was at OP last year and this year as an alum. It’s just something that resonates with me because … my parents barely went to high school, but here I am, one of the only people in my family to go to business school.

After graduating from UC Berkeley, where did your career take you?

When I had that conversation with my friend about rapping again, I was about to be a consultant at Deloitte. I did that because, praise God, I had a job, but I told myself I would not give up rapping again.

I really thought of that time as a training ground to put my skills to use, and then less than two years later, I was contacted about joining Facebook’s marketing operations team, so I took that up. I’ve been here for a year and a half now, but I’m still taking things day by day. During these past three years, my music has also been growing, and I’m seeing the opportunities that are coming with that. So I really have two careers, and I’m just growing both simultaneously.

Do you ultimately hope to take your music career full time?

If the right opportunity presents itself, I don’t see why not.

The post With a Positive Message, this Consortium Alum and Facebook Marketer Is Making a Name for Himself in Hip-Hop appeared first on The Consortium.
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Consortium Eagle Club Members Hope to Inspire Current Students to Give  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Jul 2019, 06:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Consortium Eagle Club Members Hope to Inspire Current Students to Give Back as Alumni
For the many Eagle Club members who attended The Consortium’s 53rd Annual Orientation Program & Career Forum (OP), the event provided an opportunity to not only reminisce with old friends but to also give back to the organization that has done so much for them.

Converging in Houston from all over the U.S. June 8-12, this elite group of donors to The Consortium — the majority of whom are alumni of the organization — provided current Consortium fellows with mentorship during the Technology Luncheon and beyond. Eagle Club members are those who have committed $15,000 or more ($5,000 over three years) to The Consortium.

For Eagle Club member Kim Harris Jones, who sits on the board of directors for TrueBlue and United Rentals, the annual conference is an opportunity to demonstrate the power of The Consortium, its network and where it can take you as well as to inspire students to one day return the favor.

“Interacting with students at the OP is important because hopefully it demonstrates how The Consortium can contribute to their career success and sets the right example for how they can also give back in the future,” said Harris Jones, who was initiated into the Eagle Club at this year’s OP.

The conference caused some alumni to reminisce on their own experiences as a student at OP.

Kelly-Ann Henry, who is the enterprise fraud manager for Toyota Financial Services, was inspired by her experience. “I left OP feeling better prepared for the upcoming school year, grounded in my career aspirations and feeling like I could achieve anything,” she said.

Rashid Farrell recalled how the event was both amazing and nerve-wracking. “I was in sheer awe that I was at an event with so many amazingly talented and accomplished people, and the caliber of companies that were present was just mind blowing,” he said. “My exploration and networking at the 2008 OP set a foundation for what would become my Consortium network.”

Farrell, who is senior HR manager at Microsoft, is the latest Consortium alum to join the Eagle Club. He played several critical roles at the 2019 OP, including as facilitator of an alumni workshop representing Microsoft.

Alumni Eagle Club members from earlier years noted how much the conference has changed since they first attended OP as students. Clarence Bourne, who attended in 1983, said that back then, students stayed in on-campus dorms instead of nearby hotels.

Beyond the accommodations, both the conference and The Consortium have changed much in size and scope over the last 35-plus years. “The conference has progressed tremendously since I attended,” said Bourne, who is an investment banker at Loop Capital Markets. “I think there were only eight or nine schools in The Consortium and around 200 fellows [at that time], as opposed to 20 schools and 500 fellows today.”

According to Eagle Club member and Senior Vice President of Enterprise Talent at U.S. Bank Kenneth Charles — who, although he is not an alum, has supported The Consortium for more than 20 years — some things about OP have also remained the same.

“What hasn’t changed is the genius of the fellows; you can feel their energy when you enter the room,” he said. “What has changed is the level of corporate support. At U.S. Bank, we have a desire that employees ‘see, feel and believe’ our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. That commitment was definitely in evidence among all the corporations and business schools sponsoring [OP] and higher than I’ve ever seen before.”

No matter how the conference changes, though, Henry said “it is always an opportunity to see some familiar faces, meet new people and learn something new — no matter why you’re there.” She believes it’s essential for current fellows to engage with and learn about the different professional paths taken by alumni.

“I think it is important for students who are entering their respective programs and for second years who are getting ready to begin their post B-school lives to hear those stories and to see those different portraits of success,” Henry said.

