CEO & Founder of Chobani!

3 weeks until graduation – I can’t believe it!

Even though we have a ton of fun senior week activities coming up, I still have a lot of work to do before the semester ends. Even more than getting good grades, I just don’t want to let my team members down! I have a final this week in my Pricing class and three presentations – one in Customer Insights, one in Entrepreneurial Finance, and one in Decision Models. Yikes, so much work!

In this post, I want to write about a guest speaker we had this week. The founder and CEO of Chobani Yogurt came to Stern to talk about his success story. Hamdi Ulukaya said, “I scraped together funding to buy an old yogurt plant in upstate New York in 2005, with help from a Small Business Administration Loan. I didn’t have any concrete plans, and the place wasn’t in good shape — with water dripping from the ceiling and paint peeling for the walls. But when I got the idea to start making Greek yogurt in the U.S., the company fixed the factory up and ran with it, and I basically lived in the plant for five years to get Chobani off the ground.”

He talked about his strategy to focus on a substantial, yet healthy yogurt solution for consumers. He brought a low sugar and preservatives product with catchy packaging to the shelves, and it was a hit from the start. He refused to outsource any part of the process and instead controlled everything from production of the product to it hitting the shelves in grocery stores. He also emphasized his appreciation for his dedicated workers and how they inspired him to do more for the community and give back to people (especially children) of the town Chobani started producing in.

It was an inspiring discussion because it was really about a man that came to the U.S. for the first time with nothing – no job, no money, no future. He saw a need for something in the market and had a very simple idea. From there, it was passion and determination…and now he is a billionaire.

Along with Hamdi, we’ve had some other great speakers come to Stern – people I would never have had exposure to had I not been here getting my MBA in NYC. Some of these speakers include the CEO of Twitter, CEO of JCrew, CMO of Diageo, Founder of KIND Bars, etc. So many amazing, inspiring leaders in today’s changing business world.

That’s it for today. More next week…have a good weekend!


Pre-View Weekend Hangover

Happy Monday everyone!

This weekend was a whirlwind. It was Pre-View Weekend at Stern for Admitted Students. I wasn’t able to attend in 2011 when I was accepted but am grateful to have had the opportunity to volunteer at it the past two years. The weekend is full of fun and informational activities to help admitted students figure out if Stern is the right school for them. Specifically, I volunteered to speak to admitted students at the Marketing table for the “Explore your Path” session on Saturday. Students interested in pursuing a marketing career came by to find out about what companies recruit on campus, how the GMA helps students prepare for interviews, etc. I also volunteered to facilitate one of the icebreaker sessions, where students sat around a table and answered some funny questions to get to know each other better.

Also, I am sad to say that I am officially no longer a GMA Co-President. Yesterday was our end-of-year board dinner, and we finally passed the torch to the new presidents and board for 2013-2014. It was definitely sad – Jennifer and I have loved every minute of leading the club this year and will dearly miss it. We are so happy to have had the opportunity to make an impact on students with a similar passion for marketing.

Fun week ahead though! Tomorrow, 20 of us are going to the Comedy Cellar for a show after class. We’ve been wanting to go for so long and thought it would be fun to do it on a weeknight when everyone is available and when the place isn’t as crowded as it would be on the weekends. And Saturday is the SPRING GALA! The Spring Gala is our formal open bar and hors d’oeuvres event in April. This year, it’s at the Gansevort Park Avenue. This will be one of the last opportunities to have the entire school together in one venue. We have senior week coming up in mid-May, but that’s just for the MBA2’s obviously.

That’s it for now…will have more later this week or next!

What’s on Deck?

Happy Monday!

So, I just looked at my calendar and realized we have about 5 more weeks of class and 7 until graduation. SO DEPRESSING! BUT, there are many fun things coming up. Here is a little taste of the life of a second semester almost-done MBA student:

-Going to class is extremely difficult. Mainly because waking up before 10am is a real struggle. #bschoolproblems

-Tomorrow night we (like 10 of us) are meeting up for drinks after night class to catch up on how our weekends were (really tough life, huh?)

