All posts by Michelle Gallagher

The PTMBAA Fun Fund

Luis Arias headshot

By Luis Arias, 2015-2016 VP of Finance, PTMBAA

Brunchin In Baltimore
Brunchin’ In Baltimore

As VP of Finance for UMD’s Part-Time MBA Association, I am responsible for managing the association’s funds by ensuring they get used responsibly. After all, the association receives its funding from you, the students!

Each semester, all Part-Time MBA students pay $75 to the association which is included in your tuition billing statement. The association uses these funds to organize many events and activities (such as the annual Sunset Cruise, professional headshots and PTMBAA Holiday Party) for the part-time community. The benefits of scale that we receive from collectively using the community’s funds allow us to hold these events at a lower cost to students.

The Holiday Party and Sunset Cruise are our two signature events made possible by pooling the community’s fees into one common fund. These large scale events would not be possible without your contribution.

DC headshots
DC Headshots & Networking

Other examples are the professional headshot events (held on each PT campus) where the cost to each student is $30. Similar services for an individual can cost around 10 times as much. The PTMBAA spring and fall golf tournaments allow current students and guests to enjoy a day of golf and refreshments at the UMD golf course at a cost lower than if they were to attend on their own.

The association also uses the funds to plan events in order to promote networking within the Smith community (part-time, full-time, online and EMBA) and with other business schools in the area. The track reps for your cohorts receive a yearly budget from the association to organize events for their respective cohort. Lastly, the PTMBAA works closely with the Full-Time MBAA and provides funding for school-wide events (tailgates, Monte Carlo, clubs, etc.) that are of value and accessible to part-time students.

In closing, I hope that you partake in many more PTMBAA events so that you may see the benefits of your contribution. The PTMBAA is continuously looking for input on the events we organize – your feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated!

My final act as a PTMBA student: A Low-carbon case competition at Yale

Shola Akinmeji headshot

By Shola Akinmeji

I remember my excitement after I discovered a class titled “Sustainability & Investing” was offered this fall. It was the first finance course that allowed me to apply my Sustainable Energy Engineering background. The class did not disappoint as it was taught from a finance and natural resources perspective. Despite the atypical subject, the consensus among fellow students was very positive. We learned a lot and left the class yearning to test our newfound knowledge in the freshly pioneered space that exists between making money and social justice. We got the opportunity when when one of our classmates, Jun, suggested we enter a Low-Carbon Portfolio Case Competition hosted by Yale University on behalf of Commonfund. The case competition tasked contestants with building a socially responsible portfolio that provided investment opportunities to utility endowments.

Group ShotAt first, I was reluctant to join the team because it only prolonged my long awaited celebratory relief for completing my MBA. However, once Jun secured an angel investor who offered to cover all of our application fees, I signed up with the knowledge that this would be my final act as a PTMBA student. Jun assembled a strong, but balanced team of full-time and part-time students. Our group was rounded out by my fellow PTMBA buddies, Jeff Schwartz and Saad Irfan, and Eric Chen, a full-time MBA student. We entered the contest with our eye on the $10,000 prize money.

We only had 15 days to work on the case. Working around our schedules proved to be very challenging due to our competing professional and school schedules. Jeff and I had both finished the program but we travelled a lot for work, Eric and Jun were in the full-time program with a heavy course load, and Saad was still in the part time program and working full-time. We worked around our schedules by using Google Hangout to host meetings during odd hours.

image1Our group had a unique advantage over other groups as it was comprised of experts in sustainability, corporate finance, private equity, and policy. Thanks to the diversity of skill-sets in our group, we developed a strong response to the case and a solid portfolio. We tested our portfolio against multiple outcomes through scenario analysis and developed strong metrics for measuring our impact.

Sadly, our presentation and well thought of responses to questions weren’t good enough to satisfy the two judges. I wonder if the fact that we went up against a Yale team in the first round had something to do with it. Perhaps I should also mention that both judges were Yale alumni and Yale adjunct professors…

Controversy aside, we had a great time working on this case. It brought our group together and created the perfect opportunity to apply what we learned in class to provide a solution to a major problem of our time.

Shola Akinmeji is a Part-time MBA student with a Corporate Finance concentration graduating in December 2015. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from Morgan State University and a Masters of Engineering in Sustainable Energy Engineering from the University of Maryland. He leads a team of engineers and energy consultants in Booz Allen Hamilton’s Energy Consulting Business. He aspires to develop energy projects in developing countries, with particular interest in his home country of Nigeria. In his free time, he is an adrenaline junkie and Netflix binger. 

Our First Six Months!

Wow. The PTMBAA Board has realized that we’re already half-way through our tenure – and yet it feels like we’ve only just begun.

