Category: Student Blogs

Eight Inspiring Soundbites from the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference

The following blog post was written by Wallace Gundy, MBA Class of 2020 and Simon Forté Fellow

Every now and then, I need a good old-fashioned dose of girl power! But attending the annual Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference with 14 other Simon Forté Fellows was that and a whole lot more. All of the nerves went away, and the anxious inner-monologue of “Can I really do this? Can I really get my MBA?” was drowned out by great conversation, connection making, laughter, and a pretty incredible #FortéPowerUp Spotify playlist. Being surrounded by 700+ women in my shoes, and embarking on this journey together, made for three incredible days and the perfect kickstart to my two years of business school.

Simon ladies #PowerUp!

Simon women #PowerUp!

The facts are the facts. Only five percent of current Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Women hold just over 20% of board seats in the Fortune 1000 companies. There is a gender wage gap of 20 percent, with women earning only 80 cents for every dollar men earn.

But after hearing from so many talented and successful women leaders in business, I am not only optimistic, I am certain that our generation will make a huge difference. We are smart, we are capable, we are empathetic, and we are ready to #PowerUp. Below are just a few of the comments I took away from the conference that I will carry with me over these next two years and beyond.

“Risk taking is a muscle you need to exercise.”
Julie Sweet, Chief Executive Officer – North America, Accenture
The unknown is tough and risks are scary. But they are so worth it. Julie also shared that she has a placard in her office that reads, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” Keep dreaming.

“One hand reaching up, one hand reaching back.”
Melissa Arnoldi, President, AT&T Technology & Operations
We are going to need to reach for help from others. But guess what? Women are going to be needing to reach for our help too.

“Find the thing that even senior people want to come to you for.”
Lori Heinel, Executive Vice President & Deputy Global Chief Investment Officer, State Street Global Advisors
Be an expert in something that is invaluable. Even if it’s small, if it’s the thing only you can do, you will be invaluable, too.

“Be a group of women that will create more firsts than this world knows what to do with.”
Noemie Tilghman, Principal Strategy & Operations, Deloitte
We are ready, Noemie!

Several Simon Forté fellows posed with a banner of Lydia Perez Poole '06S (MBA).

Several Simon Forté Fellows posed with a banner of Lydia Perez Poole, a 2006 Simon MBA graduate.

“Focus on what matters, but keep an open mind. Whenever things get hard, go back and think about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Take some chances. You might be surprised by how much you might learn.”
Lydia Perez Poole, Simon MBA ’06, Shopper Insights & Analytics Leader, Procter & Gamble
It’s a big world out there and you never know what opportunities you might encounter. Stay focused but not confined. Otherwise, you could miss out on something great.

“It’s not a career ladder, it’s a career jungle gym.”
Jennifer Bosl, Regional Operations Director, DaVita Kidney Care
If there is one thing I’ve already learned, it’s that careers aren’t linear. That’s part of why I am at Simon! Embrace the non-linear path! You never know where it could lead you.

“Come in every day and earn your chair.”
Kelly Greenauer, Data Quality Manager, M&T Bank
Make every day matter. Give it your all. Leave your job each day better than you found it that morning.

“Exercise your agency. Make your school a place where women can thrive as much as men do. When women around you succeed, celebrate their victories. Cheer loudly for them. Support them.”
Jessica Raasch, 2018 Edie Hunt Inspiration Award Winner
As a recent MBA graduate, Jessica was in our shoes just two years ago. Her words were the perfect conclusion to the conference.

I think I can speak for all of the Simon Forté Fellows when I say we will exercise our agency. We will support and celebrate one another. And we will all make Simon an even better place for women to grow as the next generation of leaders. Together.

 

Seven Major Lessons Learned from Working with Simon Vision Consulting

The following blog post was written by Gilbert Bonsu ’18S (MBA)

My tenure on the leadership team of Simon Vision Consulting at Simon Business School ended in mid-May. The journey between beginning as a project manager and ending as the managing director was transformative and significant. Simon Vision Consulting (Vision) is a professionally managed, student-led organization at Simon that provides pro-bono consulting services to businesses and non-profits in the Greater Rochester area. My two years with Vision have been a great opportunity for me to work closely with over 16 organizations across multiple industries addressing critical business challenges. These firms ranged from solopreneur entities to publicly traded companies.

