Oyinkansola Ayobiojo is a rising MBA2 and interning at Loop Capital Markets this summer. She is specializing in Finance, Strategy, and Global Business.
NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.
My first three weeks interning at Loop Capital Markets have been great. I have the unique opportunity to sit on the equity capital markets (ECM) desk, which is in between the sales and trading (S&T), and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) groups. I spend about half of my day on projects for ECM and the other half on projects for the healthcare M&A team. My typical day starts at 7:30am with a research call where I listen to the traders discuss the global markets and research analysts discuss their specific companies as well as their rationale behind new reports and/or buy and sell ratings. Listening in on these calls has been an amazing learning opportunity and helps me to better understand the conversations I overhear the sales teams having with investors throughout the day.
On the ECM desk, my responsibilities include creating client materials and case studies on recent equity offerings, updating market data, as well as drafting selling points for equity issues that are about to launch. My team also has weekly calls with coverage investment bankers and research analysts to better understand how we can all work together to win new business and specifically, how the ECM team can position itself to pitch a company on upcoming equity offerings. On the healthcare M&A team, we advise biotechnology companies. I have been assisting the team with live private placements and buy side engagements. Getting up to speed on the biotechnology industry with absolutely no science background has been a bit challenging. However, knowing that these companies are developing treatments for life-threatening diseases has been motivating because I know that helping raise capital will positively impact lives in the future.
One of things I enjoy the most about working at Loop is the culture and the people. My experience at Loop has been unlike the horror stories I have heard about investment banking in the past. The people are very friendly and willing to answer any questions that I have. I work closely with the head of ECM and that has been instrumental to helping me better understand the IPO process. There is no “face time” and unnecessary long nights. All the interns are encouraged to work hard, but smart, and to learn about all aspects of the business, which is something that I will be focused on doing over the next seven weeks. My plan is to shadow some traders and to learn more about the public finance arm of Loop. Additionally, Loop’s lunch room is always stocked with healthy and organic fruits and snacks, which has helped me to stay on track health-wise. I also really love the firm’s location—it is downtown, right on Wall Street and across from the Seaport District! It is such a beautiful location and I typically try to take a 15-minute break to walk by the water!
Overall, I am happy with my decision to join Loop this summer in their New York office. I have been able to explore New York more this summer and was fortunate to attend the Toigo Foundation Annual Gala, where I got to hear Michelle Obama speak! The Toigo Foundation helps MBA students of diverse backgrounds break into the finance industry and then works with them to accelerate and develop their careers. The Foundation raised almost $300,000 at the gala and I am so fortunate to be a Toigo Fellow, and was even more surprised to see my face in front of the stage at the gala! The gala has been one of the highlights of my summer so far and I look forward to more amazing experiences this summer.
Wes Going is a rising MBA2 and interning at L.E.K. Consulting this summer. He is specializing in Finance and Strategy and is a member of the Management Consulting Association, Military Veterans Club, and the Stern Management & Strategy Club.
NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.
In the past, I usually spent my summers on-board a destroyer overseas. This summer, I am working as a Summer Consultant in L.E.K. Consulting’s New York office. As I reflect on the past year, having left the Navy, completed my first year of business school and now working at my internship, it’s exciting to look back on the opportunities I’ve had while at Stern.
As someone applying to business school after spending my entire post-undergrad life in the military, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write for my admissions essay ‘life plan,’ much less what the different potential post-MBA career opportunities were. To research, I leveraged current and alumni networks, in particular the Vets Clubs, and was intrigued by strategy consulting. The opportunity to have high-level impact on businesses within ambiguous, dynamic, team-based environments sounded similar to the situations I faced in the Navy. I also didn’t, and still don’t, know ‘what I want to do when I grow up,’ so being able to postpone that decision while continuing to develop a broader business understanding across industries beyond business school was also appealing.
