16 Best Apps for MBA Students 2016

Happy 2016!  Classes are commencing, interviews and networking events are imminent. As the holiday decorations come down, there's no denying it's time to get back to work.

MBA students need to balance a heavy workload of classes, assignments, group projects, club meetings, conferences, events, job applications, internships and more.

Fortunately, dozens of utilitarian web and mobile apps are available to meet the unique needs of b-school students. We've sorted through the undulating sea of software to select the 16 most helpful tools for MBA students this year to help you:

  • Manage group projects;
  • Connect with teams;
  • Track assignments, responsibilities, finances and to-do lists;
  • Assign tasks and check progress;
  • Share, edit and collaborate on files in real-time; and
  • Balance courses, networking opportunities and social events.

Check them out, and be sure to let us know about other useful applications you can't live without. Here's to a prompt, productive and pragmatic spring semester!

1.  Taking Notes & Storing Documents

Evernote

What it is:  A cross-platform app for note taking, bookmarking, clipping, organizing, and archiving handwritten notes, web articles, voice reminders, photos and other large documents. You can organize, label and access volumes of information by sorting notes into notebook stacks by theme and adding category tags to notes. Search, share, edit on the go.

B-school Benefits: Taking and reviewing notes, studying anywhere, storing large documents.

2.  Group Workflow Collaboration & Project Management

Trello

What it is:  A collaboration tool to efficiently organize projects by creating cards for things that need to get done. You can assign tasks to your teammates, add due dates, and organize the cards into lists to display what's being worked on, who's working on what, and where something is in a process at a glance. 1) To Do, 2) Doing, 3) Done.

B-school Benefits:  Showing team progress, especially useful for managing long-term projects.

3.  Project To Do List

Google Keep

What it is:  A user-friendly note-taking app featuring color-coding and labels to keep track of notes, lists, checklists, photos, voice notes and reminders.

B-school Benefits: Keeping track of all the things you need to get done.

4.  Collaborative Work

Google Docs

What it is:  An online word processor where documents (and spreadsheets via Sheets, presentations via Slides) can be created, edited and stored online, allowing users to collaborate with other people in real-time.

B-school Benefits: Working together on group projects without having to be in the same room. Or country, even.

5.  Networking

LinkedIn

What it is:  A social networking site for the business community to strengthen and extend your existing network of trusted contacts. An interactive tool to showcase your pedigree, experience and skill-set as well as correspond with professionals at companies where you might be interested in working after graduation. 

B-school Benefits:  Getting jobs and connecting with people you meet in class and at networking events and conferences.

6.  Off-Campus Meetings 

Hangouts

What it is:  A communication service allowing quick video calls either one-on-one or with your group. A screencast option to share your screen with other members of the hangout allows everyone to look at and edit a document or PPT together.

B-school Benefits: Having face to face meetings off campus (particularly useful for EMBA and PT MBA students who are on campus less often to meet with teammates.)

7.  News Aggregation

Feedly

What it is:  Feedly compiles your favorite news feeds from a variety of online sources into a customizable, self-curated, magazine-style news reader. For a fast and clean reading experience, your feedly gathers and displays the latest content of your favorite news sites, blogs and podcasts presented in an easy to read format.

B-school Benefits: Keeping ahead of trends and sharing the latest relevant stories from your feedly with classmates, friends and your student organizations.

8.  File-Sharing

Dropbox

What it is:  A safe, cloud-based home for all your photos, docs, videos and files, shareable and accessible from anywhere.

B-school Benefits: Sharing large files with professors, classmates, clubs and HR professionals. (For group projects or event planning, create a shared folder and grant members access to it.)

9. Events & Networking

CampusGroups

What it is:  A campus engagement platform to manage your student organizations, events, communications, involvements, tickets and payments. CampusGroups users see at a glance everything happening on campus and can register to events in a click or on the go. Users can automatically sync LinkedIn resumes to individual profiles to showcase a comprehensive view of their accomplishments, group memberships, leadership positions, event participation and work experience.

B-school Benefits:  Exploring events (or promoting your own), on campus clubs and involvement opportunities, browsing classmates and registered event attendees, RSVPing on the go. (Build relationships with classmates, club members and future business partners!)

10.  Quick Communication for Teams

Slack

What it is:  A team communication platform with a casual, conversational interface similar to an instant messaging app, easily searchable through segmentation by hashtags. Slack users can create topic-based discussions channels, message entire group or individual members.

B-school Benefits:  To help make a group project less overwhelming, create a general discussion channel and separate channels for various tasks, topics and resources.

11.  Team Checklists

Asana

What it is:  Project tracking app to help teams manage tasks, allowing groups to share, plan, organize and track progress of each member's tasks. Know who's responsible for everything.

B-school Benefits:  Managing projects, assigning tasks to group members and discussing group work. (A daily snapshot lets you see how everyone is doing and which deadlines might not be met.)

12.  Deciding on a Meeting Time

Doodle

What it is:  Easy scheduling tool to find a convenient time for everyone in a group to set up a meeting. Set optional times for a meeting, and receive quick feedback from members about their availability by just checking off the times that work for them.

B-school Benefits:  Figuring out the best time for everyone in your group to meet and automatically add meetings to your calendar.

13.  Maximizing Your Budget

Mint

What it is:  A popular budgeting app connecting your financial accounts (checking, savings, credit cards) for a complete display of your finances. Mint users can automatically add and categorize transactions, create budgets and receive tracking notifications.

B-school Benefits: Keeping track of your Benjamins during b-school.

14.  Managing Tasks & Contextual To-Do Suggestions

Any.do

What it is:  A simple task management tool to help you track tasks and appointments and keep a running list of to-dos, letting you know when you need to complete them. A minimal interface displays what you need to do today, tomorrow, later, and someday (when you're less busy). Sync with your Google Calendar to receive prompts after meetings so you can record any new action items.

B-school Benefits: Balancing your academic and social responsibilities. (Through a daily review, decide what tasks each day to tackle or to defer.)

15.  Locating Nearby Wi-Fi

WiFi Map

What it is:  Crowdsourced list of routers and passwords, showing over 2.1 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world.

B-school Benefits: Locating stores, restaurants, coffee shops, parks and other places with open or password-protected Wi-Fi access in your area.

16.  Spreadsheet Collaboration in Real-Time

AirTable

What it is:  A cloud-based, modern, real-time spreadsheet-database hybrid offering easy table setup, simple data entry, mobile compatibility, multiple users and field types. AirTable users can create a spreadsheet from scratch, template or by importing another spreadsheet. 

B-school Benefits: Simultaneously collaborate and converse with your team members on data-driven projects. Even if you're working remotely, the mobile app and desktop versions are synced, so your updates are instantly reflected.

Dare To: Chicago Women in Business Fall Conference Inspires Female Leaders to Take On New Challenges

2015 CWiB Fall Conference at The Standard Club in Chicago, IL.

2015 CWiB Fall Conference at The Standard Club in Chicago, IL.

Q&A with Chicago Women in Business Co-Chairs Nicole Lapka and Sarah Reinemann (Chicago Booth '16)

Be Heard
Overcome
Seek Diverse Guidance
Reinvent

CWiB (Chicago Women in Business) is one of the largest and most active full-time student groups at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The organization strives to build a supportive community for female students through a multitude of professional development and social events.

One of the club's marquee events, the popular annual CWiB Fall Conference, connects students, alumna and employers "to provide inspiration, share advice, and encourage the women of Booth to pursue their ambitions," advises event co-chair Nicole Lapka (Chicago Booth '16). This year's "Dare To" theme challenges its members to break barriers through keynote speeches, inspiring panels and breakout dicussions. Nicole and co-chair Sarah Reinemann (Chicago Booth '16) kindly share with us a behind the scenes look on this year's Conference. 

investmentbankingtable.jpg

Q:  Background:  Welcome! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and your backgrounds?

Nicole:  My name is Nicole Lapka, and I'm a 2Y at Booth concentrating in Marketing Management, Strategic Management, and Managerial and Organizational Behavior.  I'm a Chicago native and sponsored student, returning to managing consulting in the summer with Strategy&. 

Sarah:  I'm Sarah Reinemann, and I'm a second-year at Booth with concentrations in General Management and Managerial and Organizational Behavior.  I'm also a Chicago native, and, like Nicole, will be returning to my consulting firm (BCG) following graduation.  This summer I interned at both Hyatt Hotels as well as a Booth start-up called The Eastman Egg Company. 

The theme of this year’s conference was “Dare To”, inspired by the many women who are daring to take on new challenges (e.g., presidential office, coaching in the NFL, Army Ranger School, etc.)

Q:  Event:  Please tell us more about the 2015 Chicago Women in Business Fall Conference. What was the source of inspiration for development of this event?  How has the event evolved from previous years?

Nicole:  The CWiB Fall Conference is one of our club's marquee events each year.  It is intended to bring students, alumna, and employers together to provide inspiration, share advice, and encourage the women of Booth to pursue their ambitions.

