A sneak peek into the beginning of this year’s GIE courses

Wondering how this year’s GIE courses are going? Here’s a glimpse into what some of students have been up to so far on a few of the trips:

During the IMEA (India, the Middle East, and Africa) course, students visited Churchgate Railway Station in Mumbai, India. Each dabbawala, regardless of role, is paid around 8,000 rupees per month (about US$131). Between 175,000 and 200,000 lunch boxes are moved each day by 4,500 to 5,000 dabbawalas. It is frequently claimed that dabbawalas make less than one mistake in every six million deliveries.

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They then traveled to Bangalore, where they went on a company visit to Infosys.

infosys

For the Latin America course, students have seen one of the greatest engineering wonders in the world, the Panana Canal, up close and personal.

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And did a city tour around the colonial district of Bogota, Columbia, trying some food stands along the way.

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The Southeast Asia course so far has taken students to Singapore…

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and Yangon, Burma, where they’ve visited the Shwedagon Pagoda (below).

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In East Asia, students have been to Tokyo, Japan, and then Beijing, China, where they visited the Great Wall of China.

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More to come soon! Wondering where the students are off to next? Check out the details for each of the five courses here.

Alumni Spotlight: Romain Loeuillet

25d336eRecently, I had the pleasure of speaking over the phone with Romain Loeuillet, a French M.S. in Commerce Marketing & Management alum who graduated from the program in 2010. Romain, who called from Paris, generously gave more than an hour of his evening to reminisce about his time at McIntire and explain the significance of his time in Charlottesville.

Before studying at the Comm School, Romain had a highly theoretical academic background in economics. Although he loved his time at the esteemed Sciences Po, he admitted that sometimes studying pure economic theory frustrated him. He sought a more heuristic educational experience that would allow him to apply the many abstract principles he had already learned to lessons in a business context. He explained, “I wanted to take my academical knowledge to a more practical, skill-oriented program.” The M.S. in Commerce Program allowed him to do just that.

Not only did Romain find value in combining the academic lessons of two different programs, but he also expressed that he greatly benefitted from an American educational experience that exposed him to a new culture of learning. Though maintaining that no one curricular method outshone the other, Romain explained that at French universities, the student-teacher relationship is much more formalized than what he found at McIntire. Essentially, French professors walk into the classroom, deliver lectures, and then walk out. French students walk into the classroom, listen to lectures, and then walk out. There is not a fraction of the dialogue that university students find in American classrooms, let alone in McIntire classrooms, where class participation in the form of discussion is roughly 30% of each class grade. Romain found himself so happily surprised by this American model of learning that he returned to McIntire for a second educational experience. (The M.S. in Commerce Program was actually his second experience in McIntire! He studied at McIntire for his entire third year as an exchange student.) Romain took care to explain that it was not only the faculty but also the Graduate Programs Office staff and the Commerce Career Services staff whose obvious and genuine dedication to the success of the students shone each day.

Eight M.S. in Commerce students were selected as the first-ever recipients of the O’Connell Global Immersion Awards: Zach Anderson, Jay Farris, Amy Lee, Romain Loeuillet, Ayisha Memon, Jamie Nemeroff, Melissa Tacey, and Adam White
Eight M.S. in Commerce students were selected as the first-ever recipients of the O’Connell Global Immersion Awards: Zach Anderson, Jay Farris, Amy Lee, Romain Loeuillet, Ayisha Memon, Jamie Nemeroff, Melissa Tacey, and Adam White

Romain named McIntire Professors Ira Harris and Peter Maillet as some of those favorite, most engaging professors who encouraged students to discuss with each other both the current state of and the future of business strategy in a global context. Romain applies the lessons he learned from those inter-student and -professor academic exchanges in classes such as Project Management and IT to this day. The interactions, he explained, set the tone for the nature of his professional career and continue to guide him as Chief of Staff for the CEO of Carrefour’s Hypermarkets division. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with the global corporation Carrefour, Romain explains, “Walmart is #1. Carrefour is #2.”)

When I asked Romain to identify the most valuable skill he gained from his time in the M.S. in Commerce Program, he could not help but rattle off a list of lessons he learned in marketing, strategy, project management, and finance. He made sure to clarify that the classroom discussions not only helped him learn experientially but also helped him learn English! He had bravely come to America with very limited English language abilities.

Some of the greatest practical tests of his English came during presentation time. As all M.S. in Commerce students—especially Marketing & Management students—know, this program emphasizes making presentations in order to prepare students for the professional business environment, which frequently requires them. As Romain put it, “The program was so great because it taught us how to grow as professionals. It was a time to be a professional before working.” I wholeheartedly agree with Romain; the M.S. in Commerce faculty has designed every element of the curriculum—including frequent presentations in front of respected peers, esteemed professors, and actual corporate executives—to simulate a professional environment. The value of that educational framework proves itself in the success that follows M.S. in Commerce graduates throughout their careers.

As soon as Romain and I began discussing his Global Immersion Experience (GIE), he laughingly prefaced that every day in Charlottesville was a global immersion experience for a young French man such as he! As for his GIE travels in May and June, Romain chose the East Asia track, visiting Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. That trip to China, in addition to his time in America, provided him invaluable lessons about interacting in a global environment. With a career in such a wide-reaching international organization as Carrefour, Romain harks back to those initial lessons in global commerce each day.

One cultural memory that stands out in particular to Romain was the day McIntire Marketing Professor Trey Maxham took Romain and his classmates to the garment and fabric district in Shanghai, during their travels in China. Professor Maxham had visited a tailor in the district and shared the experience of having a custom suit made with the traveling students. Romain remembers this day fondly as such a treat—choosing which fabrics to use, making sure the measurements were just right, the excitement of having his first custom professional outfit. He added that the experience provided him with one of his first experiences in international negotiations—a skill that he would go on to practice frequently during his career with Carrefour. Since that trip, Romain excitedly told me, he has had the privilege of returning to Shanghai twice. And he has faithfully returned to the very same tailor for new suits both times, once with his brother and once with coworkers. The tailor, he laughed, remembered him as “the French boy who wanted the measurements to be a little more tailored than the looser suits the Americans wanted.”