After starting school I needed to figure out what consulting really was, if I still wanted to pursue it, and ultimately how to land an internship. Having limited experience with consulting and the case interview, I leveraged four resources at Stern to get up to speed. The first was the coursework, which gave me a foundational understanding of business. In particular, this spring I experienced consulting hands-on through the Stern Consulting Corps, an experiential learning course, through which I worked on a five year growth strategy for a global luxury scotch brand. Secondly, I heavily participated in the activities of the Management Consulting Association (MCA). With the weekly Casing Bootcamps, weekly meetings with my MBA2 MCA mentor, and casing workshops taught by experienced consulting professionals, I gained confidence in my casing skills. Third, with the support of the Stern community, both current students and alumni, I practiced and tailored my casing skills over the first semester of school. Finally, the formal events set up by the Office of Career Development (OCD), from programs like IGNITE to the corporate events with consulting firms, I gained an understanding of the different types of consulting firms out there and which ones fit me best.
Leveraging these resources, I was offered an internship this summer with L.E.K. Consulting. As a Summer Consultant, I’ve enjoyed analyzing market features and growth strategies for a company in an industry in which I have limited experience. Daily, I find myself learning from, and challenged by, my team and the leaders at the firm to continue expanding my business understanding. My initial research of consulting has also proven to be true, both in terms of the opportunities to create real impact and in the length of some work days. Yet, I’ve also found work-life balance to be strongly emphasized, from spending a week in Cape Cod for internship orientation to having in-office massages on Fridays. Specifically at L.E.K., I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to lead an associate on my own dedicated work stream, and my wife and I appreciate L.E.K.’s minimal travel structure, both of which are not common in consulting.
As I look back on the past year, it’s crazy to think what getting an MBA has made possible. Leaving the military without an MBA, I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities in consulting, and probably wouldn’t have known such opportunities existed. Looking forward, I’m excited for what I’ll learn the rest of the summer and in my second year at Stern.
Mansi S. Allison is a rising MBA2 and interning at American Express this summer. She is specializing in Finance and Strategy and is a member of Stern Women in Business.
NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.
The past year has brought about many firsts for me – starting business school and now beginning a 10-week summer internship with American Express. As a prospective student, I was always curious to learn about the summer between year one and year two. How do students secure internships? How do they know what they are interested in? What skills are required of MBA interns? I hope this post helps you to start thinking through some of these questions.
Prior to business school, I worked in strategy and operations consulting at Deloitte and later at an enterprise technology startup, where I led their Customer Success department. I knew that I wanted an MBA to round out my foundational business skills and pivot into corporate strategy or internal consulting. I was open to pursuing these roles in a variety of industries because the most important thing to me was the function. Accordingly, I cast a wide net in my initial search.
I found that the best way to explore different companies and careers was to meet with people, so I took a two-pronged approach. First, I made a list of people in my personal network who were currently employed by companies I was interested in. Second, I made sure to attend each on-campus event held by that company, whether it was a corporate presentation, coffee chat, or other event. By interacting with employees and asking thoughtful questions, I was able to learn a lot about each company’s priorities, initiatives, and plans for the future. Of course, I complemented all these meetings (“coffee chats,” as we call them in MBA lingo) with extensive solo research as well.
Preparing for MBA interviews was an intense and time-consuming—but ultimately rewarding—process. Stern’s winter break spans six weeks (from mid-December through the end of January), so I was lucky to have a big stretch of uninterrupted time to prepare for interviews without worrying about schoolwork. The biggest difference for me between interviewing for an MBA internship versus my previous jobs was the level of technical and company-specific knowledge you were expected to have in order to stand out. For example, how does the company make money? How is the industry currently being disrupted and how is the company responding to that? What key developments came out of the company’s latest earnings release?
After interviewing with a number of companies for strategy roles, I was thrilled to receive an offer from American Express to join their internal consulting team for a summer internship. As I write this, I’ve only been there a little over a week, but I am excited to apply the technical and theoretical skills I have learned in the classroom to problems in the real world. While it’s too soon to tell what challenges I will tackle this summer, I am confident that my first year at Stern has prepared me to have a fun and successful summer.
This time I have with me my friend and fellow Graduate Ambassador Kyle Boutin, who is our resident Healthcare expert and Co-President of the Stern Healthcare Association (SHA). Kyle and I got to know each other after teaming up with a handful of others to put together Preview Weekend for admitted students last Spring—and now we’re glad to be working together again as Graduate Ambassadors! Kyle hails from outside Boston and was a research engineer for Reactive Innovations, a small chemical engineering research and development firm where he performed electrochemistry research for NASA, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense. Kyle interned at Pfizer this past summer as a Procurement Associate in their Worldwide Medical and R&D division, and he will be returning there full-time after graduation.
