Thursday, April 10, 2014

Conversation with a CEO


by Casey

As a Boston College Carroll School of Management graduate student, we have many opportunities to interact and brush shoulders with high level executives from a wide range of companies located in Boston and throughout the world. One of these opportunities is our Manager's Studio. What is Manager's Studio, you ask?

Manager's StudioManager's Studio is an event held quarterly here at the Carroll School of Management that brings top executives from a variety of different industries to campus to share their personal and professional experiences with students.

Hosted by BC faculty member Bob Radin, the Manager’s Studio session begins with an interview of the CEO, offering a rare glimpse into the executives’ personal lives, which is then followed by a student-led Q&A period. Discussions cover topics such as personal goals, challenges, career paths, managing and leading, and the business environment. It is the perfect opportunity to get inside the mind of the executive and find out what their lives are really like!

Recently, BC had the honor of hosting Jim Calhoun, the CEO of Converse, at a Manager's Studio session. Jim shared his career journey, leading him to Converse, and the insights he learned along the way. One of those insights was learning how to be a good teammate. For Jim, "figuring out the concept of team" was crucial to his success and his advancement into management. He learned what type of people work well together and leveraged this knowledge to form high-performing teams that fueled company growth.

Jim also learned the importance of failure, "At Converse, we fail a lot. I'm a super big fan of failure." He touched on the concept of "failing forward," and how from your failures you learn invaluable truths that show you how to move forward in your business. Many leaders have a moment of failure at some points in their career that is fundamental to the decisions they made and the paths they chose, and Jim shared one such story with us.

In addition to sharing his own personal stories, Jim also shared some wisdom for us as MBA students. He encouraged us to follow our passion no matter what, as that is where we will find true fulfillment in our careers and jobs. It is also important for us to be always "forward thinking and forward looking" - it can be easy to be complacent and content with where we are at, but it is crucial to always be looking to the next step in our careers.

As a CEO of a large, well-known company, Jim obviously has a depth of knowledge about the business but also talked about surrounding himself with others who know more than he does. "Leaders don't have to be the smartest in the room." Acknowledging this has freed him to be more open and honest with his co-workers and staff.

When asked about advice for us as we start interviewing and looking for jobs, Jim said that he always asks potential job candidates why they want to work for Converse specifically, and that we should also be prepared to talk in details about the job or industry we are applying to. He also looks for individuals who would be the right fit with the culture at Converse, and is seeking out those that he believes would be strong "change agents" for the company.

After the session was over, students had the chance to attend a reception where they could talk one-on-one with Jim more in depth and network with him directly. Manager's Studio really is an excellent opportunity to gain exposure to high level executives, receive some sound business advice and build your network and own personal brand. I personally can't wait until the next one!



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Managing High Performing Team - Experiential Learning in the BC Tradition

by Matt

When the term “High Performing Teams” is used, the initial thought that jumps to the mind of many people may be a SWAT team storming a building or a championship sports team taking the field. While these examples certainly apply, high performing teams exist in many areas of this business world as well. From the innovations at Apple to the successes of the world’s largest financial institutions, skilled, well-orchestrated teams are often the driving force behind these achievements.

I was lucky this semester to take part in one of the most interesting classes I have taken in my MBA career, Managing High Performing Teams, taught by Professor Scott McDermott. This class seeks to explore not only how these high performing teams are created, but how we as future MBA’s can leverage their traits in the everyday work place. Through the course of the semester we were lucky to have a wide variety of speakers and out of classroom experiences in addition to our case studies and group presentations, giving us a real world look at how these groups operate.

As we explored what components made up these high performing teams, we were lucky to have some excellent speakers come to share their experiences and explain how they apply what we were learning to real life situations. From mountain climbers to the crew of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, to members of a jazz band, all these individuals had one thing in common: commitment to a shared goal and the willingness to do whatever it took to get there.

Outside the classroom, we experienced some of these adept teams in action. A night at the Improv Asylum in the North End of Boston gave us a quick tutorial in improvisational comedy and the nuances of how four people take random situations and create comedy on the spot. We were then treated to a full show to see it happen for real. Pete Brock of the 1985 New England Patriots Super Bowl team hosted us at Gillette Stadium and showed us how a championship caliber football team comes together.