Although Romain knew he wanted to work in an international context, he admitted that it was hard to find work on a visa during his first year after the program. He stayed in the D.C. area for a year, working as a Project Manager for the French corporation Veolia Transportation, which owns the American subsidiary Super Shuttle. He described the work as immensely educational: “It was very much ‘on the ground.’ I had to work with my team every day to figure out how to best improve our processes.” The teamwork-heavy curriculum in the M.S. in Commerce Program was certainly worth its weight in gold that year for Romain.

Romain became Chief of Staff after spending three years in Carrefour’s graduate rotational program. He spent his first six-month rotation in sourcing and went on to work a rotation in Spain with Carrefour’s private label before moving back to Paris to work multiple rotations in a directorial function for Carrefour’s supermarkets and hypermarkets. Romain’s management studies in the M.S. in Commerce Program provided the foundation for his incredible growth as a director. Romain’s immediate supervisor, CEO of Carrefour’s hypermarket division, is responsible for 230 stores and over 65,000 employees. That unbelievable daily accountability is something that motivates Romain to always perform at his highest capacity. Not only is Romain driven by his responsibilities to the company, but he also draws daily inspiration from simply observing all those thousands of employees. “You might think this is boring,” he divulged, “but I really just love people watching.” In a job with such scope, it is clearly this attention to detail that has allowed Romain to so thoughtfully apply all the lessons he learned at McIntire to his career.

To those students looking for international careers, Romain encourages you to start your research now. “Make sure you know what kind of life you want,” he urges. Do you want the intense life of an investment banker? The dynamic life of an entrepreneur? To discover the lifestyle that attracts you most, reflect on not only the role you want, but also the industry, culture, and company culture you want. “Consider it all,” he advises, “because all of it comes with that job. But start with the country. You can be anything anywhere, so it’s important to get the regional culture right first and go from there.”

No matter how many different places his career takes him, however, Romain will always cherish his days in Charlottesville as some of the best. It was so clear from our conversation how grateful Romain is for every moment of his time at UVA. He remembers playing as much soccer as he could and making sure he ventured from the Corner to explore the Downtown Mall. As soon as I asked him about some of his favorite spots, he happily listed Bodo’s as his favorite spot on weekend mornings, Lemongrass “every lunchtime,” Himalayan Fusion as the best Downtown dinner, and “Christian’s Pizza late on Saturday night.”
“I have to come back,” Romain said. “I really, really have to come back, and I bet they’ll love that—the French guy admitting that he misses the restaurants in America!”

-Written by Logan Steele

Jump-Start Your Career With MSC

Here is some advice for prospective and incoming M.S. in Commerce (MSC) students: it’s never too early to plan ahead with Commerce Career Services (CCS). This past April, CCS held an information session on recruiting at McIntire and hosted a panel of current MSC students who shared their personal career-search experiences. If you didn’t attend the event, below is the transcript of the student panel Q&A.

The student panel was made up of:

  • Michael Miller – Engineering Major, Finance Track
  • Graham Kirby – German & History Major, Marketing & Management Track
  • Alexandra Lopez – Economics Major, Finance Track
  • Andie McPartland – Biomedical Engineering Major, Marketing & Management Track
  • Quinn Simpson  – Politics & International Affairs Major, Business Analytics Track
  • Manqiao Liu (Mandy) – Economics Major, Business Analytics Track

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What were your best practices?

Alex: Interviewing over and over again was the best practice. I was applying to a lot of jobs, even some who weren’t my dream jobs. But I interviewed to get them under my belt. I also found the mock interviews helpful too.

Was it a struggle to juggle everything?

Alex: The fall is very busy. You’re juggling a lot. It’s definitely doable and everyone is in the same boat.

Andie: It was helpful to have a lot of people look at my resume. Something that I had at the very bottom of my resume, I thought didn’t matter much, but someone told me to highlight it instead.

Quinn: I actually met with CCS the summer before the program started. That was really helpful to have met everyone early and be familiar with the CCS office.

What was the finance recruiting cycle like? Were you prepared considering you hadn’t taken your finance classes?

Michael: Get started before you think you should. There are so many resources online. For investment banking, there’s information you need to know and interviews don’t really deviate. So you can do all of your research online ahead of time. It will put you at a much greater advantage by the time you start to interview.

What were your go-to sites?

Michael: The Vault has a lot of great info, maybe too much. Wallstreetoasis.com. You can’t underestimate how important it is to know what is going on in the news. You need to know current events and the latest business news.

How do you manage the schedule?

Graham: Know your calendar inside and out. You need to schedule your time, maybe down to the minute. And there’s a lot of group work so you have other people depending on you.

Andie: I found every single job that looked remotely interesting and put it on my calendar, so that kept me on track and on time to apply to those jobs that I actually was interested in.

Mandy: It’s not easy to balance everything so start this summer. We receive emails before class starts. Get those books and read them ahead of time.

Alex: The calendar in the fall is very different day-to-day. Use your breaks between classes to catch up on work.

Andie: If you are interested in consulting, start looking at case interviews. Start practicing now. It’s not about knowing formula but understanding a framework. Get a practice partner.

What’s are some examples of case interview?

Quinn: I remember one that was about a city planning problem and revamping a transportation system. You had to determine how much money you wanted to spend and then allot it as you deemed appropriate. It’s not about getting the fastest or the “right” answer, but about how you get to your answer, the process.

Alex: For Capital One, I had a case interview about a ski lodge and whether they should acquire the property next door. I had to do a cost-benefit analysis.

Would you recommend applying to a ton of companies or a few?

Graham: I would pick a few to prepare really well for. Maybe 6-8 instead of 30.

Mandy: My situation is different because I’m an international student. So I applied to about 30-40 jobs and got about 12 interviews. That was my strategy. I only applied to analytics jobs and I had two tiers.

CCS: We can help you too, counsel you on your specific situation.

Was anyone not sure what they wanted to do and then applied to a lot of jobs?

Michael: I came in preparing for 80% finance and then 20% consulting. That was dumb and a waste of time because I wasn’t interested in consulting. If you don’t’ want to do it, they can tell. If you look at 20 different banks and five are in locations you’re not excited about, then don’t apply to them.

CCS: I want to remind everyone that there are a lot of students in the program still seeking. Some haven’t found the right fit or haven’t gotten that offer.