Here’s what he had to say:
Thanks for joining me, Kyle! As someone interested in healthcare, what was attractive to you about Stern?
It was two large factors. First, I wanted to build a strong foundation in finance, and Stern obviously has a strong finance curriculum. I came to school wanting to learn the right way to develop business, and to do that I think understanding how your decisions flow through your financial statements is critical. Even though I was interested more in strategy and operations than in corporate finance, I felt that having these strong finance skills would give me an edge when recruiting at pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotech companies.
Second, when it comes to MBA recruiting, healthcare is a newer industry than consulting or investment banking. Since the opportunities available to students in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are not necessarily acquired through on-campus recruiting, I wanted to be in a city that had as many recruiting opportunities as possible. For that, there’s no better place in the world than New York City because it’s a hotbed for corporate recruiters. There’s a lot of companies that thrive here—Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, BMS, Boehringer Ingelheim, Celgene, Stryker, Medtronic, Genentech, Amgen, and so on. So you can find opportunities, on-campus and throughout the city, and I thought if I could have two bites at the apple, I would have a better shot at getting my dream job.
Can you elaborate on the sort of interactions that you and others at Stern have had with these companies?
MBA healthcare recruiting is pretty new, but I think the pharmaceutical companies are actually really involved, so we have a lot of them visiting us here on campus. Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb, the ones I named before, they’re all here and they all come to events. It’s more structured for them. As you go to more payer/provider, hospital administration, they post listings here, but hospitals still recruit MPHs and MPPs, so there’s competition there. Private insurance companies are starting to become more popular because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations that have created competition for large public insurance companies, so they’re trying to infuse new talent, but they appear later on the recruiting timeline. I say that medical device and biotech are a little between both in that you have some large cap companies that are able to compete with pharmaceutical companies, and then you have some smaller ones where you have to do a little bit more legwork because their ROI from recruiting on campus for maybe one position is just not worth it for them. So they’ll post on a board, or they’ll go to recruiting events in the city. And the Office of Career Development (OCD) is awesome in alerting you to these opportunities and keeping that information in their databases so that you can reach out to them, but you have to do the outreach so that you get on their radar.
Full disclosure: Kyle is also a Graduate Fellow for the Office of Career Development because he’s an all-star. Care to comment on that, Kyle?
Only that it’s not true! Everyone at Stern is as involved as I am. It’s one on the things I love about Stern!
Spoken like a true Graduate Ambassador. Back to healthcare, what was the recruiting process like for you?
I applied to 12 different firms—six on campus, six off. I would say that’s a pretty common split for someone recruiting for healthcare outside of healthcare consulting. If you’re doing consulting, you can do 100 percent on campus. You can find plenty of good opportunities in strategy and operations, business development at Stern too. Off campus, there are smaller companies that post on the job boards, smaller companies that reach out to the Stern Healthcare Association (SHA) that we post in our newsletter that require students to reach out. If you’re looking for something at a smaller size healthcare company, we would probably have more people contacting SHA directly that we could direct your way.
How does the Stern Healthcare Association (SHA) play a role in students’ career development?
SHA can be a really good resource for students. Something amazing about Stern is that we’re really collaborative and good about passing information and connections from MBA2s to MBA1s year over year. I’m President of SHA, and one of my initiatives is for us to establish an alumni list, so we are tracking alumni from years back so we can get a better off-campus recruiting baseline. So if someone is interested in a position, we have several people to reach out to.
Another awesome thing we do is our healthcare conference. Every year we have companies coming from all over to network at our conference. Last year we were 175 people, and we’re going to break 200 this year, so we’re really increasing our presence in the industry through this platform. We’re really putting ourselves at the forefront, and we’re really growing our membership.
Switching gears a little, what sort of classes are available for students interested in healthcare?