Looking back on the semester, I’ve realized a few things. Although I will likely never climb Mount Everest or take the field as a pro football player, the key attributes that bring these teams together can be applied across the business world. Possessing a common goal and collecting dedicated individuals devoted to reaching it will always produce a successful outcome.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Internship Search

By Lauren

"Congratulations, we would like to offer you a position as a Summer Associate....."

Those are the words every First-Year MBA student is waiting to hear. After a TON of time and effort, I can happily say that I finally heard those words, and my internship search is over! The internship search is daunting, time consuming, and a lot of work. But it's also exciting- you get to explore new companies and career paths. Through the process, I learned a lot about myself and envisioned myself in a number of different companies and career paths.

While everyone's internship search is different, here is my advice on going about the internship search.

Lauren's Keys to Successfully Finding an Internship

1. Start Early!
2. Network, Network, Network!
3. Attend Information Services
4. Use Career Services

Start Early: Beginning in September, I met with my Career Services Advisor to identify an internship search strategy that involved networking, attending information sessions, and exploring companies I was interested in. She helped me realize that any work I did in the beginning of the year would help me later on and that the sooner I started, the more companies I could explore, the more connections I could make, and the more I'd learn about what I really want to do.

Network: I set up a number of informational interviews throughout the first semester that positioned me well to secure an internship at the beginning of my second semester. I held two informational interviews with two employees and networked with several other people at the company I am interning for this summer. Those conversations not only helped me learn about the company, but were incredibly helpful during my interviews because I had prior insight into the company, demonstrated interest in the company, and a good explanation for why I wanted to intern there.

Attend Information Sessions:  BC brings top-ranked companies to campus for Information Sessions such as John Hancock, Liberty Mutual, Hasbro, CVS Caremark, EMC, and Oceanspray, to name a few. I attended as many information sessions as possible to learn about companies and industries I was interested in as well as ones I wanted to learn more about. Every information session is a learning opportunity as well as a great way to network with company representatives and establish relationships for the future. I made connections with several representatives at information sessions and made a point to introduce myself to the representatives of the company I'm interning for!

Use Career Services:  My career advisor was amazing. She was willing to meet with me as often as I needed to help guide me through the process. At first, I met with her every two weeks to prepare for informational interviews, brainstorm new companies to target and connections at those companies. She provided helpful advice on some of my cover letters. The day before one of my interviews, I had a freak out moment, and frantically emailed her asking for advice on how to prepare. She met with me for an hour, simulating an interview, helping me build my impact stories, and providing insight on the types of questions they would ask and pointed me towards facts I should know about the company. She also pumped me up and gave me an extra boost of confidence for the interviews.

The Interviews

So, what are internship interviews actually like?

First Round Interviews: Most of the companies I interviewed with started with a 30-45 minute behavioral interview where they asked basic questions like:
  • Why an MBA?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • What is your least favorite class?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to use data to make a decision
  • Tell me about a time when you navigated a difficult situation
  • Tell me about a leadership experience
Most of my behavioral interviews were very relaxed- the interviewer was trying to get a feel for who I am as a person and if I would fit into the company culture.  

Second Round Interviews: Most of my second round interviews involved a 30-45 minutes case and a 30-60 minute behavioral interview. The cases I did were not as bad as I imagined they would be, but I would say they definitely require preparation! During the case, my best piece of advice is to take a minute to organize how you are going to present your analysis so that you come across organized and make a more compelling analysis.  

"Super Day" Interviews: Some companies host "Super Day" interviews, where they bring lots of candidates to the company's office in for a series of interview (mix of case and behavioral). During these days, they not only evaluate you on how well you perform in the interviews, but also on how you interact with others while you're waiting for your interview. They may have a room reserved for candidates, where they converse with each other and current employees. This is a great opportunity to show that you can play well with others and fit in with the company culture. Not surprisingly, the interviews during Super Days vary- for example, one company I interviewed with had four separate 30-minute, back-to-back interviews, while another had a very relaxed pace. I came an hour early for my interview to mingle in the candidate lounge and stayed afterwards to eat lunch with candidates.