When we campaigned in April we made several promises to the PT community, including increased student engagement through professional and social events, paying it forward to the DMV community, and growing and strengthening connections within the Smith School and industry partners.

The 2015 Smith School Business Summit at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards, in Baltimore MD, photographed for the University of Maryland, 13 November 2015.
Smith School Business Summit

So far, we’ve sponsored several professional events including headshots, a golf tournament, a salary negotiations workshop and the Smith School Business Summit. We’re working more closely than ever with the Office of Career Services (OCS) to deliver value-added events tailored towards working professionals. And the PT community is not just attending – we’re also being actively recruited by OCS to help run these events. A case in point is the inaugural session of: Marketing & Finance Super Day: It’s All About the Markets. (Volunteers still needed!)

Every month the PTMBAA has showcased an opportunity to give back to the community. We’re proud to have provided worthwhile opportunities such as the Lucky Dog Adoption Event and this month’s Movember Fundraiser.

151121 B-school HH
DC Business Schools HH

This year we’ve instituted monthly happy hours – much to the delight of our community and other Smith students in the EMBA, OMBA, FTMBA and Masters programs. These have provided a wonderful opportunity to welcome incoming PT students and for us to connect with other area business schools. The DC Business Schools happy hour event on November 21st sold out a week beforehand!

In addition to happy hours, we’ve been bringing other events to all three campuses including tailgates, brunches and wine tastings. Our Holiday Party received an overwhelming response – with tickets selling out a month before the event!

DC Track Rep Dinner
DC Track Reps Dinner

Behind the scenes, the PTMBAA has been working hard to increase involvement and engagement within our student community. We’re actively meeting with Track Reps and working with our Committee Members to plan and execute events of interest to PT students. (It’s never too late to join a committee!)

As we wrap up our first six months we look forward to bringing you more worthwhile events in order to improve your professional skills – yet have some fun too! Here’s a sneak peek:

  • 14th Annual Monte Carlo Gala
  • Nationals Baseball Game
  • Brunchin’ In DC
  • Headshots in Baltimore
  • And more!

There are more ways than ever to get involved – and have fun! – in the Smith PT community. We hope to see you at a future event!

Smith Women in Business: Always Negotiate

jsg- headshot

By Jessica Gershuny

As the Director of Women’s Initiatives for the PTMBAA, I think a lot about the skills that women must use to succeed in the classroom and the boardroom. From a candid conversation had over champagne last spring to a toastmaster-style public speaking workshop, Smith Women in Business events have brought together part-time students to discuss gender-related challenges and to strengthen core business skills. Our most recent event, the Power of Negotiating with Kim Keating, took place at the DC campus on September 30th.

The ability and willingness to negotiate for salary or professional advancement is a critical, yet often underdeveloped, skill set. Studies have shown that fewer than 50% of job candidates negotiate for salary, and women are 30% less likely to negotiate than men. So how do MBA candidates empower each other to know their worth and not leave money on the table? Further, how do we leverage our B-School experience to ask for that raise or promotion before graduation day?

JG&KK
Jess with Kim Keating

Kim Keating, CEO & Founder of Keating Associates is an expert in salary negotiations and committed to helping women identify their value and get paid their worth. Kicking off the workshop, Kim addressed the fears we face when choosing to negotiate and key action steps to take before entering a negotiation in order to maximize your financial gain. She emphasized the importance of conducting salary market research and developing a BATNA (Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement). These steps allow women to make informed decisions at the negotiating table and know when to walk away.

Key Takeaways

  1. Do your homework and know the market rates before getting to the table.
  2. Silence is golden and can be a powerful negotiating tool. Don’t be afraid to pause.
  3. Ask data-driven questions during the interview process, and request sources for the interviewer’s salary quotes.
  4. Make an informed decision. Understand your BATNA as it relates to the full compensation package. Prioritize your ‘must haves’, ‘great to haves’ and ‘nice but not necessary to haves’. Know when to walk away.
power poses - smith
Power poses!

At the end of the event, the workshop attendees took an oath that we will never take the first offer (no matter how awesome it is) ever again. This measure will ensure that we hold each other accountable and support each other throughout our career negotiations.

I am grateful for the women in our cohort, including Michelle Gallagher, for making this event a reality. Although the worth of many things in life can be negotiated, you simply can’t put a price on you very own network of capable, collaborative businesswomen. #knowyourworth #getpaid

Jessica Gershuny is the Director of Women’s Initiatives for the Part-Time MBA Association. Her focus at Smith is Human Capital and Organizational Behavior. She highly recommends the Smith elective: Collaborative and Competitive Negotiation. In her day-job, Jessica is a certified federal and graduate school career coach with over five years’ experience in talent acquisition and coaching. She is passionate about women’s empowerment in and out of the workplace. Find her on LinkedIn.