We’re actually making great headway in this. We offer five electives in healthcare. One that’s popular is Topics in Investments: Financial Analysis in Healthcare. We’re also doing a new course this year called Healthcare Markets, which focuses on the economics of the healthcare industry, and I’m really excited about that one. I’ve sat down with the professor of the course—he’s brilliant, and he’s done most of his research on pharmaceutical pricing and health insurance. I think what he’s planning on doing is lecturing on the drivers in each industry in healthcare, because they’re vastly different, and he’ll also invite guest speakers to class. There are two other courses called The Business of Health and Medical Care and Economic Transformation of Healthcare, which are industry overview courses, less in depth than Healthcare Markets, and then there’s a fifth course called Pharmaceutical Marketing (Innovation in Pharmaceutical/Bio Technology). This one is more an “innovations in healthcare” course, but pharmaceutical marketing is so important to the topic because educating the public and raising awareness about innovation is essential to having the market accept the product and necessary for gaining market share. Pharmaceutical marketing and innovation are highly linked.
Those are just Stern classes. You’re also free to take 25 percent of your courses outside of Stern at other NYU schools. For example, there are ACA policy courses you can take at the law school. If you’re interested in payer/provider, the med school does a drug development class that some of our MD/MBAs have taken and said is interesting, and it’s more business-related than technical. Lastly, Wagner [School of Public Service and Policy] has a very good healthcare program, and we partner with the Wagner healthcare network often. Their dean is one of the chief architects of the ACA as well, and she set the curriculum for the healthcare management courses they offer. These courses focus more on hospital and payer/provider systems.
There you have it, from the resident expert on healthcare himself. Thanks so much, Kyle!
Sternspective is a series of interviews with Sternies about the diverse paths they are taking in the classroom and beyond. Check out our previous posts about Stern Signature Projects and Marketing.
For Spring Break, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa for a trek. My experience was nothing short of amazing although I am still recovering almost two weeks later. We started the trek by flying into Johannesburg and then traveling to Kruger National Park the next day. There we spent the next two days traveling in open vehicles through the safari, getting up close to elephants, zebras, and a few rhinos. We ended the Trek by spending four days in Cape Town, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Below are four reasons I think everyone should participate in a trek their first year.
Get to Know Your Classmates
Your first year, you probably won’t meet a lot of students outside of your assigned block. You spend the first semester taking classes, grabbing drinks, and working on group assignments (in that order) with people from your block. Treks are the perfect opportunity for you to mingle with people outside of your block. In addition to meeting other full time students, you also have the opportunity to mingle with Langone students. I met a lot of new people and we have already have a happy hour scheduled for our first mini reunion.Convenience
Planning an international trip is stressful. It’s hard to figure out where to stay, what to do, and what to eat. Signing up for a trek is simple and convenient. After signing up for the trek through a lottery process, I only had to do two things to prepare for the trip: Make a vaccination appointment and pack my suitcase. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Listen. I would never consider myself to be a “nature person”. There are people who plan vacations around hiking destinations and then there are people, like me, who plan their vacations around food and wine. The trek planners catered to both groups of people by making sure the agenda included activities that were a good mixture of adventure and recreation. As a result, I was automatically signed up for activities that I wouldn’t normally plan myself. For example, I never would have made time for a Safari if I planned the trip myself but it ended up being one of my favorite experiences.
Since a lot of students go on a trek during Spring Break, every conversation for the next two weeks will be about treks after your return. You don’t want to be the person sitting in the corner not able to contribute to the conversation because you decided to stay home and catch up on class assignments. You only get the Stern experience once. Take advantage of the many opportunities that will come your way. Besides, there’s always time to study on the flight.
As someone who is taking a non-traditional path with recruiting, a network is very important to me. When I was deciding between schools and deciding on what I wanted to do after business school, part of the decision included looking at a school’s alumni. Are these alumni at places I could see myself working at? Are they career changers like myself? Are they willing to take the time to speak with me as I search for my summer and full-time opportunities? With Stern, the answer to these questions was always yes.
Despite the disparate nature being at a school that doesn’t have a strong sports team and with students living in different boros of New York City, Sternies still develop great relationships. While in school, you develop relationships with your classmates (future alumni). While taking experiential classes, alumni come back to mentor you on projects, speak to your classes and impart the knowledge they learned while they were at Stern, and even as they progress in their careers. A LinkedIn message or an email also goes a long way with Stern alumni. I have spoken to alumni at least once a week since I started at Stern. The greatest thing about the network is the common bond – these people were in your shoes once. They assure you that they were successful, they did fine, and at the end of the day, they have amazing jobs. The alumni are here to help you, not hurt you, so it’s great to take advantage of such an important resource.
