Author: Guest Blogger


About Guest Blogger

From time to time we have professors, students, staff, alumni, or friends who are not regular contributors, but want to share something with the community. Be sure to look at the bottom of the post to see the author.

Brinda Gupta, MBA ’20, wrote this post for the Olin Blog.

Brinda Gupta (left) and Jessica Sanchez at a Google event at The Consortium's OP.

Brinda Gupta (left) and Jessica Sanchez at a
Google event at The Consortium’s OP.

I traveled to Orlando, Florida, from June 9-13 for The Consortium’s annual Orientation Program & Career Forum with a team including Olin classmates and staff. Founded in 1966, The Consortium is an organization promoting diverse representation in the business community.

The entire week was packed with events from the moment I landed in Orlando. Olin staff and second-year Olin Consortium fellows were committed to our success throughout the process.

I had several opportunities in group and individual settings to practice interviewing and learn more about companies that align with my interests. It was exciting to see how fellows had different career goals but all sought a workplace that values diversity and inclusion.

In addition to meeting several potential employers, I left OP with strong friendships with Consortium fellows across the country and a great excitement to start my MBA program in the fall at Washington University’s Olin Business School, a founding partner of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.

The Consortium’s Orientation Program (fondly known as “OP”) is one of the hallmarks of the fellowship. Before starting our respective MBA programs, Consortium fellows from all 19 member schools come together for one week to network with each other, learn more about the business sector, and explore future learning opportunities.

One of my favorite sessions at OP was an ethics workshop with Accenture where we were presented with different scenarios and had to justify our decisions. For example, would you promote an individual to a C-suite position if you overheard a conversation where he mentioned taking unprescribed medicine to enhance his performance at work?

I also attended “career track” sessions where I learned more about consulting and general management. It was here that I worked on my first case study with representatives from Bain!

A unique aspect of OP was that I could really learn about companies I was interested in. I attended breakfasts and dinners where I could speak to recruiters and senior executives one-on-one. The final day of OP culminated in private interviews for summer internships – several of which led to offers, which was incredibly humbling.

As much as OP prepared me for career development, it also molded my character development. Throughout the week we were reminded of the importance of working hard, staying humble, and being open to opportunities we might not have considered otherwise. I am looking forward to bringing these lessons to the Olin classroom this fall and building upon everything I learned at OP.

Pictured above: WashU MBA students Brinda Gupta (left) and Jessica Sanchez at The Consortium’s Orientation Program in Orlando.

Cheese fondue with friends from the IFE program at Le Refuge des Fondus.

Danni Yang, who is working on a second major at Olin as a BA candidate in economics and healthcare management, wrote this post after participating in the Paris Internship Program in spring 2018. The program entails academic coursework, an intense research paper in French, and an internship  abroad.

Paris is a city that I have a love-hate relationship with. You go in thinking the famed city of lights will be your Midnight in Paris, your Paris, je t’aime, a city of elegance and sophistication, wine and cheese, all set under the twinkling stars of the Tour Eiffel at night.

My first week in Paris, the weather was miserable.

A record windstorm almost prevented my plane from landing. It rained steadily throughout the week and the sun showed no signs of ever coming back out again. The gray fog that perpetually covered the Paris skyline resembled the famed gloomy London weather, but no one ever talks about how the same is true for Paris.

It would only be the harbinger for the record snowfall that would shut down the city in the following months, as public transit ground to a halt and cars were stuck outside city bounds in standstill, L.A.-worthy traffic jams.

To top this all off, my phone was stolen at the end of my first week coming out of the Père Lachaise metro station escalator. Combined with getting to wait two hours to file a police report, having to give my account of the incident completely in French and fighting with my French cell phone provider on the international calls made using my stolen SIM card, I can confidently advise that it would be a good idea to bring a back-up phone with you when you study abroad, just in case.

But things get better

People say French people are unfriendly, and I can definitely see where they’re coming from. Restaurant waiters bring hands-off service to a whole new level, leading to several ironic occasions of having to chase them down just to pay the bill.

There’s no concept of personal space on the metro and people in general have permanent RBF. The smell of cigarette smoke is omnipresent and the streets are littered with cigarette butts and dog excrement. (At this point, I am 99% sure that this is the reason why most Parisians walk with their heads down, alert for the next unwelcome morceau de merde.)

I’m not sure really at what point things began to change, when being a tourist diverged from being someone who truly lives within another culture. Perhaps it’s the first time someone asks you for directions on navigating the Paris metro during your morning commute, the first time you can successfully order at a resto or even the first time you find yourself giving a dirty look to the loud American tourists on the public transit—realizing that was you once upon a time.

