Tuesday, July 2, 2013

MBA Spring 2013 Trip to China

Michael Betts, '13
The first thing I noticed when I stepped off the plane into China was the quiet.  I have traveled through most of western Europe, parts of Latin America, and places in between.  Those trips made me familiar with the cacophony of people talking over each other, airline employees shouting announcements, and the general bustle of a large mass of people.  This was my first trip to the Far East and the reception could not have felt more different.  People stood calmly and patiently, the announcement of a new line through customs opening up was made silently with a handheld sign, no words, and our natural American curiosity in what was going on around us didn’t seem to be returned.  It was lesson number one and I hadn’t even left the airport yet.  As my visit to China progressed, I learned that this public composure is a very normal thing.  I experienced it in Beijing and Shanghai, in airports, on trains and in subway cars.

Our purpose in visiting China was to learn something of its culture and its business norms.  We visited a number of companies including Baidu, Douban, Bao Steel, a German Industrial Center, an arena run by AEG, and an economic partnership area between China and Singapore.  We also visited a number of cultural and historical sites, including the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Great Wall of China.

The Great Wall is a bucket list item for many people.  It is an extremely unique experience to walk along the stone wall that once divided “civilization” from the “barbarian” hordes.  The wall goes on as far as the eye can see and is rather incredible.  The Forbidden City was most interesting because we were somewhat of a tourist attraction ourselves.  Millions of people visit the historical sites in Beijing every year and almost all of them are tourists from within China.  Many of them are from much more rural areas where they have, perhaps, never seen a westerner.  They were particularly interested in a red-haired classmate of ours.

It was extremely fascinating to learn about business in China.  The economic environment is changing very quickly and we had an opportunity to visit private Chinese companies, state-owned Chinese companies, and foreign companies doing business in China.  We visited established manufacturers and internet startups.  We had a chance to compare the capitol of Beijing and experience its intense nationalism and the metropolis of Shanghai and how it has been influenced by the global economy.

China’s role in that global economy is constantly evolving and the value of this trip to our understanding of the future business environment cannot yet be fully measured.  I could write for pages about all of the experiences we had there, about things like hutongs, Jade Buddhas, administrator’s gardens, Chinese markets, the role of the Chinese government in business, the Chinese hospital system – the list goes on.  I consider it, without question, to be one of the most valuable things I have done during my MBA experience at Terry.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Terry MBA - A Commitment to Service

Betsy Curry, MBA '14
Students at the University of Georgia have the incredible opportunity to serve the Athens community during their time in the MBA program. All MBA students are required to donate 45 hours of their time over the two-year program, and as the Volunteer Dawgs Coordinator, it is my job to make sure students have many options to choose from.

This year started strong with our annual Candemonium event.  During Candemonium, which is in November, the MBA classes compete against one another to see who can get the most non-perishable food items donated and then use them to build a unique structure right in front of Brooks Hall. This year was our most successful collection yet! The Candemonium trophy went to the first years who had a more diverse mix of food products, but the second year’s undoubtedly made a more memorable structure as they managed to re-construct Brooks Hall itself out of canned goods. In total, the MBA students proudly donated 4,165 pounds of food to the Northeast Georgia Food Bank.  The Terry MBA students are proud that our efforts will provide 3,500 meals to Athens residents.

Another favorite event of the Volunteer Dawgs is working with Habitat for Humanity. This year we teamed up with this outstanding non-profit to build a ramp for an Athens family that has a special needs child.  Students also worked with Extra Special People, a non-profit organization that strives to boost the self-esteem of developmentally challenged adults and children by offering a night for them to show off their individual talents. Relay for Life was another fun night where students participated in a six-hour event to raise money and awareness for cancer research, benefiting the American Cancer Society.  The last notable volunteer work took place with the Athens Land Trust.  Students worked as business consultants to help residents of a low-income neighborhood develop business plans so that their products could be sold at a new farmer’s market that opened in May.

