Monday, May 13, 2019

An Afternoon at the Golf Course

By Neeraja Sarda, MBA '19

My first exposure to golf was actually five years ago. My dad signed us up for lessons as a way to spend time together. I took lessons for a few months and picked up the basic skills quickly. During that time, I enjoyed the sport, but I really felt like I stuck out because the normal golf crowd doesn’t really look like me at all. It wasn’t a sport that my peers had much interest in, so if I was going to be spending time at the golf course, it would either be alone or with my dad and his friends. At the time, golf felt like something to add to my toolbelt along with other weird skills like playing the viola and training in Indian classical dance. Flash forward five years later, I’m graduating from business school and golf has turned into a relevant networking opportunity.

On April 18th, I had the privilege of attending a golf clinic organized by the Graduate Women’s Business Association (GWBA) along with several of my classmates pictured above. Four successful businesswomen who also happen to be successful golfers came to talk to us about why they got into golf and why they think it’s a valuable sport, skill and hobby for all of us. They talked about golf as a game of honor that teaches and fosters class, poise and self-confidence. Who couldn’t use more class, poise, and self-confidence?
Each one of them came into golf from a different background and each one of them continues to golf because it’s useful, but more importantly enjoyable. Susan Rheney talked about how golf helped her fit in better at work because she could leave work at the same time as her colleagues to get to the golf course. Candy Carson took up golf to get more exposure to senior management on the course, but primarily she got more interested in the sport as a way to get to know her dad who spent a lot of time on the course. Jennifer Dickey traded golf lessons for Japanese lessons as a way to exchange skills with clients and coworkers. Deb Agran got into golf after she saw how playing tennis in college helped her in the corporate world. She described the sport of golf as an equalizer because anyone can become good at it and anyone can have a bad day.

If you’re thinking about taking up golf either as a way to network or a way to stay active, do it! Here are a few golf tips from golfers much wiser than me:

1.      Play scrambles – Recreationally, golf can be played in several different formats. A scramble is a good format for friendly play where beginners can be valuable and don’t necessarily slow down the game. A scramble starts with the entire group hitting the first shot from the same starting position. The shot with the best position is where the entire group hits the second shot. The second shot with the best position is where the entire group hits their third shot and so on. Golf is a sport where even the most inexperienced player can have a good shot every now and then, and even the most experienced player can have a rough shot every now and then. Scrambles are fun because you never know – you might be a new golfer, but chances are high that at some point in a 72-par course, your shot will be the best shot played.

2.      Maintain the pace of play – Often times golf outings are meant to be networking events where chatting is key. Golfers tend to be inclusive about bringing beginners into the golf world, but when to chat and when not to chat is critical to making sure you’re not getting in the way. First and foremost, it is important to leave personal space when it is someone’s turn to hit their shot. Leaving a reasonable distance between the golfer at the tee and your conversation with someone else is a good idea. Also, it is important to keep the pace of the game by monitoring the group in front of you and behind you. The idea is not to move so quickly that you’re rushing a group ahead of you and to not move so slowly that you’re holding up someone else’s game. If you do the latter, you may earn some sass from the team behind you that looks a little something like this:

1.     Play 9 holes instead of 18 – Playing a shorter game is beneficial for two main reasons. First, networking is intimidating, and golf can be intimidating for a beginner too. Limiting the number of holes played can make the new situation more comfortable. Second, everyone is busy, and time is valuable. Instead of having to commit four hours to play 18 holes, committing two hours is more manageable. For example, golfing for two hours after work is often more realistic in terms of energy and other obligations than golfing for four hours after work. Besides, to get good at anything a lot of practice is required and spreading out that practice in two-hour blocks is more beneficial than playing less frequently for four hours at a time. 

2.      Spend 60% of your practice working on your short game – Driving ranges are a lot of fun. Specifically, hitting a golf ball with a driver as hard as you can is downright therapeutic. However, that shot makes up only one shot of every hole and it’s often one of the hardest shots to reliably control. The experts recommend spending a majority of time working on the short game instead. The best putters tend to be highly valued members of a scramble team. Check us out practicing our chipping:

Whether you’re an experienced golfer or a novice to the game, golf is a great networking opportunity and a skill you can learn at any age. A big thank you to the GWBA, the UGA Golf Course, and our guest speakers for inspiring us all to hit the links!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Spring Break in Chile!