Alex: I came into this program not knowing what I wanted to do, so I was all over the board. Consulting, private equity and wealth management. I interviewed and them learned about the day to day with the firms. That’s when I figured out those wasn’t for me.

How does your track play into your career destination?

Graham: I came into the Marketing and Management track which is the more general of the three tracks. It doesn’t limit you—I have two classmates who are interviewing with wealth management. Reading job descriptions online I figured out I wanted to do a rotation program and get my hands on a lot of different areas. The second thing for me I didn’t want a desk job. I want to move around a lot and that’s the job that I got.

Quinn: The Business Analytics  track is unique because it was the first year. We didn’t have a good idea of what to expect. We only had one track-specific class in the fall. I knew what that I liked working with data, but when interviewing couldn’t’ really talk about data analytics. I recommend going to the professors ahead of time and learning more about the technical side and language.

Mandy: I really enjoyed the first semester learning the business concepts and the spring semester learning the technical tools. At the end, I can say this program really taught me both the hard and soft skills.

CCS: Networking is so important and start now. Keep a track of it in a google doc or spreadsheet.

Are there any other useful tools, platforms or resources?

Andie: One thing I found challenging is keeping track of conversations I had with alumni during networking sessions or coffee chats. My trick was to get their business card and take a moment after the conversation jotting down notes on the back to remind me. I then elaborated further in my spreadsheet at home.

Graham: There’s a career fair in the fall and that’s where I met the recruiter at Aldi and how I got my foot in the door for an interview. That resource is huge. Talking to recruiters is so helpful to learn more about the company. Take notes.

Alex: It’s helpful to add names of people in the company you met at a career fair or event, especially a UVA alum. Include their name in the cover letter.

Mandy: The BA symposium, guest speakers and faculty are also great resources. I met someone at the symposium, followed up with him, and he ended up being my interviewer. One day, a guest speaker from Coca-Cola came and spoke to the class, said they were hiring someone who could speak Japanese for their Tokyo office. One of our classmates spoke Japanese and she interviewed, and got the job two weeks later.

Graham: Professors are huge throughout the process. They offer great advice along the way, even after receiving a job offer.

Are there any teaching assistantships available?

Alex: Michael and I are both TAs for COMM 2010 and work 15-20 hours per week and on your own time, mostly on your computer. Before you arrive in July, job positions are posted through CavLink. It’s a decision you need to make because it is a time commitment, especially in the fall.

Networking can be done really well and really poorly. What are best practices or what to avoid?

Michael: I’m a huge proponent of informational interviews. I think they are the most useful networking strategy. I would go on LinkedIn and find these people. Quick message “Hello, my name is Michael and I’m a UVA student studying finance. I was wondering if you could talk with me for a few minutes about your firm.” Make sure to ask them if they can connect you to someone else in the firm. They will and it keeps the dialogue going.

Graham: Get them to connect you with other people – always end with, “Is there anyone else I should talk to?”

Alex: Send a follow-up email thanking them for their time.

Mandy: I remember who I talked to at the company. Then when I go to the company in person, I mention that I talked to Mary or John beforehand. It shows motivation.

Quinn: Reach out to your friends who went out to work. They’ll give you an unbiased report of what they’re doing. Alumni one or two years out too are so helpful.

Michael: Remember the recruiters are people too! Be yourself. Be natural and comfortable. Don’t be awkward.

Andie: Give them a time when asking for an informational interview. “Can we talk for 15 minutes?” They’re more likely to accept. Is this still a good time to talk? And then keep to the 15 minutes.

Thank you to CCS and to the students who participated in the panel! If you are a prospective or incoming student and have any follow-up questions, feel free to reach out to Kelsey Stone, Assistant Director of Graduate Marketing and Recruiting.

Alumni Profile: Robert Babbage

The post below is from McIntire alumni blog: Life After McIntire

Robert Babbage (M.S. in Commerce ’10) is a Co-Founder and the CFO of Taihu Brewing, a producer, distributor and retailer of craft beer in Taiwan.
What made you decide to start your own business and how did you come up with the idea?

My partner and I worked for banks in New York before moving to Asia to start a private investment firm. We are predominantly contrarian investors with a focus on private opportunities where we can hopefully have some degree of direct influence or control. As we traveled across Asia examining these opportunities we typically drank craft beer. What we found was frequently overpriced, old, and not treated properly. We love craft beer, and we thought it should be done better in Asia. That experience is the genesis of Taihu Brewing.

In 2014 we made a decision to focus more on proprietary investments (so much smaller) and spend more time examining opportunities in Taiwan. Taiwan is a contrarian’s dream. It has been largely neglected by the investment community in favor of China the past twenty years. The culture, people, business environment, and rule of law are phenomenal. Taiwan has a rich legacy of highly skilled manufacturing, a highly educated workforce, and great living standards. Finally, we believe Taiwan is the most logical place to launch and test a concept before entering China (and exponentially increasing complexity and risk).

When we moved to Taiwan we were running into the beer issues we had experienced in the past and we were incredibly fortunate to meet a couple of like-minded people who eventually became our co-founders. We still invest inside and outside of Taiwan, but Taihu Brewing takes up the majority of our time.

So what is Taihu Brewing? We’re a vertically integrated craft beer company. We brew (one existing brewery and currently building another, much larger, facility), we import and distribute (fifteen brands from the United States and one from Japan), and we have retail locations. We are launching distribution and retail in China later this year. Our team has just over forty people, and we’ll likely have about eighty by the end of 2016.

How do you think about building your business and scaling it?

We have a very long-term view. Our ultimate goal is build the best beer company in Taiwan and to have some effect on how beer tastes in Asia. Our daily way of addressing this goal is to put quality above all else.

What is one piece of advice that you would give commerce students and other alumni?

Students: paraphrasing Twain, try not let schooling interfere with your education (too much).
Alumni: Read voraciously, surround yourself with people you respect and admire, constantly test your boundaries, and stay in good shape.

Is there anything else you want to share about your company or your experience?

Let me know when you’re in Taiwan and want to meet up for a beer!