Building a supportive community for female students has been one of CWiB’s biggest priorities.

The theme of this year's conference was "Dare To", inspired by the many women who are daring to take on new challenges (e.g, presidential office, coaching in the NFL, Army Ranger School, etc.)  Our event evolved slightly from the previous years in that we really tried to make breakout discussions and keynote speeches applicable to all attendees, regardless of their future career goals or industry preference.  This year we're pleased to say that we had over 100 student and over 50 sponsor attendees.

Q:  Leadership: Tell us more about your overall experience as MBA club officers and leaders at Chicago Booth.  What did you learn that will apply to your future career?

Nicole:  Serving as a CWiB co-chair has been incredibly rewarding and it's been fun as we try to evolve what CWiB should be for the students of Booth.  Sarah and I are both responsible for the "capstone" events, so we are heavily involved in large-scale planning and event organization, which will be very useful in my consulting career, as I plan smaller-scale conferences for some of my client engagements.

Sarah:  I echo what Nicole said above, and would also add that, in general, the experience of working with 4 other highly motivated and capable CWiB co-chairs has been incredibly valuable - I think we've all had to learn the art of compromise, prioritization, and time management in order to work together effectively and efficiently.

Q:  Marketing: How did you market your event?  What worked best to reach your target audience?

Nicole:  We marketed our event through email, on campus information sessions about CWiB, and a poster displayed on campus.  I believe the combination of email and our in-person descriptions of the benefits of the conference helped convince many women to join our club and attend the event.  I would recommend that combination for other organizers, so they can communicate the value proposition with enthusiasm, enthusiasm that is often not apparent in email communications. 

Communication, checkpoints, and trust were the main factors to our success.

Q:  Teamwork: How did you organize the event as a team?  What were some of the challenges and how did you overcome them?  What have been the main factors that have led to your successes?

Nicole:  Sarah and I split responsibilities such that she handled all tasks and issues related to sponsors and speakers and I did the same for students, with us combining on the up-front design of the theme and panel topics.  Our student advisor also took on a lot of the work with printing, venue management, etc.  We all had previous experience working as a team from the spring quarter Spring Dinner so we luckily had few challenges, other than Sarah and I both traveling during the start of 1Y orientation when many tasks needed to be completed.  During that time we relied on one another to fill in and help with tasks.  I think communication, checkpoints, and trust were the main factors to our success.

Q:  Community:  Can you talk a bit about building culture and community as an MBA leader and event organizer?

Nicole:  Building a supportive community for female students has been one of CWiB's biggest priorities.  We strive to foster that sense of community through events like the conference, which connects women and employers, but also with our multitudes of other events, whether they are professional development or social in nature.

A key goal for all of the CWIB co-chairs is to make being a member of the club valuable for all female students, no matter what their career interests are.

Sarah:  To build on what Nicole said, I think a key goal for all of the CWiB co-chairs is to make being a member of the club valuable for all female students, no matter what their career interests are.  Previous co-chairs have received feedback that the club is too focused on banking and consulting, so we're working hard to make our events applicable to a broader audience.  For example, one of our conference keynote speakers was Liz Tilatti, a Booth alum and founder of the startup ZipFit.

 

Q:  Feedback:  What advice would you offer to other student leaders and teams organizing big events?

Nicole:  

 1.  Rely on those who came before you, if you can.

 2.  Make a checklist and use it.

 3.  Accept that last minute challenges will arise, realize that they can be dealt with.

 4.  Invest time in the things that matter, don't stress about the things that don't.


Thanks for sharing your insights, Nicole and Sarah!

The Business of Cities: NYU Stern’s Urbanization Project Helps Business Students Chart the Future of Cities

Traditionally, business school curriculum has focused heavily on finance, economics, strategy, marketing and other pillars of the corporate world. These jobs are naturally appealing because the employers want to hire the best and the brightest and offer unique opportunities, very competitive salaries, and name brand pedigree. Students graduating with these backgrounds will most likely take jobs in “the city.”

It is very difficult to think about business without thinking about cities.

The city may be a traditional destination for MBAs such as New York City, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Shanghai, or Paris. Perhaps, the city may be one of the recently developed business-friendly areas like Abu Dhabi or the Pearl River Delta Zone in China. Regardless, business students are attracted to dense metropolitan areas that offer the perks of mass transit, cultural access, diversity of food, and opportunities that are not available outside of metropolitan areas. 

It is very difficult to think about business without thinking about cities. Some of the most successful entrepreneurial endeavours in recent years, including Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB, to name a few, have developed and grown as a response to issues of infrastructure and housing. However, the average business student does not have the opportunity to have a formal education in the business of cities.

What makes one city successful while another city with the same climate fails?

How do cities develop? What makes one city successful while another city with the same climate fails? These are issues that in the past have been left to urban planners to consider. A Center of Research called The Urbanization Project at New York University’s Stern School of Business has decided to allow business students and economists to share the burden of determining what has made cities succeed in the past and what new cities will need in the future. The Urbanization Project, led by Professor Paul Romer, is an incubator for city and business growth with access to the top minds in urban development and economics.

The average business student does not have the opportunity to have a formal education in the business of cities.

The NYU Stern Urbanization Project estimates that the population of the world will more than double in the next 100 years, with the majority of the people moving to urban centers. The only way to deal with this population boom would be for existing cities to expand or for new cities to be built. The Urbanization Project is comprised of two initiatives. 

One of the two initiatives, known as the Urban Expansion Initiative, helps cities plan ahead for growth. This is led by Solly Angel, a professor at NYU and an expert on urban development who has advised the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank among other organizations. Professor Angel has published a number of books on urban expansion including Planet of Cities and The Atlas of Urban Expansion among others. 

The second initiative is the Charter Cities initiative. This initiative focuses on new cities and creates options for urban world leaders to consider when creating or expanding cities. This initiative is headed up by Professor Romer, Director of the Urbanization Project and Director of NYU’s Marron Institute for Urban Management. Professor Romer, who has taught at Stanford University’s Business School, and the economics departments of UC- Berkeley, the University of Chicago and the University of Rochester, is a world-renowned economist whose Ph.D. thesis concerning economic growth resulting from intentional investment research and development is considered the foundation of the economic principle of endogenous growth theory. Professor Romer’s Charter Cities Project focuses on a developing country turning over responsibility for growth to a host country that would oversee political reform that leads to economic growth.

The Urbanization Project is an incubator for city and business growth with access to the top minds in urban development and economics.

The scholars and staff of the Urbanization Project focus intensely on research and the economics of cities. Their work is published extensively in publications such as City Journal, The Economist, Monocle, Financial Times, and Fast Company. In addition, as part of the NYU Stern community, Urbanization Project staff or visiting scholars, will host frequent brown bag lunches to exchange ideas about city development with NYU’s diverse student body.

Inside the NYU Stern Classroom

In Urban Systems, students are pushed to consider the business aspects of city planning and what makes a city appealing for a business to set up a headquarters.

Professor Romer not only leads the Charter Cities initiative, but also devotes time to teaching one of the most popular courses at NYU’s School of Business, Urban Systems. In this class, students are pushed to consider the business aspects of city planning and what makes a city appealing for a business to set up a headquarters. Topics cover the gamut from taxation, property value, housing costs, city incentives to areas that would be considered in the realm of the urban planner such as arterial roads, shape of blocks, and development. 

Students in the class are not only encouraged to think about the economics of urban living, but also, at the end of the semester, either alone, or in teams, are expected to come up with a paper focusing on a current urbanization problem and determine an economic solution for the problem. One of the papers from the Spring 2014 semester, written by NYU Stern students Craig Johnson, David Baharestani and Laura Fox, resulted in a deal with Mexico City’s Urban Development and Housing Department to create affordable housing. Working with the Urbanization Project’s Alain Bertaud, the students created models to determine how zoning regulation impacts affordable housing in Mexico City. The students’ work resulted in the elimination of regulatory density restrictions

Students focus on a current urbanization problem and determine an economic solution for the problem.

During the Urban Systems course, students read numerous articles that concern shifts in urban density, the effects of concentrated wealth on an area, and recent developments in urban history. One of the most interesting texts discussed in the class was called How New York City Won the Olympics.  This text highlighted visionary proposal by Dan Doctoroff, who at the time was a partner at Oak Hill Capital Partners, a prominent private equity firm and would later become Deputy Mayor under the Bloomberg Administration and then CEO of Bloomberg L.P., to fast track the transformation of New York City from what it was in 1994 to what it is today. 

Source NYU Wagner

Source NYU Wagner

The NYU business students can learn from the paper just how much their current lives are affected by urban planning that was put into place almost two decades before. For example, the growth in waterfront property in Brooklyn and Queens was part of a business negotiation with the City of New York that resulted in the rezoning of industrial waterfront space, that for years only housed factories, to high rise condos that have a certain amount of space allotted to affordable housing. This not only helps to increase commerce in the outer boroughs where rental is cheaper, but also aids in reducing rent across the board (theoretically). 