-Wednesday we have an all-class bowling event at Bowlmor on University and 12th. The event is open bar bowling for two hours with our whole class and the Administration…get ready!

-Thursday is the last LABA party of the year. This is the semi-annual post-beer blast party that the Latin American Business Association hosts, and it’s always a ton of fun! Great music and company.

-In two weeks is the formal Spring Gala event, where all of us dress up to eat and dance at the Gansevoort…such a classy, fun event every Spring!

-The week after that is a Wine Tour at a few Long Island wineries (hosted by the Cellar club). It’ll be fun to relax on a Saturday and catch up in some beautiful weather over a few glasses of wine!

-After that starts SENIOR WEEK! That includes a boat cruise on the Hudson, themed events throughout the week, a class trip to Atlantic City, and then graduation at Radio City Music Hall.

In summary, it’s going to be a crazy month and a half coming up, but it’s all fun stuff. CANT WAIT!

Until next time…



We are back from spring break – and you can guess what that means…less than 2 months until this is all over. I’m so sad about it that I’m just going to go ahead and pretend it’s not happening.

Let’s see – what’s new? We just got back from Spring Break in Tulum & Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We were there for seven days with about 15-20 Sternies. It was absolutely incredible. Luckily, the weather is getting nicer here in NYC – it’s almost Spring time! Spring in NYC is beautiful, and I’m really excited to take advantage of it and see more of the city in my free time.

Tomorrow is Summer Start Interview day. I can’t believe that was me just two years ago. Summer Start is an incredible opportunity, and anyone who is invited to interview for it should definitely strongly consider. Summer Start students start in July instead of August and take six of the overall required 60 credits during the summer. This frees up a bit more time in the Fall for recruiting and other extra-curricular activities. I’m so glad I did it because it allowed me the additional time to focus on recruiting in the Fall, and for my GMA presidential responsibilities the second year. It’s also a great way to ease into the bigger class in the Fall. You come in with 60 friends that are evenly distributed across the blocks, so you meet people much more easily through your summer start friends. I honestly can’t say enough great things about it!

Ok, now off to class but will have more updates next week!

Almost Spring Break time!

Time has been flying and I can’t even believe it’s already almost the end of March! Although, I am really looking forward to traveling to Mexico with ten or so really close friends from school!

Classes are going well. I would say that Promotional Marketing (1.5 credits) is one of my favorite classes. I do wish I took it last Spring instead though since so much of what we are learning I was exposed to on the job this past summer at Unilever – things like coupon strategy/analysis and how to derive revenue targets for new innovations (using trial rates, repeat rates, penetration, etc.). This summer was such a short period of time to learn so much that it’s now a great opportunity to learn it in the classroom and have more time to ask questions and absorb the frameworks that CPG brand managers often use to make decisions. For our class project, we are developing a promotional marketing plan for the vodka brand, Tito’s. Tito’s is one of Ketel One’s biggest competitors, but falls user the radar around here because it’s primarily distributed and promoted in the South. So specifically, we are working on developing a stronger positioning for the brand that resonates with consumers outside of the South. One of our recommendations (based on the current demographic and type of consumer the brand attracts) is to establish partnerships or sponsorships with music festivals. As we research the industry more, we’ll be able to come up with more creative recommendations that will really resonate
with consumers.

Okay, now off to the airport!

Until next time…

Already March?

This weekend is one of our bigger Spring events, TSDL (Think Social, Drink Local). TSDL is a runway fashion show and dance party,  held at the Angel Orensanz Foundation in NYC. Basically, our classmates and Stern administration model fashionable outfits from top NYC designers. Sponsors include Absolut Vodka, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooks Brothers, DKNY, etc. and proceeds go to support the Social Impact Internship Fund, which provides a financial stipend  for students who spend their summers working for often unpaid non-profit and social impact-based businesses.

I’m excited for this event and another exciting thing coming up, Spring Break! Every year, Stern’s community clubs organize different treks for students to join, or students can organize their own informal treks. This year, students were able to pick between Thailand, India, South Africa, Vietnam & Cambodia, Ecuador, Japan, and more (a lot of times, the students who choose to go on these treks are first year students since it’s a great way to meet new people)! As second year students, a bunch of us are going to Tulum and Playa del Carmen in Mexico. I’m very excited to relax on the beach (and do nothing but read and eat) for my last spring break ever (sad!).