The most impactful aspect of OP for all Eagle Club members, however, seemed to be the ability to give back to The Consortium — whether of their time or money.

“A financial contribution, if you are able, is a great place to start,” said Charles. “It’s equally important to invest your time. [That can be] as simple as encouraging a potential fellow to apply. Each of us can find a way to share our gifts and talents with the organization.”

These Eagle Club members’ hope is that they’ll inspire in current students this same desire to pay it forward by giving of their time or money to The Consortium in the future. Achieving equity in the ranks of global management, Farrell said, requires the effort of all alumni.

“The network simply doesn’t work without our engagement. Even with staff and leadership at the helm of The Consortium, it only works if we as alumni give to ensure that future generations have the same access and privilege that the program has enabled for each of us,” Farrell said. “The needle moves when we are proactively engaging and [provide] support in these simple ways and beyond.”

The post Consortium Eagle Club Members Hope to Inspire Current Students to Give Back as Alumni appeared first on The Consortium.
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For Second Year, Cornell’s Johnson Proves that Together Everyone Truly  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jul 2019, 08:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: For Second Year, Cornell’s Johnson Proves that Together Everyone Truly Can Achieve More
Truly embodying the philosophy that Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM), Cornell University SC Johnson Graduate School of Management earned the designation — for the second year in a row and the third time in history — of TEAM Trophy Award recipient in 2019. The Consortium established the award in 2004 to foster collaboration among peers at member schools as they strive to demonstrate their commitment to the organization’s mission.

Jessica Krom, associate director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), says that Johnson’s achievement of the award was the result of a commitment from not just Consortium students but the entire Johnson community.

“We hold our students accountable for upholding the mission [of The Consortium], but as the administration, we also hold ourselves accountable,” says Krom. “It’s all hands on deck. It’s not just one entity. Everybody is invested in this work, and I think that has a lot to do with the success that we’ve seen within our Consortium family.”

She also attributes much of Johnson’s success to Adrienne Thomas, manager of student and alumni relations for The Consortium, who has served as a critical resource. “I think that her timeliness and her passion in her role have really helped us to be successful as well,” says Krom. “We wouldn’t know what the expectations were if she wasn’t so accessible and thorough.”

Johnson’s receipt of the 2019 TEAM Trophy Award was based on many notable achievements, including the following:

  • Having student leaders on more than 10 club boards
  • Reaching 100 percent participation in the Class Gift Campaign
  • Leading fundraising efforts that yielded nearly $25,000 for various community organizations
  • Teaching financial literacy to high school students
  • Volunteering in a clothing drive for Giving Tuesday
  • Supporting one another through tutoring, career and academic advice and study groups
According to Clementina Ojie, Consortium student liaison chair at Johnson, despite its success, the school didn’t make a “deliberate” effort to earn the award.

Supporting The Consortium’s mission is something their community is just naturally passionate about, Krom says. “If the result is the TEAM Trophy Award, then that’s just icing on the cake, but we have a cake to make regardless,” she says. “The work has to get done, and the way in which we’re able to get that work done is in large part due to support from the administration when it comes to funding, when it comes to participation and being vocal about the importance of The Consortium. A large part of this is that we have action-oriented students who are putting their feet to the ground and doing the work.”

Johnson’s large group of Consortium students represents a wide array of interests and passions, which Ojie says translates to deep and diverse involvement across campus. “We’re able to get involved with a bunch of different organizations and, with the support of ODI and the administration, host events and do a lot of community service,” she says.

“Members of The Consortium are embedded in a wide variety of organizations on campus, and we really encourage our students to be visible in their leadership,” says Krom. “They’re pursuing their passions, but I think there’s a lot of overlap and a lot of parallel opportunities for folks to do things that they’re passionate about personally and professionally that also contribute to advancing the mission of The Consortium.”

All members of the Cornell MBA Consortium family are encouraged to sign a pledge to demonstrate their commitment to upholding the mission of The Consortium as both students and future alumni. Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Jamie Joshua initiated this pledge, which students are asked to renew every year.

In the 2018-2019 academic year, they demonstrated their commitment to The Consortium by doing community service with and hosting clothing drives for The Learning Web and other local nonprofits; writing blog posts to share their experiences with prospective and incoming students; soliciting donations; and hosting events.