I love the small, family-owned storefronts in Paris, the tiny boutiques with their carefully customized storefronts, the neighborhood boulangeries that have a daily selection of freshly baked breads and pastries. I love the rich culture of Paris; with the student discount, going to art museums and pretending to be cultured for the perfect Insta post won’t break the bank.

Beyond the big-name museums like the Georges Pompidou, the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie, there are countless smaller museums you can explore in your free time. There’s always something to do or somewhere to go.

Foodies and friends

Most of all, I love the culture of food in Paris. The stereotype of French people having three-hour dinners is mostly true. While most people won’t eat for three hours in daily life, many Parisians can be found smoking and enjoying a glass of wine on the café terraces every day of the week like clockwork after work ends.

Mealtime is so important, in fact, that being on your phone while eating is considered extremely rude. Lunch and dinner are especially important times to talk and develop a sense of community with your school or work colleagues and family members. I 100 percent believe that I made some of my closest friends abroad through conversations over a meal or a coffee break.

What I guess I’m trying to say is that ultimately, Paris isn’t a city that’s easy to fall in love with (or, at least, it wasn’t easy for me). It’s a big, urban center and it’s smoke-filled, a little dirty on the edges and cold on the outside, but in the end, I can honestly say that without a doubt, I loved my study abroad experience.

I met so many new people—French, American or otherwise—whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I traveled to so many countries with rich cultures that span centuries and saw the monuments behind the history books you read throughout high school.

Most of all, I learned to love a city that was not part of an English-speaking country. It’s hard to live day-to-day and work full-time in a country that speaks a language that isn’t the one you grow up speaking. You begin to feel like your intelligence has been reduced to the limits of your foreign vocabulary. But being pushed out of my comfort zone forced me to grow beyond them and any Anglo-centric preconceptions I may have had before.

Paris is a city I had to grow to know and love, and ultimately, that’s what caused me to grow both personally and professionally. It’s true that my experience studying abroad in Paris wasn’t filled with the polished, movie-screen glitz and glamour we expect after watching all those classic Hollywood movies, but la vie en rose and the rose-tinted glasses aside? Throughout these past five months, I’ve found Paris does still have its little magical moments in the end after all.

It’s just up to you to find them.

Pictured at top: Cheese fondue with friends from the IFE program at Le Refuge des Fondus. Danni Yang at right.

Shannon Saffer, BSBA ’19, participated in the Asia Pacific Internship Program, in which students spend six weeks studying in Sydney, Australia, and participating in a one-week study tour to Japan with company visits. The program concludes with an internship in either Hong Kong, Singapore, or Sydney. Shannon interned at Jimmy Choo in Hong Kong.

It seems strange now to look back and reflect on my time abroad. When I signed up for
the Asia Pacific program, I was simply hoping for a chance to see the world. What I never expected was how much personal growth I would accomplish in the process. Before going abroad, I really had no clue what I wanted to do for my professional career.

I had no set plans or life goals, I just knew that if I was patient enough, I would either figure it all out or let everything work itself out on its own. I chose an internship in retail because it was an industry that interested me and it seemed like a great way to see what the industry was actually like.

I mentioned in my expectations paper that I wanted to see if retail was the industry for me, and ultimately I have decided that while I love the industry, I want to use what I have learned and shift to the tech industry.

One of my most interesting projects at Jimmy Choo was to analyze Korea’s e-commerce space and how luxury competitors are performing in this newer market.

The tech connection to retail

This project helped me understand that what interests me most in retail is how technology is shaping the industry. Ultimately this understanding has allowed me to gain insight into my future goals and career aspirations.

Within the next year, I hope to have moved to San Francisco. I will either work at a tech company, or I will use my retail background to work for a retail company in the area with the hopes of networking my way into the tech industry in some form. I already have two companies in mind and have spoken with the recruiters.

I have already had to articulate my international experience to future employers and typically I have focused on two things: my newfound love for personal challenges and the strengthening of my ability to multitask and prioritize projects. Being abroad has allowed me to become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

I have described how I chose to go to Asia for my abroad program because I knew that the cultures were so different to what I have known. I knew I was going to be challenged and I would become a better person for it. I found this to be true and now I love challenges as they are a great opportunity for personal growth. In a professional setting, this means taking on new, bigger projects and effectively problem solving in unique ways.