Students’ work resulted in a deal with Mexico City’s Urban Development and Housing Department to create affordable housing and the elimination of regulatory density restrictions.
Professor Romer and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton

Professor Romer and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton

Additional readings and topics included the effect of morale on the police force as illustrated in current and former New York police commissioner Bill Bratton’s book Turnaround. Students learned and discussed the effects of eliminating low level crime, the broken windows theory, on general crime. For example, police stationed to eliminate turnstile jumpers resulted in a general decrease in murders and robberies due to the neighborhood’s knowledge that there was a police presence.

The Urbanization Project and the Urban Systems class offer NYU students a unique look into the future of cities as well as a greater understanding of what it will take to be successful in a more crowded world. For more information on the Urbanization Project, follow their blog here

Our Favorite Photos from MBAT 2015!

The MBA Only team had a wonderful time at the 25th anniversary of the MBA Tournament at HEC Paris' picturesque campus this year!  We were so happy to be able to participate and sponsor this great sporting and networking event.  It's been an honor to work with MBAT and to share a collective mission to connect MBAs worldwide!

Here are 40 of our favorite photos taken at MBAT.  See if you can spot yourself!

#1.  Men's football champs, London Busines School, in MBA Only shirts... ;) (via MBAOnly)

#1.  Men's football champs, London Busines School, in MBA Only shirts... ;)

(via MBAOnly)

#2. HEC Paris vs. IEBusiness in the rugby finals. (via @HECMBAT)

#2. HEC Paris vs. IEBusiness in the rugby finals.

(via @HECMBAT)

#3.  Riding some waves at MBAT 2015.  #IEMBAT2015 (via andreslc85)

#3.  Riding some waves at MBAT 2015.  #IEMBAT2015

(via andreslc85)

#4.  Live from the basketball courts, gold for the HEC Paris team. (via @meaghankappel)

#4.  Live from the basketball courts, gold for the HEC Paris team.

(via @meaghankappel)

#5.  Schools bonding over golf! (via HECMBAT)

#5.  Schools bonding over golf!

(via HECMBAT)

#6.  RSM dodgeball team bringing it!  #OrangePower (via MBA Only)

#6.  RSM dodgeball team bringing it!  #OrangePower

(via MBA Only)

#7.  IE salsa competition team, ready to compete against LBS, Oxford, ESADE, Cambridge, IESE, and Manchester Business School after months of practice! (via on_kwan99)

#7.  IE salsa competition team, ready to compete against LBS, Oxford, ESADE, Cambridge, IESE, and Manchester Business School after months of practice!

(via on_kwan99)

#8.  Enjoying the sun and lovely view of the iconic LBS bus and tent. (via MBAOnly)

#8.  Enjoying the sun and lovely view of the iconic LBS bus and tent.

(via MBAOnly)

#9.  IESE rugby team after their first game of the tournament. (via raffygarcia)

#9.  IESE rugby team after their first game of the tournament.

(via raffygarcia)

#10.  Beach volleyball heating up with matches between @cranfieldmngmt vs. @IEbusiness and @CambridgeMBA vs. @theESADEmba. (via HECParisMBA)

#10.  Beach volleyball heating up with matches between @cranfieldmngmt vs. @IEbusiness and @CambridgeMBA vs. @theESADEmba.

(via HECParisMBA)

#11.  Yellow for the win! Cambridge badminton team: success at MBAT. (via @CambridgeMBA)

#11.  Yellow for the win! Cambridge badminton team: success at MBAT.

(via @CambridgeMBA)

#12.  Keeping it classy at MBAT! The infamous Mr. Zebra prepping for the Casino Royale party... (via HECMBAT)

#12.  Keeping it classy at MBAT! The infamous Mr. Zebra prepping for the Casino Royale party...

(via HECMBAT)

#13.  ESADE cricket team! (via theESADEmba)

#13.  ESADE cricket team!

(via theESADEmba)

#14.  Team members from Saïd Business School at Oxford University rocking out at the Battle of the Bands competition. (via @denisehearn)

#14.  Team members from Saïd Business School at Oxford University rocking out at the Battle of the Bands competition.

(via @denisehearn)

#15.  Mr. Zebra takes a sip break. (via HECMBAT)

#15.  Mr. Zebra takes a sip break.

(via HECMBAT)

#16.  Gold medal for the HEC Paris rugby team. (via @meaghankappel)

#16.  Gold medal for the HEC Paris rugby team.

(via @meaghankappel)

#17.  Billiards tournament in progress... plus Albert and Richard hanging at our booth! (via MBA Only)

#17.  Billiards tournament in progress... plus Albert and Richard hanging at our booth!

(via MBA Only)

#18. MBAT petanque.  Love these classy gents and ladies!  #CambridgeMBA (via MBAOnly)

#18. MBAT petanque.  Love these classy gents and ladies!  #CambridgeMBA

(via MBAOnly)

#19.  IESE team pic on the field! (via MBAOnly)

#19.  IESE team pic on the field!

(via MBAOnly)

#20.  TIAS MBA team at MBAT.  Where can we buy one of these awesome jackets? (via MBA Only)

#20.  TIAS MBA team at MBAT.  Where can we buy one of these awesome jackets?

(via MBA Only)

#21.  ESADE Business School rock-climbing team members. (via theESADEmba)

#21.  ESADE Business School rock-climbing team members.

(via theESADEmba)

#22.  MBAThletes need a break sometimes, too. (via MBA Only)

#22.  MBAThletes need a break sometimes, too.

(via MBA Only)

#23.  Cambridge swim team for the win! (via @YensonSky)

#23.  Cambridge swim team for the win!

(via @YensonSky)

#24.  IE tennis, before MBAT semifinals! (via yulzhu)

#24.  IE tennis, before MBAT semifinals!

(via yulzhu)

#25.  RSM and Cambridge teams at the foosball tournament.  #babyfoot (via MBA Only)

#25.  RSM and Cambridge teams at the foosball tournament.  #babyfoot

(via MBA Only)

#26.  Cambridge MBA team pic! (via charles_chou)

#26.  Cambridge MBA team pic!

(via charles_chou)

#27.  Sumo-wrestling, of course.  Not as easy as it looks... (via MBA Only)

#27.  Sumo-wrestling, of course.  Not as easy as it looks...

(via MBA Only)

#28.  Battle of the bands at MBAT! (via eduardovba)

#28.  Battle of the bands at MBAT!

(via eduardovba)

#29.  LBS team members get ready for the TexMex Fiesta - uno, dos, tres... amigos! (via lbsmbat2015)

#29.  LBS team members get ready for the TexMex Fiesta - uno, dos, tres... amigos!

(via lbsmbat2015)

#30.  Distributing medals and champ shirts to the men's winning football team, LBS. (via MBA Only)

#30.  Distributing medals and champ shirts to the men's winning football team, LBS.

(via MBA Only)

#31.  Mid-day refuel at MBAT! (via @TheStGallenMBA)

#31.  Mid-day refuel at MBAT!

(via @TheStGallenMBA)

#32.  St. Gallen MBA team demonstrates what the MBAT 2015 experience is like in their behind the scenes video. (via @TheStGallenMBA)

#32.  St. Gallen MBA team demonstrates what the MBAT 2015 experience is like in their behind the scenes video.

(via @TheStGallenMBA)

#33. Gold!  HEC Paris cross country team after an extremely muddy yet super fun run. (via hec_paris)  

#33. Gold!  HEC Paris cross country team after an extremely muddy yet super fun run.

(via hec_paris)

 

#34.  Rowing crew from London Business School. (via lbsmbat2015)

#34.  Rowing crew from London Business School.

(via lbsmbat2015)

#35.  Not just a bracelet; a wallet, too.  Scanning technology in action! (via MBA Only)

#35.  Not just a bracelet; a wallet, too.  Scanning technology in action!

(via MBA Only)

#36.  HEC Paris men's basketball team takes the gold. (via hecparismba)

#36.  HEC Paris men's basketball team takes the gold.

(via hecparismba)

#37. 'Members of the XMen team have descended to MBAT land.'  #CambridgeMBA (via @charles_chou)

#37. 'Members of the XMen team have descended to MBAT land.'  #CambridgeMBA

(via @charles_chou)

#38.  IESE team + hats = awesome photo op! (via iesemba)

#38.  IESE team + hats = awesome photo op!

(via iesemba)

#39.  More dancing, via London Business School's salsa team. (via londonbschool)

#39.  More dancing, via London Business School's salsa team.

(via londonbschool)

#40.  Go team. (via londonbschool)

#40.  Go team.

(via londonbschool)

 

 

 

LSG Spring Fling: Taking a Break from Studies (A Celebration of Accomplishments)

Megan Whitman (AVP of Student Affairs), Victoria Fabiano (VP of Student Affairs) & Jane Yum (AVP of Student Affairs) prepping for the event.

Megan Whitman (AVP of Student Affairs), Victoria Fabiano (VP of Student Affairs) & Jane Yum (AVP of Student Affairs) prepping for the event.