“At the end of the day, I think all of those things kind of bleed into that Consortium mission, and … as an organization, we’re making an impact with underrepresented minority students in the business school in general,” says Ojie.

The fact that Johnson has won the TEAM Trophy Award two years in a row, she believes, is evidence that they are going above and beyond. “I think it shows that we do really good things at our school. We’re not just a top MBA program that churns out students,” Ojie notes. “We do a lot of things internally that [have an] impact.”

Krom believes that students’ inclination and desire to give back in some way is due to the close-knit character of Johnson’s MBA program. This allows the administration to truly invest in its students, she says, which it does through programming and personal connections.

“The size of our community helps build a rapport with our students, faculty, staff and alumni where folks really want to connect and engage and really align their passions with the mission of The Consortium,” says Krom. This connectedness promotes a culture in which students want to pay it forward, which has made it easy for Johnson to achieve 100 percent participation in the Class Gift Campaign — one criterion of the TEAM Trophy Award.

“I think every single person who’s a part of The Consortium family wants to be a part of giving back to the organization in some way, shape or form,” says Krom.

She also attributes Johnson’s achievement of the TEAM Trophy Award to a commitment by ODI to uphold and promote The Consortium’s mission at Johnson, Cornell and in the larger Ithaca, N.Y., community. “This year, Johnson is celebrating the 20th anniversary of having an Office of Diversity and Inclusion specifically dedicated to marginalized populations to make sure the conversation about increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in business is one that’s happening across the entire population and not just a subset,” says Krom.

Because the work of diversity, equity and inclusion is often hard to quantify, success in this area can be difficult to define. However, Krom believes the Cornell MBA community is cultivating an environment where everyone feels they belong.

“Sometimes this work is really emotionally laborious,” she says, “but when you win an award like the TEAM Trophy Award — especially when you win it two years in a row — it really helps to light a candle to what success and belonging can look like.”

The post For Second Year, Cornell’s Johnson Proves that Together Everyone Truly Can Achieve More appeared first on The Consortium.
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The Growing Field of ESG: How this Consortium Alum Believes Capitalism  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2019, 12:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: The Growing Field of ESG: How this Consortium Alum Believes Capitalism Can Be a Force for Good
It may have taken some time, but Lorraine Spradley Wilson has found her calling, now serving in a role in which she can follow her passion and also feel good about.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in government from Georgetown University — she was considering law school — she moved into financial services, working for companies such as Goldman Sachs, Third Avenue Management and Merrill Lynch. In 2012, Wilson graduated from New York University Stern School of Business as a member of The Consortium with her MBA.

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Lorraine Spradley Wilson

Now director of investment products at JUST Capital, a nonprofit research organization that strives to promote companies that are just, Wilson is able to focus on an area of importance to her: environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. JUST is a mission-driven organization focused on shifting the role of business in society. Its goal is to drive investments to companies that treat their workers, customers and the environment well. To do this, JUST assesses and ranks companies based on issues of importance to the American public to help people make informed purchasing and investment decisions.

Wilson recently spoke with us about her passion for finance, the growing field of ESG and how capitalism can be a force for good.

How did you get into finance?

My first role out of undergrad was as a corporate finance legal assistant at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. I was pre-law during undergrad and took this position to learn more about the different practice areas. I ended up leaving to work for one of our clients at the time – Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

I was a sales analyst on the public pension fund sales team at Goldman. We sold everything on the asset management platform to our clients. I would do these research projects — which I found so interesting — to get the client what it is they were looking for. This is where I carved out a niche that has actually helped me in my career overall: being the one to do the research, to go sit down with the investment team and learn about the features of the product — do sort of this deep dive — but then be able to go back to a busy sales team and share the key takeaways for them and their clients. That’s something that really served me well after Goldman when I was in hedge fund sales at Third Avenue Management. There, I got involved with investor letters and events early on — something that was typically reserved for more tenured business development team members.

At what point did you decide to get your MBA, and where did The Consortium come into the picture?

I always knew I wanted to go to graduate school. After spending four years working post-undergrad, I decided I wanted to stay in financial services and that pursuing an MBA would be the best course of action. A former Goldman colleague was enrolled in the full-time program at Stern. He explained to me the importance of The Consortium, the benefits of applying to top schools with a single application and the support the organization provided — with the Orientation Program as a starting point. It just made perfect sense as the next step in my business school application process.

