2011 Bradford Banquet

May 5th, 2011 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Last week, the Black and Hispanic MBA Associations hosted the 18th Annual William D. Bradford Minority Awards Banquet. Every year, approximately 100 students, faculty, staff, and corporate representatives come together to celebrate diversity and honor the legacy of one of Smith’s former deans- William Bradford. Also, the event is officially the last duty of both Presidents for the Black and Hispanic MBA Associations….meaning, I’m done!

I was a part of the event last year because I was the incoming President for the Black MBA Association. This year, the entire event was my responsibility as the acting President of my club. Boy….what a difference. Planning the event was stressful to say the least. Not only did we need to secure corporate sponsors to pay for the event, we had to ensure that everything went off without any problems, as the reputation of the school would be on the line. Not to mention, the Dean and other high profile guests would be in attendance.  I did, of course, have the help of the Hispanic MBA Association President, along with the board members from both of our clubs. The problem was that the banquet comes along just as school work picks up- you can imagine the challenge of having to keep a set of students dedicated to working on an event when they have papers to write and presentations to give. A lesson in human capital management I suppose…

 

All in all, I’m glad the event was a success. I heard from more than a few people that they were able to make some valuable connections with key individuals in attendance. And now that I have officially handed over my presidency, I have a little bit more free time on my hands. I’ll take all I can get right now!

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The Markstrat Simulation

April 18th, 2011 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

This term I’m taking Marketing Strategy. Most of the course work revolves around the Markstrat Simulation. I, along with 3 of my classmates run a company (Firm O) and we sell Sonites and Vodites. What are Sonites and Vodites you ask? Well, I’m still not completely sure, but they are some sort of electronic products with varying frequencies, power levels, etc. We are competing with 4 other firms, trying to earn the highest cumulative contribution margin from our portfolio. Basically, in every decision round, a firm gets to decide on which products to sell, R&D projects to implement, advertising, positioning, sales force and distribution, and segments to target. Of course, there is a budget that has to be maintained, leading to key trade offs and the need for strategic planning. Our team started out in fourth place in terms of market share…and now, after 5 decision rounds (5 years in the Markstrat world), we are still in fourth place. I know, I know….it’s not where we want to be either. It’s frustrating to say the least!

Never have I participated in activity that is so time-consuming, maddening, and interesting all at the same time. I literally feel like simulation could be a full time job. Maybe an internship of some sort, but my point is that it takes up hours upon hours of my time! To hear my professor tell it, this really should not be the case. I’m sure he’s right too- I’m over thinking things and not being efficient. I, along with my  group, are slowly and surely becoming faster and better at making decisions. Last decision round we made some good choices and now have double the marketing budget to work with for the next round-score!!! 1st place here we come! I wonder if all my classmates are as engaged and intrigued by this as I am….might be a marketing geek type of thing…

I’ll be sure to post an update on how we finish up in the competition. Our ranking only accounts for 5% of our grade….but you know how it is- all MBAs want to win!

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Back from Spring Break…

March 31st, 2011 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I just got back from what I’ve been calling “my last spring break ever.” It sounds a little dramatic, but in all likelihood it’s a true statement. I don’t really plan on getting any additional formal education, so this was my last spring break ever! I do think that all corporations should institute spring break for employees though…I may become a strong advocate for that once I’ve made my mark in my company. ;-)

So, because it was my last spring break ever, I HAD to make sure I enjoyed myself! Consequently, I found myself in beautiful…warm…sunny….MIAMI! My fellow classmate and I had a blast!

Although we did spend most of our days on the beach and our nights enjoying all that Miami nightlife has to offer, we managed to sprinkle in some cultural…semi-educational activities too. We are such good students!

A

Vizkaya Museum and Gardens

Checking out the Romero Britto Gallery on Lincoln Road

So now it’s back to reality- rainy, cold weather and…school. Term D= 4 new classes for me (How did I let that happen??). But at least now, I can really see that light at the end of the tunnel…the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…. (I could go on.) The point is- I’m GRADUATING! That’s crazy…. Soon, I’ll have my MBA. Only 7 weeks to go….

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You’ve never seen a dog park like this.

March 9th, 2011 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

The term is winding down and I am SO READY for spring break! My classmate and I are heading down to Miami for a few days- I cannot wait! So…. because this is the last week of classes, there are tons of presentations going on. Yours truly just finished her one and only presentation and I have to say…I’m very proud of my team!