Q&A with VP of Student Affairs, Victoria Fabiano (NYU Stern '15)

NYU Stern's LSG Spring Fling is a popular annual event hosted by the Langone Student Government (LSG) in New York, NY. This year reached new heights with 620 attendees, the largest turnout in the history of the event.  VP of Student Affairs, Victoria Fabiano (NYU Stern '15), kindly shares some behind the scenes observations and insights on organizing this year's hugely successful Spring Fling!

Q:  Welcome Victoria!  Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

My name is Victoria Fabiano and I'm an MBA student at NYU Stern. I started Stern in Spring 2013, was elected a Core Group Leader and then was appointed VP of Student Affairs for the 2014-2015 school year. I'm originally from Connecticut, grew up in Texas and went to The Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, where I obtained my bachelors in consumer psychology and marketing. For the past 5 years, I've worked in product and brand management at companies like Dannon and Estee Lauder. I now work in business development at Google.

Q:  Please tell us more about the 2015 LSG Spring Fling.  What was the source of inspiration for development of this event?  How has the event evolved from previous years?

LSG Spring Fling is an annual event hosted by the Langone Student Government (LSG). This year, we had 620 attendees, the largest turnout in the history of this event! The Spring Fling was originally concepted as a spring semi-formal, exclusively for the part-time MBA population and each year it has become more and more popular. We recently added a charity component; the past two years we've donated to Stupid Cancer to help raise awareness. In addition to a great DJ, 5 hour open bar and a generous dinner & dessert buffet, we try to add something new and different. This year we had a photo booth (free to all attendees), where students can take pictures or videos!

I learned how rewarding it is to be able to bring a community together via memorable, unique events.

Q:  Tell us more about your overall experience as an MBA club officer and leader at NYU Stern.  What do you learn that will apply to your future career?

There are so many experiences that I will cherish post-MBA! I learned to be a generous listener and ensure that all diverse perspectives are heard, especially when brainstorming/strategizing for an event. I learned that mistakes or accidents happen, even with all the planning in the world, and it's imperative to be flexible and quick on your feet. I also learned how rewarding it is to be able to bring a community together via memorable, unique events.

Q:  How did you market your event?  What worked best to reach your target audience?  What would you recommend to other event organizers?

We had a three-pronged approach to marketing: digital, print and in-person (WOM). We created a Facebook event and invited all students who are part of the LSG Facebook community, and we included the event details/registration in our weekly email newsletter. We set up a table in the lobby of Stern, along with a poster, to spread the news to the study body. Lastly, we created flyers and put them around campus to raise awareness and drive students to buy tickets online.

My recommendation is to ensure you don't market your event through one channel. We know that a certain subset of students are not on Facebook or they simply do not check their email, so encouraging students to invite their friends personally was a great way to leverage WOM marketing to increase registrations. 

Q:  How did you organize the event as a team?  What were some of the challenges and how did you overcome them?  What have been the main factors that have led to your successes?

We mapped out the milestones for the event-planning and assigned pieces that we knew we could execute autonomously.

As the VP of Student Affairs on the Langone Student Government, I work with an extremely talented team of 5 AVPs. Jane Yum, one of the AVPs was point person for this event. We divided the work: she managed the venue relations (including selecting the food, attending a walk-thru and finalizing the floor plans), as well as securing the printed marketing materials and securing the photo booth. I created the marketing materials and all communications, organized the photographer, DJ and lighting, coordinated night-of volunteers (to help with the door, tickets, etc.) and purchased swag. 

The main challenge came from lack of face-to-face time, as Jane and I both work full-time and attend school. We figured out very quickly that our schedules were not aligning so we mapped out the milestones for the event-planning and assigned pieces that we knew we could execute autonomously. Constant communication and a shared Google document allowed Jane and I to work in tandem effectively and efficiently. 

Q:  How did you handle motivating those who do not "report" to you?

Transparent communication and alignment of objectives were incredibly important. For instance, when working with NYU Stern administration, there were times that their lead times did not align with vendors or venues. When that was the case, Jane and I communicated our request, explaining the situation and many times Stern was able to expedite the process on our behalf. We tried to create partnerships with individuals and organizations, fostering a two-way dialogue instead of only pushing our requests or needs.

Q:  What were some of your observations regarding the management of large and diverse teams?

My role as VP of Student Affairs has the largest team on the student government. I tried not to adopt the idea of "delegating" projects or events to my team, but rather empowering them to create, plan and execute on events they were interested in and/or passionate about. One team member, Maya Salwen, organized the entire LSG Ski Trip on her own. The rest of the team and I supported her in any way she needed, but ultimately she took the project on and did an excellent job planning and managing it with only a few checks-in from me.

Creating a culture of ownership and autonomy is really important to me. I also try to understand each person's objectives so I can help in every way possible to achieve them!

Transparent communication and alignment of objectives were incredibly important.

Q:  Can you talk a bit about building culture and community as an MBA leader and event-organizer?

Jane Yum & Victoria Fabiano strike a pose, celebrating another successful LSG Spring Fling!

Jane Yum & Victoria Fabiano strike a pose, celebrating another successful LSG Spring Fling!

Building culture and community in a part-time MBA program can be challenging. Many students work extensively and are challenged to find time to balance, work, school, family and social lives. In this role, I had to make sure that the large scale events catered to a majority of the population -- so often times, consulting school calendars, other social events, and really thinking about commute times for students were heavily factored into the planning process. Our time is very valuable as part-time students, so my team and I made sure that our events were high quality, exciting and community-focused! 

Q:  What advice would you offer to other student leaders and teams organizing big events?

Organization, organization, organization! Create a shared document where you can build out a timeline, but also be flexible when deadlines are not met! Build in a cushion and allow for things to go wrong -- as they always do! Have a recurring meeting with your team and the other organizers to ensure everyone is aligned and accountable. Remember to have fun and plan events that you'd like to attend! 


Thanks, Victoria!

Sneak Peek: What Sports Are in Store for MBA teams at MBAT 2015?

With just under a week left until MBAT 2015 commences, we’re really excited for the opportunity to learn more about the different events at the annual MBA Tournament (aka MBA Olympics) held at HEC Paris from May 7-9). This year, event leaders honored the 25th anniversary of MBAT by organizing 25 various sports. MBAT’s VP of Sports, Jeremy Poilleaux, offers us an inside look at the various competitions this year as well as what it takes to organize such a large-scale sporting event.

Teams from 16 different schools worldwide will soon go head to head. New champions in each sport (and overall) will soon be crowned! Check out this year's list and more details on MBAT sports below.

25 Competitions honoring MBAT’s 25th anniversary:

Baby Foot/Foosball
Badminton
Men’s Basketball
Women’s Basketball
Battle of the Bands
Beach Volleyball
Billiards
Chess
Cricket
Cross Country
Dodgeball
Men’s Football
Women’s Football
Golf
Petanque
Poker
Rock Climbing
Rowing
Rugby
Salsa
Swimming
Table Tennis
Tennis
Touch Rugby
Ultimate Frisbee
Jeremy Poilleaux, HEC Paris '16 - VP Sports

Jeremy Poilleaux, HEC Paris '16 - VP Sports

Jeremy Poilleaux, MBAT Vice President of Sports and HEC Paris MBA '16, hails from Annecy in the Alps ('the best place to live in France') and graduated from Grenoble Ecole de Management where his studies focused on Finance (Grande Ecole Program) and Sciences Po, where he studied Political Science focusing on European Studies. After graduation, Jeremy worked in a French investment bank in Paris (Project Finance), then worked in London for 3 years in a Japanese investment bank (also in Project Finance).

Q:  Welcome Jeremy! Can you tell us about your role at MBAT and what you do?  What did you learn that will apply to your future career?

I am VP Sports with Mayank Shankar and our role is "just" to organize the 25 sport activities. Our goal is to make sure every sport will be perfectly organized during MBAT (3-day event). We work with official referees and equipment suppliers. We prepared rules for each sport. We built the schedule of sports. We booked off-campus sites for Golf, Rowing, Tennis or Swimming activities and therefore organized transportation for students. We also support all sport managers from HEC MBA, we help them to build a competitive team for MBAT to bring the trophy back to HEC. (Last year LBS finished 1st, Oxford 2nd and HEC 3rd). 

MBAT is a great place to network and to meet people from other top ranked schools.

Q:  How have you applied your business education and leadership skills?

My background is more Investment Banking/Project Finance, but I am very passionate about sports since an early age. I played football, rugby for many years. Coming from the Alps, I love obviously Skiing, Snowboarding and Mountain biking. Recently I discovered an amazing sport Trail Running (during MBAT an activity called Cross Country can be considered a small Trail). I look forward to this summer/holidays to run through the mountains again.

Q:  What should people know about MBAT tournament?

MBAT is the largest inter-MBA sports tournament in the world, with more than 1500 MBA students coming from top ranked MBA programs. MBAT is coordinated by more than 30 students working consistently towards this huge event and around 200 volunteers coming from HEC cohort (students, partners, friends, etc.) to make this event happen.