The fact that you had to show a track record of volunteerism and supporting your community, that was important as well, and to be included in that like-minded group of people was something that I wanted.

How did you come into your role at JUST Capital?

I joined from Merrill Lynch. I had been working in a role evaluating exchange traded funds (ETFs) for clients and came across the JUST ETF, a large-cap core ESG ETF that is based on JUST Capital’s research. I learned about JUST Capital that way and knew the team at Goldman that had launched the ETF and thought really highly of them.

Evaluating ESG-related funds was a small part of my role, but it was something I really enjoyed. I saw a lot of adoption and product development taking place at the European firms I covered and knew the U.S. would eventually enjoy the same growth. Education is very important in terms of supporting ESG adoption, and I felt that the director of investment products role would play to my strengths — technical product and industry knowledge as well as communications and presentation skills.

Can you tell me a little about how JUST Capital works?

We rank companies based on what’s important, what the priorities are of the American public. Every year, we survey and do focus groups, and what we get back is the priorities of the public in terms of business behavior. We’re asking them “what makes a just company?” and they’re telling us year over year, they want companies to look out for their employees, to take care of their customers, to offer quality jobs and take care of the environment. There are seven issues that we measure, and those are just a few of them. We then use that work to rank companies and publish the list in Forbes every year. Rankings are great for consumers and for companies to know where they stand versus their peers.

We then have investor events as we want to drive capital toward companies that are just; you can do that from a consumer standpoint and an investor standpoint. On the investor side, we focus on partnerships with asset management firms in which they license our company research. We also develop indexes, such as the JULCD Index we licensed to Goldman for the JUST ETF. That’s another way to drive capital toward a good company.

Do the issues that you assess change as well as how Americans feel about them?

The seven issues don’t change year over year. What changes is how important they are to the public. These issues are workers; customers —fair treatment of your customers, including safeguarding their privacy; and quality products. We think products and services should be high quality and fairly priced. We look at product recalls for example, or if you’re a bank, we look at settlements.

We look at the environment; we expect companies to minimize their pollution no matter their industry. Instead of saying we’re not going to invest in energy companies, we would rather engage with them and encourage them to minimize their pollution to the best of their ability, reduce their waste, protect the planet. These are all things that we look at.

Then jobs — we look closely at the quality of jobs, fair pay for the work that you’re doing. So we celebrated when Amazon got to $15 an hour. We focus on fair pay for the industry and the job.

And then community — we want to know how you’re interacting with your communities. Are you hiring veterans? Do you work with oppressive governments abroad? Do you source locally? Do you engage in local communities through volunteering and other programs?

The last issue that we measure, which is essentially the bottom-ranked one based on our research, is company leadership and shareholders — things like CEO-to-worker pay ratio, following laws and regulations, creating value for your shareholders.

Are there certain companies that seem to rank at the top year after year?

We want to see a race to the top. Last year, we ranked 890 companies out of the Russell 1000 Index, and Microsoft was No. 1 out of all of them. It is an industry leader — really strong on workers, customers, the environment, local communities and company leadership and shareholders.

What trends have you seen in the time that you’ve been working in the ESG space?

When we do our survey work, we are really thorough. We have surveyed close to 100,000 Americans and work to match the U.S. Census demographics. So we’re looking at different generations, different political parties, different incomes, education rates, gender, et cetera. We’ve found that these people feel really strongly on these issues, and it’s pretty consistent across these different demographics, which is really encouraging. Our model is set up to take into account changes in sentiment. We’re interested in tracking whether the public’s views on the seven issues we measure change over time.

One thing we’ve noticed is that for the past two years, 80 percent of Americans have said that companies do not share enough of their success with their employees. These companies are doing well, they’re benefiting from corporate tax cuts, but the public feels like they’re not sharing enough of that with their employees.

We are capitalists here; we support capitalism. Workers are upset that they’re not sharing in these profits — they’re not getting the benefits — and they think that it’s a problem and that they need to reject capitalism as a response. But that’s certainly not the case; it just needs to be improved upon.

What do you do in your position at JUST Capital?

I’m director of investment products, so my role is really focused on the investor community. We have a corporate engagement team that works with the companies, and then my role is working in the investor, asset management/wealth management community. I’m focused on partnerships, increasing adoption of our research and on education. I speak regularly at conferences around the country and work with partners who are both new to ESG and long-time adopters to find new solutions for investors.

