Archive for April, 2007

Competition

April 22nd, 2007 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Part-time students normally don’t participate in any of the annual MBA competitions that take place around the country. A big reason for this is that we are a lot busier than the full-time students. We work full time jobs in addition to taking classes in the evenings. Many part-time students have young children at home. Our schedules are full to the point of breaking.

With all that in mind, I still recommend that part-time MBA students sign up for a competition in their field of interest. There is no better way to test yourself in a real world setting than by going out and competing with your peers from around the world. There are competitions for every interest – entrepreneurship (social, sustainable, international, and so on), supply chain management, investing, consulting, and venture capital. If you are on the fence about a career change, these events are a great way to get your feet wet. As almost anyone who has participated will attest, the part-time MBA case competition is not a good substitute. It is not focused enough, and you’re lucky if the case analysis is in your field of interest. We were tasked with analyzing the CRM needs of Carnival Cruise Lines. How is that applicable to anything I would want to do in the real world? I don’t know if the changes that were made for this year’s competition were improvements, but I suspect that the broad focus of the subject matter still prevented the material from being relevant to many of the students who participated. That’s why I think that more part-time students should sign up for the major business school competitions. The material is relevant and give students a much better opportunity to apply what they have learned in the MBA program.

Without hesitation, I can say that participation in the VCIC was the best experience of the MBA program. Before participating, I thought I wanted to pursue a career in venture capital, but felt like I should get some more exposure to the field before I made the leap. Now I’m sure that my future lies with venture capital. Over the course of the three rounds of the competition, we got to analyze twelve different business plans, perform due diligence interviews with all of the entrepreneurs, make our investment decisions, and present them to judging panels made up of angel investors, venture capitalists, and other representatives from the private equity world. To be successful, our team had to draw on all knowledge we gained throughout the MBA program.

Even though we didn’t place in the International Finals, the experience was incredible. We had a chance to meet major players from all across the VC world. All of the teams were incredibly supportive of each other and we particularly had a good time interacting with the teams from Virginia, USC, and MIT. MIT had the added privilege of picking up the tab at Top of the Hill, where everyone went to celebrate with fresh brewed beer and various other mighty alcoholic concoctions.

For any teams who are considering competing next year, I strongly recommend the following electives:
BUMK740 – Marketing High Tech Products
BUMO730 – New Venture Creation
BUMO756 – Industry and Competitor Analysis
BUSI771 – New Venture Financing
BUFN758V – Venture Capital and Private Equity

You will also need to pull knowledge from a number of your core classes including Human Capital Management, Financial Accounting, Marketing, and Strategy.

As a final piece of advice, there’s no better way to prepare for a competition than by practicing in other competitions. Although the part-time MBA case competition had nothing to do with venture capital, our team’s success there gave us an edge in the VCIC. We knew how to work together and we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re thinking about competing in the VCIC next year, please keep me and the rest of the team in mind. We’re eager to act as coaches in order to help the University of Maryland not only return to the finals, but win the big prize.

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The agony of defeat

April 15th, 2007 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Well, maybe not agony, but at least a dull throb…

The weekend didn’t go as planned. That happens sometimes.

We were unsuccessful in our bid to become the VCIC champions. We tried a risky strategy that didn’t work out for us, but we believed in our approach and stand by it.

I have a midterm due on Tuesday, so I don’t have a lot of time to write about the competition. I’ll post my thoughts later in the week. Big props go out to MIT for pulling off the big win for my home state of Massachusetts. They had a great team.

Needless to say, we were disappointed in the outcome, but not in the overall process. This was the highlight of my business school experience and one of the highlights of my life. I have never worked so hard at anything before, and it all paid off. We were the first team of part-time students to ever make it to the VCIC finals. What an incredible thrill!

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TMI

April 4th, 2007 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Last week, my brain ran out of room. I couldn’t learn anything else and I wished that people would just stop trying to teach me things. I needed some time to forget some useless knowledge before I could put anything new in there. I was suffering from too much information (TMI).

All of the learning started with a marathon session of Marketing High Tech Products and Services. The class ran all day on Saturday and Sunday. Professor Judy Frels is awesome. Definitely take her class if you have a chance. She kept the class going with a good mix of lecture, exercises, and case analysis. This was the first and only “whole weekend” classes that I have taken at Smith and it was not nearly as grueling as I was expecting.

The rest of the week was another story entirely.

From Monday to Thursday I had corporate training to attend. The course was titled “Advanced Project Management – Project Planning, Analysis, and Control”. It was far less fun than the weekend class, and it was also held in all day class sessions. However, it did prove to be an excellent networking opportunity. One of my classmates arranged to have me introduced to the president of our firm’s venture capital division. That contact has already proved helpful in my VCIC preparation.

Admittedly the teacher for our training course had some good stories about having to strip naked when he was caught in a rainstorm after teaching a class for the Navy. He also told us about having his psychology students read “The Happy Hooker” in class as part of an experiment. These and other stories prompted one woman in class to shout “TMI” a number of times throughout the course.

The really rough day of the week was Tuesday. I went to corporate training from 8:00AM – 5:00PM and then followed that up with a class session of Strategic Growth for Emerging Companies from 7:00PM – 9:40PM. Ugh. I was totally burned out after having attended class for four straight days, and I still had two more days of training to go.

Thankfully, Wrestlemania was last weekend. I watched the show with some of my friends at Padonia Station. We drank some beer, and had a really good time watching the show. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my adult life, it’s that pro wrestling and beer are a good cure for information overload. If you’re celebrating Passover this week, you’ll find that four glasses of wine and some Old Testament vengeance is a suitable substitute.

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