The Stern alumni not only speak with you, they connect you to others in their own personal network – Stern alumni from their year in business school or even contacts at the company you are interested in. That means your Stern network is endless. You have your class, the MBA2s, the incoming MBA1s and the additional Stern alumni. That’s a lot of people.
Now, you may be thinking – sure, every school has alumni.
So, makes the Stern network so great and why are they so important?:
Stern alumni exist across a variety of industries, which comes with the vast number of specializations our school offers. This is something that is unique to Stern. The diversity of alumni experiences is evident (in the form of specializations or even the countries they work in). I recently attended an event held by the Luxury and Retail Club featuring Madecasse, a chocolate company based out of New York, a product actually featured at Whole Foods – not something that I thought I would ever experience while at school. How cool!
In addition to the diversity of Stern alumni, our classes are also taught by clinical professors who are experts in their field and who have other jobs in addition to teaching at Stern. Some key clinical professors include Professor Thomai Serdari (Luxury Marketing) and Professor Scott Galloway (Brand Strategy). These professors either own their own companies (in the case of Professor Galloway with L2, Inc.) or work with many companies on a day-to-day basis (in the case of Professor Serdari). These professors are always willing to help.
Let’s not forget the additional alumni that full-time students tend to forget about. NYU Stern also has the Langone program (our part-time program). These part-time students are working whilst doing their MBA and work at companies that you could potentially work for. This is an untapped network, and a very important one.
Being a student at Stern will expand your horizons and introduce you to people you never thought you would meet before. This is the network that never sleeps!
Today, I want to talk to you guys about finance – specifically, Fintech.
As a humanities major, finance as an MBA student has always been a necessary evil. And yet, what I didn’t expect to find was that the disruption of financial technology proved endlessly fascinating to me. From introducing the concept of peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding, to the simple move to online and mobile banking, this was a space that is growing at tremendous speeds. Just between 2010 and 2015, investment in the industry increased tenfold, from less than $2 billion to nearly $20 billion.
Stern is probably most known for its financial prowess. We have some of the most lauded professors in the industry (Damodaran, Silber and Murphy to name a few), and our unique location in NYC places us only a couple subway stops from Wall Street. Therefore, it only made sense that administration took notice and understood the importance of this growing industry. This past school year, NYU Stern became the first top business school to offer a specialization in fintech.
The value of a MBA degree in the fintech space has always been highly valued, as some of the biggest fintech giants such as SoFi, Commonbond, and Earnest were all co-founded by MBA graduates. However, until recently, MBA students were not provided to the academic and career support to keep up with the industry. David Yermack, a finance professor as well as academic co-chair of the specialization believes that the key is to create a curriculum that “teach[es] what companies on the outside are hiring students to do.”
As part of the specialization, Stern has introduced eight new courses dedicated to fintech which ranges from understanding blockchains and digital currencies to personal finance and payments and risk management. (For specific courses, see here)
We also kicked off our first ever annual FinTech Conference last November. The conference included panels on marketplace investing vs. venture capital, beyond blockchain, and keynote speakers Ken Kroner (retired Senior Managing Director, BlackRock) and Dan Schulman (Stern MBA ’86 and current CEO, PayPal). You can find out more about the conference here.
Furthermore, since the industry is dominated mostly by startups that are headquartered in NYC, we have also been able to organize multiple treks for company visits, as well as regularly source speakers from companies such as Venmo and Orchard Platform. Overall, the introduction of the specialization has signaled to companies that Stern students are not only interested and serious about this industry, but also possess the relevant skillset and knowledge.
From the moment I began my MBA, I was told that as a student who was recruiting for the Luxury Retail industry, I would face a slightly different recruiting cycle and process than many of my peers. The schedule is a bit less structured and most companies in the industry typically recruit on an as-needed basis. That said, the exciting opportunities generally present themselves a bit later in the school year. While this can understandably be a cause of stress for some, I appreciated having the facts upfront. It helped me to determine early on that this was a career path I was committed to pursuing, even though it would certainly require me to be patient and a little more creative with my job-hunting strategy.