On the class front, things are going well. We just settled on a project topic for our Customer Insights class, which is essentially all about conducting effective marketing research. We decided to do our project on Apple iWatch. According to this article, Apple plans to launch this wearable, smartphone watch soon. Our job as market researchers is to not only figure out who the target consumer is, but how to make it a successful launch. To make it successful, we must answer questions like why the category for traditional watches has been declining, whether there is even a need for a smartphone-type watch amongst the target demographic, and if there is one, what features our target consumer would have a willingness to pay for. This launch is a hot topic in the news, and seeing how innovative Apple has been, it will be interesting to see whether the company is moving in the right direction or not with this new idea.

That’s it for this week – until next time…..

New Exciting Classes!


Happy Wednesday! There hasn’t been much going on since my last post aside from getting adjusted to my new semester of classes, so I can talk a little more about that.

The first class I’m taking is Decision Models. Basically, we build excel-based models to address different types of business scenarios. So for example, in last week’s class, we built a marketing-related model to compare whether an in-store, on package rebate or an ordinary price cut would be a better decision to drive more sales volume and maximize profits. This is especially relevant to me, as I start my career in brand management at Unilever.

The second class I’m taking is Promotional Marketing, which is exactly what it sounds like. We learn about above-the-line and below-the-line marketing tactics that increase awareness and ultimately drive purchase. Some of the areas we cover are shopper marketing, price promotion, digital promotion, etc. Again, these are all topics that are very relevant to my future in brand management.

The third class is Customer Insights. Basically, this class is a marketing research class in which we learn how to obtain data, analyze it, and develop insights that can be turned into recommendations or implementation plans for a business problem. This class is very important because in today’s age, where there are so many ways information can be gathered about consumers and their consumption patterns, it is imperative that we know how to use that data effectively to make smart business decisions. A big question I’ve always had around data is when to use your “gut feelings” vs. marketing research. When is each appropriate? Can you use a mix of both? How do you know where to draw the line? The data can go on forever! This is a “hot topic” this class will cover extensively and is a big reason I enrolled in it.

Lastly, I am taking Pricing Strategy. This class is intended to teach us the different ways to price goods and services, considering both the supply and demand sides of the market. Some different approaches to pricing we’ve learned about are peak-load pricing, value-based pricing, bundling, price discrimination, etc. This class is a bridge between economics (what I majored in at my undergraduate institution) and marketing (what I am going into after graduation) and really focuses on how one can better understand the market to meet consumer needs, while fulfilling business goals.

That’s it for this week, but will be back in a few days for another update!

Back from Winter Break!

And….we are back! After a month of traveling in Southeast Asia with classmates, I am back at Stern for my final semester. I can’t believe how fast my MBA has flown by – I never want it to end!

In this first week, we are slowly getting back into the hang of things – going to classes, planning our Spring Graduate Marketing Association (GMA) events, and catching up with classmates and friends I hadn’t see over the break. Our break was absolutely incredible. We started off in Thailand, where we spent days (i.e., island hopped on Longtail boats, snorkeled, got massages every day, etc.) on some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, ate authentic dishes of my favorite cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and enjoyed evenings with a cocktail in hand catching up with many of my favorite Stern classmates. Thailand was a perfect, relaxing way to start our vacation. From Thailand, we flew to Cambodia to see the Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm (the one featured in the film, Tomb Raider!) temples. Then we traveled to northern Vietnam (Hanoi) where we ate lots of Pho (of course!), saw a water puppet show, and visited the Hoa Lo Prison, where Vietnamese prisoners were held and tortured when the country was fighting for its independence from the French. From Hanoi, we set off to Halong Bay on an overnight cruise. In the bay, we walked through the caves and kayaked through the limestone pillars. We even learned how to make Vietnamese spring rolls! Absolutely amazing experience. Then we flew to Hong Kong for two days, met up with 60 or so friends that were doing the DBi program there, and then headed to our final destination, Bali. Bali was incredible. From the Indonesian chicken curries to the beautiful sunsets and beaches, unique boutique shopping, monkey forests, days full of pampering and happening nightlife, it was a great way to end our month long journey in Asia. I can’t believe it’s over, but I’m looking forward to planning the next big trip, which will probably be Spring Break in the Caribbean or Mexico and then June or July in Eastern Europe.