Q:  What are the main benefits of the cross-MBA, international sports tournament?

The benefits of this kind of cross-MBA sports tournament are mainly the opportunities to have fun together and to get to know each other during this 3-day event. MBAT is a great place to network and to meet people from other top ranked schools.

MBAT is also a tournament where HEC can show to other schools that we are good at sports (not saying the best to stay politically correct).

Q:  What were some of the challenges so far, and how did you overcome them?

Organizing the 25 sport activities is the biggest challenge. It is a 1500+ students event where all sport activities have to be perfectly organized (scheduling, referees, equipments, sites, etc.) Scheduling activities is by far the most difficult task we had to deal with (ie. scheduling an event when you don't know how many teams/participants there will be from each school for each sport is like flying blind ...). To overcome this, we work closely with our colleagues from the University Relations team to gather data as quickly as possible.

Thanks, Jeremy!  Stay tuned for more MBAT coverage, and be sure to download the new MBAT app to follow the tournament's schedule and rankings!

MBA Olympics: Spotlight on Europe's Epic MBAT Tournament!

Olympic Games for the MBA World

Currently in its 25th year, MBAT is the largest inter-graduate school sports tournament in the world, bringing together 1500 MBA students from sixteen international MBA programs for three days of sporting competitions and festivities on HEC Paris' picturesque campus.

President of MBAT 2015, Daniel Connell (HEC Paris '16), kindly shares background and insights with us on organizing this huge event and the invaluable leadership skills gained during the experience. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Daniel studied in Chile during high school and lived in the United States for most of his life. Prior to pursuing an MBA at one of the top business schools in Europe, he studied Biomedical Engineering and worked in sales and marketing in pharmaceuticals/biotech industries (with a brief stint exporting Chilean wine, as well).

Q:  Welcome, Daniel!  Can you tell us how MBAT began?

static1.squarespace.jpg

Back in 1991, Briac Pinault of HEC's MBA program was elected president of the student council and his platform was to create a sports tourney that united all the "top 8" European business schools. They successfully secured sponsors, though communication proved difficult. They faxed and made phone calls to each school in the top 8 and in the end LBS, Bocconi, IMD, IESE, RSM, Manchester & Cranfield attended (INSEAD was a late scratch, and HEC had an exchange student from Cranfield who was really cool and helped bring in his colleagues on short notice).

Q:  How many participants, schools and different sport competitions will there be this year?

mbat3.jpg

This year we will have the largest audience ever of 16 schools, with 3 new schools participating, and we have reached our max capacity of 1500 people (space limitation of our party/events hall). There is actually a waiting list that has formed among our partner schools pending cancellations from participants at schools already confirmed.

This being the 25th anniversary we have 25 sports lined up, plus a start-up competition to be judged by VCs who are ready to fund the best ideas. Sports range from basketball, soccer & rugby to rock climbing, battle of the bands and salsa dancing.

Q:  Does MBAT result in a closer knit contact circle of MBAs across Europe?

Being brand new to MBAT and having not yet lived it, I can't comment on how connected the students become afterward. Though MBAT is definitely a unifying force throughout European MBA programs. Whenever one mentions HEC Paris in European MBA circles, talk of MBAT is usually the first topic of conversation. There are various MBA competitions throughout the year (PE, FT.com, Finance, etc) and we hear that MBAT is always mentioned as a highlight of every program's academic calendar. Note that the first day of MBAT takes place on a Thursday every year, and our partner schools actually have MBAT penciled into their academic calendars as well.

This is a major leadership event for all schools, not just here at HEC. Imagine coordinating travel and communications for 200+ students, including medical forms, payment, transportation, you name it. Each school has a dedicated representative to handle all internal & external MBAT-related communications throughout the year.

The competition is intense, the thrill of victory is incredible, and the parties each night are beyond expectations.

Q:  Does the naturally competitive nature of the MBA candidate arise during these sporting events?

Keep in mind, even though there is a party atmosphere, these are 25 heated sports competitions running in parallel. The winner of the ping pong tournament thinks he/she just won the gold medal at the Olympics. Representing your school and beating the cross-town rival in front of all your friends is a rewarding experience. I have not lived it yet but I hear the competition is intense, the thrill of victory is incredible, and the parties each night are beyond expectations.

Q:  What are some of the challenges in organizing an event of this scale?

The biggest challenges are managing one's time and managing other people in an organization without true hierarchy. Sure I am the "General Coordinator" but if XYZ person is not prioritizing a certain MBAT initiative, I can't fire that person. In the end, this is a leadership exercise where skills of motivation & negotiation are put to the test.

Aside from that, from a functional perspective, securing sponsorship is definitely a challenge. We have tried some new angles this year and were fortunate to land some pretty cool sponsorships. CampusGroups for one, Uber is another, we got Hurley to donate some prizes, we secured a consulting-related start-up called preplounge.com, and a currency exchange startup called Transferwise as well. One of the most exciting partners this year is a company that organizes the African Poker Tour that has offered to give prize money to the winning poker player during the first night of MBAT, our Casino Royale themed party. The stakes have been raised!

Q:  How has the tournament evolved since its inception?

The biggest evolution of MBAT is we now have email and all sorts of technological communication advantages. We have notes from previous years and a number of suppliers have been working with MBAT for 5, 7 or up to 12 years. So the infrastructure is supremely better than when they first began in 1991. That being said, everything was free back in '91. Absolutely free! They secured so much sponsorship money, so many free supplies and free alcohol, HEC wound up providing everything for free and even assisting with some schools' transportation costs. Briac (Pinault) said they had too much money, overflowing coffers. Definitely not the case nowadays, though Briac said it best: "Charlie Chaplin may not have created a more brilliant performance than the potato dance, and beaucoup amounts of money can't compete with human ingenuity."

Q:  If the US would like to mimic your success, what would be your recommendations?

To mimic our success, US schools would need to have an established network they could count on. The Ivy League comes to mind, or the M7 for instance. Geographically it would need to be convenient to get to, and the campus should have plenty of local hotels to accommodate guests. From there it's all about hussle. US programs are 2yrs in length so they would have more time to plan it, we only run 16 months and some European programs are 10-12 months, so coordinating with everyone's schedules is difficult. But where there's a will there's a way, and so long as people have the mindset to tackle all challenges it is definitely possible.

Q:  Could you share the most absurd story that has come out of MBAT?

mbat8.jpg

The absolute best story I have heard is back in 1991, since it was free for everyone, Manchester Business School arrived with ~250 people. Maybe only 100 were MBA students, the rest were girlfriends, friends, friends of friends, etc. They apparently partied their asses off, and competed well enough but in the end HEC won the overall points tally. However Briac, the original founder ofMBAT, appreciated how intensely Manchester competed (both during the day and at night) that he and his friends went behind the scenes, made a few scoring changes and wound up giving the final trophy to Manchester Business School to honour the spirit of the event as welcoming, festive and rewarding for all. 

Top Megastops on the SXSW Startup Crawl: Insights from 4 MBA-Founded Companies on Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Leadership and the Top Benefits of SXSW!

"Grab a group of friends and take the shuttle from startup to startup for a free beverage, to drop off a resume, see office space or just kick back before SXSW starts."

"Grab a group of friends and take the shuttle from startup to startup for a free beverage, to drop off a resume, see office space or just kick back before SXSW starts."

The annual SXSW Startup Crawl, hosted by Austin's premiere startup incubator Capital Factory, kicked off SXSW's Interactive festival on the Tuesday before it began. The Startup Crawl offered select Austin-based companies a unique opportunity to reach a worldwide audience consisting of venture capitalists, startup employees and intrigued Austinites.

The stops consisted of startup offices or shared workspaces. At each stop, crawlers could exchange ideas and learn of new companies over snacks and drinks. Over 24,000 techies & crawlers attended last year's crawl, making this event a fantastic way to gain buzz without breaking the bank. Of the approximately 50 companies that participated in this two mile wide crawl, about one-fifth were headed by MBAs.

Check out 4 of the top megastops on the crawl, each founded by MBAs.

 

Kim Gorsuch, Weeva, Inc. 

Kim Gorsuch, Weeva, Inc. 

1.  Kim Gorsuch, Weeva, Inc.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Q.  Welcome Kim! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I'm a Wharton MBA and an experienced executive with gigs at IBM, LendingTree and IACI. Throughout my career, I've done lots of new and "first time" things - e.g. I was one of IBM's first consultants;  I ran strategy and M&A for LendingTree, contributing to their rapid growth;  I led the launch of the very innovative AirNewZealand Travel Card for Rev Worldwide.  And then I started Weeva.   I'm also an avid Ballroom Dancer (hence the dance you can see in some of our videos - you can see them on our YouTube channel).

Q.  Tell us about Weeva.  When did you come up with and develop the idea?  What was the source of inspiration for you to start Weeva?

