Archive for September, 2009

Learning from experts

September 30th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Yesterday I had the priviledge of hearing Vijay Ravindran, Chief Digital Officer of the Washington Post, wax poetic about the monumental task he has in front of him and how he has initially framed his strategy for doing the unthinkable…turning the digital side of newspapers into a steady profit center.

Vijay’s lecture fit well into my New Ventures and Entrepreneurship class curriculum as it offered a great perspective on how to innovate within an established structure…and what a better industry to study than print media. When I think about newspapers, journalists, and editors, I think about a stodgy, old-fashioned business, which has a very definable culture focused around the art of writing. Vijay’s challenge, and the industry’s more broad challenge, is to identify viable ways to use the digital medium to generate revenue. This involves a separation from the current, perhaps out-dated, paradigm newspapers have used to make money. It was great to hear from an executive on the battlefield fighting to revolutionize the way the Washington Post does business.

Until next time…


Guest Speaker!

September 23rd, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Jim Parker, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, came to Van Munching Hall last week and chatted with our teamwork and integration class. Jim is an executive in residence at the Smith School of Business, so he will be spending some time on-campus.

It was a great opportunity to learn from a leader in industry. Jim spoke at length about his background as a lawyer and his foray into Southwest. It was particularly inspiring to me, a career switcher, to hear that it’s possible to change your professional trajectory and still ascend to the highest levels of management.

Jim also spoke about the issues facing him during his tenure at Southwest (2001 – 2003), and some of the quick decisions he had to make while at the helm. Specifically, Jim spoke about 9/11. Among other perspectives, he offered some insight into the changing nature of the airline industry during that time, the issues facing Southwest, and the decision making process he and his management team went through to arrive at the company’s strategic direction during those tough business and social times. At the end, Jim’s takeaway was to do what’s right for your people. He always focused on what was right for his employees and the customers.

That perspective drives the spirit of Southwest and it was great to hear specific examples of how that philosophy manifests itself in SWA’s day-to-day business.

Until next time…


A little more about my internship experience

September 10th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Many people have been intrigued by my internship with Activision Blizzard and have received a few questions about if there were other MBA interns, and what schools they represented; who I reported to; what was my cross functional exposure; and key takeaways.

So here’s a little more about my summer…

I was one of approximately 20 interns at Activision Blizzard (AB), and interns spanned across all functional aspects of the organization from Quality Assurance to Finance to Marketing. Of the 20 interns, however, only 4 of us were in b-school. There was one gentleman from HBS, one from M.I.T., one woman from Northwestern, and me. While we may have worked in different departments – interactive or brand – there was a lot of collaboration between and among the MBA interns throughout the summer and each of our projects were inter-related (at least a bit).

In terms of reporting and access to management, I left feeling well connected within the organization. My direct report was the Director, Interactive Marketing and we interacted daily. I also worked very closely with the Brand Management team, and occasionally worked with the Chief Creative Officer of the organization. The exposure was fantastic.

As I reflect on my experience, one key takeaway was the realization that no matter where you go to school, what’s of utmost importance in business is your ability to think. If you can analyze a situation and make an informed, educated decision, you’ll be an asset to any organization you work with.

Until I blog again…


Transition from the boardroom to the classroom

September 9th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

My transition from work to school has been seamless. After about two weeks of classes, it is apparant that my experience this summer at Activision Blizzard is practically applicable. I took some great insights from my experience and am applying them to my 2nd year at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Namely, I have realized that I enjoy working in small to medium sized entrepreneurial businesses. The independent work style and corporate culture of an entrepreneurial firm really appeals to my personality. As a result, to foster my entrepreneurial interests, I am taking a number of “New Ventures” type classes. I believe these courses will help accentuate my passion for entrepreneurship and allow me to better fit with small and medium sized businesses working in fast paced innovative spaces.

From a social front, Smith offers another year of intramural sports (soccer, basketball, flag football), tailgates, and Maryland Varsity Athletics. As a former professional level soccer player I really appreciate good competition and top-notch athletics…and there are few better institutions than Maryland. The school spirit is palpable around campus the week of a football or basketball game and the Smith School regularly has strong tailgate showings. Also, every Thursday we host social events. Since Smith students typically do not have classes on Fridays, we take the opportunity to start our weekends early while getting know each other outside of the classroom. Another tradition – Friday morning (11am) pickup basketball games at Eppley – has been carried over from last year and we regularly have great showings. These “events” really bind the business school together an allow us to develop strong, lasting personal relationships with our classmates and peers.

Until I blog again…Go Terps!


My summer internship experience

September 3rd, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I just returned to Maryland from a wonderful and engaging summer internship in Southern California.

From June 8th to August 21st, I worked with Activision Blizzard, a video game publisher, located in Santa Monica, California. My job title was Interactive Marketing Intern, but my responsibilities varied. I found myself working on a AAA game franchise, and preparing a marketing engagement plan for its next title release. More specifically, I was tasked with researching the video game market and first-person shooter genres to better understand our title’s points of differentiation and areas of opportunity. Additionally, I was asked to project manage the production of a fully functional and scalable website for the games’ announcement. Those two main thrusts of my internship provided great theoretical and practical application of what I have learned in my past work experiences and through the coursework at Smith.

From a more social perspective, the internship was a great way to meet and greet executives in the video game/entertainment industry. I had the opportunity to chat with Bobby Kotick – CEO of Activision Blizzard – and various other senior level managers within Activision. The internship also organized a leadership development day, where we heard from Ronnie Lott, former NFL player, who has managed the transition from professional sports to the business world seamlessly and with great success. There were “socials,” happy hours, launch parties, private movie screenings, and plenty of video game playing (i.e., industry research).

I could not ask for anything more from my summer in Southern California and I look forward to bringing my first-hand experience in the entertainment industry into the classroom.

Until next time…