Winter Break Travels

One of the greatest aspects of Stern is the opportunity to travel with classmates on weekends, over the summer and during school breaks. Over winter break I had the opportunity to travel to Steamboat Springs on the Stern Ski Trip and to Las Vegas as part of the Operations in Vegas class. The ski trip was a fun vacation with friends to lay fresh tracks, eat good food and explore all Steamboat has to offer, but Ops in Vegas was really a once in a lifetime experience.
(View from the gondola headed up the mountain in Steamboat)

I arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday one day before the class officially started with a few other MBA2s so that we could watch the first round of the NFL playoffs in a sportsbook and hike in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The class  kicked off on Sunday night with a nice welcome dinner and the warning that the next few days would be very intense. On Monday morning we had the opportunity to meet with a number of executives from Station Casinos including top executives in charge of the hotels, analytics, and marketing as well as the new COO of Ultimate Fighting Championship Lawrence Epstein. Most importantly, we had a lengthy conversation with Lorenzo Fertitta, a Stern alumni (1993) who recently sold the UFC to William Morris Endeavor, served as Commissioner on the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and also is the principal shareholder of Station Casinos with his brother Frank. To hear directly from Lorenzo about how he turned the UFC from a bankrupt company he purchased for $2 million into the massive media empire he just sold for $4.3 billion was an eye opening business lesson. Our day finished up with a cocktail party in one of the suites at Green Valley Ranch while Clemson stunned Alabama in the national championship game.
Red Rock Condensed
(Hiking Red Rock with fellow classmates Phil Bowman, Steve Seidel and Eric Goodman)

Tuesday continued with lectures including from the head of security for Station Casinos, and former Las Vegas Chief of Police, Bill Young at Green Valley Ranch before heading over to Light Nightclub at the Manadaly Bay hotel for a behind the scenes tour of what makes the club run. Our day finished with a bowling event in one of the private bowling rooms at Red Rock Casino.
Light Nightclub
(Massive video screen at Light welcoming us)

On Wednesday we went to downtown Las Vegas where we learned about the downtown revitalization project, got an inside look at Zappos, and toured the D Hotel. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos from Zappos because they’re very secretive, but there were many pieces of amazing art downtown to try and draw more tourists to come off of the strip. Our night concluded with a trip to Light Nightclub to gather firsthand “research” and see Pusha T perform with Baauer.
Downtown Art2 Downtown Art1
(Some of the awesome art downtown)

Thursday was the coolest day of the whole trip for me as we got to go behind the scenes at the Bellagio where we saw everything from the inside of the security room (no pictures allowed), to underneath the famous fountain, to the high-roller suites where the only way to get a room is to gamble millions of dollars in a weekend. We visited the employee level on the 2nd floor of the hotel where 8,000 employees visit every single day to get laundry, eat in the cafeterias, relax, go to the bank, and do so much more inside their mini-city. Our class saw how the Cirque du Soleil show O is performed as we went backstage, underneath the floor to the pool area, and finally to great seats in the audience to watch the performance.
Liquor Room

Friday focused on real estate as we saw Professor Chernoff’s commercial real estate development in Spanish Trails industrial park before heading back to the hotel for an afternoon lesson on poker from world-renowned poker professional Mike Sexton. For those who really love poker, it was truly a priceless experience to hear the keys to successful poker strategy from someone who has won millions of dollars and World Series of Poker titles. Our Friday finished with a goodbye dinner and drinks before everyone headed out.

In addition to the amazing speakers, behind the scenes look at some of Vegas’s most iconic landmarks, and company visits, we had a great time playing poker together, exploring everything Vegas has to offer and most importantly…. getting three credits closer to graduation!

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…



My Last Long Winter Break

Hello, loyal readers. It’s been quite a while, but I am back to class now for the first time since mid-December. It’s been a crazy few weeks, but here’s the basic breakdown of how I spent my last winter break before my inevitable return to the real world.

December 19 – January 1
Since I’m from New Jersey, I didn’t have to travel around this time to see family or friends, which was really convenient. I spent a lot of this time celebrating the holidays with my family, class mates, friends from high school and college, and other awesome people. Since I had no work hanging over my head, I spent a good amount of time reading, catching up on shows on Netflix, and generally avoiding responsibility. Good times.

January 2 – 5
I spent a few days back at school, helping some of the MBA1s prepare for their interviews, which mostly took place during January. They kept themselves quite busy, researching companies, doing mock interviews, and practicing their behavioral interview questions. I spent the rest of my time preparing for my upcoming trip.

January 6 – 26
The aforementioned trip. As an MBA2, I also get January off from classes, just like the MBA1s do. Unlike most MBA1s, I did not need to spend my January getting ready for and then having interviews. Instead, I, like many of my classmates, took this opportunity to travel around Southeast Asia. A large contingent of Sternies took part in DBi Hong Kong and DBi Singapore, which were two week classes that took place in, you guessed it, Hong Kong and Singapore, respectively. I was not one of those Sternies. Instead, I traveled around Thailand and Indonesia (with a brief trip into Burma/Myanmar) with 6 of my classmates, while running into friends along the way (including fellow bloggers Kristin and Serena).  My trip ran the gamut from luxury hotels in Bangkok to sleeping in a small village in Northern Thailand, to a week in a beautiful villa in Seminyak, Bali. We laughed, we cried (maybe?), we surfed (with varying success), and we became much closer than we had been.

January 28 – February 1
All of us MBA2s came back to Stern for a week of professional responsibility. The program was redesigned this year by renowned moral psychologist and recent addition to the Stern faculty, Jonathan Haidt. He and Professor Bruce Buchanan brought in some great speakers for us, including Charles Ferguson (director of The Inside Job and author of Predator Nation), Walt Pavlo (white collar criminal and MBA graduate), Jacqueline Novogratz (founder of the Acumen Fund and pioneer of social microfinance), Conor Grennan (Stern MBA alumnus, bestselling author of Little Princes and founder of Next Generation Nepal), and Preet Bharara (U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York). In between talks and Q&A sessions with these excellent presenters, we worked through major ethical issues that we could face in the workplace in classes of about 35 students. The real benefit of this class is getting students to understand the underlying social and organizational systems that impact individual behavior, and then working through ways to overcome those systems to do the right thing while inside of them and to change those systems for the better as future business leaders.

February 4 – Today
This was my first week back to real classes, and I’m really excited for the semester. I have a great schedule lined up, and you’ll hopefully be reading all about it as my final semester as a student (it pains me to write that) pushes forward.