Author Archive

The Masters Experience for a BComm Background

By Jamie

One of my main questions for admissions when I was considering Simon, was if the school would build on my finance knowledge, or simply review the material I had already previously covered. In June 2010 I graduated from Carleton University in Canada with 4 full years of finance education, and somewhat complacently I entered Simon’s summer quarter in July. I learned new material in the first week.

Simon has quickly honed my theoretical understanding of financial concepts into industry ready tools. I have been continuously impressed with how well the professors embrace technology in the material, and their consistent use of industry terminology when discussing concepts.

One class in particular that has been entirely new material is Institutional Finance taught by Dr. Diana Knyazeva. Through this class I have learned: four Value at Risk techniques used in the middle office of trading floors, exactly how to price collateralized debt obligations, and how to financially engineer any pay off profile I desire with derivative products.

Learning the terminology, concepts, and inner workings of capital and corporate finance at Simon, has been crucial in achieving my career goals. I relied heavily on material covered in class, and provided by the Simon Career Center, to compete for positions through investment banking’s grueling four round interview format. With Simon’s preparation I was able to successfully capture an Analyst position in a bulge bracket investment bank; a goal mirrored by many prospective finance candidates I’m sure.

I am currently learning in Financial Statement Analysis, Mergers & Acquisitions Strategy, Investment Management, and Corporate Strategy this quarter. Now that Simon has helped me land a full time job, hopefully it will also aid me in passing the CFA level II exam!

If you have questions about Simon, please contact me at

The art of networking and effectively selling your brand

Rupali Monga

We all hear about it, speak about it, but many of us do not spare the time to act upon it.   As you will hear continuously throughout business school, networking is one of the most important aspects of an MBA program.  In my career prior to business school, I didn’t truly understand the value of long term relationships and professional connections that can be made through the art of networking.  Now, more than ever before, due to the current economic conditions, networking is extremely vital and is, in a sense, a marketing tool that can be very effective when soliciting yourself to professionals. 

It wasn’t easy, but not impossible.  As a career-changer, it took me tons of research and speaking with many business school alumni, current students, faculty, etc. to learn about the gimmicks of networking, resume building, interviewing, and effectively selling my brand.  My conversations and research led me to believe that nothing is more important in an MBA program than effectively soliciting your own skills, strengths and professional experiences during interviews and networking conferences.  I made it my mission to successfully market myself and land a summer internship prior to the end of my first quarter in business school.  Throughout this process, the key points were to understand how my strengths and skills would contribute to the growth of any company in the future and how to efficiently communicate these strengths and skills.  As a result, thus far, I’ve developed many professional relationships in various companies and have been offered a few summer internship offers. 

The first few months in business school are very challenging, but time is of the essence.  Course work is important, but the ultimate goal of pursuing an MBA is to help individuals transition into a new career or a higher ranked position in their existing careers.  Although competition amongst MBA candidates to land positions in the workforce is always fierce, it increases tenfold from January through May each year as those are the prime recruiting months. Therefore, do not sacrifice your career search to ensure you excel in your courses, but specifically during the first quarter of the program.  The moral of the story is – work hard, play hard.

“Giving Back” Through Simon Clubs; Part of the MBA Experience

By: Brennan Day

When I was choosing an MBA program, every school I visited liked to talk about their “clubs,” and each school seemed to have more than the last.  And while some of them sounded quite interesting I was more focused on getting admitted and picking the right school than on what club(s) I might join.  Then I finally (and thankfully!) chose Simon and before I knew it the summer was over, I had moved to Rochester, and the first quarter was under way.  As the clubs starting putting up signs and sending out informational emails I decided I better put some thought into this.

As is so often the case, I found myself trying to walk the line between missing out and over committing.  I knew that the clubs each provided an excellent opportunity to broaden and deepen my knowledge of a specific area.  Equally important to me was the social aspect of the clubs – both the strengthening of relationships with my fellow Simonites and the unparalleled external networking opportunities that exist within some of the clubs.  I had also decided that I would like to run for a board position for one of the clubs to gain some additional leadership experience.  But which clubs(s) to choose??

I did a little bit of research on the clubs online (–organizations/index.aspx), but the best information I got came via the Club Information Sessions that the Graduate Business Council hosted.  (The GBC is the governing body over all of Simon’s student-run organizations).  These informational sessions occurred during lunch time – when there are no classes in session – on three consecutive days; one each for Academic/Industry Clubs, Cultural Clubs, and Social/Sports Clubs.  Each club had a table set up on their respective day and some of the current members were there to help us understand the club’s purpose and what events each had planned for the upcoming year.  Talking directly to the second-year students was extremely helpful (as it generally is) and in the end I joined the following clubs:  Simon Marketing Association, Consulting/Operations/Technology Association, Simon Pricing Club, Simon Uncorked (Wine Club), Toastmaster, Simon Volunteers, and the  Winter Sports Club.