By Jessie Dugan Barrett, MBA '19

Over Spring Break, twenty-six fellow MBA students and I traveled to Santiago, Chile with three faculty members. Six student groups consulted with one of five Chilean companies on projects addressing a variety of business needs. My team developed a business and marketing plan for a start-up that had recently patented a product to preserve glaciers. While there was plenty of challenging work to be done, MBA’s live by a strict code: “work hard, play hard”. We found plenty of time for both during our week in Chile.

Day 1: We arrived in Chile around 10 AM local time. After making it through customs, we had a brief orientation with Austral Group (our coordinators for the week) and settled into our hotel rooms. Later, we met our clients for the first time over dinner at La Mision!

Day 2: We started our first full day in Santiago with a walking tour of the city. We visited places such as the Plaza de la Constitucion, Santa Lucia Hill, and the Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago. The Cathedral (pictured below) is the main house of worship for Chile’s Catholic Church and is the base for the country’s Archdiocese.

Day 3: 
We travelled roughly 90 minutes outside of the city to Lodge Andino, where we had the opportunity to hike or ride horseback before sitting down to a traditional Chilean barbecue.

Day 4:
In the morning we met with InvestChile, a government body responsible for foreign investment recruiting. That afternoon we met with Indimin and CoreDevX to learn more about data analytics in the mining industry.
Day 5/6: 
We had two fully dedicated project work days. My group had a unique opportunity to hike the Andes to see a glacier in order to put our company’s product into context. We picked up an additional team member, “Andi” the dog, along the way (far right). 

Day 7: 
We travelled to the city of Valparaiso where we learned about their ports in the morning and did a walking tour of their famous street art in the afternoon.

Day 8: 
Our last full day in Chile! We started the morning by presenting our final projects to our clients. We spent our final evening at Kingston Family Vineyards in Casablanca. We reviewed a case study about the vineyard with owner Courtney Kingston and celebrated a successful week over dinner.

I’ve found it hard putting into words how impactful this trip was to me not just as an MBA student, but as a person. The country itself was beautiful: everyone we met was warm and welcoming. Hiking El Morado to see a glacier in person is an experience my team and I will cherish for the rest our lives. We all wanted to provide our clients with something that would support and grow their businesses. My group signed a rock we collected from our glacier hike and gave it to our client in appreciation of their time and trust. I left Chile feeling honored to have been a part of this trip.

Day 9: 
This was a free day to grab some last-minute things before returning home. We all loaded onto the plane with souvenirs, work experience, new friends, memories, and (in my case) a bunch of rocks. But hey, guess that’s just a day in the life of an MBA.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

MBA Non-Profit Board Fellows: Taking Local Leadership to the Next Level

By Alden Fontaine and Ali Probst, MBA'19

The life of an MBA student is pretty packed, especially in the fall of your first semester. With a full class load, looking for internships, graduate assistantships, football and friends, it’s hard to know which additional opportunities get a “yes.” But for us, the Non-Profit Board Fellows Program was an easy choice. Both of us are out-of-state students and saw the Board Fellows program as a way to not only get connected to but also start serving the Athens community immediately. Looking back, now weeks away from graduation, we’re so grateful we did!

Full-time MBA students Kaley Tabor, Alex Gunn, 
Ali Probst (Board Fellow for The Cancer Foundation)
and Drew Chaplain volunteer at 
The Cancer Foundation’s Cocktails fundraising event. 
The MBA Non-Profit Board Fellows Program was presented to us in the summer before we started classes. A group of us, via an application process, were selected to take on a two-year commitment to sit on an Athens non-profit board. These participating non-profits include: The American Red Cross of Northeast Georgia, Athensmade, Hope Haven, Athens Area Community Foundation, Athens Community Council on Aging, Athens Land Trust, The Cancer Foundation of Northeast Georgia, and others. Each of these organizations offered to provide an MBA student a spot on its Executive Board in exchange for help with various projects and input. When asking one of our classmates and co-board fellow Rob Vendley what stood out to him the most during his two-year commitment, he replied, “Without a doubt, my favorite experience with the Red Cross of Northeast Georgia was their Heroes event last April. Hearing and celebrating the incredible stories of our local law enforcement, teachers, EMTs, and firefighters was easily one of the most humbling experiences of my life.” 

