Spring Gala, Speakers, Bonobos, and SCC!

This has been an incredible week. As we gear up for finals here at Stern, it’s nice, albeit challenging, to still have so many exciting events going on. Last Saturday was our Spring Gala at the Gansevoort. Students dressed in their best and danced the night away. What was nice is that I even met some second years I didn’t know already. It was a great way to bond with my classmates and, like almost any girl, enjoy a night of playing dress-up.

The second unforgettable experience this week was when Peter Gelb, the General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera came and spoke to a group of students about attracting new, younger audiences and the how opera must adapt to the digital age. He spoke with humor about his transition from Sony Classical Music to the Met and some of the errors he’d made along the way. He talked about the ways this old institution is striving to innovate and the financial difficulties it faced as an entity that must rely on donations to remain sustainable. Mr. Gelb spoke frankly about the need for opera to infiltrate culture on a wider level, which was his motivation for streaming performances in movie theaters across the globe. As an arts buff, his talk left me wondering how I could use my business education to give back to a place like the Met Opera one day.

The third privilege I had this week was that Ann Moore, former CEO of Time Inc. came to speak at my Leadership in Organizations class. Unlike many of the speakers, Ms. Moore did not allow Stern to videotape our conversation because she wanted to be as open and honest with us as possible. She spoke about the career challenges she faced as a woman and the difficulty she had letting people go during economic and industry downturns. She talked about managing her relationships from the personal to the political to those at work, and she discussed tradeoffs she has made along the way. What struck me most was that Ms. Moore did not have any regrets in her 33 year career at Time. She talked about the ways she had pushed the organization to allow her to change it and how we can all look to do the same in our own careers. Lastly, she discussed the difficulty of integrating digital natives from our generation with other generations, who may not be as comfortable or familiar with technology.

My last two adventures for the week begin now. I am starting my Friday off with a Luxury and Retail Club trek to men’s clothing retailer Bonobos. Then I will present the results of my Stern Consulting Corps project for the NYU Langone Medical Center Department of Integrative Health, followed by a reception. It’s clearly going to be another amazing Stern-filled day, but I wouldn’t want it any other way, especially as the year winds down. I will have to report back on these events next week!

Updates All Over

More than 2 weeks have passed since my last post, and I want to apologize for that. We only have 3 more weeks of classes before the finals, and I have been trying really hard not to fall behind; inevitably (and regrettably) the blog took a back seat. I have so much to tell you though!

First of all, Passport Day! Mike and Ashrae have already written about it, but I can’t not mention it, because as part of the Stern Student Government International Committee, I was actually in charge of organizing the event. The two weeks after spring break and leading up to Passport Day were a little crazy for the committee: trying to help out volunteer country representatives with their responsibilities, and promptly answering their questions; marketing the event to make sure all the MBA students could be a part of it; figuring out the timeline for the performances; deciding on the voting system for the “Best Country” competition; setting up the tent in Gould Plaza… There was a lot going on behind the scenes, and it’s never easy to pull off events such as this one, but it’s really worth it when it all goes smoothly (which it did). We finally had the opportunity to relax during beer blast (it was right after Passport Day), and it was the happiest I’ve felt in a while: we had so many of our friends come and thank us for organizing it, telling us they had a lot of fun, and that was the whole point anyway. That sense of accomplishment and contentment is incomparable. Of course none of it would have been possible without the country representatives who volunteered their time to participate in the event, but they were happier than everyone else, and I was so grateful, relieved, and proud.

Next up: my Stern Consulting Corps project for the National Board of Review. We are almost done with our project; in fact, we just sent off our slides to our mentor today, to get his approval, and we will be having a preliminary presentation with our client on Friday. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m really excited to hear what they think of our analyses and recommendations. Hopefully, they will be impressed, and they will want to implement our plan.

Third: office visits to Fab and Etsy through the Stern Entrepreneurs Exchange Club. The visit to Fab was part of the 2013 EEX Entrepreneurship Summit 2 weeks ago, and the visit to Etsy was a stand-alone visit last Friday. It probably does not make sense to compare the two offices, but I’m lumping them together because they both sort of took my breath away—I was overcome with a sense of longing (and belonging, I guess). Tech start-ups have a very different feel—they are typically unconventional in their layout and decorations (random facts: the first thing you see as you enter the Fab office is a Foosball table; and Etsy gives each employee $100 to purchase from etsy.com to decorate their desks), but more importantly, there is an air of acceptance and welcome that’s really tough to put into words. Like I said, they somehow make me feel like I belong there.