The co-founders
The co-founders
Tax season
Tax season

Taihu Brewing Website

 

 

Business Analytics Students Get a Taste of the Real World With Hands-On Projects

There are a lot of group projects involved in the M.S. in Commerce Program, regardless of the track you are in. Being a Spanish major as an undergrad, I wasn’t used to working in groups; my workload back then was more along the lines of reading a book and analyzing it in an essay. That being said, learning to work in a team is by far one of the most important skills I’ve honed in these past few months and a topic that’s come up in every interview I’ve had. So without further ado, I’m going to talk about some of the projects Business Analytics (BA) students have been busy working on this semester in some of the classes that we took:

Advanced Quantitative Analysis: One major project this semester in this class was analyzing data from Hilton Worldwide, that’s right, the major hotel chain. We were given some of the company’s real data and were in charge of cleaning it up and getting it ready for analysis—changing variables, combining variables, you name it. Then comes the fun part—we were on our own to run any sort of tests we wanted, in SPSS, SAS or R, in order to glean valuable insights. We conducted a variety of tests such as one-way ANOVAs, linear regressions, clustering, and principal component analyses. After we found some interesting trends, we were in charge of creating tangible and actionable recommendations to present. We compiled everything in a slide deck, which was easy, given the variety of beautiful properties Hilton owns to use as backgrounds, and all the groups presented to Richard Netemeyer, Ralph A. Beeton Professor of Free Enterprise, and Doctor Dobolyi, post doc at McIntire Center for Business Analytics. Then, the eight slide decks prepared by the groups were sent to Hilton representatives, who chose the four they wanted to see presented. Finally, the four winning groups presented their analysis, findings, and recommendations to the VP of Human Resources and the VP of Total Rewards and HR Analytics, to name a few.

Digital Analytics: The first project in this class is social media-related. Falling in line with one of the big trends in data, we analyzed Twitter accounts and tweets. Each group picked a handful of accounts, the company they wanted to focus on, as well as a few competitors and then keywords related to those accounts. For example, one group analyzed Chipotle, Qdoba, and California Tortilla using keywords like “chipotle” and “burrito.” Then after collecting tweets for about a month, we used Tableau to analyze the tweets using graphs and created our own dashboards, which were used to visually support all of our findings. Then we developed specific recommendations to improve the companies’ social media presence, targeting metrics like engagement, impressions, and influencers. Finally, all the groups presented to the class and Professor Kitchens, who then voted for one group to present to the board of directors of the McIntire Center for Business Analytics at the Analytics Spring Symposium Friday, April 29.

Team Hotels celebrates the end of their Paid Search project but is preparing to present at the Analytics Symposium on Friday, 4/29/16
Team Hotels celebrates the end of their Paid Search project but is preparing to present at the Analytics Symposium on Friday, 4/29/16

The second project we’ve been working on in Digital Analytics is basically a real-life consulting project. Each group was partnered with one of three local businesses—Lumi Juice, Mudhouse Coffee, or King Family Vineyards—and given an issue to address such as online sales, wedding events, or driving online subscriptions (my group was assigned brand and tastings for King Family). We met with our clients to learn about their background and how the business works and then wrote a report outlining their value proposition, target consumer audience, and revenue sources. Then came the part where we got our hands dirty; we initially analyzed the website traffic and user demographics through Google Analytics after being given access to the company’s website. After determining which pages received the most web traffic, users’ geographic location and demographic information, and whether they used a desktop computer or mobile phone, we prepared our second presentation. This presentation included trends and recommendations for how to improve the website and drive traffic.

Finally, with a budget of $100 provided by the Center for Business Analytics, we all ran paid search advertisements using Google AdWords (you know, those ads that pop up on the top of the page after you search for something). We mocked up what we wanted the ad copies to look like, including links and descriptions; bid on the different keywords we thought users would be searching; and at the end of the week, analyzed the campaign using metrics like impressions, conversions, and CTR and CPC (click-through rate and cost per click). In the end, each group presented the outcome of their campaign to their clients (this included actual revenue that we generated through wine club and juice memberships for my group). It was great to see the actual value we could drive for businesses, and it’s pretty cool to see all of the changes we made to the websites come to life, such as adding new tabs or rearranging pictures.

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BA students and Professor Kitchens, our Digital Analytics professor, celebrate our final presentation
BA students and Professor Kitchens, our Digital Analytics professor, celebrate our final presentation

Customer Analytics: March was a crazy month, and not just because we were trying to get reacquainted with school after spring break. As many sports fans know, the month was consumed by March Madness and college basketball teams competing for their chance to advance in the big dance. In our customer analytics class, each group was given a March Madness region to focus on—South, East, West, and Midwest—and all the 16 teams that competed in that region. We utilized Klear, a social intelligence platform that both the Marketing & Management and BA Tracks used this semester, to monitor the social media accounts of all the teams. We input their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, and Klear collected the data related to posts, content, demographics, and new fans generated throughout the tournament. Each group then analyzed all the data to find out best social media practices for athletics departments in relation to March Madness. Some groups even ran regressions to find out how many new fans a team gained on social media for every round they advanced in the tournament. We found out which types of posts got the most engagement from fans (usually content that shows the players as real people), that Instagram is the best platform to leverage, and that the bigger teams weren’t always the best performing.

One of  the reasons I have liked Business Analytics so much throughout this year is being able to see the value in the projects we’ve been doing. We’re generating real revenue for companies and they are actually taking our recommendations to heart, which is something that you’re not used to as a 20-something. We’ve had the opportunity to present to business owners, vice presidents of major companies, and C-level executives, and the confidence and sense of accomplishment are tremendous. I feel as though I’ve gotten a real look into the types of projects I’ll be faced with in the future, and I know that I am ready for whatever comes next!

-Written by Jordan Smith

Alumna Profile: Lisa Lundegard

Lundegard_HeadShotWe’re excited to share the story of Lisa Lundegard in our second alumni spotlight blog post! Lisa graduated from the M.S. in Commerce (MSC) Program only three years ago, in 2013, and already has an extremely impressive job as an IT consultant in London. I really enjoyed interviewing Lisa, and it was exciting to learn how the MSC Program fit perfectly with her undergraduate experience and international career aspirations.

What led you to the M.S. in Commerce Program?