Since then, there has never been a time when I’ve doubted the decision to continue on the path I’ve chosen. While this is definitely due in part to countless late night personal pep talks, it can also be largely attributed to the support I’ve felt here at Stern. Though fewer companies in my industry of choice come to campus for the traditional corporate presentations and other such events, Stern’s Office of Career Development taps into its Luxury Retail alumni network throughout the year in an effort to continuously provide students with a gateway into their target companies. I’ve attended breakfast events, during which I’ve had the chance to connect with some of our alumni in more intimate settings and I’ve been to career panels with Luxury Retail professionals who have been happy to share their experiences and are more than willing to answer all our questions.
Another valuable resource I’ve personally leaned on is the Luxury & Retail Club. Club members tirelessly reach out to companies to organize various types of events through which students can gain exposure to companies of interest. Past events have included corporate headquarter visits and tours, lunch & learns, and cocktail hours. Many of these events have led to continued conversations with company employees that ultimately resulted in internships and job offers. The club ensures it is exposing students to a wide array of retailers of varying sizes, growth stages, business models, specializing in different products.
Aside from all these formal internal resources though, what has perhaps been most helpful has been my own peer network at Stern. Simply having conversations with friends about my interests has helped lead me to interesting opportunities I would otherwise not have been aware of. Friends have connected me with other friends or simply passed along job descriptions they come across that they think may be in my wheelhouse. While we are all of course told that our networks will probably be one of the most valuable things we take away from the MBA experience, I think I underestimated just how much I would come to rely on mine. My peers here have proven to be my great asset; they provide encouragement, advice, introductions, and go above and beyond to do so. It is because of all the people and resources that make up my tremendous Stern support system that I feel confident I will be successful in pursuing my career path, as “unstructured” as it may be.
Back in January, I traveled with 35 of my classmates to Hong Kong for one of the handful of “Doing Business in…” (DBi) courses offered each semester. With b-school lasting only a short two years, these one- or two-week courses are the most popular way for students to take advantage of Stern’s partnerships with international institutions and to expand their learning beyond the classroom and New York City.
Apart from a pre-departure meeting during the semester, the entire class takes place on location and consists of a balanced blend of classroom learning, corporate visits, and field trips to cultural sites. For my DBi, Stern partnered with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), whose faculty, staff, and students welcomed us onto their campus with great hospitality. In the classroom, we learned about current social issues in China and how they have been influenced by geography, history, culture, and politics. We also examined the major opportunities and challenges that firms encounter, from the standpoints of both the foreign multinational companies, who tend to underestimate the costs of doing business in China, and the local Chinese companies, who are rising to compete against these corporate giants in the global market.
We were able to witness these successes and challenges in action at the companies we visited, which were chosen due to their relation to Hong Kong’s significant travel and tourism industry. My personal favorite was a trip to the MTR, the private Hong Kong-based corporation that runs the highly efficient mass transit railway system in Hong Kong and—as we learned during our visit—in other parts of the world as well. In addition to a quick tour of the control room at Kowloon Bay Station (where the MTR’s headquarters are located), we had the opportunity to hear directly from the Head of Operations, the Strategy and Planning Manager, and the Head of Town Planning about the MTR’s impressive operational achievements, profitable business models, and goals and aspirations moving forward and beyond Hong Kong. The executives also discussed the difficulties they are encountering as they grow their operations, such as meeting customer demands, fighting market competition, and navigating the complications and regulatory webs of foreign places and their governments.
Some of these successes and challenges were echoed at the other companies too. Uber invited us to their sleek new office, where we sat in their open kitchen and met with their regional head (who began at Uber as their first Hong Kong employee). Over the course of 90 minutes, he excitedly shared with us the firm’s successes in Hong Kong, highlighting the uplifting impact Uber has had on the lives of their drivers and customers. He also discussed the developments that have resulted from serving Hong Kong’s residents specifically—a service for the elderly called uberASSIST, as well as the city’s own UberEATS, whose incredible success in Hong Kong has inspired the firm to name each of its new meeting rooms after a food they deliver. Their office mascot also proudly bears the logo:
In addition, a visit to Hong Kong’s flag carrier airline Cathay Pacific exposed us to the company’s approach to addressing shifts in consumer behaviors and fighting off increased competition in a highly regulated industry. Moreover, on the tour of Cathay’s headquarters, led by the airline’s lovely flight managers, we had the opportunity to witness Cathay’s pre-flight crew procedures, sit in one of the pilot seats of a flight simulator, and lay back in the six pods that comprise the exclusive first class cabins of Cathay’s transoceanic planes (or in this case, a replica of one that is used for training). Later in the week, a visit to Ocean Park granted us insights into how the beloved amusement park managed to leverage its local understanding of its customers to differentiate itself from Disneyland and fend off the foreign goliath’s arrival. We were then set free into the park, where we observed various animals, raised our adrenaline on the array of rides, and took in aerial views of the park from the park’s signature cable cars, which also affords views of the South China Sea.