Practical introduction to multitasking, prioritizing

My work at Jimmy Choo specifically taught me how to effectively multitask and prioritize my projects accordingly. My days were stuffed with projects and tasks, which forced me to look at the task and determine what was needed immediately, what could wait and, if it could wait, for how long. This intense multitasking also demanded strict organizational skills.

I have never had a problem staying organized as I tend to be meticulous, however, with the running back and forth and constant unloading of tasks, I had to get creative and find ways to remain efficient and still ensure the tasks were correct and on time.

I also previously mentioned my desire to better understand the cultural differences within the workplace. What I had overestimated was how present these differences would actually be. What I found was that my office was pretty similar to the United States but, of course, there were some differences.

The largest regarded communication styles. My teams used email and Whatsapp, and I found emails were very formal and used a lot of “kindly” and “please.” On the other hand, Whatsapp was treated just like texting and much more casual. I don’t feel I got particularly close with my team, however, I was definitely friendly.

I think this is because I sat at a different desk area so that I wasn’t always communicating with my team in a way that went beyond our day-to-day work. While this was unfortunate, I was able to build a foundation of friendship based on the few personal conversations we shared along the way, which was reflected in their responses to my thank you messages.

Ultimately, I absolutely loved my internship and appreciate how lucky I was to have the opportunity to work for Jimmy Choo. I worked on awesome projects and got to attend special events.

I got an inside look at the industry and have even learned how international companies like Jimmy Choo function and collaborate across offices around the world.

While I know not everyone in the program ended up with an internship they were passionate about, I have returned home happy with the knowledge that I am forever changed by my experience.

Two of the Olin students on the team had the opportunity to test the XBody devices from a Budapest-based company.

Ariel Washington, MBA ’19, wrote this post on behalf of her teammates on the Venture Advising course trip to Budapest.

Olin Business School students Ankit Kumar, Gauri Pitke, Adam Tappella, and Ariel Washington—all MBA ’19—traveled to Budapest, Hungary, to participate in a week of cultural tourism and strategy consulting through the school’s Venture Advising course. The students were paired with local company XBody on the company’s newest foray into the North American market.

XBody is a health and fitness company that manufactures and sells full-body electric muscle stimulation suit systems. The company boasts increased physical fitness and muscle development from just two 20-minute workouts per week.

The company offers a wired suit and console that up to three people can use simultaneously (with add-on equipment) and a wireless unit that up to six people at a time can use. Two of the Olin students on the team had the opportunity to test the devices (pictured above) and were quickly convinced of the product’s effectiveness during their short 12-minute demo.

Working under the direction of Krisztián Orbán, founder of private equity firm Oriens, the XBody team has begun to outline a plan for XBody to enter the US fitness realm. The students traveled to the company headquarters in Gyor, Hungary, and met with founders Balazs Fuzessy and Csaba Nyers to learn about the past, present, and future of XBody.

The company manages the production process from start to finish, as well as sales and marketing of its two product lines—all on site.

The students will continue to develop a full recommendation for XBody over the next six weeks, which will culminate in a written proposal and presentation. Two members of the team, Gauri Pitke and Ariel Washington, have been invited back to Hungary in August to work on site with XBody’s management in putting their recommendations into action.

In addition to working on their client project, these students explored the city of Budapest with the help of three Oriens colleagues who served as project advisors an city guides. They visited the Terror Museum, cruised down the Danube River, took a walking tour of Budapest City, saw the historic Hungarian Parliament building, and cooked a three-course traditional Hungarian meal.

Overall, this group of Olin students spent the week honing their problem-formulation skills, learning about the nuances of doing business in eastern Europe, and experiencing all of the rich culture and unique experiences the city of Budapest has to offer.

Relive some of the sights and sounds from the Olin Veterans Association Dining Out event on March 29, 2018, with this quick video summary. Here are a few details about the event from our earlier blog post about it, written by Sontaya Sherrell, MBA ’18, and an Olin veteran herself.

Among the traditional rituals at the Dining Out, guests were invited to answer for violations of the written rules of the evening by paying a fine—all of which supports the Olin Veterans Scholarship Fund—or having a drink from the dreaded “grog bowl,” which features a hodgepodge of questionable ingredients mixed into one punch.

A few of the lighthearted rules guests could potentially be punished for include wearing a clip-on bow tie at an obvious angle, using excessive military slang or jargon, or wearing clip-on suspenders.

Guests were expected to adhere to an honor system in recognizing their own infractions or could be reported for an infraction by another attendee. Balancing out these more amusing aspects of the event were more solemn traditions, one of which included the recognition of those who could not be with us that evening.

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