For my New Product Development class, we had to take a concept through the entire product development process. My group chose to do a dog park concept called The Barking Bean.  The project was a lot of work, in a short amount of time, but looking back- I think it was worthwhile. Steps in the process included consumer depth interviews, a conjoint analysis, development of a core benefit proposition, market analysis, financial forecasting, etc. Like I said…a lot.

The Barking Bean is “the ultimate park for dogs and their best friends.” It offers amenities like an agility course for dogs, partitioned areas for smaller dogs, heat lamps and other weather protection elements, and superior landscaping. The biggest point of difference in our product is the adjoining coffeehouse for owners and the planned social activities that would be held at the park. The main idea is that we cater to the needs of owners just as much as we do dogs.  Here’s a look at the “prototype” I developed in powerpoint to show the class our idea. This took forever!!!

I might just buy a dog just to go to this park if it existed! Tomorrow in class, I get to relax and watch the second half of the presentations.  I love being done!

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Black History Month Celebration

March 1st, 2011 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Last week, my club- the Smith Black MBA Association, hosted a celebration in honor of Black History Month. It was so much fun! I have to say, the most exciting part of the event was the FOOD! Yummy! I love trying food from different cultures. We had foods from Jamaica, Cuba, Africa, and of course America to honor the African Diaspora.

The entertainment was excellent as well- we had a step performance by a UMD fraternity, singing of the Black National Anthem, and one of the first year Black MBA members played the flugelhorn to honor African-Americans in Jazz history.

All in all, it was stressful getting everything together, but it was worth it to be able to share some of my culture with the Smith community. Good times!

Here’s a link to my article about the event for Smith’s Latest News:  http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/news/stories/2011/BlackHistoryMonth.aspx

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home sweet home

February 25th, 2011 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

All this talk about my social life made me think more and more about the fact that I’ll be leaving the DC area soon. (Noooooooo!!!!!) It’s so bittersweet landing a great job in a city you’ve never lived. I have to make sure it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining, because I am SUPER excited about my upcoming job. However, I am absolutely, positively, in love with living in this area. I have family here- my mom and one sister- plus, I have friends here! We all know that the older you get, the more difficult it becomes to make real friends. So, I want to keep the real ones close by!

So what’s so great about this area, you might be wondering if you’ve never lived here. Well, where to begin??

The people- okay, so maybe they’re not as friendly as the ones you find in the South, but they are definitely nice enough. More importantly, they are diverse, especially within the young professional segment. You’ll find people that look like you, and plenty that don’t, if you know what I mean. I love that!

Nightlife- There’s something for everyone! My classmates have introduced me to the DC bar scene, as before, I tended to lean more towards the dance scene (clubs, lounges, etc). Either way, there are always new people to meet, a new place to try, or old favorites to revisit. Parking, I have to admit, can drive you crazy.

Location- I happen to live 40 minutes from DC, in a great not-so-little suburb called Columbia in Maryland. Since I have a daughter, I don’t mind trading the metro-riding-live-in-a-small-cool-place-city living for a more laid-back, spacious, and convenient-for-moms type of environment. The reason is that I still have access to all the cool stuff in the city! Everytime I drive through DC and pass the Monument, or the Capitol I realize how much I love the city. Philly, NJ,  and NYC aren’t far away either.

Let’s see…what else? Well, there’s lots of jobs (not necesssarily for CPG marketing folks like myself…but I’ll still give credit), there’s lots of culture, great food…and did I mention, it’s just awesome??

I guess there’s no telling what the future holds- maybe my career will bring me back here one day. For now, I’ll just enjoy my last months in the DC area. Home Sweet Home.

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Mia’s 3rd Birthday!

February 18th, 2011 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Ahh…the joys of parenthood. These are the days I live for. Mia had a blast at her daycare birthday party! She’s the best thing that ever happened to me so far. I cannot tell a lie- having a daughter in an MBA program is not easy. (see a previous post about this!) But, Mia is probably the source of most of my happiness, a portion of my stress, but a larger portion of my sanity too. It’s weird, I know. I just love being able to come home to her. Anywho, I wanted to share some pictures of the small party I threw for her. Check it out!