As active board members, each of us have impacted our organizations in different ways. We’ve created social media content, filmed and edited donor appreciation videos, volunteered at fundraising events and galas, conducted surveys, directed social media plans, designed and attended executive board retreats, facilitated marking plans and SWOT analyses, and consulted on strategic board objectives for next year and beyond.

To top it off, we’ve all felt like we’ve formed meaningful relationships with our non-profit Executive Directors and the individual members of our working boards. Being a part of this program has enhanced our leadership skills and has given us real-life scenarios and exposure to the inner workings of an executive team.

Full-time MBA students Brenna Tudor 
(Board Fellow for Java Joy, an extension of Extra Special People), 
Maggie Rheney, Neeraja Sarda, Jillian Farr, 
Scott Giveans and David Waters attend Big Hearts at Bat 
benefitting Extra Special People. 
The two-year commitment to our board has been an amazing opportunity. The first year was a great onboarding, get-to-know-you type of process. Once we each began feeling more comfortable interacting with our executive boards and fully understanding our non-profit’s mission and vision, we were able to contribute in a more meaningful way our second year. We’re looking forward to seeing the relationship between the Georgia Full-Time MBA program and these non-profits flourish as we mentor and coach the incoming students who will serve as Board Fellows. We’re proud to set a standard of leadership for years to come.

Go dawgs!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Reflections of a Second Year MBA Student

By Miller Radford, MBA '19

“If you think you won’t learn much, you have much to learn.” Those were the words uttered to me as I contemplated graduate school. Prior to pursuing my MBA at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, I completed the Fulbright Scholarship in Malaysia and returned to Atlanta to flip starter homes. After a series of investments, industry mentors suggested I attend business school in order to penetrate the commercial real estate market. It was time to move up, and those around me knew it. Within days of announcing my interest in continuing my education, several alumni began reaching out in ways I never expected. I first thought to myself, “Is this the type of support the UGA community offers?” After all, I was only a prospective student.

All along, the answer has been a resounding yes. Whether I found myself surrounded by Career Management staff eager to tackle my many inquiries or professors willing to spend an hour after class repeating a lecture just for me, the program’s patient and cooperative culture gave me the gut feeling that “this just feels right.” And though a significant part of me entered with the goal of enhancing my career, I also knew a heightened understanding of the fields in which I lacked exposure (e.g., marketing, business intelligence, business law, etc.) would enable me to profitably continue entrepreneurial activities as well. Now as I reflect upon my decision, I do not believe I could have made a better one.

Eight months into the program, I signed my first graduate-level internship as a private equity analyst at my target firm, Jamestown LP. The vertical achievement was something that left family and friends astonished. My gut feeling was once again validated. Shortly after my summer working alongside asset managers responsible for properties including One Times Square, Chelsea Market, Ponce City Market, etc., I called the University’s office to deliver the news I had just signed the return offer with a beaming smile. Over the phone, I heard “You really did it, wow! Well done!”

Since then, I have interacted with arguably triple the amount of industry professionals who just so happen to be alumni, and that is no hyperbole. You name it: dinners, social outings, sporting events; there simply has not been a shortage of opportunities to connect with fellow students, professors, and managers. The excitement of beginning a new life is noticeable with every step I take on campus this semester, but so are the memories of playing tennis under the autumn canopies, touring four local breweries just minutes apart, running down the downtown streets while artists perform in red and black, and the sound of the marching band practice as I enjoy the site of Athens from the Georgia Theatre Rooftop.

It has been a great two years, only for several amazing years to follow. For these reasons and many more, I would like to thank each of my professors, counselors, and classmates for making this a time never to be forgotten. The degree of comradery that I experienced is more than I could have asked for, so my only hope is to now give as much as I have received.

Still, there is one thing I have left to say…

Gooooooo DAWGS!