As if the corporate visits were not enlightening enough in themselves, so we could experience aspects of the local culture first-hand, Stern also arranged plenty of Cantonese-style meals and class trips to the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Po Lin Monastery (where the Big Buddha statue sits). Additionally, we had time on the weekend to explore on our own, giving us the chance to create even more memories with one another. For example, I’ll personally never forget that a group of us hiked up [the very steep] Victoria Peak one day to take in the breathtaking views we were promised only to encounter the whims of the weather and smog instead.
Indeed, in addition to the satisfaction of visiting Asia for the first time and getting to do something that I wrote about wanting to do in my admissions essay, I feel very fortunate to have been able to learn so much through these unique experiences and to be able to share them with such wonderful classmates. Whether we were touring a corporate headquarters or searching the streets for pork buns, I don’t think any of it would have been as exciting and memorable if my fellow Sternies were not by my side.
After a 7-week winter break, it feels so good to be back in NYC, to be back at Stern finishing my final semester of business school (!!!?). I’ve spent the past couple of weeks getting back into the grind, and of course catching up with my amazing classmates, some who I haven’t seen in over half a year!
For those of you that don’t know, one of the many reasons I love Stern is just the incredible amount of opportunities it provides its students to work, study, and travel abroad. Whether it be through our short-term Stern Signature Projects (SSP) and Doing Business In…(DBi) programs, or our longer-term semester and half semester exchange programs, there are just a wealth of programs offered abroad. Every year, a good number of students decide to spend a full semester abroad, and here I’d like to introduce you to two of them.
Kimberly (Kimi) Rodriguez and Caspar Di Sun are both second year MBA students with me who spent their last semester as an exchange student at London Business School (LBS) and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) respectively.
V: Hi Guys! It’s so nice to have both of you back at Stern! Did you enjoy your time abroad? K: Yes of course! London was amazing. I mean I love New York, it will always be exciting, but there’s just a completely different feel about London. It’s slightly slower than hectic NYC for one, and it is a bit more international- LBS itself has a 92% international student body! C: Being originally from China, there’s just no place like home. I also have plans to move back to Hong Kong post-graduation, so it was great to be there, learn the city and create a network while still at school.
V: Can I ask what in particular made you decide to study abroad? And why you chose where you did in particular? C: I believe studying abroad enriches and enhances my overall MBA education. Hong Kong is a gateway to doing business in China and China is not just a buzzword in today’s globalized economy but also a true battlefield in today’s business competition. HKUST is a world-renowned education institute. Hong Kong is one of the busiest metropolitan cities in the world. Hence, it was not a hard decision when I factoring those reasons together. K: I am an international student, and one of the main reasons I came to Stern was that I have family and friends in New York. However, I came knowing that I also wanted try going somewhere that would force me out of my comfort zone, where I would be living somewhere completely new and get to meet an entirely new set of people. Furthermore, I understand the importance of planting seeds in different countries, of expanding my network geographically.
V: What would you say was your favorite thing about being abroad? K: The ease of traveling within Europe. (see more of Kimi’s adventures here!) C: Terrific friends I made from the world MBA community.
V: Would you ever go back to London/Hong Kong to visit or live? C: I’m definitely moving to Hong Kong after graduation. And since I will be living in there, I would like to be the “friendly ghost” in Hong Kong for any Sternies on the exchange program in Hong Kong and will try be as helpful as I can when you need. K: No plans at the moment, but definitely would be up to go back and visit!
V: Words of advice? K: If you plan on recruiting in New York full-time in your second year, make sure that you understand the risks and opportunity costs of spending 25% of your MBA in another country. Ultimately though, I believe it was more than worth it.
And that’s it! Hope everyone enjoyed having these two amazing friends of mine drop-in as much as I did. Till next time!