Using our outstanding accumulated business knowledge to help our community is the most effective and impactful way to spend our service hours, which is why next year I will work closely with each club to find semester-long or year-long projects that benefit local non-profits in the Athens area. Marketing students can be so helpful to a non-profit just getting off the ground, the Healthcare Club has so much to contribute to a local clinic, and no one is better than the Entrepreneurship Club members at developing and implementing business plans. We will put our business skills to work for the Athens community, and look forward to another year of service!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two Years in Transition: From Sales to Healthcare Management

Kevin Trexler, MBA '14
Prior to entering graduate school at UGA I spent just over ten years in sales working in industries from luxury real estate to medical device.  My career afforded me the opportunity to travel all over the U.S. and abroad.  Despite making it into the management ranks of a small medical device manufacturer, I’d reached a point of becoming pigeon-holed as a sales guy.  After ten successful years in sales I decided it was time for a change.  With the encouragement of my wife, I took the plunge and enrolled in the Full-Time MBA program at Terry.

The transition from the workforce to a fulltime student certainly caused trepidation, but my interaction with Terry students, faculty, and staff sold the salesman.  During these conversations two key features of the program stood out.  First, the flexibility of the program would allow me to customize my concentration and track.  Secondly, the expansive alumni base would offer the opportunity to expand my professional network.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but with my experience in medical device sales, I was interested in delving deeper into the ever-changing business of healthcare.  To do so, I had to expand my functional business knowledge beyond sales and marketing.  This is where the flexibility of the Terry program came into play.  I was encouraged to explore courses at UGA’s College of Public Health.  Taking classes in healthcare policy and consulting has allowed me to customize a concentration in both operations and healthcare management.

Outside of coursework, I joined the MBA healthcare club, and the Career Management Center introduced me to numerous alumni in the healthcare profession.  Through these avenues I was able to meet hospital administrators and consultants with whom I conducted informational interviews that helped narrow my career path and develop my course of study.  

In addition to networking, the Career Management Center coordinated a group trip to Nashville in November 2012 to visit key businesses in the healthcare industry.  During one of the business visits I was able to make a key contact that has become a mentor.  While in Nashville, I also attended the 2012 Vanderbilt Healthcare Conference which focused on post-election healthcare in the U.S.

Given these opportunities to focus my efforts in healthcare along with an on-campus recruiting event, I was fortunate enough to secure an internship in business process improvement with Premier Inc. in Charlotte, NC.  Premier is the nation’s leading alliance of non-profit hospitals, health systems and other providers dedicated to improving healthcare performance.  Premier uses the power of collaboration to lead the transformation to high quality, cost-effective healthcare.

From the ability to customize my concentration to include health policy and operations management to expanding my professional network exponentially, I couldn’t have imagined a better experience.  As the first year draws to a close, I look forward to many more opportunities as I complete an internship and progress through the second year.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Meeting Industry Leaders in the Terry MBA

Christina Smith, MBA '14
Arguably the best part of being an MBA student is having the opportunity to meet successful alumni and industry professionals.  I have gained a great deal of perspective hearing about their various career paths and been given valuable advice on what it takes to have a successful, fulfilling career.

In mid-October, a small group of MBA students interested in working in the healthcare industry met Pete Adams, the President of Noah Precision, which is a rapidly growing semiconductor equipment company located in San Francisco.

Pete’s primary message to the group: “Choose, don’t settle.”

Pete describes himself as an accidental entrepreneur. His career has been driven by opportunities that have naturally presented themselves and he believes he has been successful because he has always made the decision to pursue jobs he was passionate about. Pete’s career in medical devices started with his brother’s desire to find a new treatment for glaucoma, an eye disease that can permanently damage vision. Pete was coincidentally introduced to the semiconductor business after he volunteered to try to help out a neighbor’s struggling business.

Pete emphasized that truly successful people take calculated risks.  Pete’s calculated risks have led to impressive accomplishments: Pete played an instrumental role in the creation of a medical device that helps treat glaucoma in patients, he is currently working to grow Noah Precision, and he is a strategic and financial advisor to numerous private and public technology companies in the semiconductor, enterprise software and life sciences industries.