My father became seriously ill, and in a matter of days all of his organs failed.  I knew in a flash that there were so many things left unsaid... and at that moment in time unsayable.   Also that we could lose his stories completely.    I didn't want either thing to happen and the idea for Weeva was born.   Weeva is all about collecting and preserving a person's life experience, but from the point of view of the people who know and love them best.    Once stories are collected, we (the Weeva team) turn them into amazing art-quality books. 

Q.  How have you applied your business education?

Best part of SX is the opportunity to tell our story through a loud speaker, and also the serendipitous meetings that just happen.
— Kim Gorsuch

At Wharton, I got a well-rounded business background.   I learned about all facets of business, and gained the skills to be comfortable managing all of them.   My favorite classes were in strategy and leadership, and I continue to hone these skills today.   In my view, these are "practices,"  more like yoga and mindfulness;  you excel over a lifetime.

Q.  What are the main benefits of SXSW?

Best part of SX is the opportunity to tell our story through a loud speaker, and also the serendipitous meetings that just happen.   It's such an Austin event - chaotic, energetic, creative.

Learn more about Weeva, Inc. at http://weeva.co/.


2.  Shion Deysarker, Datafiniti

Jones School at Rice University

Shion Deysarker, Datafiniti

Shion Deysarker, Datafiniti

Q.  Welcome Shion! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I've always been fascinated by data and how it can transform understanding.  I did an undergrad in CS from CMU and went on to build predictive software for oil companies in Houston.  After getting an MBA at Rice, I joined a group doing web crawling services, and eventually took over the business to found Datafiniti.

Q.  Tell us about Datafiniti. When did you come up with and develop the idea? What was the soure of inspiration for you to start Datafiniti?

Access to useful data is always a huge challenge, and the web is largest source of potential data.  Unfortunately that potential has largely been left untapped.  The previous group I was with tried to tackle this through a services model - every client is a separate project and engagement.  Our competitors do it the same way.  This approach never gets anywhere, and it's why the web is still seen as black box by companies.  Datafiniti was formed out of the realization that in order to open that box, you'd have to take on the monumental task of bringing the entire web into a single database.  Google has done this for consumer, but we're trying to do it for businesses and enterprise clients.

As we've grown Datafiniti, we've worked with several fascinating companies that recognize the value of web data.  Web data is fueling their operations and their growth, and it's exciting to see our vision coming to fruition.

Q. How have you applied your business education?

SXSW is the play-doh of events and conferences. It’s what you make of it. It can be absolutely nothing if you don’t have the right mindset, but it can be a huge boost for you and your company if you work it properly.
— Shion Deysarker

An MBA gives you a starter's toolbelt for running a business.  As a CEO of a startup, I have to know the basics of everything from product management to accounting.  As the company has grown, I've focused more on my leadership skills - recognizing when it's time to bring in someone with a toolbelt that's more specialized in one area, and giving that person the right set of goals and work environment to succeed.

Q.  What are the main benefits of SXSW?

SXSW is the play-doh of events and conferences.  It's what you make of it.  It can be absolutely nothing if you don't have the right mindset, but it can be a huge boost for you and your company if you work it properly.  One piece of advice I'd give anyone is that you need to have an established network in place before you do SXSW.  It's very easy to meet a lot of interesting people if you already have your own personal network introducing you.  Otherwise, you're largely leaving it to chance.

We had a great time at the Entrepreneur Lounge, which we co-sponsored on Monday night.  600+ top technologists, executives, and investors in a rooftop cocktail party for 4 hours, what more could you want.

Check out Datafiniti at https://datafiniti.co/.


Cam Houser, 3 Day Startup

Cam Houser, 3 Day Startup

3.  Cam Houser and Bart Bohn, 3 Day Startup

McCombs School at University of Texas

Q.  Welcome Cam! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I was an MBA student here in Austin at the University of Texas. I was taking entrepreneurship classes. They were really great in theory but my co-founders and I had worked in early-stage companies ourselves before, and we had some pretty aggressive ideas about the best way to start a company. What we wanted to do was to create something to complement the theory, so as an MBA student, we started something called 3 Day Startup which is an entrepreneurship education program for university students. It existed as a student org for 2 years, and when it came time to graduate, I didn’t want to get a real job so just went nuts on it and we’ve existed as a corporation for the last 5 years, taking it all over the world.  So, we started it at UT Austin, we did a couple of experiments in a few other university ecosystems, and it worked out pretty well. At this point, we’ve run 150 programs at about 80 different schools in 20 countries, so it’s been really exciting.  Just really high-energy, short format, experience education programs for entrepreneurship.

Q.  Tell us a bit more about 3 Day Startup.  When did you come up with and develop the idea?  What was the source of inspiration for you to start 3 Day Startup?

We looked around and saw all this potential in schools, and there’s a track record of great companies being born in dorms. Facebook started at Harvard, Dell started at UT Austin, Larry and Sergey were Stanford students when they started Google. We want to explore why there are companies just not spilling out of schools. Schools are full of smart people, they’re physically close together, they’ve got a high-risk tolerance. A lot of students, most of them don’t have tons of mortgages and tons of mouths to feed. They’ve got the risk profile for being an entrepreneur, and your time in college is just a really creative time. We didn’t understand why people weren’t starting companies, and that was the question we wanted to answer.

Q.  How have you applied your business education?

At SXSW, the most interesting learning experience or the best relationship you’ll make will be when you strike up a conversation next to someone in line.
— Cam Houser

I’ve used a ton of it, teamwork in particular, group projects. One thing that business education teaches understandably better, (no one else teaches it), is sales. As skills to have, at an early stage company, the 2 things that matter are: can you build stuff, or can you sell stuff? That’s what was great about being in an MBA program. There were some good opportunities to learn how to sell. I took a negotiations class which was really helpful for selling, and the feeling I got in that class was “God, I wish I learned this stuff when I was 18.” I learned it as a grad student, and it’s just really good stuff to learn. Marketing was good. Management in particular, I’m not a big believer in reading books on management; I think you need to do it to learn how to do it, and you need to manage people poorly to learn how to do it better.

Q.  What are the main benefits of SXSW?

I think what’s really problematic about SXSW is that if you make a very specific plan with very specific outcomes, (Mike Tyson said “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”), and SXSW is basically getting punched in the mouth. Having a really good opportunity mindset and being really open to meeting whoever you can, it was a really exciting time for us of course, it always is. We’ve done panels before, had some great conversations with professors coming from as far away as Australia and Japan, got to meet with them and talk about doing 3 Day Startup programs with them. But, a lot of times at SXSW, the best, the most interesting, or biggest learning experience or the best relationship you’ll make will be when you strike up a conversation next to someone in line to get a beer. It’s just having a really open mindset to meeting new people and getting lots of learning.

Learn more about 3 Day Startup at http://3daystartup.org/.

4.  Hayden Cardiff, Nebulus

Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University

Q.  Welcome Hayden! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

    Hayden Cardiff, Nebulus

    Hayden Cardiff, Nebulus

I am an MBA student at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business studying entrepreneurship. I have a fairly diverse background, from serving as a missionary in Italy for two years, working for the Boy Scouts of America, all the way to working in personal asset management. I am a college athlete, playing football at Nicholls State University and during my first year at Carnegie Mellon. I love outdoor activities and spending time with my wife.

Q.  Tell us a bit about Neublus Audio.  When did you come up with and develop the idea?  What was the source of inspiration for you to start Nebulus?

Nebulus is the only real-time project management and arranging tool for making music. We are trying to make the collaboration process as frictionless as possible and create a community around music production. Everyone on the team is a musician, so we have all felt the pain that comes with trying to collaborate with others. The idea for Nebulus formed from three separate ideas that all came together to make the holistic site and tool that we have today. There are six members of the team at Nebulus, and we all met at Carnegie Mellon, with each of us being current or past students.

SXSW is great for us because it is both a music and a tech conference, and Nebulus is squarely set in the middle of both.
— Hayden Cardiff

Q.  How have you applied your business education?

My experience as an MBA student has definitely helped me in starting a company and contributing to the team. Understanding financials and implementing marketing strategies with little to no budget have been key to pushing us along. But more importantly, it has been the leadership skills and ability to communicate with others that have helped me the most.

Q.  What are the main benefits of SXSW?

SXSW is great for us because it is both a music and a tech conference, and Nebulus is squarely set in the  middle of both. The exposure to industry leaders, potential  partners, and media outlets will be huge for us. We are very excited about what SXSW will bring for Nebulus.

Check out Nebulus Audio at http://nebulus.io/.



Other companies founded by MBAs & participating at the 2015 SXSW Startup Crawl included:

Doug Britton, Kaprica Security (University of Maryland)

Enterprise software and services in cyber security and mobility.

 

 

Matthew Chasen, UShip (McCombs School at University of Texas)

The online marketplace for shipping, primarily serving the freight, household goods and vehicle shipping markets.

 

 

Travis McCollum and Ed Hemphill, WigWag(McCombs School at University of Texas)

Unite your collection of smart devices for one smooth experience.

 

Craig Malloy, Lifesize(UCLA Anderson)

Video conferencing technologies that enable human interaction over any distance.