That’s it for now, but later this week I’ll have more updates on my classes and what the semester will be looking like in terms of academics! Until next time…



Wrapping up

Happy Friday! This will be my last blog entry of the semester, but I’ll back in February to share my experiences traveling all over Southeast Asia with Sternies! We are leaving in a week and traveling to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Bali. It’ll be an experience of a lifetime, and I’m so excited to experience it with my fellow classmates!

This week has been absolutely crazy. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I had presentations in three different classes. We finally presented in our brand strategy class, where we were working with a client that is trying to enter the coffeemaker category. Our group was amazing – six girls that are very passionate about marketing and COFFEE! We also presented for our Stern Consulting Corps project, where we worked with an organization to develop a positioning that strengthens the perception of the US to Chinese consumers.

Additionally, us second years heavily involved in the Graduate Marketing Association have been helping the MBA1’s with cover letters and applying for internships. I remember how hectic it was for me last year around this time, and we want to make sure this year’s class is as prepared as we were for interviews. Our class won’t be around to mock interview MBA1’s in January before the companies arrive on campus, so now is really our only time to provide insights on the process and what these companies are looking for in an ideal candidate. We actually put on a new event a few weeks ago called “So You Want to be a Marketer?” The event consisted of a panel for the first half, and the second half was a networking break-out session where students could talk to company representatives in marketing roles across different industries (i.e., beauty, start-ups, consumer packaged goods, technology, etc.). This event was focused on bringing in companies that don’t formally recruit on campus (i.e., Prophet, Mars, Foursquare, Revlon, etc.) but are of great interest to Stern students that want to pursue a career in marketing. The event was a huge success, and students found it very helpful to hear from senior level panelists sharing their experiences about their career paths.

Ok that is all folks. I hope that everyone reading this has a WONDERFUL holiday, and I look forward to sharing more in a month!


Time is Flying!

It’s December 6th already – I can’t believe it! This semester, my classes have mostly been project-based, so I haven’t had to take any exams, which I actually like better since it’s more hands-on. However, now that the semester is coming to an end, presentations have started, and it’s time to buckle down and put everything together.

While I am on the topic of classes, I will share a little bit about my Creativity class. It is taught by Kim Corfman, an incredible professor here at Stern who has taught courses on brand planning, marketing management, sales management, conflict and negotiation, group decision-making, and focus group moderating. In this particular class, we learn what “creativity” means and how to exercise it when trying to solve real business problems. We learn about different approaches we can use to stretch our brains and come up with ideas we wouldn’t have necessarily formulated before. Also, marketing consulting companies that specialize in innovation and design (i.e., IDEO, Fahrenheit 212, ?WhatIf!, etc.) have come in to talk to us about projects they’ve taken on, what approaches they use to spark innovation, and of course, job opportunities for the future.

Oh before I forget – the GMA marketing conference last Friday was a huge success! Peter McDonough and Dan Lubetzky were both very insightful on what marketing means and how brands stay relevant, differentiated, and sustainable in today’s changing business world. Some key quotes from our keynotes and panelists were:

1) “A brand is a promise and a great brand is a promise well kept.”

2) “80% of CEOs think their product is differentiated…only 8% of consumers agree.”

3) “Define your brand purpose. Create ideas, not ads. Lead, don’t chase, your consumer.”

4) “What your product does is important, but what it means is even more important.”

There are so many other insights that were shared with us throughout the day by keynote speakers, roundtablists, panelists, and our sponsoring companies. The conference was truly a great opportunity for students to network with companies (e.g., Facebook, Prophet, Church & Dwight, Google, FourSquare, Clark, etc.) that really understand what effective marketing is.

That’s it for now….until next week!