I had a similar influential encounter at “Marketing Day.” The Graduate Marketing  Association hosted Marketing Day at the Terry Executive Center in Buckhead, which featured a panel of diverse marketing professionals.  The goal of clubs at the MBA level is to connect students with similar goals and support their career objectives. For marketing students this includes setting up networking events, practicing case interviews, and sharing industry knowledge.

The panelists shared their unique experiences in vastly different marketing functions: sports marketing, brand management, marketing at UPS, digital marketing, and IT marketing. The highlight of the day was hearing Mallom Liggon, the Senior Marketing Manager at Turner Sports, talk about how he landed his dream job and his perspective on achieving success. Mallom taught the group that in order to land your dream job the most important thing is to explain how you can contribute to the organization, not what the organization can do for you.  Working in sports marketing was his lifelong dream, but it was his ability to demonstrate that he had the insight and ability to help Turner Sports to capture a target sports audience it was ignoring that landed him the job. The other profound tidbit of advice Mallom shared was “PIE” as a key to success: performance, image, and exposure. How you perform on your job will only impact your success 10%. Delivering is important, but it is a basic requirement. The other 90% is the people who know you and understand what you are about (your talents, interests, and goals).  He emphasized that networking is key to getting the exposure necessary to ensure that the right people in your industry know who you are. 
Pictured: Matt Rowenczak '14, Christina Smith '14, Kylah Harris '14, Jay Ferro, Betsy Curry '14, Alix Luce '14
Terry MBA students are also assigned to successful alumni mentors. I was fortunate enough to be included in a group of MBA students given the opportunity to build a relationship with Jay Ferro, the Chief Information Officer at the American Cancer Society. Jay has spent hours giving our students career advice and getting to know us on a personal level, including taking the time to drive to Athens to meet us in person! Jay also attended our first “Careers with a Purpose Networking Night” in Atlanta, which was a networking event that allowed students to meet professionals working to change the world through business.  Over 15 professionals attended the event that work in non-profits, foundations, and in sustainability roles in the Atlanta area.  Jay talked to the group about how the work he is doing as CIO at the American Cancer Society is measured in the number of lives saved. Learning about the work Jay is doing to streamline IT operations at the American Cancer Society and how it directly translates into more money being donated to cancer research is nothing short of inspirational!

When I came back to school to pursue my MBA, I knew I was going to expand my network.  In less than a year my network has literally doubled, if not tripled.  I’ve been repeatedly told that when it comes to landing a job, it’s all about who you know.  Thanks to getting my MBA at Terry, I’m proud to report I’m getting to expand my network with some of the most inspirational leaders in our country!  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Getting an MBA – Is it Worth it?

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal published an article that questioned the value and necessity of the MBA.  This is not a new debate; the MBA is the one professional degree that is often challenged.  If you are considering an MBA, the article is worth reading because it is important to enter the graduate school process with your eyes wide open.  As a recruiter, I have lots of conversations with people thinking about an MBA.  For me, the most promising conversations occur when the prospective applicant can articulate specifically why they need an MBA at that time and when they can discuss specifically how it will advance his or her career. 

Let’s also be practical.  It is also important to evaluate program costs and to consider what the return on your investment will be.  Getting an MBA is a business decision, not a vacation, or an escape, or a magic pill that solves the problems you have with your current job/career/hobby/dreams.  The MBA doesn’t make anything happen for you – YOU do.  Make sure, with as much certainty as possible, that what you invest in the program (time and money) is worth what you will get out of it (knowledge, experience, promotion, salary increase).  You don’t want your MBA to be another bill you pay every month.  You want it to revitalize your career, expand your intellectual horizons, and provide you with personal and professional opportunities you would not otherwise have.

So, before you apply to programs, do your research.  Set up informational interviews with people in your network to find out about career options and directions.  What job do you want to have in two years?  In five years?  In ten years?  Who has those jobs and how did they get there?  What programs can help you pursue those goals?  How do you plan to pay for the MBA?  Keep thinking and planning and gathering information.  It’s your career – you’re in charge!