Below are seven business lessons that I learned and were reaffirmed during my time with Vision:

gilbert1.) It’s all about people.
Tactful people skills are foundational to your success in both personal and professional life. Matured interpersonal skills allow you to maneuver in your workplace with ease. You might be the most technically gifted person in the room, but if people hate working with you they will pass on you, even for a less experienced colleague. On the other hand, when people love working with you and you have the capabilities to deliver success, the sky is the limit. The people skills of our Vision team, from the president to consultants, in addition to our technical prowess, help us generate more business through referrals. When our clients talked about their experience with our teams, one of the first things they mentioned is how they loved working with us. People skills are crucial in life and they come in the forms of personality, empathy, verbal and non-verbal cues, and listening. Which leads to the next point:

2.) Actively listen and embrace learning.
Actively listen: We all have heard the saying “hearing someone and listening to them are two different things.” As a consultant, it is critical to actively listen to others. Don’t start formulating a response while the client is still talking. Not only may you need collateral information to truly understand and appreciate the situation, but also, good ideas take time to form. Listen without interruption and take time to formulate a response. You will learn a lot.

Embrace learning: The importance of learning cannot be overstated. Continuous learning is important in your professional life as it makes you more adaptable to change, builds self-esteem, and improves your skills. To embrace learning includes taking the time to experience even the same things multiple times. The same problems in a different environment present renewed and unique learning opportunities. Welcome these opportunities and the ambiguity that comes with them.

3.) Welcome ambiguity.
Ambiguity can be stressful and tiring. When we are faced with uncertainty, we can sometimes feel paralyzed. In these situations it is important to recognize that ambiguity is a path to knowledge. We can expand our horizon when we don’t back down from uncertainty. The unknown comprises many lessons waiting to be learned. Instead of meeting it with fear, recognize that you will come through it transformed. Following that unknown may result in outcomes that were beyond your frame of thinking and planning.

4.) Simplify.
Reality does not happen in a vacuum. There are many actions and reactions occurring simultaneously. Everything in this world is complex; thus, simplicity is sometimes thought of as unrealistic or naïve. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t neglect the power of simplicity. When faced with complex issues, try and strip it apart to simplify it. Then, only when it is completely understood, bring it all together with the nuanced pieces. At times when you simplify a problem and apply due diligence, you are able to understand the core value of the problem and plan accordingly. Indeed, things are not always black or white, but you need a starting palette to create a rainbow.

5.) You don’t need to be the expert.
Clients expect a know-it-all, but no one is truly the expert. It is okay to admit you don’t have all the answers. In fact, everyone has their expertise, and knowing whom to call on is just as valuable as knowing what to do. You may even be the subject matter expert and still not know the answer at the moment. We sometimes miss the process of discovery when we feel pressured to have all the answers right off the bat. Worst case, we end up giving the wrong answer or make up something completely useless.

6.) Be prepared and be ready.
Simply, poor preparation promotes poor performance. Whether it is a short meeting or a formal presentation, be prepared and ready to go. Train like it’s game time. Being unprepared is not only disrespectful to your teammates and clients, but also disrespectful to yourself.

7.) Not all clients know what they want.
Sometimes the clients just don’t know what they want. It can be frustrating, especially when the client thinks (s)he knows the answer but can’t readily articulate the problem. However, this is okay. You’re there to help. Here’s some advice when you find yourself in that situation:

  • Try and figure out how the client operates
  • Make them feel comfortable (don’t be intimidating or condescending), and build a rapport and a genuine working relationship
  • Engineer your questions appropriately
  • Guide them towards what they need, not what they want (they will be grateful later)

These seven business lessons are from my unique experience with Simon Vision and I wanted to share them with you; however, the lessons don’t end here. Above all, it is important to remain curious and passionate. Approach every situation as a showcase for your strengths and a test of your resolve.

My Experience with the Day 1 Program

The following blog post was written by Becky Xie ’18 MS in Business Analytics

One of the reasons why I chose Simon was because of the comprehensive career development program that the School curates for its students. Upon my official enrollment at Simon, I was introduced to the Day 1 Career Readiness Program, which includes a list of becky.xietasks that are specially designed to prepare students for the upcoming career fair season and for the job search in general. In particular, I found the résumé building and target list sections to be incredibly helpful in my job search. Here’s why:

As we entered fall term, we had already started a series of personal and career development classes. In these classes, we learned the best ways to refine our target list based on our preferred industries and functional areas, as well as how reach out to alumni to build our professional network. Had I not completed my target list and perfected my résumé during the Day 1 Program, I wouldn’t have been able to immediately apply what we learned in the class and start reaching out to alumni and companies that were on my target list.

Completing the Day 1 Program is extremely crucial for all MS students: those who are enrolled in the 17-month internship track as well as those in the 10-month track. For the students who enrolled in the internship track, the program hiring for internship positions at larger companies is the most intense in the winter term. For example, the target companies that were on my list wrapped up hiring in January.

In order to keep up with the earlier recruiting cycle, I started meeting with our career advisors early in the winter term to fully prepare myself for when the recruiting season began. As for the students who are on the 10-month track, completing the Day 1 Program is equally important because it, combined with consistent networking efforts, will hopefully land you your dream job.