Mia and her best friend at daycare

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let me check my schedule…

February 10th, 2011 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

The other day, one of my friends said to me, “You always have a school thing!” This was in response to my explanation of my plans for my Thursday night. This morning, when I got to campus, I started to think about all the activities that I’ve been going to lately, and even since I started school. And it’s true- I DO always have a school thing! And that’s a good thing. Probably one of the things I like most about being here.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a community (free!) lunch, a happy hour, and a bowling event. Tonight, I have the pleasure of attending the annual culmination of the International Week here at Smith- the International Night and Food Festival. Food from all over the world in one convienent place- heaven!!!  Plus, good company consisting of classmates, their spouses, and even the their kids! It’s one of my favorite events.

Me and Mia at International Night 2010

Next weekend, is the much anticipated Monte Carlo Night. It’s a charity event that raises money for a fund started in honor of two Smith Part Time MBA students that died in the September 11th terrorist attack at the Pentagon.

The most fun night of the year- I LOVE MONTE CARLO! I guess, you can tell I had a really good time last year. Should be just as good this year…

The week after that, we’ll be having a Black History Month Celebration sponsored by my club, and the list goes on. You really have to try hard not to be involved here, because there’s something for everyone.

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New Product Development

February 4th, 2011 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Right now, in my New Product Development class, we are still in the introductory phase- learning about the product development process and walking through specific examples from some of the most innovative companies. This week, I was supposed to read a paper on Blue Ocean Strategy and in class we were to talk about a company called IDEO.

Somehow, I found myself so caught up in the optional reading about IDEO, that I neglected to read the ASSIGNED reading. :-(  Oh well… at least I was still learning and luckily, I had time to read it quickly the next morning… So back to what I was saying-

In class, we watched a video from a little while ago, when ABC’s Nightline had asked IDEO to redesign the grocery store shopping cart in 5 weeks. In the video, one of the IDEO founders described how their company could do anything. It’s a simple statement, but if you really think about it- it’s extremely bold. Your company can do ANYTHING? His reasoning was that everything was a result of their perfected process. The process, no matter the subject matter, would produce a winning result. (Winning is kind of like beauty though, I guess- it’s in the eye of the beholder.)

IDEO shopping cart concept

So what is their process? Well, they kind of have this laid back, organized, creative chaos thing going on, with a huge focus on the consumer. I’d go as far to say it’s the type of environment that most “marketing-types” crave. It’s a super flat organization, where people take on roles in different projects because of what they do best, not because of tenure or other typical factors.

They started out by using secondary research and a preliminary brainstorming session. The result was a few key areas they intended to focus on for the remainder of the project. The team broke into smaller groups to speak with various experts on shopping carts (customers, manufacturers, store employees, etc) and then returned to share their discoveries with the team. Rather than just merely telling the team what they had found, each group came back with photographs and other visual aids to really communicate the lessons learned.

After everyone shared, another brainstorm took place and it was exactly the way a brainstorm was meant to be- a free flow of ideas,  people drawing sketches, demonstrating their ideas, politeness and respect all around… organized chaos, as they say.  Wild ideas were encouraged and believed to be viable starting points for winning ideas. Three ideas were chosen from the session and the team broke into groups to further develop each one and build a prototype to show. Finally, one new design was produced based on the best elements from the three prototypes. It was impressive, to say the least.

If you take a look at their website, like I did instead of doing my homework, you’ll be able to find lots more that will intrigue you. I definitely added them to my list of cool companies to watch and am hoping to be able to infuse a few of their ways of doing business into my next organization. I mean, wouldn’t it be great to be confident enough to say you can do anything?

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Back for the last semester

January 25th, 2011 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

So it’s my second day back at school for my last semester. I actually spent the last part of my 6 week long winter break missing school. And now that I’m here… I think I should have found a better use of my last days of freedom! Really, I shouldn’t have any complaints because I only have 2 classes this term (first 7 weeks). I’ll have FOUR classes next term- UGH! That is not the ideal scenario. A few of my classmates are already done and some will be done in March after the first term. Oh well- I’m happy about the classes I chose, so I will just deal with it.

My two classes for this term are Project Management and New Product Development. Both were willingly chosen by me (yay for electives!) and I’m pretty excited about them. I’ll be sure to write about both as the term progresses. For the most part, I’ll be able to just focus on my classes and club activities because I accepted a job offer over the winter break (YES!). This is the opposite of my experience last year (see my post about my summer internship). In this case, the grass is greener on this side!

So that’s it for now…

Believe me, I wish I had a great trip from winter break to write about, but I really I just rested, and spent time with my daughter. So overall, it was a nice break- much needed and I like to believe- well deserved. :-)

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