When it came time for elections of 1st-year Representatives I was fortunate enough to land a seat on the board of Simon Volunteers.  I quickly learned that, in addition to providing opportunities for Simon students to volunteer in the community, one of the Volunteers’ major initiatives is raising money for its Secret Santa fund.  Through three major fundraisers – a beer-tasting / auction in the fall, a date-auction in the winter, and a wine-tasting / auction in the spring – the club raises money for the purchase of Christmas presents for under privileged children in Rochester.  This year, through the generosity of Simon’s students, faculty, and staff, as well as the many companies that donate to our fundraisers, the Secret Santa fund topped $12,000 for the first time ever!

Once the funds were raised we reached out to several local agencies who work with underprivileged families.  They provide us with Christmas lists for children in need in their area.  Once the rest of the board and I accumulated these lists, we again called on our faithful volunteers.  Armed with shopping lists our members (as well as many non-members who wanted to help) generously made time in their busy schedules to go shopping for the kids.  Because our fund had grown so large, we were able to buy gifts for 160 children this year that may not otherwise have much under their Christmas trees come Christmas morning.  But the work wasn’t done yet!

A terrific Simon tradition is our annual Gift Wrapping Party.  This year, with several gifts for each of the 160 children, we knew we had our work cut out for us if we were to get everything wrapped.  But in the matter of just over three hours our students, faculty, and staff had completed the task at hand.  With holiday music playing and plenty of food to snack on, the Rotunda was a festive environment that was exciting to experience.   Dean Zupan, Bob Park (from CMC), and several members of the admissions team all stopped by to help.  This was in addition to the steady wave of students – many of whom were in the middle of studying for final exams later that evening of the next morning.  It was a true team effort and something I was felt lucky (and proud) to be a part of.

While my involvement on the board of Simon Volunteers has elevated my excitement toward giving back, I’ve also reaped rewards from the other clubs I joined.  And I see the same thing happening to my classmates – especially those who have become board members.  While I confessed that I didn’t put too much thought into clubs before arriving on campus, I’ve come to learn that I underestimated their relevance.  They truly are an important part of the MBA experience.

To paint or to not paint the future? That was the question.

By: Kimberly Versaw

I have never competed in a case competition until recently…and boy am I glad I did.  The 2nd Annual CertaPro Case Competition was held at the Simon School on Friday, November 5, 2010 where CertaPro’s finest executives came to discover some genius marketing ideas from the 36 competing students.  

When I first saw the announcement for the case competition I immediately told myself I was not going to participate, simply because I had no idea what kind of preparation it involved.  However, my roommate, Kathryn Baumbach, and I were talking about the benefits of participating in a case competition and we decided that we were going to do something different and enter the competition along with another MBA candidate, Kathleen Hartman. 

The case involved a plethora of research including an understanding of the franchise industry as well as the targeted demographics for future franchisees.  My teammates and I outlined what we needed to accomplish each night and used our time management skills to accurately project our timeline.  Our research took up most of our time during the week that we had to accomplish the development of a 3-year strategic marketing plan for CertaPro.  My team never thought that we would actually incorporate Crystal Ball into a real-life situation, but we did!  [Crystal Ball is a leading spreadsheet-based application suite for predictive modeling, forecasting, simulation, and optimization]  Throughout the week of preparation, I learned so much from applying my quantitative skills that I have further developed at Simon thus far and actually achieved results from the calculations.  Since our approach for this case was heavily quantitative, we were able to explain our assumptions and desired demographics for the judges through the effective use of our marketing campaign.  

The best part of the presentation was when we unveiled our marketing campaign and the judges faces lit up with smiles and optimism!  After an intimidating presentation, we were relieved to be finished, but still passionate about our marketing campaign.  The anticipation of the awards dinner followed us all day.  We were so proud of all of our hard work that we were just glad that the executives were able to hear our ideas and recommendations.  Unexpectedly, my team (team #2) was announced as the 2nd runner up in the case competition.  We were so pleasantly surprised that we couldn’t thank the CertaPro executives enough for presenting us with such a challenging and engaging case to work on.  The feedback that the judges gave us was very effective and prompted even more ideas on our end. 

Overall, I am very fortunate to have participated in this case competition through Simon and I look forward to more opportunities to do market research and provide companies with recommendations for their marketing plans.