Finally, this weekend was Pre-View Weekend at Stern! I’m not on the Torch Committee, so I was not as involved as I would have liked, but I did get to mingle with the new admits at a bar near school on Saturday, and that was really fun. It was kind of bittersweet actually; it suddenly hit me that my first year at Stern is almost over. Graduation is still more than a year away, and I realize that it’s way too early to start worrying about it, but I truly don’t want this to end. I love being a Sternie.

Food and Music

Hello all, it’s been quite a long time. I’m sure you all miss me.

I would like to say that I’ve missed a few weeks of this blog because things have been really crazy, but the sad truth is that things are winding down. There’s still plenty to do, and I’m keeping busy, but at this point I have less than two months before I graduate and reenter the real world, so I’m trying to enjoy the little time I have left here.

So enjoyment. That’s the name of the game. Last Thursday was a big day for school-wide enjoyment, which is very convenient. We had two really big events – Passport Day and the B-School Dropouts concert. Oh yeah, Beer Blast was right between the two.

Passport Day is our annual celebration of cultural diversity at Stern. In other words, it is a day to gorge yourself on foods from all over the world. Every country that is represented by a Stern students gets a table, and students either make or order food that is traditional in that country. I wound up having dumplings from Hong Kong; a Guatemalan chicken dish made by a classmate of mine; an Uzbek lamb-stuffed pastry; various arepas, empanadas and croquettes from Latin American countries; and an embarrassing amount more than that. There were also live performances by students and outside performers, generally with traditional dances from a few countries. This year, I got to see performers from South Korea, India and Bulgaria.

Next up was Beer Blast. We have this just about every Thursday from 6PM until 10PM in the Upper Concourse 100 Graduate Lounge. Of course, nobody calls it the Upper Concourse 100 Graduate Lounge. They call it the Beer Blast room. Every week a different student club hosts Beer Blast, which means they get to set the theme, order food, and pick some delicious beer and wine to serve. This week was particularly easy for food selection, because we had ridiculous amounts of food leftover from Passport Day. Other days, we get three deliveries of food throughout the night, and it’s ranged from pizza to sliders to chicken fingers to pita sandwiches to giant trays of ethnic foods from around the world.

After Beer Blast ends at 10PM, there is always some kind of after party (called Bar Blast), generally hosted by the club that ran Beer Blast. This week, instead of the traditional party, our very own B-School Dropouts, a cover band made up of MBA2s, played around the corner at Sullivan Hall. The band covered modern hits, and plenty of classic rock songs, most notably Sweet Child of Mine, which ended the show. After that, there was (yet another) after party at a nearby bar, Amity Hall. Overall, it was a great night, and yet not atypical for a Thursday at Stern.

One other nice thing about Stern is that we don’t hold classes on Fridays. This is really helpful for people who choose to recruit or intern on Fridays, but it’s also just great if you need a little extra time to recover from Thursday night.

Anyway, that’s all for me this week. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.

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…


Strategy Forum & A Film Screening

Last Thursday I went to the “Strategy Forum: Achieving Strategic Advantage Through Innovation,” organized by the Strategy & Operations Club, and the Management Consulting Association at Stern. The keynote speaker was Mumtaz Ahmed, Chief Strategy Officer of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, and a Principal at Deloitte Consulting. He talked about what sets exceptional companies apart from others, and how to achieve sustained competitive advantage (being in the top decile for 10 years, so that it’s not a coincidence). According to him, the three rules are as follows: 1) better before cheaper; 2) revenue before cost; 3) there are no other rules. It was all based on data and analyses that Deloitte has gathered over many years, and I thought some of the conclusions were unexpected: for instance, according to the data, there is no evidence that innovation is a key driver of exceptional performance. It was interesting to hear what he had to say.

Then on Friday, as part of “research” for my Stern Consulting Corps project, I attended a screening of the film Stoker (great film), followed by a Q&A session with director Chan-wook Park, and stars Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode. It was a room of roughly 70 people, so it was relatively intimate, and I was starstruck the whole time. I don’t want to divulge the content, but all three of them were really nice, and Matthew Goode was hilarious.
This, of course, was followed by a 2.5-hour client meeting; after which I had to rush to make it to one of the biggest Stern events of the year: Think Social, Drink Local, or simply TSDL. It’s an annual runway fashion show (featuring MBA students & Stern administration wearing fashion from top NYC designers!) and dance party, all rolled into one big event in a gorgeous venue. I’m sure one of my fellow bloggers will cover TSDL this week, so in the spirit of avoiding redundancy, I will leave it at that. I will say it was an amazing night though—and a great way to start the weekend!

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…..