 

Joshua McClure, RealMassive, (University of Massachusetts at Lowell)

Commercial real estate in real-time.

 

 

 

 

 

Startup Scene: Q&A with NYU Stern Alumna & Solution Lab CEO/Co-Founder, Stefanie Mazlish!

Welcome, Stefanie!

Q:  Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Where did you go to business school, and when did you receive your MBA?

NYU Stern MBA, 2012. Prior to business school, I worked in healthcare insurance. Currently, I’m Co-founder and CEO of The Solution Lab.

Q:  When you started NYU Stern, did you know that you wanted to start your own business? Were there particular classes, clubs, MBA peers or other resources that directly helped you launch your company? How did an MBA help you as an entrepreneur?

While I thought that I’d learn how to start a business by the time I completed my MBA, it wasn’t the plan to actually open my own business when I first started at NYU Stern. I’ve since learned that I don’t always need to be the one with “the big idea” to be an entrepreneur. 

Before starting Stern, I did know that I wanted my work to bring together best practices in business with socially impactful missions. Exploring opportunities in social impact meant a likely potential downside in terms of salary, and I made it a priority to graduate from Stern with little or no debt. This has been helpful in adapting to the cash flow environments typically facing start-ups.

Stefanie Mazlish, CEO & Co-Founder of The Solution Lab. She holds an MBA in Strategy and Finance from NYU Stern.

Stefanie Mazlish, CEO & Co-Founder of The Solution Lab. She holds an MBA in Strategy and Finance from NYU Stern.

My MBA experience provided me a wealth of resources including know-how, an extensive network, and the right credentials. I continue to utilize what I’ve learned from my extracurricular work at Stern, especially from the NYU Stern Business Plan Competition, Stern Consulting Corps (SCC), and Luxury Retail Consulting Corp (LRCC).  Of course Stern’s rigorous curriculum, with classes ranging from Marketing to Valuation, was also invaluable. I regularly recruit volunteer consultants from Stern, and my affiliations to several clubs, including the Stern Healthcare Association (SHA) have been extremely supportive networks that have helped me launch my current venture. Furthermore, my experience at Stern positioned me as an attractive and accessible collaborator, allowing my co-founders to seek me out in the first place.

Q:  What was your favorite thing about NYU Stern?

Two favorites: 

  1. My exposure to Stern finance classes unexpectedly changed my understanding of the world about as much as my study and work abroad experiences did previously.  
  2. The MBA toolbox has allowed me to positively impact the world in ways that are important, lasting, and rewarding.
My MBA experience provided me a wealth of resources including know-how, an extensive network, and the right credentials.

Q:  Tell us a bit about what The Solution Lab is. When did you come up with and develop the idea? What was the source of inspiration for you to start The Solution Lab?

The Solution Lab is a social enterprise that specializes in management consulting/strategy services in healthcare and life sciences.  Most importantly, it is a means to help students and recent graduates gain professional development opportunities that are otherwise unavailable to non-MBA students. The Solution Lab is the culmination and combination of three passions I developed during business school: strategy, entrepreneurship, and social impact. 

The idea for a business generally starts with identifying a problem. That’s true in the case of The Solution Lab, but at the same time, it’s also a story about a few new friends who just thought it would be fun to try something new professionally—just for the learning experience itself. 

The typical career path for PhDs in the biomedical sciences used to focus exclusively on gaining tenure or other choice positions at a university. However, under 15% of biomedical PhD students are currently able to follow this path. My co-founders come from this background and saw the need for their peers to gain real-world experience outside of lab science. 

Together, we fused their industry experience with my MBA experience to pilot operations.  When we finished the first round of projects, it was our clients who pushed us to structure into a full-fledged organization, and market research just doesn’t get more convincing than that!

Light bulb Green.jpg

Q:  Can you tell us about your hiring processes and about the benefits of recruiting MBA volunteers?

We hire 50-70 volunteer consultants per year from STEM, healthcare/clinical, and business backgrounds.

Interdisciplinarity is at our core, from our founding team to every team we’ve staffed since. Our MBA volunteers are crucial to providing our teams with balanced perspectives and skill sets.  They often help our PhD volunteers see how the science affects a company’s bottom line.

Many of our MBA volunteers have an interest in healthcare or gaining management consulting experience in an industry that’s new to them. Some are eager to apply their finance skills to new industries. Others want to apply their social impact backgrounds to an industry focused on helping people be healthy.  We also provide the opportunity to check out the start-up scene here in NYC and to impact our own organization.

Q:  How do you manage the duality between driving new business and overseeing daily operations?

My board and I define our own metrics for success—and the end game is not necessary to scale quickly. 

We make carefully considered strategic choices surrounding how much and how quickly we want to grow.  We want to ensure that growth does not dilute the quality of the projects we customize for our clients.  It takes time to identify and develop people capable of leading multiple projects. 

This innovative mindset and redefining of success means that daily operations often take precedence over driving new business, and as a consequence, we grow in deliberate ways.

I wanted my work to bring together best practices in business with socially impactful missions.

Q:  How has the company evolved since it began? What have been the main factors that have led to your successes?

We started with management consulting. We’ve built out that program to include more internal support and knowledge-sharing. As that program matures, we are able to focus on other initiatives such as our Creative Thinking Workshop for scientists and engineers and networking events in collaboration with other organizations such as D.O.C. in the NYC entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The main factors that have led to our successes include:

  1. excellent project work, which is accounted for by our talented, enthusiastic, and well-guided volunteers;
  2. referrals and networks. All of our business comes from word of mouth;
  3. our commitment to evidence-based decisions, creativity, and multiple perspectives offered by different degree paths;
  4. committed leaders who understand how to strike a balance between social impact and financial reward.

Q:  What was technically the most challenging part of developing The Solution Lab?

Legal and accounting structures are very difficult to navigate as a social enterprise with our hybrid model.

Q:  How do you reach your target audience?

We define what we do and execute well; others take notice. Our volunteers proudly build our brand for us as they pursue their own individual successes. We’ve been tapped by well-established organizations such as investment banks and large pharmaceutical companies for our innovation, and we’ve started seeing potential clients approach us based on the fact that so many of their best candidates for full-time positions have experience from The Solution Lab. 

We also reach out through university clubs and administrations—career fairs, recruiting talks, panel discussions, email announcements, etc.

The Solution Lab is the culmination and combination of three passions I developed during business school: strategy, entrepreneurship, and social impact.

Q:  What are you most excited about at the moment?  Any new projects or partnerships in the pipeline, etc., that you'd like to mention?

Alumni from our program are eager for additional programming, and we’re working on several ways to address those needs including more targeted networking opportunities and peer-mentoring programs. 

We are also providing our alumni with a chance to give back by participating in our new alumni-driven career services bootcamp events, aimed at helping our extended volunteer community.

Q:  What do you find most interesting and rewarding about running your own business?

There are so many rewarding aspects of running The Solution Lab: taking on risks and providing opportunity for our volunteers, the mentorship impact we have on those volunteers, playing a part in our clients’ successes, the dynamic nature of a start-up environment, and the variety of people and organizations involved. 

Taking it to a more personal level of running my own business, the most rewarding aspect has been the evolution of my own role in the company. I started out structuring operations, and moved onto recruiting, envisioning and implementing new programs, and finally business development and overall leadership of the organization.  Having the support of my co-founders during this process has helped me build and maintain a culture of excellence including critical thinking, creativity, and supportive feedback for growth.

Q:  Anything you wish you'd known about when starting out?

Not really…learning as you go is part of the fun!

Q:  What advice would you offer to any aspiring startup founders?

It’s about the team. Make sure to have complementary resources/skill sets and that the core team is on the same page in terms of vision, drive, and personal goals.

 

A big thanks to Stefanie Mazlish and The Solution Lab for sharing the wonderful insight and experience!  For more information about The Solution Lab, please visit http://www.thesolutionlab.org.

The Rise of the eLab: Top MBA Students Dive Deeper in Innovative Approach to Teaching Entrepreneurship

HEC Paris' eLab:  Every minute counts.  As an integral part of top scientists' business ventures, MBA students experience the same stresses, pressures, tension and time crunches as the entrepreneurs.

HEC Paris' eLab:  Every minute counts.  As an integral part of top scientists' business ventures, MBA students experience the same stresses, pressures, tension and time crunches as the entrepreneurs.

Many students in business school enter with the idea of getting a respectable job at a large company, such as a top consulting firm, a tech firm, or a bank. Most of these students secretly, or not so secretly, harbor dreams of starting their own business in a few years or at least going to work for a small but ambitious start-up. 

Traditionally, Master of Business Administration programs have catered to short term plans of corporate success by equipping students with knowledge, through academic lectures by experts, engaging students to think like businessmen. However, with the tech bubble in the late 1990s and the current tech boom stretching from the later 2000s, more and more students are entering business school with no intention of entering into the corporate world, but instead, jumping out on their own and becoming entrepreneurs right out of business school. 