McIntire was my stepping stone into the business world. I’m originally from Sweden, but I moved to the States early on. After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill with a double major in International Studies and French, I considered going into the State Department and began looking for positions in D.C. I quickly realized that I was not eligible for these roles since my American citizenship was still pending, so I began assessing different job options. I wasn’t quite ready to pack my bags and move to Europe to explore the diplomatic track, so I chose to investigate job opportunities in international business. I was so excited to find out about the MSC Program, and it’s what ultimately allowed me to follow my dad’s footsteps and work in international consulting.

Tell me a little more about your job.

I’m currently a BPM Consultant for Appian in London. I work closely with clients to develop business process management software, based on each client’s specific needs and goals. Appian designs, manages and optimizes business processes for both intra-departmental and cross-functional applications. Their customers includes Starbucks, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Aviva Investors, and several federal agencies. Day-to-day, I analyze business requirements and develop applications for our customers.

Did you have an understanding of IT before beginning the job?

Honestly, I had very little technical IT knowledge when I started the job. Most of the learning has taken place through various on the job training and shadowing my team members. However, the MSC Program’s Project Management class did such a great job of giving me the framework to learn day to day. During the class, we were introduced to the importance of business analysis, agile methodology, and communication with customers. This allowed me to hit the ground running on day one at Appian.

Lisa with her team after giving a presentation during the MS in Commerce program
Lisa with her team after giving a presentation during the MS in Commerce program

Where did you go in GIE, and how did this impact your job search?

Exploring London during GIE
Exploring London during GIE

GIE was one of the deciding factors that led me to the MSC Program. Because of my pending dual nationality, I knew I wanted to explore career opportunities that would allow me to travel between the US and Europe. I used GIE as somewhat of a job search, so I was really glad that I was able to go on the Europe track. When I was on GIE, it all became real. I remember when I was walking around London, I just stopped and looked around in awe. At that point, I knew I wanted to live there.

What did your job search look like?

I fully committed to the job search process after GIE, and I began working as an eLearning Business Systems Analyst at VIF International Education. It wasn’t until about six months later that I began working at Appian Corporation as an Associate Consultant. One of the many reasons that I chose to join Appian was that they had multiple global offices. About a year after taking the job, I coincidentally ran into the Vice President of the London office. I told him about my background and experience, and within a few months, I moved to London to join the global team.

Lisa with fellow students in Berlin during GIE
Lisa with fellow students in Berlin during GIE

What advice would you give students considering abroad opportunities?

I think it’s impressive to be able to say that at 25, you took a chance and a company trusted you to go abroad and lead or participate in an international project. Showing that you are culturally diverse and that you can handle change is striking. Honestly, I haven’t found any major drawbacks from moving internationally. It’s important, however, to ask how that move will impact your career long term.

Also, it’s important to remember how incredible the McIntire alumni network is around the world. London has an extremely active alumni network, and it’s so nice to know that there are people you can reach out to, even across the world. I’m actually working with another UVA alum right now, and we’re always talking about UVA together.

What was the most valuable class in the MSC Program?

I found all of the classes valuable. The classes that had the most impact on me were Strategy and Systems, Organizational Behavior, and Storytelling. My favorite class, academically speaking, was Strategy and Systems. I had never been exposed to any of those concepts before, and during that class, I started to fully understand why companies do the things they do.

Organizational Behavior was incredibly useful once I actually got out into the working world. We spoke about real-life scenarios, and the class did an excellent job of capitalizing on our own unique cultural experiences. Each person on the track had such different perspectives, so it was incredibly interesting to discuss the concepts from everyone’s point of view.

Storytelling was great as well. Our first assignment was to figure out how to tell our story in 2-3 minutes. I had never really tried to put together the puzzle pieces of why I wanted to work abroad and with people of different backgrounds. This class and assignment connected these pieces for me. It was also a unique experience to tell something so personal to a group of people I barely knew at that point. It was a great icebreaker and helped our section bond as a group.

What was your favorite part of the program?

Definitely the people. It was incredible to be in a group with like-minded people who wanted the same things as me. I went to college with a lot of the same people I knew growing up, so grad school was the first time I moved by myself to a completely new place, where I knew no one. These people became my best friends, and they’re still my best friends today. We’ve even all managed to keep up since I’ve been abroad. I developed close relationships with many of the staff and professors as well, and I’m so glad that I have been able to keep up with them as well.

Lisa with fellow MSC students during her time in the program.
Lisa with fellow MSC students during her time in the program.

What is your ideal day in Charlottesville?

I spent almost every weekend hiking around the Shenandoah Valley, so my ideal day would be waking up to hike Humpback Rock for the sunrise. Then, I’d spend the rest of the morning at the C’ville farmer’s market with friends to eat crepes and drink coffee.

-Written by Katie Nell

Making an Impact…One Gala at a Time

You know that feeling of satisfaction and relief that you get when you see all of your hard work come together? That’s exactly what Marketing & Management students got to experience on  April 12th when we hosted the first annual Impact Gala.

A little bit of background: You might remember from the Marketing & Management Academic Overview blog that one of our classes this semester is called “Creating Value in B2B Markets.” In this course, we’ve learned about the ways in which we can add value to the organizations we come in contact with throughout our careers. We’ve learned the sales process: from how to build rapport with potential clients, what questions to ask to develop a better understanding of their unique business problems, and the ways in which we can pitch solutions to them in a collaborative manner.

The best part about the course is that we were tasked with applying course concepts in a real-world context. For the past four months we have been working to secure guests and sponsorships for the crown jewel of our class: Impact.

Our professor, Jeff Boichuk, described the event as follows:

Impact will bring our students together with people who inspire them for a night that both parties will never forget. But we want to create more than a memorable night. We want the atmosphere at Impact to be so infectious that it changes the trajectory of the relationships in the room. We want Impact to be an annual celebration of mentorship that strengthens the McIntire alumni network.

To sum it up for you, we used the concepts we learned in class to develop relationships with business leaders  who inspire us. Further, we managed to sell them on the idea of accompanying us at Impact, which promised to be a unique and powerful shared experience that would take our relationship to the next level. Sounds like a pretty good example of hands-on learning to me.

So how did Impact go? Great! The students and their mentors enjoyed a prolonged cocktail hour and the buzz didn’t die down once. My mentor was a psych major interested in marketing, just like I am. He is also originally from Latin America, so you can imagine I had lots of questions to ask about the places I’ll be going on GIE!