I’m intrigued by JUST’s belief that business and capitalism can and should be a positive force for change. Do you share this belief?

I definitely do. We think that companies can do more toward gender pay equity, toward quality parental leave, toward veteran hiring and engaging with the local community. Those are some of the areas where we think they can give back. And, by the way, there’s an investment case for it.

We published a report showing that companies that managed and disclosed on human capital metrics actually out-performed their peers. So there’s definitely an investment case where if you take a long-term view and invest in these areas, you can actually outperform rather than underperform.

How do you personally try to create a more just world? How, if at all, do you do so by remaining engaged with The Consortium?

I’m really involved with NYU on several fronts. I help with prospective student recruiting. That’s something that’s been really important to me. I am also working with the Center for Sustainable Business, and working on the reunion committee for Stern, I stay close to the community.

I also work with a group of families every year to fundraise money for undergraduate scholarships for minority students in the New York City area. Together, we’ve been supporting this effort for close to 30 years. It’s sort of like our own mini Consortium — complete with mentoring and career coaching — at the undergraduate level.

The post The Growing Field of ESG: How this Consortium Alum Believes Capitalism Can Be a Force for Good appeared first on The Consortium.
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First of Many: Paying it Forward to Advance The Consortium’s Mission  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Aug 2019, 15:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: First of Many: Paying it Forward to Advance The Consortium’s Mission
For the second year in a row, Fortive Corporation sponsored The Consortium’s 2019 First of Many Campaign to encourage incoming students to give back to the organization by paying it forward. Part of The Consortium’s Annual Orientation Program & Career Forum (OP), the campaign is designed to foster a spirit of philanthropy that will carry over once students graduate and begin their careers.

The goal is to achieve 100 percent participation by all member schools before the end of OP. The amount of the gift is irrelevant, says Adrienne Thomas, manager of student and alumni relations for The Consortium. To help spur friendly competition among member schools, in 2019, Fortive sponsored two contests, contributing a total of $10,000 to The Consortium on behalf of the winning institutions. The first school to reach 100 percent student participation and the school with the highest average gift had $6,000 and $4,000, respectively, donated on their behalf.

Dan Magnia, director of human resources at Fortive, says the opportunity to help advance The Consortium’s mission by encouraging students to give back aligns with Fortive’s own commitment to philanthropy.

“We believe in the spirit of giving back, in impacting the communities in which we work,” he says. “The First of Many Campaign allows us to foster the spirit of philanthropy across the incoming class and set the expectation for them to find opportunities to pay it forward.”

And who doesn’t like a little friendly competition, says Magnia.

“Across our business, we are constantly asking ourselves ‘how do we win?’ Winning for The Consortium means achieving our mission,” he says. “We won’t win unless we have sustained support from current students, alums, corporate partners and schools alike.”

By supporting the efforts of The Consortium, Fortive is also able to bolster its own diversity and inclusion efforts and gain access to diverse professionals.

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Dan Magnia

“The Consortium is a unique and strategic partner for us as we gain access to top diverse talent before they step foot on campus,” says Magnia, “and we are able to share how Fortive can grow their career and ultimately them as a leader.”

For Magnia, giving back to The Consortium is personal. A Consortium alum and 2010 graduate of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, he says he would not be where he is today without the help of the organization. “I cannot put a price on that,” he says.

Magnia has continued to give back to The Consortium by serving as a board member; providing mentorship, guidance and support to the board and students; and, of course, encouraging his employer to also support the organization.

“I am thankful for what [The Consortium] has done for me and believe it is important to continue to find opportunities to support the organization, whether that’s through my personal efforts or influencing the efforts of my employer,” he says.

Magnia believes all alumni should seek out opportunities to pay forward what The Consortium has given to them. This, he says, helps perpetuate the cycle of access and opportunity — an area that hits close to home for Magnia.

“I come from a small town where about 10 percent of the adult population earns a college degree. Statistically, I probably shouldn’t be here,” he says. “For me and for so many individuals at The Consortium, overcoming circumstance, defying odds and realizing our potential wouldn’t be possible without this organization and others like it.”

The post First of Many: Paying it Forward to Advance The Consortium’s Mission appeared first on The Consortium.
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First of Many: Paying it Forward to Advance The Consortium’s Mission   [#permalink] 06 Aug 2019, 15:01

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