Entrepreneurship is no easy task. The difficulties in becoming an entrepreneur are discussed not only in business school, but have recently been highlighted in popular culture as well. One of the most popular shows on television, ABC’s Shark Tank, now in its 6th season, features entrepreneurs pitching new ideas to venture capitalists who can choose to take a stake in the company. Time after time, the entrepreneur’s pitch falls short because of a logistical failure on the entrepreneur’s part, presentation problems or lack of business foresight. Many of the most polished presenters on the show are business school graduates from esteemed programs, but even they are not always on point. 

Entrepreneurship Track at HEC

The Entrepreneurship Track was the brainchild of Professor Michel Safars (above) and Bernard Garrette, Dean of the MBA at HEC Paris. Safars saw the opportunity to teach students through hands-on experience, leveraging his ties with Université Paris Saclay, a research intensive cluster of universities south of Paris combining the talents of Paris’ research facilities, grandes écoles, and universities.

The Entrepreneurship Track was the brainchild of Professor Michel Safars (above) and Bernard Garrette, Dean of the MBA at HEC Paris. Safars saw the opportunity to teach students through hands-on experience, leveraging his ties with Université Paris Saclay, a research intensive cluster of universities south of Paris combining the talents of Paris’ research facilities, grandes écoles, and universities.

A businessperson traditionally gains an education in entrepreneurship through a slow series of successes and failures in the real world and not the classroom. A professor at HEC’s School of Management in Paris, one of the top business schools in Europe (ranked #1 in France), has constructed a novel approach to address this problem and prepare business school students for life as an entrepreneur. A prepared entrepreneur is more likely to be successful if he or she has an idea of what hurdles he or she will face on the way to success. In order to enable future entrepreneurs around the world, Professor Michel Safars, a successful serial entrepreneur who has started several companies in cities including San Francisco, New York, Boston and Paris, implemented a hybrid program that features a core of “learning by doing” coupled with lectures by both academics and current practitioners.

At its inception, the program relied on two pillars, the curriculum and a dedicated workspace for students to develop entrepreneurial ideas. To address the first issue, Professor Safars determined that the study of entrepreneurship was a subject that he wanted to redesign academically. To create the program for HEC Paris, Professor Safars visited the top business schools in the world, traveling to the East and West Coast of the United States as well as Scandinavia and Israel to observe how entrepreneurship was taught in different regions. Already enabled with his years of experience, Professor Safars decided that his program at HEC would be focused on “learning by doing,” where students would not only be educated in the classroom by academics and professionals, but also on the field learning what it takes to build a successful business from the ground up. 

MBA students at work in the eLab.

MBA students at work in the eLab.

Additionally, because of his insight into the importance of technology transfer departments from a role at INRIA, the French Institute for Research and Computer Science and Automation, Professor Safars wanted to ensure a close relationship with the technology transfer departments (TTO) at Université Paris Saclay.  HEC Paris has a distinct advantage of being located in one of the premiere innovation clusters in the world at Université Paris Saclay. Each year, research scientists apply for a competition for funding for applications of their research where they present their ideas. Professor Safars, with Pierre Gohar, the Director of Innovation and Industrial Relation at Université Paris Saclay, molded the entrepreneurship program to work alongside this competition, where the best of the best of the Université Paris Saclay competition are paired with HEC MBA entrepreneurship students to help the scientists understand how to build their business, get funding for their projects and to enable the students to get real life experience. Since the program’s inception, however, the entrepreneurship program associate partnerships has grown – the Fall 2014 institutions included not only scientists from Paris-Saclay, but also a foundation associated with world-renowned cancer doctor Professor David Khayat and Open Compute, an association launched by Facebook, Intel and others to open source the clusters computers design. 

The eLab resembles a modern start-up environment with large chairs for students to confer with each other or to hold meetings.

The eLab resembles a modern start-up environment with large chairs for students to confer with each other or to hold meetings.

After the curriculum was set, Professor Safars needed a “dedicated place to focus on learning by doing.” Thanks to donors led by Pascal Cagni, a Director at Kingfischer Plc and Independent Director at Banque Transatlantique, this space came to fruition late in 2012, in the form of the eLab, which stands for the “Entrepreneurship Laboratory”, a space in the HEC School of Management that acts as a classroom, a workspace, and increasingly, a venue for young entrepreneurs to showcase their works. The eLab is equipped with advanced video conferencing technology, dry erase paint walls that are often covered in students’ ideas and large couches. It has the ethos of a startup company in Silicon Valley or Brooklyn. Throughout the day and weekends, participants in the entrepreneurship program meet at the eLab to work on school projects or to develop their own entrepreneurial ventures. The eLab, although earmarked only for entrepreneurship students, is one of three workspaces called “connectors”, including “Le 503” and “Le PROTO204”, developed in the Université Paris Saclay to foster the nurturing of innovation.

The eLab has a setup conducive to group work, innovation and collaboration, featuring video-conferencing, white board walls, and state of the art interactive technologies for student use.

The eLab has a setup conducive to group work, innovation and collaboration, featuring video-conferencing, white board walls, and state of the art interactive technologies for student use.

With the curriculum and the workspace in place, the Entrepreneurship track was ready to launch with a program that consisted of both traditional business school lectures as well as field learning.

Lectures 

At the beginning of the semester, students take a heavy course load, considered the most intense track at HEC. These courses are meant to prepare students for interaction with the scientists and technology transfer professionals. The core course, Entrepreneurship Backbone, features Professor Safars and other guest speakers who have ascended to the top of the corporate world. They discuss methodologies that have worked in their previous ventures and others that did not. Speakers included French entrepreneurs, investors and a highly successful entrepreneur from the United States that studied under Professor Safars at HEC and has appeared on the cover of the New York Times and Time magazines. A focus of this course is the adaptation of “soft skills,” or personal interaction and discovery of motivation, a skill that most entrepreneurs have to learn through interaction. 

Another unique course that is taught early is Investing in Science and Technology, a course that covers how Venture Capitalists approach new investments and how dilution of a company can take place and leave an entrepreneur with a small return on his initial investment. During this course, several current Venture Capitalists working for both large VC firms as well as in house at top tech firms come in and discuss their strategies and what goes on in their minds when they choose to invest.

The remainder of the courses helps students to learn hard skills that are necessary for entrepreneurship such as intellectual property protection, entrepreneurial finance and technical product development, taught by international professors. 

Real World Experience

What is truly unique about the Entrepreneurship Track is the real life experience of bringing an associate scientists’ idea to market. Early in the semester, students are divided into groups of three based on complementary skills and experiences. Each student takes on the role of the CEO, CFO, or CTO and from the first week of October until mid-December, each student has to work about 20 hours a week on developing the project. Companies in Fall 2014 included personalized cancer diagnostics, smart heart stents, and geolocation technology to name a few. The students’ work involved speaking with the scientists to understand the scope of their vision, observing competitors, reviewing government filings, speaking with attorneys or anything else the students may consider that would improve the project, much like an entrepreneur would do with his or her own project. One of the most important duties that the students had to undertake was to contact potential clients and Venture Capitalists to get them interested in the idea. This required full understanding of the scope of the invention and the competitors in the field. By going out into the field, students can understand what each metric measured in an entrepreneurial venture actually means, whether it be supply, operations, competition or barriers to entry.

Incentive

What makes this learning by doing even more unique is that the students have a potential incentive available at the end of the program. Professor Safars requires that each of the institutional participants consider that if the students produce a good work product at the end of the program, the company must be willing to allocate some shares in the company to students that would be interested in continuing to work for the company.

The Fall 2014 class successfully presented to a panel of Venture Capitalists, journalists, academics, entrepreneurs and scientists.

The Fall 2014 class successfully presented to a panel of Venture Capitalists, journalists, academics, entrepreneurs and scientists.

At the end of two and a half grueling months of research, phone calls and interviews, the students conclude their entrepreneurial education by giving a presentation on their new company to a panel of  CEOs, executives, Venture Capitalists, journalists, scientists and academics acting as potential investors in an HEC auditorium. The acting CEO of the team gives the one minute elevator pitch followed by a concise 10 minute PowerPoint presentation detailing the aspirations of the company, the growth potential, present and future competitors and most importantly, why this company would be a good investment. 

The judges in attendance, including Head of M&A of a $15 billion company and Venture Capitalist who flew in from New York City, one of the directors of the largest private wealth management companies in France, and a former Pfizer executive, observed the seven teams give presentations this past December 2014. As a testament to the education and the hard work they put in, no team exceeded their time limit or went under by more than 30 seconds. After the presentations, the panel of judges was given the opportunity to cross-examine the students to determine the depth of their understanding. At the finish of the presentations, one judge commented that the presentations were of a higher quality than presentations he had seen at a renowned worldwide entrepreneurship competition. The teams prepared full business plans, Go To Market direct strategies and business models to propose to the entrepreneurs.

This type of hybrid lecture and learning by doing looks to be the forefront of a new age of MBA education. It combines the necessary academic learning with skills that the students would not even get through high level internships. The emergence of this type of education bodes well for the future of entrepreneurship.