After the cocktail hour, it was time for dinner (which was gourmet btw). For about an hour, we got to sit around a table with other students and their mentors and share our unique experiences and passion for mentorship.

Then it was time for the moment we had all be waiting for: our keynote speaker. For the inaugural Impact event, we had the great fortune of having Emmanuel Jal speak to us about the power of mentorship and how having a mentor literally saved his life. Emmanuel was a child soldier in South Sudan before he was rescued by a valiant woman named Emma McCune who took him in, gave him an education and taught him about forgiveness and peace. As a result of her mentorship, Emmanuel went from a child soldier to an internationally acclaimed musician and advocate for peace.

His speech was a powerful experience for the students and mentors alike. His stories of tragedy and inhumanity were interwoven with energetic and uplifting performances of some of his popular songs. He even got us to get up and dance with him!

The overall message of the night was resoundingly clear: relationships are incredibly powerful and we can have a significant impact on the world if we invest in one another. Impact is evidence of that.

-Written by Ryan Riccordella

Keynote speaker, Emmanuel Jal, gave an inspiring talk about how mentorship changed the trajectory of his life.
Keynote speaker, Emmanuel Jal, gave an inspiring talk about how mentorship changed the trajectory of his life.
•Blogger Katie Nell Taylor poses with other MS Commerce students and their mentors at Tuesday's Impact Gala.
• Blogger Katie Nell Taylor poses with other MS Commerce students and their mentors at Tuesday’s Impact Gala.
Students and their mentors mingle during cocktail hour
Students and their mentors mingle during cocktail hour
Dinner was full of rich conversations about mentorship and unique experiences.
Dinner was full of rich conversations about mentorship and unique experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

C’ville Restaurant Quiz

According to an M.S. in Accounting blog post from a year ago, this Huffington Post article, and my own personal experience after living in Charlottesville for five years, this town knows how to eat. C’villians are discriminating but adventurous foodies, and our demand for great dishes has cultivated an enviable restaurant scene right here in the 434. While there are only eight outcomes to this quiz, there are apparently a staggering 460 restaurants in Charlottesville. That’s a lot of options for date night. And this quiz is a great place to start figuring out where you should spend your dollars on prepared food. Have fun!

Take the quiz HERE

quiz image

-Quiz by Logan Steele

GCOM Council: A Celebration of Our Representation

As we enter our final month of classes in the M.S. in Commerce (MSC) Program (whoa!), it’s certainly time that we spotlight a group of dedicated students who have truly enriched our time at McIntire. That group is the Graduate Commerce (GCOM) Council. The MSC GCOM Council for 2015-2016 is made up of Chair Jeff Sinclair, Treasurer/Secretary Graham Kirby, and Program Coordinators Brad Coyle, Shuang Shuang Liang, Kristen Parker, and Melissa Saunders. To give you a little background on GCOM Council, here’s a quick breakdown:

Who: The GCOM Council is made up of two branches (one for MSC and one for the M.S. in Accounting Program), each comprised of officers who are elected early in the fall semester each year.

What: The GCOM Council organizes educational, social, community, and cultural activities for graduate students at McIntire.

When: The community that GCOM helps foster among graduate students throughout the school year is built to last far beyond our 10 months in Charlottesville.

Where: The GCOM Council plans events for graduate students that take place both on and off Grounds (details on specific locations below!).

Why: To build a sense of community among McIntire graduate students, faculty, staff, and administration while also facilitating interactions with the Charlottesville community. The GCOM Council’s programs and events are designed to intentionally facilitate networking and professional development opportunities for graduate students.

In order to gain more insights on the importance GCOM Council and the whole group’s experience, I asked a few of our own representatives about their time serving on the Council and what it meant to them:

What were some of your favorite GCOM activities/events this past year, and why?

In the fall, we put together a trip to a local vineyard in Charlottesville called Pippin Hill. We were able to rent out an entire room where there was plenty of wine and food, and the weather cooperated with us and allowed a beautiful day in October for our program to unwind from a long week. The wine was delicious, the food was perfect, and the scenery was mesmerizing. This is one of my favorite events that GCOM Council organized so far this year! – Melissa Saunders

Why do you think it’s so important that our program has GCOM representatives?

The GCOM Council plays an important role in facilitating coordination between the faculty and students, and also successfully fosters greater connections among our classmates. Having this representative system allows us to engage in a two-way dialogue with McIntire’s administration about whatever issues our class deems important. We also have a nice budget earmarked for planning social events that allow us to bond with our peers in a non-academic setting. – Brad Coyle

What GCOM activity/event are you most looking forward to, and why?

I am most excited about the GCOM Gala, because we’ve been working with the MSA kids to develop it, and it seems like it’ll be really cool. – Graham Kirby

If you could change one past activity, event or decision, what would it be?

This is a hard question!! We’ve had a lot of fun events and in my opinion each one has been successful for different reasons. We planned several events in the fall in hopes of facilitating quick integration, and one thing I would change would be to start these a little earlier in semester to help everyone meet new people sooner. – Melissa Saunders

What are some of the skills that being on GCOM has really helped you develop?

Being on GCOM has helped me develop my teamwork skills and ablity to work with with different personalities, which is a major emphasis of this program. The Council is a team, and we have to work together to accomplish all of the things we decide to do. – Brad Coyle

What will this year’s GCOM legacy be?

I think our legacy will be the cooperation and collaboration we did with the MSA students. Hopefully in the future they do even more! – Graham Kirby

Want to decide for yourself what you think this year’s GCOM legacy will be?! Let’s go over some of GCOM’s highlights this year–there are quite a few! Read over the following descriptions and show some love for GCOM Council by voting for your favorite activity/event in the comments section below!

Fall Festival
On October 22nd, students gathered in the courtyard to celebrate autumn. Guests helped themselves to free chili and a few competed in a pie-eating contest. Other brave festival-goers bobbed for tied-up donuts. Everyone from professors to undergraduates had a wonderful time networking and bonding over a love of all things fall!

Vineyard Visit
On October 23rd, all available MSC students loaded on buses provided by the GCOM Council and scooted over to Pippin Hill for a beautiful afternoon of wine tasting! For more on this classy event, head over to a previous blog picture-post that covered the event!

