Archive for September, 2009

Detroit Rock City

September 25th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Detroit Rock City, Motown, the 3-1-3

Detroit Rock City, Motown, the 3-1-3

It’s that time of year when MBA students fly half way across the country to attend enormous career fairs and fight through lines measured in miles for 9.6 seconds of face time with a recruiter.

…….or, if you’re me, you pack a duffel bag and head to Detroit with four classmates for what could ultimately go down as the biggest sports weekend ever.

“And it gets even awesomer!”

I’m not sure how I conned four buddies over Gmail this summer to fly to Michigan for what I billed as a “football weekend.”  I’m even less sure how we decided to fit in a preseason Red Wings game and I’m literally scared to death that we’re staying at a casino.

This trip embodies a big part of what I hoped my b-school experience would be like. Academics, faculty and alumni aside, I wanted an experience that after 22 months would yield a “Damn, that was a hell of a ride” type feeling.   It’s nice to know that at the end of all this many of us will be more than just LinkedIn connections.

We’ll see if that sentiment still holds true after a Friday night Red Wings game, pints at the Old Shillelagh Irish pub, a pit stop at the blackjack tables, getting up at 7 am for the University of Michigan tailgate, hitting the U of M vs. Indiana game, touring Ann Arbor sports bars for the remainder of the day and finally heading back to downtown Detroit Sunday morning for the Lions versus Redskins game.

Till my next post, I’m off to pin a $20 and my Blue Cross/Blue Shield card to a note on my shirt that contains my blood type, medical allergies and mom’s contact info…I’ll be wearing it all weekend.

Next stop Joe Louis Arena….



I’m an entrepreneur. (I think)

September 16th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

The curriculum at Smith is built upon a strong emphasis on globalization, entrepreneurship and technology, more casually known around these parts by the acronym GET.  Every student is required to take one course, aka “selective” from each GET category.  This semester I am wrapping up my GET selectives by taking the entrepreneurship selective BUSI 660: Entrepreneurship & New Ventures.

When my classmates and I frantically picked our schedule six months ago I viewed this course as something I had to take to graduate.  Before business school I thought of myself as too risk averse to ever attempt anything entrepreneurial.  I was also void of any ideas capable of producing positive cash flows greater than a lemonade stand in the middle of winter.  That was until our instructor Professor Ben Hallen tasked us with forming teams and coming up with a novel business idea capable of seven figure revenues on Day 1 of class.

Dr. Benjamin L. Hallen, Assistant Professor of Strategy

Dr. Benjamin L. Hallen, Assistant Professor of Strategy

While there is certainly no shortage of entrepreneurship-focused students at Smith, I somehow gravitated towards the three students in class with as little entrepreneurship blood in their veins as me.  After a rough brainstorming session on a case room whiteboard we hit the ground running. In the past three weeks we have hatched an idea, drafted a team contract, researched and contacted suppliers and started drafting a legitimate business plan.

Yes, you read that correctly, “contacted suppliers.”  Apparently we are not writing about widgets.    Our current work involves researching the feasibility of launching our idea as a profitable venture.  Three weeks ago it didn’t cross my mind that that I would be reaching out to manufacturers to discuss extended lease terms or speaking with engineers to gauge the electrical needs of our idea.

I scoffed at the question from our team charter assignment that read, “what happens if the project turns into a real business?”

That was until I heard the founding members of Legal River present their business plan to my class this week. Legal River is an online marketplace that matches small businesses with the legal help they so often need.   It is also happens to be the result of three 2009 Smith grads BUSI660 class project from last fall. The idea that the business they started a year ago in the case rooms of Van Munching Hall when they were in my shoes is about to launch nationally is pretty damn cool!  (Be sure and check out a nice shout out on for Legal River’s seed capital funding from the DC based LaunchBox Digital)

Going into BUSI660 I assumed we’d work off of a fictitious idea.  I did not anticipate drafting fishbone diagrams or reaching out to key decision makers to solicit advice as part of a social capital exercise.   My team continues to research the feasibility of our idea and while there remain several important questions to be answered the biggest surprise has been how enthralled with pursuing our new venture I have become.


Back to reality…..second year cometh

September 2nd, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Summer is over, school is back in session and the internship is wrapped up.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a payroll error that keeps the bi-weekly paychecks coming.  Not that my graduate student lifestyle isn’t glamorous, but one gets accustomed to certain amenities after a little taste of the good life.  The “good life” for me was knowing that after an 8 month hiatus I could once again count on seeing money deposited into my checking account every other Friday!

More important than having a little cash on hand was the experience gained from my internship.  Prior to business school I worked in pharmaceutical research at the lab bench.  My days revolved around setting up experiments, analyzing data and compiling my findings into slideshows.  I wore a lab coat (some of the time), ran machines that cost as much as a Boston studio apartment and worried about things like protease contamination.  I came to business school to transition out of the lab and into the commercial side of the pharmaceutical industry.

I was fortunate enough to land an internship this summer that drew on both my prior scientific experience and my first-year business school education.  I spent my summer working in the Global Strategic Marketing group for a Maryland based pharmaceutical company.  As a career switcher I could not have asked for a better situation.  I found myself digesting in depth scientific market research reports on cancer drugs, compiling competitor data and building a database to capture various benchmarking metrics for global cancer drugs.  In addition, I also researched and presented to the team a slide deck detailing various patient access schemes from around the world.   My internship was a great reintroduction back into the life sciences sans lab coat.

But alas, summer is over.  It’s back to case rooms, group projects, organizing club events and maintaining my new blog.  I hope you’ll check back in from time to time to see how things are going.