Thursday, December 13, 2012

Classroom vs. Real Life

I'm going to be spending some time in an aircraft in about a week. PIT -> LAX -> BNE (that's Brisbane Australia. Yes, I'm going home :)). The flight from PIT to LAX is quite long - about 5 hours, and we leave early evening. Normally, I would have a book with me, but it tends to put me to sleep (and I don't want that yet), so my other activity, cross-stitching, is going to be pulled out. It's rather tough for me to cross-stitch solely, I usually need some kind of aural entertainment.

When I went to Seattle/San Francisco at the beginning of the year, I had uploaded some podcasts about the life of consultants onto my iPod and listened to them while cross-stitching. Ultimately, it was those podcasts that showed me that I am not a good fit for Consulting. Remembering that I liked to listen to those podcasts, I spent some time looking for podcasts on the iTunes store. I bounced around the different categories - I went straight to Games and Hobbies first, then Careers, then just the Business section... and discovered the HBR podcasts.

Merrily, I started to download all the ones that sounded interesting. Career building was a must; there were a bunch around leadership, innovation, a few from HR-viewpoints... and then one caught my eye.

It's podcast "139: Is transparency always the best policy?" It was not the title that caught my eye, but rather the author - Paul Levy. Interestingly, in my last Power class, we had a case on Paul Levy and his role as CEO of the Beth Israel Deacon Medical Hospital. While the case itself was pretty dry, the last ten minutes of the class become quite lively when one of my classmates brought up the fact that he had had an intimate relationship with a female consultant he had brought on board. This was not covered in the case, and we started to talk about whether moral deficiencies had a right to be considered when studying the work of a leader (she was complaining that his having the affair was grounds to not talk about the case in class since it exemplified that sort of behavior).

In my opinion, what someone does in his or her private life has no bearing on that person's competence on the job. Now, this consultant did gain from being in a relationship with him, but had the relationship not been intimate, there would have been little to no outcry of favoritism - it's a given that in the business world, the adage "it's who you know" runs very true. And she seemed to be very competent in her job. It's very well known that if a new high-ranking person steps into a position in a company s/he will fill the lower ranks with her/his own people - VERY relevant for CEOs since they tend to clear out the executive suite when coming in. Is the presence of sex really that much of a difference? Or is it more that the consultant was female and that's the trope we as a society tend to fall on - that she slept her way to her position.

Regardless, I could go on forever about this since it's something that I have strong feelings about (being assessed on factors other than job competence and performance not sleeping to the top), but I'm not going to. I mention this situation to my partner, explained my position, and he makes this comment that for a business student, he's surprised at my lack of ethics. This made me scratch my head, because I had thought the relationship-benefits was a morality choice and the only thing that was unethical was that he had kept this potential conflict of interest from the Board.

While this post seems to ramble, it's highlighting three important things for the week:
- I'm less than a week away from going home - this is the first time in 2 years
- HBR, their podcasts, and other similar auditory experiences are worth investigating
- I can't really vocalize the difference between morality and ethics, or at least the difference in my mind.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Unwritten Tepper Rules

An exercise that we had to do in a class of mine was to list all the "unwritten Tepper rules." Some so-called "rules" were thrown in, such as:
- Unattended food in the Master's Lounge is fair game
- Don't turn up late to Margot's Optimization class

and a few others I forgot. But the one that has stuck to me since then (and it was an exercise that happened a couple of weeks ago) was this:

- Don't trust Student Services; their "randomizer" is never random.

The reason it has stuck with me is because it has become a real point of disillusionment and resentment amongst my fellow classmates. Normally the "randomizer" shows up when we are given tickets for an event at the Console Stadium. David Tepper owns a box there (as well as the Penguins), and so he passes tickets along to the school if he's not attending. When the NHL wasn't striking, it was pretty often we'd get the email out for getting put into a drawing for tickets to a game. We all knew that it was up to one of the staff members of Student Services to choose who was going based on whim; the only randomness was who actually signed up for a ticket. Since we had nothing to lose, the majority of us didn't really care.

Then came the Germany Trek signup. For the final mini in the second year, a small group of Tepper students are able to go on a four-week trek around Germany as their capstone project. It's highly popular and space is very limited. When the people who threw their names into the ring didn't get into the trek, some grumblings occurred.

Then came the Corporate Restructuring issue. This class is taught by Dean Dammon. It proved to be extremely popular with our class, with 113 people designating it their top class when pre-registration happened a couple of weeks ago. Even when another class slot was opened, there were too many people to accommodate for the 40-person class. So, Student Services "randomly" placed people in the class and the waitlist. Coincidently, a lot of the people who got into the Germany trek also got into this class; a lot of the people who didn't get into Germany got waitlisted. One that I know of also had an issue with being waitlisted for Corporate and Renewable Strategy in addition to being waitlisted for Germany and now Corporate Restructuring. Foul play was now being cried (although not loud enough for Student Services to hear it).

It puts a bit of a bad taste in my mouth that blatant favoritism occurs in an environment that, by all manner of speaking, should be objective. While I understand, from my Power & Influence class, that life isn't fair and getting ahead is about buttering people up... I didn't expect it with my educational experience. Add this in with the general dissatisfaction I hold for the school services in general (all the other things that come with going to Tepper, NOT the education) this year, and that's a lot of unhappiness on my end. I'm not going to get into the services issue in detail - but tuition increased for the incoming class, and yet funding for our clubs and activities decreased significantly this year. We now have to pay more out-of-pocket for specific Tepper events, such as the Winter Formal that just passed. Tepper is the 6th most expensive school. I really wonder where our money goes towards, and whether it's worth putting our education and experiences on the line for fickle administrators who play favorites.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Recruiting & International Image

I had lunch with some prospective students earlier this week, and one of them asked a couple of questions that I couldn't answer.

The first question:
"It seems as though a lot of students are getting jobs and internships from off-campus sources than on. Is this true?"

From statistics of the Class of 2011 (2012 is soon to be published in a new website format), about 70% of fulltime offers were from campus-based sources. They include Career Fairs as part of campus recruiting. I fall under the 30% who got my internship (and potentially my full time job) off-campus from my own networking - but, as I have said before - the CoC has been very helpful with my own recruiting efforts.

For students who are looking for more traditional MBA career paths, like banking, corporate finance, consulting and some marketing positions, there is a fair amount of on-campus recruiting. Consulting is huge here - all the big firms (except BCG, although I think that has just changed) come on campus.
Similarly, firms who have structured MBA programs also tend to recruit more on-campus than those who don't. It's probably too expensive to fly around the country to hold interviews for one position where an MBA would be helpful to have, as a lot of the job postings I'm looking at are.

But we were just told recently that our class of 2013 currently is beating the class of 2012 in terms of number of people with full-time offers. No-one in our class didn't get an internship who wanted an internship, so that was also heartening news. Turns out the class of 2014 is also being very proactive with their internship searches.

The final line here is to say that, yes, our CoC facilitates a lot of on-campus recruiting efforts. They're also very helpful for off-campus recruiting initiated by the student. But, there should never be an expectation that the CoC is there to find a job for you.

The second question: 
"What is the value of Carnegie Mellon's MBA degree outside of the US?"

I spent some time chatting to people, which lead to some interesting conclusions. It turns out it's the Carnegie Mellon brand that holds the sway, not the Tepper name. Especially in China and India, Carnegie Mellon has a reputation for being highly innovative and technical.

The Economist has Tepper ranked as No. 17 internationally for B-schools.

Otherwise, I cannot answer this question. Does anyone have feedback for this?