Habitat for Humanity
On October 24th, about 15 MSC students spent the day building low-cost housing in the Charlottesville area. All attendees raved afterward about what a rewarding and fun time they had helping out the community–whether they were erecting walls or digging garden beds. What a great group of students!

Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn
On October 30th, GCOM Council sponsored a Lawn room for UVA’s annual “Trick or Treat on the Lawn” event. This tradition is perfect for everyone who loves candy and more importantly feeding little kids candy! Check out our blog post covering the event for all the sweet deetz.

Holiday Sharing
This year, GCOM Council sponsored a family for through Madison House for their annual Holiday Sharing program. Students signed up to bring in all types of non-perishables for our family, from whole wheat pasta to jell-o! Plus, GCOM pitched personal gifts for each family member. Way to bring a happier holiday, GCOM Council!

Lighting of the Courtyard
GCOM Council helped plan an event for the entire McIntire community, during which the Rouss and Robertson courtyard lights up in sparkling holiday glory in anticipation of the Lighting of the Lawn later that same evening. Attendees decorated cookies, noshed on other desserts, slurped hot beverages, made faces for a photo booth, and jammed out to holiday tunes!

MSC Holiday Party
On Saturday, December 5th at 9:00 PM, it was time for MSC students to get in the holiday spirit. GCOM Council rented out a restaurant on the Corner, Coupe’s, and encouraged us to let loose and wear our best tacky holiday sweater and accessories (including Santa suits/elf ensembles). The two people with the most festive outfits won $25 gift cards to a restaurant on the Corner! Add in free sliders and fries and a live band, and this was a holiday bash to be remembered.

“On the 6 days of finals GCOM gave to me…”
From December 11th-16th GCOM council provided all MSC students with presents to make the 6 days of the very stressful final integrative exam a little more bearable. Every day, the “GCOM elves” left presents in our mailboxes or in our graduate lounge! These goodies ranged from a hot chocolate kit (complete with cookie) to a Hot Wheels toy car to a huge cake on the final day! Nom.

Lunar New Year Drawing/Coloring Contest
In February, it was time to ring in the Year of the Monkey! MSC students grabbed the free crayons and paper in the Grad Lounge to draw their best monkey OR decorate one of the coloring sheets that GCOM Council provided. Contest winners received a Starbucks gift card courtesy of GCOM Council. Ooh ooh, ahh ahh! :)

McIntire Graduate Gala
After tremendous hard work and planning, on Thursday, March 24th, GCOM Council members threw a formal event for MSC and MSA students and guests! The gala went down at Paramount Theatre on the Downtown Mall–a top notch venue for a top notch night. Master’s students were decked out in their best “formal cocktail hour” attire and danced the night away to the music of a wonderful live band. With free food and a cash bar, this was definitely a highlight of the entire year.

MSC students gathered together to celebrate all the wonderful friendships they’ve made over the past eight months!
MSC students gathered together to celebrate all the wonderful friendships they’ve made over the past eight months!
Classy ladies! I’ve never seen formal cocktail hour attire done so well.
Classy ladies! I’ve never seen formal cocktail hour attire done so well.

Foxfield Races

This annual horse-racing event has become a tradition ingrained in the UVA experience, and Master’s students are no exception to that tradition. The GCOM council has rented a bus and purchased 2 plots in the green section so that MSC and MSA students may cheer on the competing riders. GCOM also provided breakfast, lunch, snacks, and nonalcoholic beverages at no cost to students. Do they take care of us, or what?! Personally, I think this will be one of my favorite events yet.

Thank you so much for all you do, GCOM Council! MSC appreciates you so much–you’ve made this year unforgettable! And I can’t wait to see what all you readers thought of GCOM’s events. Don’t forget to comment below!

-Written by Logan Steele

Spring Break Career Exploration Trip

 A few weeks ago, 12 excited McIntire students (third-years, fourth-years, and M.S. in Commerce students) had the incredible opportunity to visit companies all throughout the greater Washington, D.C., area and network with alumni as part of a brand new career exploration spring break trip sponsored by Commerce Career Services.

Just like the Winter Break trip to NYC, CCS organized this trip to give students a firsthand understanding of various of roles in marketing, analytics, consulting, and finance. Because of these visits, students can better identify what type of industry, position, company size, and culture suits them personally. All in all, we had an amazing few of days visiting around the District and discovering new career possibilities! Here’s a quick overview of a couple of our visits:

Wednesday: Tysons Day

  • OmniTek Consulting: After a few days of well-earned relaxation, the students in our visiting group started off our company visits in the Tysons Corner, Va., area that’s abuzz with corporate offices. Stop #1 was OmniTek Consulting, a growing management consulting and technology services firm. We were greeted with coffee and bagels—definitely off to a great start. After only 11 years in business, Founder and CEO Chris Lien has taken this organization to the top by building a reputation of hands-on excellence. The heads of recruiting and HR gave the group a detailed explanation of the OmniTek’s DNA, explaining how its dedication to respect, integrity, humility, and positivity make its process unique. New hires and young alums of McIntire and Maryland explained their positions at OmniTek, answering any and all questions we had with warmth and enthusiasm. One thing that really stood out to me was that because of OmniTek’s relatively small size and mindset for expansion, all employees have the power to voice where they want to take their careers. Management—from intermediate managers to Chris—all operate with a wide-open door and are incredibly responsive to input from all employees. As if they didn’t leave a good enough impression on us, OmniTek also gifted us with mugs full of candy. We left wondering how any other company could impress us more!
  • Cvent: After a quick lunch, we scooted on over to the Cvent office. For those unfamiliar, Cvent is an event management technology company whose integrated software solutions for event planners offer online event registration, venue selection, event management, mobile apps for events, e-mail marketing, and web surveys. Founded in 1999, Cvent has grown internationally to almost 2,000 employees, but still commits to keeping an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the office. With its casual dress code and constant hum of new business, we easily picked up on Cvent’s self-proclaimed “work hard, play hard” vibe. We got to hear the stories of the MSC alums—two Cvent-ers who work on the account management side (one from hospitality cloud and one from events cloud) and one Cvent-er who works on the account acquisition side. Then, we had the privilege of taking an amazing tour of all the floors and wings of Cvent’s impressive headquarters. An eye-catching detail was that in each department, the conference rooms were named after different themes. For example, one department’s theme was famous musicians. How cool would it be to say, “Should we move our 2:30 meeting to Elvis or Frank Sinatra?”
  • AddThis: For our final stop that first day, we turned to the AddThis office in Vienna, Va. Have you ever seen a strip of widgets that allow you to share an article or a web page to Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and more? That’s AddThis’ handiwork. And AddThis is on over 15 million websites! The company strategically takes advantage of its Internet prevalence by collecting data on who shares what, carefully curating different segmented audience packages to then selling them to marketers around the world. So cool! And it turns out Cvent wasn’t the only office to have some cool quirks: We found awesome nerd culture at AddThis. Each of the company’s conference rooms were named after famous robots like C3PO and Baymax. And every department had a different banner from various Game of Thrones families—e.g., accounting was obviously House Lannister. A Lannister always pays his debts.
  • Alumni Mixer Event: Although I was unable to attend this fabulous event at Mission in historic Dupont Circle, I heard all the lucky attendees had so much fun. Everyone enjoyed Mission’s famous chips and guacamole while chatting away about life in D.C. Alums were very generous with their time and excited to share stories of both their professional experiences and of their fondly remembered days in the M.S. in Commerce Program. The conversations reminded everyone to cherish these last few weeks in the program! We can’t believe they’re almost over, and we’ll all certainly miss this place so much.