Because of Day 1 and help I received from the staff at Simon’s Career Management Center, I was able to land my internship at PayPal in early January. I recommend all incoming students start the Day 1 Program early and take it seriously if you want your hard work in business school to come to fruition faster!

Student Perspectives: Where to Live in Rochester

Picking up your life and moving to another city to begin a graduate business program is a big change. One of the things you’ll need to check off your “to-do” list is finding a place to live. But where should you begin?

We have you covered! Current and past Simon students answered a few questions about their Rochester housing to help you figure out what option is best for you.

Kalkidan Tiruneh ’17S (MS in Accountancy):

Where did you live?
Goler House (on-campus housing).

kalHow did you get to campus?
I either walked (approximately 15 minutes to campus) or used the University shuttle services. The Blue Line and College Town Express shuttles stop at Goler every 20 and 15 minutes, respectively. Both of these shuttles make stops at various locations on campus. I usually get off at the Wilmont stop and walk approximately four minutes to Simon, or I’ll get off at Rush Rhees Library if I want to go to the library or the gym.

How did you decide to live in Goler House?
I applied to Goler House because of a Simon alum who reassured me of the convenience of the location and shared her overall experience living there. I decided to live in Goler because it’s the closest student housing to campus and is easily accessible by University shuttles or by walking. It is also located near an area called College Town that is popular for its dining options compared to other campus housing areas, as it offers restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.

What is your favorite thing about living in Goler?
My favorite thing about living in Goler was that the location enabled me to see my friends whenever I wanted without the need to drive anywhere; I either walked or took the shuttle services. I also appreciated the willingness to help and the timely responses from the leasing office when tenants reported issues with the apartments.

What advice do you have for future Simon students who are thinking about living in Goler?
I would advise that you send in your housing application as early as possible because it’s difficult to get into Goler once the lottery has been selected. If you don’t get selected in the lottery, I would advise you to reach out to your incoming classmates and second-year MBAs ahead of time via Simon’s Housing Forum and Admitted Student Facebook groups and express interest to share an apartment with another person who already has a spot in Goler. It will work to your advantage to actively seek housing options as soon as you enroll in your program.


Lucas Nudelman ’18S (MS in Marketing Analytics):

Where do you live?
I live in an off-campus three-bedroom house with two roommates who are also pursuing degrees at Simon.

lucas_nudelmanHow did you get to campus?
We live right next to Goler House (graduate student housing), which is approximately one mile from campus. There is a bus stop right in front of Goler, which is about a 200 meter walk from my house, so some days I choose to take the bus line that drops off pretty close to Simon. I use a phone app (Rider) that tells me when the next bus will arrive to help me plan ahead. Other days, especially when it is nice outside, I will walk to Simon, which takes 12-15 minutes.

How did you decide to live off campus?
I personally much prefer a house to an apartment building, so I didn’t really want to live in Goler House. Whipple Park and University Park (two graduate housing options) are a little farther away than my current location, so I prefer the proximity of my off-campus house to Simon. Also, living off-campus can be slightly cheaper than the graduate housing options—although graduate housing is also very reasonable!

What is your favorite thing about living off campus?
I really like the proximity to Simon and College Town. Although being close to Moe’s Mexican Restaurant has really made my wallet a lot lighter throughout the year!

What advice do you have for future Simon students who are thinking about living off campus?
Decide what you value most and then start your search. Do you want to live downtown (four or five miles from Simon)? Close to the Rochester club scene? Do you prefer an apartment or a house? Do you want to have roommates or live alone? After that, I’d suggest using Google to find some viable options and then perhaps ask a current student like myself what they think of the neighborhood and cost of those options!


Raven Hudson ’18S (MBA):

Where do you live?
University Park Housing.

How did you get to campus?
I either walk (15 minutes) or take the Blue line (from the UPK bus stop) or the Silver line (from the Park Lot bus stop). The Park Lot stop is a five-minute walk from my apartment.

ravenHow did you decide to live in UPK?
Here are a few reasons:

Affordable: It’s roughly $1,000 per month for a two-bedroom apartment (including all utilities and internet). I split costs with my roommate so we each pay $500 per month.

Location: It’s walking distance to campus and the shuttle line.

Credible: I’m from the Midwest, so I did not have time to go to Rochester to look at housing. I trusted the University housing over off-campus housing since I could not visit in person.

What is your favorite thing about living in UPK?
Location, accommodation, and affordability. University housing also has a flexible lease that allows you to sublet in the summer while you are away for your internship and extend your move-out date based on when you graduate and start your full-time job.

What advice do you have for future Simon students who are thinking about living in UPK?
Do your due diligence and ask for advice from Admissions staff or current students on where to live. I would also make sure to keep your eye on the Simon Housing Forum Facebook group (you will be automatically added when you join the Admitted Student Facebook group) because current students post apartments up for lease and furniture for sale.