That has been my experience so far!  Hopefully these tips are helpful!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Changing lives - one way we make a difference


by Zach

As a Jesuit School, Boston College has long been steeped in not only developing a strong community but also helping those around it. With a long tradition of community service, Boston College Graduate students have been serving their communities in a variety of ways, from working with non-profits to feeding those most in need. Today, every Carroll School Graduate student volunteers at least ten to twenty hours towards community service. Through continuing this long tradition, we gain experience working with many different community-based organizations and individuals. It also reflects our tradition of experiential learning. After just one semester, I have found that my classmates and I are well on track to far exceed, if not double or triple, the ten to twenty hours!

Graduate students enjoy many community service opportunities, ranging from student organizations like Net Impact to working local and national organizations in the Boston area. The Carroll School of Management even plans activities for Boston College's annual Jesuit Day of Service.

One of the most rewarding, for me personally, is participating in Invest in Kids (INK). INK is a joint program between Boston College and Brookline Public schools. This program pairs a graduate student mentor with a 7th or 8th grader. The students I have worked with have really impressed me and I continuously find myself learning more from them than they probably learn from me.

While part of the INK program focuses around school work, the other part focuses on connecting student and mentor through a series of activities. These events range from costume competitions (during Halloween), to meeting student athletes, to scavenger hunts around campus.One of the first events we held was a stock picking challenge that took place between 1915 and 1930. One of the kids in my group astutely pointed out that the Great Depression was coming up and convinced his fellow students to liquidate, propelling our group into first place!

Reflecting on my first semester, I feel that INK was a great source of stress relief and helped me keep things in perspective. While grades and internships are important, it was great spending two hours a week giving back to our community!

A few quotes from my classmates regarding their experience with INK:

"I love having the chance to take a break from studying and schoolwork and give back to the community. The kids always have the ability to brighten my week and I love helping them work towards their goals." - First-Year, Full-Time MBA student.

"Ink is AMAZING!" - First-Year, Full-Time MBA student.

"A nice departure from schoolwork." - First-Year, Full-Time MBA student.

"Fun & Rewarding... Brings out the kid in me!" - Second-Year, MSA/MSF Dual Degree student.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The G51 Venture Capital Scholar Program


by Khanh

In my last post, I briefly talked about my decision to attend the Carroll School and how much I enjoyed the applied learning aspect of the program here. This time, I would like to delve deeper into my favorite program, the G51 Venture Capital Scholar, and relay my experience so far.

The program was started approximately ten years ago by Rudy Garza, the Founder and Managing Partner of G51 Capital. Initially, Rudy was working with a couple of in-state institutions in Texas, including UT Austin and Baylor University. Thanks to its overwhelming success, the program quickly grew to a national level and, as of this fall, involved more than ten top tier institutions, including MIT, Harvard, Northwestern, Duke, and Boston College.

For every school, Rudy aims at selecting three to four graduate students from diverse backgrounds, such as business, engineering, and computer science. All share the same passion for entrepreneurship and venture capital. Working with Rudy and the other Managing Partners has been a fantastic experience and, frankly, my learning curve has grown exponentially over the course of three months.

During the program, G51 Scholars are expected to fulfill the following tasks: deal flow review, communication with entrepreneurs, local deal flow and specific projects as assigned by the Managing Partners. Says Rudy, “Our goal is to create an exceptional network of future business leaders grounded in technology innovation and entrepreneurship. We are connecting with the best business schools and entrepreneurial institutions, in the United States and internationally, to enable a global renaissance of science and technology commercialization.”

Since G51 invests in hardware, software, clean technology and internet service companies, the Scholars have plenty of freedom to carry out the sourcing process. So far, I represented G51 at a number of start-up events, including the MIT Bootcamp, Harvard Cyberposium, and the Babson Entrepreneurship Forum. In addition, another rewarding aspect of the program is our exposure to some inspiring visitors in the field of technology entrepreneurship during our teleconference. At one point, I found myself pitching a company to Rudy, without realizing that Lee Walker, the first President of Dell Computing, was also in the room. Thankfully, his follow-up comments were positive.

The G51 Venture Capital Scholar Program has been an amazing journey for me here at BC. I look forward to continuing my commitment to the program in the spring.