Thursday: DC Day

  • Atlantic Media Strategies: To start off Day 2, we met in the heart of the city at the famous Watergate offices, right next to the Kennedy Center. It couldn’t have been a more quintessential D.C. location or a more beautiful morning, weather-wise. We walked into Atlantic’s glamourous offices and were immediately swept away by office’s breathtaking interior design, including a grand spiral staircase right in the center of the lobby. Our hosts led us to a magnificent conference room with an unbelievable view of the harbor. We shared our stories with two awesome MSC alums, who walked through how they got to AMS and their day-to-day work. Self-described as the consultative branch of Atlantic Media that brings various large organizations into the digital age, this four-year-old company is growing like mad. Next, we got to speak with the president, Jean Ellen Cowgill, who generously took time from her busy day to answer several rounds of questions from us eager students. Finally, three established employees from a variety of departments (including creative, editorial, and strategic) took us through a detailed behind the scenes look at several case studies. I’ll just tell you now to go check out the very impressive, interactive, and informative “Cancer Atlas” that AMS created for the American Cancer Society!
The group enjoyed a wonderful visit at the Watergate in the offices of Atlantic Media Strategies
The group enjoyed a wonderful visit at the Watergate in the offices of Atlantic Media Strategies
  • International Finance Corporation (World Bank):
    • How does the company describe itself?
      • “IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries. IFC applies their financial resources, technical expertise, global experience, and innovative thinking to help their partners overcome financial, operational, and political challenges.”
    • What positions IFC hiring for that we could apply for?
      • While there are several investment and IT analyst positions open in the D.C. office, there are also plenty of international opportunities posted on IFC’s website!
    • Fun facts
      • IFC impresses me with its commitment to aid and dedication to “innovation, influence, demonstration, and impact.” IFC’s goal is to end extreme poverty by 2030 and “boost shared prosperity in every developing country.” Seems like a mission that would be an honor to help tackle.
Visiting the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank was such a treat!
Visiting the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank was such a treat!
  • Booz Allen Hamilton:
    • How does Booz Allen Hamilton describe itself?
      • “Today, Booz Allen is a leading provider of management consulting, technology, and engineering services to the U.S. government in defense, intelligence, and civil markets. We also serve major corporations, institutions, not-for-profit organizations, and international clients.”
    • What positions is BAH hiring for that we could apply for?
      • Too many to count! Jobs are listed in almost all 50 states, in the UK, in Germany, in South Korea, and more. Start your search today!
    • Fun facts
      • Booz Allen Hamilton is the real deal—a Fortune 500 company! The company has been in the strategy and technology consulting business for more than 100 years. The company’s impressive clientele includes the Department of Defense, every branch of the U.S. military, the Department of Homeland Security, and many more.

Friday: Maryland Day

  • WeddingWire:
    • How does WeddingWire describe itself?
      • “We create products that change the way the event industry works. From helping connect the millions of engaged couples to event merchants to helping merchants grow their business online, we are passionate about leveraging technology that powers the largest marketplace for the weddings and event industry in the nation.”
    • What positions is WeddingWire hiring for that we could apply for?
    • Fun facts
      • Like any good start-up, WeddingWire began in the founder’s living room with a couple of buddies. The founder had a hectic wedding planning experience for his own wedding but was a technologist and knew that he could do better. Just look at him now!
  • rp3 Agency:
    • How does rp3 Agency describe itself?
      • “RP3 Agency’s capabilities run the gamut from strategy through implementation with a holistic approach that never loses sight of your big picture business goals.” Essentially, rp3 is a creative agency that also specializes in brand strategy, connections, and digital.
    • What positions is rp3 hiring for that we could apply for?
      • Account executives. Check out the dynamic and exciting job description here!
    • Fun facts
      • Although rp3 started just five years ago, the company already has big-name clients like the Children’s National Medical Center and Honest Tea. Very impressive!
  • GlobalGiving:
    • What is GlobalGiving?
      • “GlobalGiving is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that enables you to fund the underdog. We make it possible to support creative ideas that might never be funded through traditional development and philanthropy approaches….GlobalGiving connects organizations to resources that help them continually learn and improve. As nonprofits become more effective, they have a far-greater impact on social problems.”
    • What positions are they hiring for that we could apply for?
      • Program Associate. “From crafting communications, tools, and trainings to creating system improvements, the Program Associate takes a lead role in getting current and prospective nonprofit partners excited to participate in campaigns and be successful in doing so.”
    • Fun facts
      • GlobalGiving is the first and largest global crowdfunding community for nonprofits. Since 2002, GlobalGiving has raised almost $211.9 million from more than 516,000 donors who have supported more than 14,000 projects in countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

I’ll sign off with the link to GlobalGiving’s cause-finder page. Happy Giving, everyone!

-Written by Logan Steele